Review: Parliament Square, Bush

“No one ever changed the world alone”

With pretty much every production of hers that I see (most memorably Lela & Co. and I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me Of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole), Jude Christian is becoming one of those directors whose work cannot be missed. And with the 2015 Bruntwood Prize-winning Parliament Square, now opening at the Bush after an October premiere at the Royal Exchange, that reputation doesn’t look in any danger at all.

She’s helped here by a magnificently fearless piece of writing from James Fritz, split almost schizophrenically into two contrasting parts. The first presents us with Kat, a woman on the precipice of leaving her husband and their young son to commit some unspeakable act, being urged along the way by an enigmatic figure far more bluntly daring than she seems to be. The second then takes us past the act, which failed, into an uncertain world of uneasy compromise.  Continue reading “Review: Parliament Square, Bush”

Review: Ross and Rachel, Battersea Arts Centre

“I’ll be there for you…”

Can anyone of a certain generation (well, my generation) hear that Rembrandts theme song and not want to clap along, even if just mentally? Such is the depth of the cultural penetration that Friends managed over its decade of television dominance and then subsequent re-run overkill, that even someone who hasn’t watched an episode of the comedy stands a chance of recognising the names Ross and Rachel. Which is partly why playwright James Fritz has so named his latest show.
A big hit in Edinburgh last summer, Ross and Rachel is now midway though a UK tour and its entire run at the Battersea Arts Centre. And it’s not hard to see why – people may come because they’ve some affection to their Geller/Green memories but they’ll be hooked by Molly Vevers’ performance. Alone onstage, she gives us both sides of the story of a couple whose identities have been subsumed into one, their relationship – and the myths around it – having become bigger than either of them.
Cleverly, the couple here are never named – they’re in their 40s now, having spent most of their 20 on and off (on a break?!) and everyone, including him, believes they’re the perfect fit. She’s not so sure though, contemplating an affair, and when a brain tumour intervenes in their happy-ever-after, their responses are diverse to say the least. Fritz has plenty to say about modern love and how notions of togetherness are shaped, does ‘the one’ truly exist, is your lobster out there waiting for you? Vevers holds the audience firmly in her grasp as we find out.

Running time: 60 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Alex Brenner
Booking until 25th June, then touring to Incoming Festival, New Diorama; Old Fire Station, Oxford; The Lowry; Salford; and Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

Critics’ Circle Awards 2015: the winners in full

Best New Play
Hangmen by Martin McDonagh

The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical
Bend It Like Beckham

Best Actor
Kenneth Cranham in The Father

Best Actress
Denise Gough in People, Places and Things

The Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance
Judi Dench in The Winter’s Tale

Best Director
Robert Icke for Oresteia

Best Designer
Anna Fleischle for Hangmen

Most Promising Playwright
James Fritz for Four minutes twelve seconds

The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer [other than a playwright]
David Moorst in Violence and Son

 

 

Review: Four minutes twelve seconds, Hampstead Downstairs

“Big Ian has named his son Ian too?”

Fresh from the news that a Hampstead Downstairs show will make its West End bow in the New Year (the excellent Di and Viv and Rose) after being the first to make the in-house transfer to the main theatre, the Autumn season in this officially critic-free space (I paid for my ticket, £5 early bird deal ftw) opens with James Fritz’s Four minutes twelve seconds. His first full-length play delves into the murky world of revenge porn, where an explosion in smartphone usage plus the abdication of responsibility enabled by the freedom of the internet has resulted in one of the more pernicious innovations of modern times.

At 17 years old and about to sit the exams that will hopefully send him off to a good university, Jack seems to have it made but when he comes home from school one day with his shirt covered in blood, all that is set to change. Initially trying to pass it off as a nosebleed, then a set-to with some kids from the rough school over the way, we soon find out who is responsible and why they’ve done this – a video of Jack and his girlfriend Cara getting jiggy with it has appeared online, only she’s not his girlfriend any more and so it looks like Jack has been trying to get even with her. Continue reading “Review: Four minutes twelve seconds, Hampstead Downstairs”