Review: The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Old Red Lion

“That’s all the universe is, one big torture chamber”

Written in the early 1990s, Philip Ridley’s The Fastest Clock in the Universe has always carried echoes of Dorian Gray but watching it in 2013 in Islington’s Old Red Lion theatre pub (where Mercury Fur was memorably revived last year), it is remarkable to see how it prefigured the cult of celebrity and so-called reality television shows like The Only Way is Essex. The perma-tanned, pec-tastic, plucked vanity of protagonist Cougar Glass epitomises the obsession with image that looms large over contemporary society and consequently casts a new sheen over the self-gratifying urges that form the backbone of Ridley’s still disturbing play.

Glass is celebrating his 19th birthday, he’s been celebrating it for a number of years now and aided and abetted by his faithful companion Captain Tock, he has special plans indeed for his party, centred on the twinkish delights of 15 year-old schoolboy Foxtrot Darling. Obsessed with holding back the years, his narcissism is cruelly magnetic yet the vortex it creates pulls people mercilessly into its most destructive orbit, meaning that it is inevitably more than party favours that are going to be handed out by the end of the evening. Continue reading “Review: The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Old Red Lion”

Review: War Horse, New London Theatre

“Will you just shut up about your blimmin’ horse”

Those of you that know me, or have read a few reviews on here, will know that I have something of an aversion to puppets, specifically puppetry that tries to be realistic in its portrayal – Avenue Q’s fluffy monsters are fine in that respect – but something about the mimicry of ‘real life’ has never been something I have enjoyed watching and indeed freaks me out a little bit. Throw into the mix horses, an animal of which I am not keen, and it is perhaps unsurprising that I have never been to see War Horse. Nor had I ever intended to, but I made the mistake of saying that the only way I would go was if someone bought me a ticket for my birthday…and lo, guess what happened…

Adapted by Nick Stafford from Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book, War Horse has been one of the biggest theatrical success stories of recent years: originally playing at the National Theatre in 2007, then returning for a revival the next year and then transferring into the West End in March 2009 where it has become one of the best selling shows in town, a genuine fixture at the tucked-away New London Theatre where its success shows no signs of abating, especially in the reflected glow of its award-winning sister production on Broadway. Quite why this is, I have to say still eludes me having seen the show, I couldn’t tell you what the magic ingredient is in here that has led to its enduring achievements aside from offering one of the most overly sentimental theatrical experiences possible. Continue reading “Review: War Horse, New London Theatre”