Review: Richard III, Blue Elephant

“Now is the winter of our discontent”

Lazarus Theatre’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s Richard III starts off in striking style in the Blue Elephant’s black box auditorium – a genteel drinks reception quickly turns into an all-out rave complete with glowsticks, from the midst of which Prince Plockey’s usurping monarch emerges to deliver “now is the winter of our discontent”. What follows doesn’t quite match up to this vibrant invention but Gavin Harrington-Odedra’s production does contain some lovely moments.

Harrington-Odedra has trimmed down the text to a mighty lean 100 minutes straight through which presents as many obstacles as it does opportunities. Richard’s rise to the throne is meteoric which robs us of much of his scheming character, and some of the remaining scene choices don’t always fly, Lady Anne’s seduction for one feeling a little too static. But the strong use of visuals works extremely well in this fast-paced world. Continue reading “Review: Richard III, Blue Elephant”

Review: Ernest, Etcetera Theatre

“This is a match that I wouldn’t encourage
Gwen wants a man, not a piece of lost luggage”

Musical adaptations of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest actually have a strong pedigree as a rather smashing version played at the Riverside Studios a couple of years ago but it is now the turn of Phil Jacobs to have his own stab as The All in One Theatre Company present his take on Ernest at Camden’s Etcetera Theatre. Filleted down to a single sprightly hour and liberally sprinkled with musical interludes, it is an undoubtedly chirpy and charming take on the story which ought to feel at home on fringes and in festivals across the land.
Jacobs has kept the basic structure of the play, in which Jack Worthing invents a roguish persona called Ernest in order to secure the hand of the fragrant Gwendolen Fairfax who will only marry a man of said name but finds his plans led awry by the arrival of his friend Algernon Moncrieff who is also posing as Ernest, in order to win the heart of Jack’s ward Cecily Cardew. A framing device of a modern version of Jack delving into the world of role-playing games doesn’t really pay off but nor does it really affect matters as Pamela Schermann’s production steams merrily on.

 

Samuel Harris provides an excellent anchoring strength as Jack, sweet of voice and lithe of stage presence, he is consistently good in a production that sees him rarely leave the stage but he is best when bouncing off of Linford Hyde’s louche muffin-munching Algernon. Hyde’s delivery is brilliantly done, almost cattish in its sharpness and comicly timed to perfection – a line about cufflinks is surely one of the funniest of the year. Ella Duncan’s spirited Cecily is good fun and whilst Cassandra Foster’s Gwendolen is prissily fine, she does play it a little straighter than the others. 

Continue reading “Review: Ernest, Etcetera Theatre”