Review: Adam & Eve, Hope

Tackling one of the hottest topics of the moment, Adam & Eve opens at the Hope Theatre

“So you believed it all?”

Who do you instinctively believe – the accuser or the accused? In a cultural narrative being reshaped by the force of the #MeToo movement, but also being buffeted by the increasing pervasiveness of alternative facts, finding an incontrovertible truth can seem harder than ever. So what happens when it is you that gets caught up in a world of damning allegations…

Such is the lot of estate agent Eve and schoolteacher Adam. Drawn to find their garden of Eden by moving out of the city, the rural idyll of their marriage is rocked when he is asked not to come into work while claims against him are investigated. Claims that seem scarcely believable, but claims that won’t go away, claims that worry away at the very foundation of what we believe. Continue reading “Review: Adam & Eve, Hope”

Review: Coming Clean, King’s Head’s Queer Season

“We’ve shared each other round half the gay scene in London”

Between the news of its forthcoming move and expansion and the opening of a major nine week Queer Festival, there’s quite the buzz around the King’s Head at the moment, so I was keen to get stuck into the latter with a double bill of Kevin Elyot’s Coming Clean and a new play called Funeral Meats by Cradeaux Alexander.

The late Elyot is having a bit of a moment in London theatre. His final play – Twilight Song – is receiving a belated premiere at the Park Theatre and this production of Coming Clean marks the first major London revival for his first play, since it opened at the Bush in 1982. Thus the opportunity is there, should you wish to take it, to track the evolution of his writing, long dominated by his most famous play My Night With Reg. Continue reading “Review: Coming Clean, King’s Head’s Queer Season”

Review: Archimedes’ Principle, Park Theatre

“You’re more ready to believe a parent who has never set foot at the pool and the words of a five-year-old girl…”

Archimedes’ principle posits that “any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object” but Catalan playwright Josep Maria Miró i Coromina’s Archimedes’ Principle, receiving a UK premiere at the Park Theatre, explores what happens when the reciprocal force overwhelms the original. At a local swimming baths, an accusation about one of the coaches is made by a child. Parents are already on edge due to a recent incident at a nearby youth centre and in this day and age of unabating coverage of paedophilia cases and the instantly mobilising forces of social media, the situation rapidly deteriorates into bedlam.

But rather than present us with a play about sexual abuse, Miró explores something much more fascinating about the nature of truth and the way that even the most pernicious of accusations can insinuate their way into rational minds. We get the child’s version of events, we get to hear young coach Brandon’s explanation of what happened, but the playwright doesn’t come down on one side or the other. Instead we jump around in time, playing and replaying scenes which take on different meanings once an alternative position has been expressed. Thus we see how the reaction to even just the merest hint of paedophilia is just as dangerous, if not more, than the thing itself. Continue reading “Review: Archimedes’ Principle, Park Theatre”

Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Digital Theatre

“Can the world buy such a jewel?”

Well you can now buy a copy of Josie Rourke’s Much Ado About Nothing which parlayed the star quality of its leads David Tennant and Catherine Tate into massive box office success but watching it again, I’m not so convinced of its jewel-like propensities. Revisiting this particular show did it no real favours in my mind, exposing its limitations and the lack of subtlety that characterises so much of the production.

Relocated to a Gibraltar naval base in the 1980s, the brashness of that decade was clearly taken onboard as a key note for the whole thing. But whereas from the back row of the Wyndhams, it seemed to work in filling the theatre, in the up close and personal of the camera lens, the broadness doesn’t work quite as well. Tennant comes off slightly better with a more natural reading of the lines as a cocky Benedick but Tate never really gets under the skin of Beatrice, the emphasis too much on artifically contrived comedy which never allows her to just be. She is always made to work harder by Rourke who perhaps should have trusted her actor a bit more as she really comes into her own from ‘kill Claudio…’ where she demonstrates her dramatic gift and indicates what might have been of lines like “there was a star danced…” had she been mugging less right before delivering it. Continue reading “Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Digital Theatre”

Review: Drama at Inish, Finborough

“We do serious plays – Russian plays and that sort of thing”

The pleasures of theatregoing, especially in London, are many and varied but amongst my favourites are the chances offered to see some of our best actors in the most intimate of surroundings. So the opportunity to see the glorious Celia Imrie in the 50 seater Finborough Theatre in Earls Court was one I was never likely to miss. She is part of a large company performing Drama At Inish, a 1933 Irish comedy by Lennox Robinson which has not been seen in London for 60 years, in a strictly limited engagement. Also known as Is Life Worth Living?, the play is something of a farcical comedy, set in the small village of Inish where a travelling repertory company arrive for the summer, replacing the usual circus with their weightier fare of Ibsen, Tolstoy, Strindberg and Chekhov. But their serious drama soon begins to impact massively on the mood of the town with the inhabitants sinking into a melancholy morass of neuroses, unduly influenced by the theatre going on around them.

Fidelis Morgan’s production is full of hustle and bustle as the cast of thirteen swirl around the Seaview Hotel, where the entire show takes place, spread over a week. The actor couple of Hector De La Mare and Constance Constantia – a delightfully expansive pair of performances from Rupert Frazer and Juliet Cadzow – watch on bemusedly as their drama plays out in real life with character after character affected by what they see: political consciences, long hidden romances and secret dead children are exposed, people are moved to attempt suicide and murder, but it is all played with a jovial silliness that lifts the heart. Continue reading “Review: Drama at Inish, Finborough”

Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndhams

“Man is a giddy thing and that is my conclusion”

Marking Josie Rourke’s first major piece of work since the announcement of her appointment as the next Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, this production of Much Ado About Nothing is perhaps more notable, for those less interested in theatrical musical chairs, for reuniting David Tennant and Catherine Tate, one of my all-time favourite pairings from Doctor Who. It is actually the first time I’ve seen the play, though I adored the Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson film when I was younger, and fans of this play are being spoiled as the Globe are also mounting a production which opens in the coming weeks.

The play has been moved to the heady days of the early 1980s and apparently is set in Gibraltar. I say apparently because the first I heard of it was reading the programme on the way home in which there’s an essay about life there which I assume means it serves as the location. I didn’t see any monkeys or a big rock, but I suppose it allows for the military base to be used as a reason for putting all of Don Pedro’s men in spiffing white naval uniforms 😉 (At least I think they’re naval, military of some description anyway.) Continue reading “Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndhams”