Review: The State Vs John Hayes, King’s Head

“They would never send John…but they would send me”

More of us have voices in our head than we would care to admit but how many of us truly give them the time of day. Sitting in her cell on Death Row, Elyese Dukie is one such person, accused of the murder of two people but adamant that John Hayes was responsible, and it is Hayes’ face who looks back at her from the mirror and who we first meet in The State Vs John Hayes, now playing at the King’s Head Theatre as part of their new writing festival.

Developed out of extensive research into female killers, this one-woman show is written and performed by Lucy Roslyn and is hauntingly effective. In this Texas prison cell, this complex character ricochets between extremes, between John and Elyese, as we delve into the interior life she won’t reveal to the courts or the psychiatrists, drawing ever closer to horrible truths borne of lifelong exposure to violence and the desperation to conform to societal norms. Continue reading “Review: The State Vs John Hayes, King’s Head”

Review: Crystal Springs, Park Theatre

“Everything I did was to protect my daughter”

The world of cyber-bullying may be new and uncharted territory that parents have to delve into but Kathy Rucker’s Crystal Springs makes the case that it is vital that we as a society engage with it sooner rather than later for all our sakes. Of course bullying is nothing new but the way in which the available technology and the proliferation of the internet has transformed the way in which people relate to each other means that it has become far easier to make life-altering decisions.

Rucker’s play doesn’t have too much to say that is new or original in all honesty but its structure means that it takes a while for this to emerge and in the telling, it does fitfully engage. We start at the end, in the aftermath of a teen suicide and with the help of a journalist who has a book deal, we work backwards to discover the detail of a tragic tale of class conflict and jealousy in which the mothers are as much to blame as the daughters whose initially bright friendship becomes soured. Continue reading “Review: Crystal Springs, Park Theatre”

Review: Mr Happiness and The Water Engine, Old Vic Tunnels

“The mind of man is less perturbed by a mystery he cannot explain than by an explanation he cannot understand”

I’ve had something of a varied history in the Old Vic Tunnels since it opened early last year: exciting immersive experiences and one of the worst productions conceivable – I still can’t look at a watering can the same way… And since opening last year, it continued to develop as a performing space, making varied use of the atmospheric arches, and they have now opened up The Screening Room, a brand-new 125-seater space both programmed and run by a team of volunteers to showcase the ‘new’ and offer training and experience in all aspects of theatre creation. The first show mounted here is a double bill of David Mamet radio plays, Mr Happiness and The Water Engine, presented by Theatre6 and MokitaGrit.

The first, short, piece is a one-man-show, David Burt starring as a radio show host playing at agony uncle, reading out letters and dispensing frank advice to his listeners’ personal problems. Silhouettes on the bookshelves behind him enact some of the scenes which adds an extra layer which isn’t strictly necessary as Burt’s sonorous voice and expressive face are more than plenty to guide us through the tangled concerns with a soft but matter-of-fact humour. Continue reading “Review: Mr Happiness and The Water Engine, Old Vic Tunnels”

Review: Bender / Laundry, Wet Rep Season – Waterloo East

“I got bored of sobriety”

The Wet Rep Season at the Waterloo East theatre, tucked under a railway arch near Waterloo station, features 4 plays by 3 writers being performed by 1 company. The shows are delivered in varied double bills so you can really pick which ones you want to see, or even go for the whole set and soak up a whole lot of new writing.

Inspired by a Facebook page that asked its members to share their own stories and anecdotes about their nights to remember, Bender tells the story of a night out for three young people whose idea of a good night out is to get totally wasted on drink and drugs and hurl themselves into oblivion. It is a high-octane ride through getting ready to go out, pubs, clubs, post-club adventures and then the comedown which never really relents from the moment its 70 minutes start. Writer Anna Jordan has constructed a highly amusing trail through the empties and the things that happen that we’d rather forget about, which never feels less than authentic (how could it not, given the source material) and it only really falls down with a late twist into melodrama which isn’t really needed. Continue reading “Review: Bender / Laundry, Wet Rep Season – Waterloo East”