Review: Henry V / The Merry Wives of Windsor, Roman Theatre of Verulamium St Albans

A return to live theatre is well marked by these vibrant open-air productions of Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Roman Theatre of Verulamium in St Albans

“Try and stay one box away from each other at all times”

As we try and search for a new normal in these uncertain times, it is reassuring to know that we can always rely on the unfailing unreliability of the British weather. After a scorcher of a week, the Maltings Open Air Theatre Festival finds itself opening into thunderstorms aplenty in the atmospheric surroundings of the Roman Theatre of Verulamium in St Albans. Plus ça change…

What has changed though is the basic reality of putting on a play. Social distancing rules supreme and it is fascinating to see how directors Matthew Parker and Adam Nichols are dealing with it in their respective productions of Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Continue reading “Review: Henry V / The Merry Wives of Windsor, Roman Theatre of Verulamium St Albans”

Review: One Last Waltz, Greenwich Theatre

A delicate dance around the emotive subject of Alzheimer’s – One Last Waltz skips the light fantastic at Greenwich Theatre

“I have my photographs
I have my memories
That’s all I need”

A delicate dance around the emotive subject of Alzheimer’s, Luke Adamson’s One Last Waltz returns to London to the intimate studio space at Greenwich Theatre where it pulls no punches in exploring what this disease can do to even the closest of families, while somehow still maintaining a lightness of spirit that could match the Illuminations.

Alice is at that point in life where her friends keep dying, even the ones younger than her and now her husband has passed, there’s no hiding the fact that she keeps forgetting things. A trawl through some old family photos inspires her adult daughter Mandy to recreate a favourite holiday to Blackpool but not even the promise of the Tower ballroom can disguise her decline. Continue reading “Review: One Last Waltz, Greenwich Theatre”

Review: The House of Usher, Hope Theatre

“I didn’t like to mention that I had imagined his sister singing to me in my sleep”

Ever ambitious, the Hope Theatre have launched a Gothic Season which will run right up until Christmas, taking in play The Worst Was This, lesbian bonkbuster Her Aching Heart and opening with this Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The House of Usher. Created by Luke Adamson and Dan Bottomley and directed by Adamson with Phil Croft, it takes an actor-musician approach to the material and is very much its own version of the short story, pulling in influences from elsewhere in Poe’s oeuvre and also the depths of the writers’ own imaginations.

The House of Usher is told to us by the nameless figure of The Narrator, who unexpectedly finds himself invited to visit his old childhood friend Roderick Usher in their stately home. This he does, but he’s shocked to find him in the throes of an illness that has heightened his sensitivities to unbearable levels. And he’s not alone, Roderick’s twin sister Madeline appears similarly afflicted but has a different take on the matter from her overly protective sibling, forcing the Narrator into a series of difficult decisions, something made more challenging by the eeriness of the house itself. Continue reading “Review: The House of Usher, Hope Theatre”

Review: Macbeth, Omnibus and Clapham Common

“Upon this blasted heath you stop our way”

Following handsome bearded men down shadowy paths has long been a vocation on Clapham Common but for the next couple of weeks, the entertainment being provided is of a more theatrical bent as the Omnibus presents a promenade production of the Scottish play which leads its audience on a journey both outside and in. It’s a canny, modernised take on Macbeth which makes inventive use of its locale to thrust us right in the midst of the action.

Whether huddled around a bonfire in the empty paddling pool, jammed into a crowded alleyway, guests at the banqueting table or spectators in the midst of hand-to-hand combat, Gemma Kerr’s production is more site-responsive than truly immersive and is the better for it, with less distraction from the bleakness of this world that has been created, where society is crumbling and the privations of long-running war are felt keenly by everyone. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, Omnibus and Clapham Common”