Review: The Process, Bunker Theatre

BAZ Productions’ The Process proves bold and striking in its use of BSL and spoken English, if a little flawed too, now running at the Bunker Theatre

“Would you like me to speak for myself?”

You can’t say they didn’t warn you. Captions like “no-one will understand everything” and “no two people can have the same experience” flash up on the wall before The Process starts – “that is how it is meant to be” we’re gently but insistently told.  For this is a story told in both BSL and spoken English, with overlaps and gaps deliberately built in, probing at our need to understand everything, exemplifying that for some, that is an unimaginable luxury.

Sarah Bedi’s play posits a near-dystopia (ie sometime soon after 31st January…!) where notions of personal economic cost have become a major driver in a political system where the power of the state is becoming monolithic. Jo Kay, a Deaf entrepreneur, has developed the app which is being used to measure people’s contributions and costs to society but though she is ostensibly being celebrated as part of the establishment, she soon sees her tool weaponised against her. Continue reading “Review: The Process, Bunker Theatre”

Review: Benighted, Old Red Lion

“Gin is excellent”

It is perhaps appropriate that for Stewart Pringle’s final show at the helm of the Old Red Lion, he’s gone with his beloved horror genre. And following in the success of their Arthur Miller discovery No Villain, this Angel pub theatre is impressively punching above its weight again with a world (stage) premiere of a JB Priestley piece – Benighted. First published as a novel in 1927 and adapted for cinema as The Old Dark House – apparently as the first ever haunted house drama – Duncan Gates’ version offers a stirring alternative to most other festive fare.

You notice the difference as soon as you walk into the theatre – Gregor Donnelly’s angular, expressionistic design giving a sense of the weirdness of the creepy mansion in which a number of people are forced to seek refuge during an apocalyptic stormy night in the Welsh countryside (I’m calling it Storm Myfanwy). And though they get respite from the weather, the atmosphere remains troubled as the eeriness of their surroundings – and their hosts – provokes a great unburdening of the soul as chilling fears run up their spine and secrets come a-tumbling out. Continue reading “Review: Benighted, Old Red Lion”

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pleasance

“A proper woman, as one shall see in a summer’s day”

It’s all in the name – the Reversed Shakespeare Company have set themselves up with the express intention of exploring and expanding gender roles by flipping the script and giving us Shakespeare’s male characters played as women, by women and vice versa. So instead of your Polonias and Malvolias, their debut production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins with Egeus and Hermia as a battling mother and son in the court of their Duchess, Theseus.

It may take a moment of adjustment, not least when Helena bounds onto stage with a luscious red beard, but it sets the scene for an adventurous, interesting take on the play, that really does have a lot to say in its shifted sexual dynamics. How often do we get to see women being this forthright and dominant in their relationship, or men demurring modestly from a quickie in the woods? Or indeed for that matter (especially in light of The Painkiller and indeed the whole of farce as a genre), how rare it is to see women allowed to be this physically funny onstage. Continue reading “Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pleasance”