Review: fiji land, Southwark Playhouse

“We don’t want to know what’s going on”

Wise people in Skid Row once counselled “don’t feed the plants”, but the threat there was clear in the shape of Audrey 2. But over in the undefined anonymity of fiji land, three men are under orders to do just that – when the siren sounds, they’ve to feed and water the plants under their charge. But they’ve not to question why, they’re not allowed to know each other’s names, and when the orders start to darken in an ominous manner, it foreshadows the deterioration of their own situation.

Even with the best will in the world, one couldn’t really begin to explain what happens in Nick Gill’s play and why, and I think he’d be exactly fine with that. His writing is allusively thick and his approach to convention somewhat offbeat – to criticise fiji land for not having enough narrative development seems to be flying in the face of the playwright’s intentions. But sat in the smaller space of the Southwark Playhouse, it is also a little difficult to adjudge just what those aims are. Continue reading “Review: fiji land, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Hamlet, Young Vic

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”

The Young Vic continues to be allergic to the idea of people just using the main entrance into the auditorium to take their seats: people who have booked for Hamlet have been advised to turn up 30 minutes early in order to take in the ‘pre-show journey’. But whereas withGovernment Inspector and Beauty Queen of Leenane, it was just being guided a different way within the building, here we are guided out of the theatre and taken round the back entrance to wind our way through the corridors backstage past some rooms which have been dressed up with non-responsive cast members sitting around before reaching the seats, it adds very little to the experience (aside from getting us wet on the way there) and ultimately seems a pointless exercise. The most remarkable thing about this section was that the gym had a massive sign that talked about rules for ‘Excercise’: someone at the Young Vic needs to get their spell-checker switched on.

But to the play, labelled one of the theatrical events of the year as it features the return to the stage of Michael Sheen in what is Jerusalem director Ian Rickson’s Shakespearean debut. And as is often the case with such an oft-performed classic, an interpretation has been imposed upon the material to try and cast it in a different, and newly revelatory way. Once the seating area has been located, the uniformed orderlies, utilitarian grey carpet and circle of plastic chairs hint at what is to be revealed, as a ghostly prologue with Hamlet gazing on his father’s coffin before it is lowered into the ground, leads into the opening scene which takes place as if in a therapy session. For as it turns out, Elsinore is, I think, a mental asylum in the late 1970s and so the play takes on a new perspective on madness. I say new, I mean it borrows heavily from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Continue reading “Review: Hamlet, Young Vic”