Review: Grimm’s Tales – Shoreditch Town Hall, London

“If my mother tells me not to leave the path again, then that’s what I’ll do”

A shoebrush becomes a baby hedgehog, a repurposed umbrella a mournful songbird, a coil of rope Rapunzel’s long tresses. For the eight people roaming the nooks and crannies beneath Shoreditch Town Hall, anything they find can be co-opted into their storytelling, as they give us their versions of Grimm’s fairy tales, although some will be more familiar than others. And it is not strictly their version, as Philip Wilson’s production uses Philip Pullman’s adaptation of the stories to weave a subtle kind of magic.

The show describes itself as immersive, but it is a gentler kind of immersion than most, probably better described as site-responsive. For the audience are split into two groups and taken on a journey from room to room, through five performances which draw us into their orbit, yet ask little of us but our attention (in case the notion of interaction causes any anxiety). And it is hard not to be enchanted as the company weave their spell through the darker stretches of the imagination – happily ever after doesn’t always seem guaranteed in this world. Continue reading “Review: Grimm’s Tales – Shoreditch Town Hall, London”

Review: Keeler, Richmond Theatre

“She’s that naked girl on that chair right?”

The story of Keeler that is told here purports to be the inside story of the Profumo Affair and is based on Christine Keeler’s own book on the matter with Douglas Thompson, The Truth At Last. Gill Adams is credited as the playwright, although curiously does not merit a biography in the programme and as it actually turns out, Keeler exercised much control over the writing of the play, approving every single word. Thus what we are left with is a heavily partisan account of someone concerned with redressing the balance of public perception in her favour, hardly the makings of great drama.

We revisit the scandal of the early 1960s from its beginnings in the Soho club where she worked as a titillating dancer and was spotted by the sleazily avuncular eye of Stephen Ward, an osteopath with grand designs on society. It was he who introduced her to the high society party lifestyle that brought with it brief but heady affairs with, amongst others, John Profumo, secretary of state for war, and Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché. When this came to light in the paranoid Cold War atmosphere, one of the first public scandals of its nature, the ensuing trials, resignations, suicides and infamous photo shoots shocked the nation. Continue reading “Review: Keeler, Richmond Theatre”