10 questions for 10 years – Rosie Wyatt

She’s been acting less time than I’ve been blogging but I can’t hold that against Rosie Wyatt, an actress whose name you should know

I’m not saying that Rosie Wyatt in the sole reason I like monologues now but her captivating performance in Bunny went a long way to convincing of the merits to the form that up until that point, I had mostly resisted. So much so she was nominated for a prestigious fosterIAN award for Best Actress.

So it was great to hear it was a positive time for her too:

“I have loads of nice memories of Bunny. Rehearsals with Joe Murphy remain one of my happiest, creative periods to date. Waiting to go in to the Fringe Awards to collect our Fringe First and being totally overwhelmed and Jack Thorne teasing me. And my Dad coming out to New York, his first and only solo trip abroad, to see me perform.”

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Review: In Event of Moone Disaster, Theatre503

“If an alien came and said they’d whisk you away a thousand billion miles, to a different planet, but you’d never come back, would you go?”

There’s something rather delicious about the winner of the Theatre503’s International Playwriting Award hailing from Sunderland but a Mackem Andrew Thompson is, and what a winner In Event of Moone Disaster proves to be. The title derives from the interesting tidbit that speechwriters at the time had to prepare for the Moon landing going wrong and though the play uses space travel as a springboard to examine three generations of a family whose destiny seems somehow tied up there in the stars.

So we encounter Sylvia on the night of the Moon landing, in awe of the possibilities it heralds; we meet Neil and Julie in the present day trying to conceive; and in 2055, Sylvia’s granddaughter is preparing to become the first person to walk on Mars. And as we see how past actions influence future possibilities, a more pressing journey of gender equality emerges as the main theme in this feminist sci-fi epic (with heart). What does the freedom to ‘have it all’ actually look like, has what we’re willing to sacrifice changed over the years, have we even progressed but at all?  Continue reading “Review: In Event of Moone Disaster, Theatre503”

Review: The Cardinal, Southwark Playhouse

“A poet’s art is to lead on your thoughts through subtle paths and workings of a plot. I will say nothing positive; you may think what you please…”

It’s not too often that I open a review with mention of the sound design but Max Pappenheim’s work in The Little at the Southwark Playhouse is undoubtedly worthy of the accolade. In this intimate auditorium on the architecturally clean lines of Anna Reid’s set, there’s an extraordinary sense of being in vaulted palace chambers and cathedrals as echoes and reverberations amplify our imaginations perfectly.

It’s the kind of creative invention that those familiar with director Justin Audibert have come to expect and it is thrilling to see it maintained whether working in the vast Royal Shakespeare Theatre where his recent Snow in Midsummer was excellent, or on this much smaller scale where it is a real delight to see someone really understanding how to play to all sides of a thrust stage. There’s also a fascinating choice of material here in this revival of James Shirley’s The Cardinal, a 1641 play whose claim to fame is being one of the last to be performed before Oliver Cromwell pulled the plug on show-business.

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Review: Bunny, White Bear

“I prefer surprise to suspense. 
But that’s basically because I feel suspense all the time”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has catapulted Jack Thorne’s already fast-rising star into the higher echelons of British writing talent, so it is always interesting to look back to earlier work to see if the seeds of success can be spotted. Perhaps with this in mind, newly formed company Fabricate Company have opted to revive his 2010 Fringe First-winning one-woman play Bunny at the tidily renovated White Bear (pub grub definitely recommended, as is the exceptionally friendly bar service).

Recounted by the breathlessly energetic and recklessly teenage Katie, Bunny takes a snapshot of her life in the racially divided estates of Luton over the course of a hot summer’s afternoon. A messy encounter between her older boyfriend Abe and an Asian kid on a bike spirals into something more profoundly disturbing when Abe’s friends get involved and she goes along for the ride, knowing full well there’s more than just a dropped ice-cream at stake here. Continue reading “Review: Bunny, White Bear”

Review: Mumburger, The Archivist’s Gallery

“Was the death expected? Yes or no”

The clues may be there but I was still astounded by Sarah Kosar’s Mumburger, an arresting new drama that has set up residence in The Archivist’s Gallery, a venue tucked away by the canal in Haggerston. Described as a play about “family, grief and red meat”, this world premiere of a hyper-local piece of writing (Broadway Market, Rich Mix and Columbia Road flower market all get a mention) from The Archivist’s inaugural writer-in-residence certainly makes for an interesting beginning for Kosar’s tenure here.

After a tragic car crash, an Anglo-American family is shattered by grief and their differing responses to their loss. Father Hugh retreats into himself, at a loss for what to say or do; daughter Tiffany is conversely a torrent of words and action, a whirlwind of activity as a distraction technique. But 72 hours after the loss of the wife and mother they miss so dearly, an unexpected act of “environmental performance art” throws up a bizarre but searching challenge. Continue reading “Review: Mumburger, The Archivist’s Gallery”

Review: Spine, Soho Theatre

“There’s nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say”

Among many things, this blog is useful for reminding me of exactly how I felt about this production or that actor but in some cases, I don’t need to be reminded. Seeing Rosie Wyatt in a solo piece for the first time (in Jack Thorne’s Bunny back in 2011) was a genuine revelation, at the time I was always unsure about monologues and hardly went to any and it is no overstatement to say she changed my mind about a whole genre – that’ll be why she was ranked as one of the top six female performances of the year for me. So it was no surprise to see me at the Soho Theatre Upstairs (again) on a dark October evening (again) to see Wyatt (again) in a solo show (again). Creatures of habit… us?

This time round it is Clara Brennan’s Spine to which she is giving her unbridled dramatic energy, inhabiting the play and the space so thoroughly that she ought to charge other people rent for coming in to use it when she’s not there. It’s quite a remarkable thing to watch, seeing her perform, as she flicks so effortlessly between the two characters of the show – ferocious but fragile Amy and perceptive pensioner Glenda – and traces the growing if unlikely friendship between the pair as circumstance thrusts them together. She demands the full attention too, some may baulk from the direct eye contact but it is such an integral part of the theatrical transaction here that it ought to be compulsory to embrace it. Be warned though, Wyatt takes literally no prisoners! Continue reading “Review: Spine, Soho Theatre”

Review: Worst Wedding Ever, Salisbury Playhouse

 “There was no happier man on the planet than me, the day I learned they’d split The Hobbit into three separate films”

In what is quite the coup for Salisbury Playhouse, Chris Chibnall’s new play Worst Wedding Ever is premiering there, a product of AD Gareth Machin’s determination to promote new writing from local sources. A resident of Dorset, Chibnall held the much of the nation’s collective attention last year in the brilliant Broadchurch which starred the beautiful Dorset coastline alongside its whodunit, and whilst this very much ploughs a different furrow, it proved to be quite engaging.

A comedy through and through, about a young couple keen to have a quiet wedding on the cheap but failing to take into account the determination of their families and in particular her mother, to get involved as much as possible. What makes it work though is the way which Chibnall manages to stretch the remit of comedy here to cover both the outrageously farcical and the touchingly human – there’s a huge emotionality at play here which means the comedy is often most moving. Continue reading “Review: Worst Wedding Ever, Salisbury Playhouse”

Radio Review: Pride and Prejudice, Radio 4

“I think the temptations will be too strong in Brighton”

 Just a quickie for this 3 hour adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which was spread over 3 weeks and so proved to be quite a drawn-out experience. Charlotte Jones’ dramatisation, directed by Sally Avens, worked extremely well, thanks to a spiffingly high-quality cast. Current RSC darling Pippa Nixon ad Jamie Parker took on the leading couple, Samantha Spiro as Mrs Bennett, Toby Jones as Mr Collins, Fenella Woolgar as Miss Bingley…the list goes on. And narrated by Amanda  Root, it was practically tailor-made for me.

Which made the scheduling a tad frustrating, the week-long gaps a little too long for my apparent attention span these days whereas I would have rather binged on the whole thing in one go. But it was good. Parker taking a little getting used to as Darcy but getting there, connecting well with Nixon’s vibrant Elizabeth. Lydia Wilson making a compassionate Jane, Michelle Terry the same with Charlotte Lucas, David Troughton’s Mr Bennett resignedly pleasant against Spiro’s over-exuberant wife. A genuine pleasure.

Review: Blink, Soho Theatre

“Being watched makes doing things more attractive somehow. Just simple things”

2012 saw Phil Porter’s Blink take Edinburgh and then London by storm with its quirky charms – its study of grief and love intersecting on two quietly damaged souls – and so it is hardly surprisingly that 2013 has seen the show travel as far as India, before returning to the intimacy of the Soho Theatre’s upstairs space. Director Joe Murphy has wisely kept original actors Rosie Wyatt and Harry McEntire onboard and the luxury of revisiting the production was one which I enjoyed immensely.

There’s much that connects Jonah and Sophie – each has lost a parent to cancer and both are struggling to adapt to life in London, barely keeping afloat in the great metropolis. So it seems right that they gravitate towards each other in their own inimitable way, finding their own sort of connection, masquerading as love. For though this may seem like an indie version of a rom-com, its heart lies somewhere deeper, more meaningful in uncovering the complexities of being with another.  Continue reading “Review: Blink, Soho Theatre”

Review: Virgin, Watford Palace Theatre

“We’ll just wait 5 minutes for the email to send”

EV Crowe’s latest play Virgin comes to us under the auspices of Watford Palace’s Ideal World season, exploring the way that the digital revolution has impacted on human relationships, but it crowbars so much into its 80 minutes that the brief ends up feeling a little constrictive. Working mother Emily toils away in local government and is determined that a project to bring high-speed broadband to her rural village will be the springboard to get her out of the admin office. But with a younger, web-savvy generation snapping at her heels, she is forced to confront the limitations of her own bandwidth.

Laura Elphinstone imbues the spiky Emily with a remarkably conflicted complexity – her ambition thwarted by men, her maternal instinct disguised by stress, her warmly hesitant optimism at connecting the village tempered by her treatment of loyal husband Mark, Michael Shelford adorable in a range of chunky knits. And she is contrasted well by Rosie Wyatt as cuckoo-in-the-nest Sally, the consultant who comes to stay in their home whilst helping out on the project and the embodiment of a tech-confident but socially-awkward youth, happier online than IRL. Continue reading “Review: Virgin, Watford Palace Theatre”