Review: Klippies, Southwark Playhouse

“You think because you black you know what it’s like to live in a township?”

In a baking hot schoolyard in a suburb on the edge of Johannesburg, an unlikely alliance gradually builds up between two teenage girls but in a post-apartheid South Africa in its eighteenth year of democracy, the winds of change are blowing strongly across the veld. Thandi comes from a well-to-do Zulu family and has aspirations to be a lawyer, Afrikaner Yolandi is from the rougher side of town and finds herself having to act as a lookout for her brother whilst he strips their teacher’s car for parts. But despite of, or maybe because of, their differences, a bond starts to grow. 

Jessica Siân’s Klippies details the progression of this friendship with a startling clarity that speaks so much of the forthrightness of youth but also of a nation that is changing so quickly in some ways, yet unable to let go of the past in others. Illicit bottles of brandy, homemade tattoos and heady passions characterise their tumble into a wondrous seclusion from the real world but try as they might, the scars of racial politics are hard to escape and the differences in their family situations, though equally troubled, threatens to pull them apart. Continue reading “Review: Klippies, Southwark Playhouse”

2015 What’s On Stage Award nominations

Best Actor In A Play Sponsored By Radisson Blu Edwardian
David Tennant – Richard II 
Mark Strong – A View From the Bridge 
Richard Armitage – The Crucible 
Tom Bateman – Shakespeare in Love 
Tom Hiddleston – Coriolanus 

Best Actress In A Play
Billie Piper – Great Britain 
Gillian Anderson – A Streetcar Named Desire 
Helen McCrory – Medea 
Imelda Staunton – Good People 
Lucy Briggs-Owen – Shakespeare in Love 

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Review: Far Away, Young Vic

“The cats have come in on the side of the French”

Blinking ‘eck, she’s a rum one that Caryl Churchill and having now seen Far Away, it is easy to see why we haven’t seen much of the play since its debut in 2000 despite Churchill’s reputation as one of (if not the) pre-eminent living British playwrights. It is perhaps a statement of intent then from Kate Hewitt, the most recent winner of the JMK Award (given to allow practical learning opportunities for young theatre directors of thrilling vision and promising ability), to turn to Far Awayfor her production funded by the proceeds.

Short but anything but sweet, and tucked away into the Young Vic’s studio space, the play encompasses five scenes that show a world heading for the brink as grim atrocities and warmongering become second nature. Samantha Colley stands out (she really has taken The Cut by storm this year after a stunning debut in The Crucible down the road) as Joan – first seen as a young girl blighted by nightmares that her aunt (Tamzin Griffin) can’t quite dispel as they’re rooted in a terrible truth. Continue reading “Review: Far Away, Young Vic”

Review: The Crucible, Old Vic

“An everlasting funeral marches round your heart”

On paper, this latest incarnation of The Crucible at the Old Vic may seem everlasting – early previews hit four hours and with no change to the 7.30pm starting time, it may feel like an endurance test in the making. But settled in at just under 3 hours 30 minutes, Yaël Farber’s production emerges as a slow-burning success, much in the vein of the Streetcar up the road in being utterly unafraid to take its time to build up the requisite atmosphere of horrifying suspicion and fear that renders Arthur Miller’s play a striking and timeless triumph.
 

And creatively it really is a triumph – Soutra Gilmour utilising the in-the-round setting perfectly whilst Richard Hammarton’s pervasive music and sound wriggle under the skin and Tim Lutkin’s lighting creates as much shadow as it does light, all combining to heighten the increasingly nightmarish scenario as the action snowballs to the terrible climax we know must come. The immediacy and intimacy that comes from being much closer than usual (for the vast majority in this theatre anyway) is almost unbearable but completely justifies keeping the theatre in this configuration for a while longer.

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