Review: The Sweethearts, Finborough

“You’re anyone who’s ever been a member of Sugababes”

Enrique Iglesias said that he could be your hero, Mariah Carey reckons there’s a hero inside of you, Bonnie Tyler’s just holding out but Sarah Page is more interested in asking questions about what makes a hero in this day and age and just how fallible they are. This she does in unexpected ways in The Sweethearts, a play first seen at the Finborough as part of their new writing festival Vibrant last year, and now receiving a full run directed by Daniel Burgess.

Set in the boiling heat of Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, a tent that is usually used as an office has been converted into sleeping quarters in advance of the visit of girl group The Sweethearts, out doing their bit for the troops and naturally being filmed by a TV crew for the publicity. But when the base comes under heavy fire, the pop stars are trapped with the soldiers assigned to look after them and their differences make an already volatile situation that much more explosive. Continue reading “Review: The Sweethearts, Finborough”

Review: The Love Girl and the Innocent, Southwark Playhouse

“Keep working, keep working, keep working, keep working…poor bastards”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Love Girl and the Innocent hasn’t been seen in London for over 30 years and with a cast of over 50 characters, one can see the challenges facing anyone willing to take it on. It’s taken Matthew Dunster nearly 10 years but with Jagged Edge Productions and a multi-tasking cast of 16, he now brings his own adaptation to the Southwark Playhouse in an atmospheric if sprawling production that evokes the horrors and absurdities of life in the gulag.

Based on the playwright’s own experiences in the Soviet labour camps, the play is at its best in capturing the insane swirl of the prisoners as they jostle for position and privilege in the microcosm of Russian society that develops. Most have been sentenced to 10 years hard labour and so are in it for the long haul as they become part of a never-ending production line, but where they end up on it depends on their willingness to collude, corrupt and conspire to make their lives even just a smidgen better as the relentless demand for greater productivity comes from on high. Continue reading “Review: The Love Girl and the Innocent, Southwark Playhouse”