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: Sensitive Subjects – The Revlon Girl / Barren, Tristan Bates

“They asked me how I felt. 
How do you answer a question like that?” 

Sensitive Subjects is the title of this double bill of one-act plays which both deal with the traumatic experience of child bereavement in their own ways. Director Maxine Evans and playwright Neil Anthony Docking have deliberately approached the issue this way – The Revlon Girl looks back to the Aberfan disaster of 1966 and looks at how the small mining village community there tried to deal with the loss of over 100 children, and Barren tackles the issue of infertility in a modern day marriage, mourning the children that can never be – and whilst never an easy evening of theatre to watch, it is at times extraordinary.

Just over an hour in length, The Revlon Girl must surely rank as one of the best pieces of new writing in London at the moment. Docking imagines a support group meeting for the bereaved mothers of Aberfan, where 116 children and 28 adults lost their lives when a tip collapsed into the village, where a make-up rep from Revlon has been booked to try and lift their grief-stricken spirits. But there are as many ways to process grief as there are people in the world and this group of four women are no different, from near-catatonic shock to antisocial prickliness, over-compensatory geniality to terse officiousness.  Continue reading “Review: Sensitive Subjects – The Revlon Girl / Barren, Tristan Bates”

Film Review: The Theory of Everything

“One simple, elegant equation to explain everything”

Alongside The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything offers a double whammy of Oscar-baiting, British-biopicing filmic goodness – Benedict Cumberwhatsit’s Alan Turing and Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking seem dead certs for Academy Award nominations alongside their respective films – and for my money, it is the latter has the edge on the Cumbersnatch-starring film as something slightly less Hollywoodised and thus more interesting. That’s not to say that James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything is all rough edges – it is based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s memoir of her marriage after all and both she and Hawking have ‘blessed’ the film – but it is a complex love story that doesn’t shy away from too much challenge.

The focus of the film is in fact the relationship and marriage between physicist Stephen and Jane Wilde, his contemporary at Cambridge University where she studied literature, and the severe pressure that it came under after his diagnosis with motor neurone disease and then his increasing fame as his discoveries broke exciting fresh ground. Redmayne’s physical performance as Hawking is undoubtedly astounding as his condition worsens but there’s something deeper there too that comes across later on, in the merest flicker of the lips and glints in the eye that come before the synthesised voicebox kicks in, an enigmatic level of emotion that we never get to truly discover and that is entirely beguiling.

Continue reading “Film Review: The Theory of Everything”