United Kingdom

Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” at The Playhouse Theatre: Is It Possible to Get Too Much of American Politics?

Is it possible to get too much of American politics? With Donald Trump’s daily tweets invading our digital space, a new Kevin-Spacey-free House Of Cards on the, well, cards, and new films set in Watergate times, it might be that few will have any appetite for this revival of Gore Vidal’s 1960 play, The Best Man, which is set during a Democratic Party convention, and now makes its West End debut. But to dismiss it completely would be a pity because, for all the creaks of its plotting, this is quite a watchable account of political in-fighting. After all, any show...

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“Jubilee” at The Lyric Hammersmith: Adapting Punk Classic

The late Derek Jarman’s 1978 film Jubilee is a punk classic. I think he was in his Fellini phase, his vision peopled by freaks, dwarfs, and cracked actors. And punks of every description. Plus a few New Romantics. And a touch of Andy Warhol (as in film-maker). The film is theatrical, situationist, punky, camp, awkward, word-choked, and often as slow as a drop of sweat dribbling down your back on a hot day—basically a mess, but great if you see it as a late nighter. And stoned. If not, a touch embarrassing. Cringe-making. You just need to pick out the good bits like...

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Cinema And Smart Phones: The Art Of Increasing Audiences For Opera, Ballet, And, Theatre

Watching an opera, play, or ballet has become an increasingly cinematic experience. “Livecasting” performances directly onto screens is now a major part of these kinds of production. London’s Royal Opera House has an upcoming “Cinema Season” which includes live relays of Carmen and Swan Lake. In the US, the New York Metropolitan Opera House started livecasting in 2006, while the UK’s National Theatre Live began in 2009. The Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet joined in a year later. It has not always been a popular move among purists. Reactions of some in the opera world–such as English...

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Jess Thom On Touretteshero’s Production Of Beckett’s “Not I”: Mouth as a Disabled Character

Following excellent reviews from a run of Samuel Beckett’s Not I in Edinburgh last summer Touretteshero and Jess Thom are bringing the show to Battersea Arts Centre this March. Jess talks to DAO about her reasons for taking on Mouth–whose monologue is known within theatre as a marathon demanding a virtuoso performance. “There are plenty of examples of non-disabled actors “cripping-up” and pretending to have lived experience of disability. I believe this is almost always damaging and runs the risk of reinforcing negative stereotypes and assumptions about what having an impairment means. So we chose to go in the opposite...

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Going Places Interview With Lauren Clancy, The New Executive Director of The Bush Theatre

Lauren Clancy, the new Executive Director of the Bush Theatre, talks to us about her first few months in the role, why she was the right women for the job and what the Bush means to her. You have been a member of the Bush team for 4 years now. What do you think you will particularly take for your time in the Marketing Department at The Bush into your new role as Executive Director? Now, more than ever, “the Bush Theatre is yours.” I’ve been on a real journey with the Bush, which until now was centered around the landmark redevelopment...

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Contemporary “Electra” by DumbWise at The Bunker Theatre

Electra is the protagonist in two Ancient Greek tragedies, one by Sophocles and the other by Euripides. The story is typically bloody: as the daughter of King Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra, she wants to revenge the murder of her father by her mother. In her sights are both Clytemnestra and her mother’s new lover, Aegisthus. But unable to do the deed herself, Electra awaits the return of her long-lost brother Orestes, who everyone else says is dead. He isn’t, of course, and when he returns there is much spillage of blood. It is, after all, a revenge tragedy....

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The Bathroom Play: Georgia Christou’s “Yous Two” at The Hampstead Theatre

Theatre is a business as well as a craft. In an age of austerity cuts, and at a time when most Off-West End venues have studio spaces as well as main stages, this can lead to practical problems. In his program note to Georgia Christou’s debut play, Yous Two, Edward Hall—Hampstead Theatre’s artistic director—explains that his theatre has lost £122,000 due to a 14 percent Arts Council cut. Since this threatens his Downstairs studio space, which costs some £100,000 a year to run, he is now actively promoting the work staged on this small stage. As he points out, inviting...

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“Y Tad” – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (A Welsh Translation of Florian Zeller’s “The Father”)

Terry Eagleton reminds us that in order for tragedy to occur, then the protagonist must be in search of their own complete individual identity of freedom [1]. That freedom, as I understand it, comes in multiple forms. Usually, if we begin in the Aristotelian sense, the harmatia (or, the tragic “flaw”) is that the character cannot be in control of the desired fate that (in ancient terms) the gods have set for them. In the case of Y Tad, that fate is out of the hands of Arwyn, the central protagonist of this story. As previously mentioned in my...

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Chris Goode’s “Jubilee” – The State of The (Punk) Nation

The idea here is both exquisitely complex and wonderfully simple. On the one hand, Chris Goode’s show, Jubilee, is marking the 40th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s alternative cinema classic, the dystopian, ultra postmodern homage to a particular moment in British history – the year 1977– the simultaneous celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee and the irrepressible, all-consuming advent of the counterculture of punk. On the other hand it is a state of the nation play. In many ways, Goode’s Jubilee is a re-enactment of Jarman’s. The plot of the film is followed very closely with all the cinematic...

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What Is The Shape, Color, And Sound Of Pain?

Conceived and directed by Rachel Bagshaw and written by Chris Thorpe, The Shape of the Pain, produced by China Plate, was given four stars by The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner, who dubbed it “a kaleidoscopic exercise in empathy” during its run at Summerhall, Edinburgh last summer. The Shape of the Pain is a fictional monologue about Bagshaw’s very real chronic pain. Produced with sound design that presents integrated access with text that explores what amounts to an elegy to pain, Bagshaw explains how the piece came together: “Chris Thorpe and I have quite different backgrounds in the style of work we...

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“Frozen” at The Haymarket Theatre

Whatever the weather, this week is Frozen. On Broadway, the Disney musical of that name begins previews, but let’s let that go. In the West End, our Frozen has no Elsa, no Anna, and no glittery gowns. Although it does have plenty of ice imagery. No, our Frozen is a much darker story; it’s a revival of Bryony Lavery’s 1998 award-winning play about a child killer—definitely no singing, no dancing, no hummable tunes. But it does have an outstanding cast: Suranne Jones (a familiar agonized face from Doctor Foster), Jason Watkins, and Nina Sosanya. The story of Frozen is told by only three characters in a mixture of...

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Look How Far We’ve Come: Dan Gillespie Sells On LGBT History Month UK

February was the LGBT History Month UK. It’s 30 Years since the passing of Section 28, the legislation that made it illegal to “promote homosexuality” or “promote ‘teaching the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship'”. That was MY family they were talking about! I’m what you could call the second generation gay. My lesbian mothers raised me in the 1980’s and 90’s in London at the beating heart of the lesbian and gay rights movement. The results of the fight my mothers and the LGBT community made are that today I’m able to marry, have children and...

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Mind The Gap: Theatre Group For The Over 60s Helps Salisbury Playhouse Cater For All

One of the things Salisbury Playhouse tries to do is provide opportunities for everyone in the community to experience theatre and the pleasure that it brings. Our theatre group for the over 60s, Mind the Gap, supports our remit of putting the key priorities of our local authority Wiltshire Council at the heart of our work. To help Wiltshire Council fulfill its key priority of inclusivity, we aim to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Mind the Gap meets weekly at Salisbury Playhouse for a variety of theatre-based workshops. The group has been running for 10...

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Examining “Tommy” Through a Neurodiverse Lens

Ramps on the Moon’s adaptation of Pete Townsend’s 1969 concept album ‘Tommy’, toured the UK between March and July 2017. With time to let the stardust settle, Jonathan Meth offers a provocation reflecting on the award-winning production. It is bordering on mealy-mouthed to question the politics as well as the aesthetics of “Ramps on the Moon’s” production of Tommy, when to see so much fantastic talent assembled onstage of acting, singing, dancing and yes, disabled performers were simply joyous – and itself a political statement of intent. But when will the fabulous advances in theatre made by artists with physical and...

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Queer Collective–Reflections Of The World

A blog by Rach Skyer for UK Theatre to mark LGBT History Month. Producer and Actor Rach Skyer is a member of the Arcola’s Queer Collective, a performance collective exploring queer identity and how to present it theatrically. The group is open to anyone identifying as LGBTQI* in East London. The theatre is about truth. The stories we tell are reflections of the world–or at least the world as we understand it. With that in mind, theatre-makers must interrogate the industry to question who benefits from the stories, which voices are missing and how we can disrupt the current state of affairs. In approaching queer...

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“Gundog” at The Royal Court

First the goats, and now the sheep—has this venue become an urban farm? Rural life, which was once so central to our English pastoral culture, is now largely absent from metropolitan stages. And from our culture. Apart from The Archers or the village gothic of shows like The League Of Gentlemen, the countryside has become a lost world, a blank space on which any playwright can project their imaginary stories. So Gundog, Simon Longman’s Royal Court debut, comes across not as a real account of farming folk, but as a highly symbolic rural no-space of shepherds and sheep in a forgotten corner of...

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Actors Should Be Allowed To Be Parents Too

Acting, as the cliché goes, is child’s play. All that dressing up and pretending to be someone else. For those of us who do “normal” jobs, the idea of the theatre actor’s life sounds like a brilliant return to student life. You don’t have to get up early in the morning to commute to an office. Instead, you drink coffee and try to learn things off by heart during the day while in the evening, you do a couple of hours of intense work, then get drunk afterward. And then after a few months, you get to “rest” until...

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“Girls And Boys” at The Royal Court

This is Carey Mulligan week. She appears, improbably enough, as a hard-nosed cop in David Hare’s BBC thriller Collateral, as well as onstage at the Royal Court in London’s Sloane Square (she’s much better live than on film.) In a 90-minute monologue, written by Dennis Kelly, Mulligan explores a contemporary love story, and she is in good hands. Kelly is the wordsmith behind the edgy GCSE syllabus play DNA and The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas, as well as the (by contrast) infinitely sweeter Matilda The Musical, so you would be forgiven for expecting a rather acerbic view of modern marriage. And you’d be...

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Immersive “Julius Caesar” at The Bridge Theatre

“Two things only the people anxiously desire—bread and circuses,” said the Roman poet Juvenal. He was describing the decline of the Roman Empire, but the phrase seems wholly appropriate as a description of current affairs. Tax cuts are bread; Donald Trump’s antics are a circus. All over the world, populism strides the national stages, and politicians manipulate the people with false promises and fake news. Meanwhile, intellectuals scratch their heads and blunder into the wrong actions. Yes, this is the world of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as seen by this venue’s artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, in a thrilling and stimulating...

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Alan Bennett’s Next Play Is Set In A Hospital–And It’s Threatened With Closure Thanks To Cuts

Alan Bennett’s next play will focus on an NHS hospital threatened with closure thanks to government cuts. Allelujah! will open at the Bridge Theatre in London this July. Its setting is The Beth, “an old-fashioned cradle-to-grave hospital serving a town on the edge of the Pennines” now facing the chop. Dream Ticket It will be Mr. Bennett’s tenth collaboration with former National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner. Allelujah! has been described as “as sharp as The History Boys and as funny as The Lady In The Van”–both of which were also directed by Mr. Hytner. “Hapless Hunt” Mr. Bennett has...

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