Posts from trendfem.com
Bully: Etcetera Theatre (2018)[fourstar] Hands up if you were ever bullied at school? Most adults would own up to it, but how many would admit to being bullied at their current job? Previously shown at Etcetera Theatre, writer and director of Bully, Luke Harding grapples with childhood bullying and how it can reemerge and build up into a nasty state of affairs later on in life. How often do we find ourselves in a situation where our former bully enters our adult workplace, though? I’d say that many would rather flee from a good job opportunity to secure their own safety and sanity than stick around, just in the same way a former bully would try to befriend us on Facebook - we end up pressing the ‘ignore’ button. Harding plays Jack, the newly-made headmaster of the school where he once was the victim. In this fictional space, Jack lands the job easy. Yet, as soon as he walks into the staff room he sees the boy who used to give him childhood nightmares, Sam, except he’s all grown up. And he's also teaching. It’s an awkward encounter between two big kids at the school. [caption id=attachment_12983 align=aligncenter width=800] Luke Harding and Emily Sesto as Jack and Rosie in Bully (2018)[/caption] Bully is an example that could happen to anyone in any situation, no matter how old or young you are. Over 75 minutes, the production sees the journey of Jack, happily married to Rosie (confident and assuring played by Emily Sesto), exceedingly successful to stressed out, insecure and unwilling to speak openly about his anxieties about the bully to anyone. Not even the person who could stop the situation such as his boss Helen, played by Sue Williamson who gives a meticulous performance as the calm and professional headmistress. At some points throughout the show, the audience play the role of the schoolchildren. On the night I attended, we, the audience, were part of Sam’s class and Jack was watching him. As we called out guesses of the name of Shakespeare's first play, Jack interjected and corrected Sam in front of everyone. The audience felt the shudder. In another scene, the audience play the schoolchildren in an assembly hall. This time, Jack seizes the opportunity to get back at Sam, which sees the shift in power go from the bully to the former victim. Nathan Hughes’s bullish Sam is pumped up and violent. Throughout the show, Hughes’s performance is effectively frightening. His vicious misconduct mirrors the behaviour of someone with a past and, eventually, we see the deeper repercussions of Sam’s own messed-up and abusive upbringing. Thomas Mitchells as Jack's light-hearted friend Leon performs an important role, too, as the much-needed joker in this serious production. Small, funny facial expressions and laughs bring as back to earth when it feels like we’ve walked into the pit of hell with Sam's vicious attacks on Jack. Harding's play is a thrilling emotional roller coaster with an honest and deliberate message. It's applicable to not only bullying but, also, how to find a solution to a terrifying situation about power play. We need more writing like Bully for audiences to remember the lesson and to do their homework: to talk about personal and dangerous problems as soon, and as much, as possible before it’s too late. Bully was shown at Etcetera Theatre on 18-23 September. For more information about Etcetera Theatre, click here.  Follow Luke Harding on Twitter here. I was offered a press ticket to review this show. Header Photo: Nathan Hughes and Luke Harding in Bully (2018) [related_posts_by_tax]
13
Stagecake Podcast 3: Lilac Yosiphon, Jericho’s Rose (2018)Meet writer and creator Lilac Yosiphon From 16 October to 3 November, Althea Theatre return to London, following their US tour, with Jericho’s Rose at The Hope Theatre. Lilac Yosiphon shares her thoughts on Jericho's Rose and its themes on identity, displacement, Alzheimer, music, and, even, Brexit in this exploratory interview podcast. Press 'play' and hear more about the Jericho's Rose and the Hope Theatre in my interview with Lilac. [playlist artists=false tracklist=false ids=12994] Exploring the experience of displacement from the dual perspective of a grandfather struggling with Alzheimer’s and an artist struggling to stay in the UK, Jericho’s Rose is about searching for a home that can’t be found. The show takes the audience on a breath-taking journey across continents to ask - what happens when you can’t remember where you belong? The production weaves new writing and projections, movement, live music and loop-pedalled sound to create a unique tapestry of fragmented memories: the remembered, the forgotten and the rediscovered. The Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, London, N1 1RL Tuesday 16 October – Saturday 3 November 2018 Click here to book tickets and for more information. Date of interview: 7 October 2018, 1 pm. Interviewee: Lilac Yosiphon. Interviewer: Mary Nguyen. Music by Norman Cheung. In next week's podcast (episode 4), I'll be speaking to MKEC productions' producers of Baby. More information here. [related_posts_by_tax]
7
Q & A with Satriya Krisna – Opera SingerPop-Up Opera is currently showing the stripped back incarnation of Peter Brook and Marius Constant's reimagining of Bizet's La Tragédie de Carmen on a UK tour. Satriya Krisna is singing the role of Don Jose and he shares with us what it's like to work with Pop-Up Opera, where his love for opera stemmed from and whether opera and classical music can change the world. Tell me about your passion for opera: where did it come from? At the beginning of my singing education in 2012, I had no passion for opera because in Indonesia there is less of an influence of opera and I wanted to be a lieder singer. But my teacher in Utrecht, Henny Diemer, encouraged me very much and brought out my voice through opera. She gave me a lot of opera repertoire to sing and the opportunity to see rehearsals at the Dutch National Opera from 2013 till 2017. With her courage, I now begin my career as an opera singer, even though I still attend many lieder recitals. The craft of human sound projection, language, acting, and great musicianship within the process of an opera production are the great things that have always amazed me. The production is sung in French, so many languages can you sing? Up until now, I have sung in seven languages such as English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Latin, and Indonesian. What do you find fascinating the most about the character you are performing in this production? Don Jose is a complicated young man. He had a life-changing event (probably killed or severely injured someone) which pushed him to join in the army and leave his family at a young age. With this trauma, he hid from the past and lived under great pressure. His mother wanted him to marry Micaela, but when he meets Carmen in Seville, he gets caught by her charm of liberty, beauty, and sexuality. This role is known as one of the heaviest roles because it demands a great technique to bring the heaviness from the middle to the highest notes. The biggest challenge for me is how to make the physical emotions not disturb my singing technique while performing on stage. [caption id=attachment_12965 align=aligncenter width=800] Pop-Up Opera's La Tragédie de Carmen, Chloe Latchmore and Satriya Krisna (photo by Ugo Soffientini)[/caption] Why do you think so many opera fans love Bizet's opera? Carmen is indeed one of the most successful operas from the whole operatic repertoire. As an opera singer, I found that Bizet was a great music motive maker. Each character has a very beautiful motive and these motives are scattered throughout the whole opera. For example, Carmen has the naughty habanera, Escamillo has the brave marching melody, and Don Jose has the slow melodramatic melody. Even an audience who is not too familiar with opera could easily remember the melodious motives from Carmen. What is it like working with a young and independent opera company, Pop-Up Opera? This young company has a great purpose to bring the opera in a simple way to a new audience. At the beginning of my career, it is a great opportunity to work with fresh ideas and new concepts. It gives me freedom and possibility to grow while developing myself as an artist. How do you think opera and classical music can change the world? In my opinion, opera as the oldest theatre form has already moved the human heart. Opera can bring the value of humanity through different languages, music, genres, and culture. At the same time, it offers not only one art form but it involves many, obviously music and literature, architecture, all kinds of visual art, dance, the art of management, etc. Opera is part of the culture, it represents the human heart and when it has moved the audience's heart, it has already changed the world. [caption id=attachment_12938 align=aligncenter width=800] Pop-Up Opera's La Tragédie de Carmen, Alice Privett and Satriya Krisna (photo by Ugo Soffientini)[/caption] La Tragédie de Carmen by Pop-Up Opera has been showing since September 20th. Last showing is November 23. For more information on their tour dates and book tickets, please click here. Thurs 11 Oct NSPCC at Hope Church Islington, London, 7.30pm Sat 13 Oct Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire, 7pm Sun 14 Oct Farrington Hall, Port Regis School, Dorset, 6pm (TBC) Thurs 18 Oct Bath Assembly Rooms, 7.30pm Sat 20 Oct Black Mountains Barns, Herefordshire, 7.30pm Sun 21 Oct Breast Cancer Haven at Lyde Court, Herefordshire, 7.30pm Weds 24 Oct Masonic Temple, Andaz Hotel, London, 7.30pm Thurs 25 Oct South Downs Centre Memorial Hall, West Sussex, 7.30pm Sat 27 Oct Anne of Cleves Barn, Essex, 8pm Fri 2 Nov The Lantern Arts Centre Studio Theatre, London, 8pm Sat 4 Nov Court Gardens Farm, East Sussex, 7.30pm Fri 9 Nov The Milton Rooms, North Yorkshire, 7.30pm Sat 10 Nov Lancaster Brewery, 7.30pm Tues 13 – Weds 14th Nov The Vaults, London, 7.30pm Fri 16 Nov Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, 7.30pm Sat 17tNov Lourdes Hall, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, 7.30pm Tues 20 Nov Water & Steam, Kew, 7.30pm Fri 23 Nov Grittleton Village Hall, Wiltshire, 8pm [related_posts_by_tax]
6
ENO: Porgy and Bess (2018)[fivestar] (I'd give it 10-star if I could!) Gershwin's twentieth-century American opera, Porgy and Bess isn't performed often enough in the UK. Luckily, last night marked the opening of one of the hottest shows to see in London, right now, at the English National Opera (ENO). The production is a collaboration with Dutch National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. This ravishing opera is directed by James Robinson, with designers Michael Yeargan, Donald Holder, Catherine Zuber and choreographer Dianne McIntyre. It's a mighty collaboration full of glorious voices, jazz, gospel and symphonic music. Conductor John Wilson and the orchestra embodied the sublime score of Gershwin. Their virtuosic playing of the music was simply heavenly. [caption id=attachment_12942 align=aligncenter width=800] A scene from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin @ London Coliseum. An English National Opera Production. (Opening 11-10-18) ©Tristram Kenton 10-18[/caption] Set in Catfish Row, South Carolina, Porgy and Bess explore the ties in a close-knit African American community, battling with race, everyday subjugation and sexism in the 1920s era. The rotating stage sees the people of Catfish Row surviving and struggling in their poor-ridden homes, standing lifeless without walls. Yet it is the community that fills each others' lives with hope and joy. The opera has an all-black cast which has over 40 singers, some from the UK with others flown in from New Zealand, US, Germany and South Africa. They all performed wonderfully as part of the cast and ensemble and none of them sang a note off-key. Baltimore-born baritone Eric Greene performs the lead role of Porgy, our crippled beggar, but in this production, he is our hero. Greene has an overwhelming presence on stage, embodying a physically weak yet mentally strong Porgy. His voice is so potently rich that it can grab the attention of hundreds and make them stop whatever they are doing and listen. His performance of ‘ I got plenty o’ nuttin’ brought the house down on the opening night, and it is hard to hold back the tears in his exquisite rendition of 'Bess, you is my woman now'. Bess, although seen to be the opera's heroine, is a troubled woman of colour living in a society run by men, denying woman rights or any form of female agency. Soprano Nicole Cabell encapsulates Bess’s vulnerability, being pushed and pulled by various forces: love, sex, violence and drug abuse. Cabell also presented Bess’s weaknesses through her gorgeous and beautifully-rounded voice, full of sentiment and emotion. [caption id=attachment_12943 align=aligncenter width=779] A scene from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin @ London Coliseum. An English National Opera Production. (Opening 11-10-18) ©Tristram Kenton 10-18[/caption] Latonia Moore’s Serena gives a touching performance too. She provides some of the most heart-wrenching songs including ‘My man’s gone now’ and the hopeful prayer to ‘O Doctor Jesus.’ Bess’s violent lover, Crown sees Nmon Ford take to the role effortlessly. Sitting in the audience, one could feel how mentally unstable and frightening Crown's character can be, yet, on the other hand, Ford manages to show a charming, macho and 'bad boy' side to Crown, giving some visibility to the reasons why Bess has a soft spot for him. And Ford's voice is astonishing. From the outset, Nadine Benjamin gives a marvellous rendition of ‘Summer Time’. Her voice is a perfect opening for the opera! Often ‘Summer Time’ is performed by sopranos as a standalone song at various concerts, yet here was one of the rare occasions to experience ‘Summer Time’ as part of the opera and Benjamin made it completely worthwhile. Frederick Ballentine provides an electrifying and memorable performance of ‘It ain’t necessarily so’ as the drug dealer, Sportin’ Life. It’s a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek song that gets the cast and ensemble moving and dancing on the stage. Ultimately, there are plenty of talented singers and performers on the ENO stage. (Simply too many names to mention here.) But I reiterate - this is the hottest show to see in London right now. Catch it before it becomes a sold-out production. [caption id=attachment_12945 align=aligncenter width=800] A scene from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin @ London Coliseum. An English National Opera Production. (Opening 11-10-18) ©Tristram Kenton 10-18[/caption] Porgy and Bess is showing at the ENO now until November 14.  Please head to the ENO website and get your ticket now. #ENOPorgy  I was offered a press ticket to review this show. Amended: 12 October 12.00 pm. Porgy and Bess has been performed in the UK during and since the 1980s. [related_posts_by_tax]
13
Old Red Lion Theatre: The Agency (2018)[fourstar] I shall never forget the time I had jury service at the Old Bailey. I remember how intense the courtroom was and how stressed out my fellow jurors gradually became, especially when it came down to deliberating and agreeing to a final verdict in a small, private room. During those two weeks, it took us more than three days to make a final decision. Once we delivered our verdict to the judge, our civic duty had been done; we had washed our hands clean from looking at all of the evidence and thinking over the moral implications, time and time again, of the case at hand. In these circumstances, the jury was given enough time to make the right decision. But imagine a world where there’s limited or barely any evidence  - more like anecdotes, and roughly 30 seconds to make a decision on the fate of the accused? It would be unethical, right? If you’ve ever wanted to get a feel for being on the jury panel, then welcome to PonyDog Productions’ new show, The Agency. Now showing at The Old Red Lion Theatre, as part of the London Horror Festival, the audience fasts forward to the year 2029. The justice system has become a privately owned organisation called The Agency and whoever walks through the Old Red Lion Theatre are provided with an information envelope, Wi-Fi passwords and procedural permission to keep their mobile phone on for the entire show. (Yippee!) Writer and director of the show, Davey Seagle, who also performs the role of the omniscient and chauvinist lighting guy, has executed an engaging script, which brings together curiosity, innovation and excitement. The show encourages the audience to think and discuss with one another, yes, complete strangers(!) – each different case. Representatives of The Agency, Cherry (co-producer Niamh Blackman) and Chuck (Chris Elms) facilitate all of the jury sessions and keep them in check in case any of them decide to go rogue and oppose The Agency’s code of conduct – cause anarchy and social chaos. Another refreshing part of the show is the use of mobile phones. To present the jury's verdict, multiple choices pop up on their phones and they can pick and choose their final decision in real time. It almost feels like you’re part of a TV game show, except at The Agency you’re dealing with real lives. Your moral compass goes haywire as you look at a projector screen with pie charts, percentages and limited sentencing options. The Agency offers the jury prices and so-called statistics. Yet, torture, execution, fines and freedom is on the cards for the accused that sit tied up and are vulnerable to painful zaps in the neck whenever the jury votes for it. Murderer and terrorist, Bunny (Georgie Oulton) heightens the show by adding an element of thrill in an interrogation stroke semi-torture scene, bringing the audience closer to hearing and seeing what the accused has to say to save them from death or imprisonment. This is a thrilling and digitally interactive show, which, like a courtroom situation, requires the eyes and ears of its audience. Full participation and critical thinking mode needs to be switched on. Yet, putting the serious and chilling atmosphere aside, Seagle, Oulton, Elms and Blackman give impressive performances. They add a few comedy lines to lighten the moral load. Often I forgot I was in a pub theatre and felt I had been dragged into a real dystopian world. Execution is worth £200 to The Agency, yet life imprisonment can be over a £1 million, which is the same price as many cancer treatments for children. The choice is yours. The Agency is showing on Tuesday 9, Wednesday 11 and Thursday 11. Please head to the Old Red Lion Theatre website.  [related_posts_by_tax]
6
Q & A : Anna Reid – Costume and Set DesignerFollowing award-winning, sell-out runs at Edinburgh Fringe 2017 and Soho Theatre, Dust is now showing at Trafalgar Studios. Its costume and set designer Anna Reid discusses how she approaches each set design for different productions and how she came up with the stage design for Dust, given the sensitive nature of the show that touches on mental health and death. She also shares her methods of collaboration with the creative team including Dust's director Sara Joyce and more. Tell me what was the inspiration behind the set designs for Dust at Trafalgar Studios? Milly (Thomas), Sara (Joyce) and I had a very close collaborative relationship working towards the set for Dust and one of our jumping off points was how bodily the script is. There's a lot of descriptions of bodily functions, pissing, shitting and f**king which act as this almost elegiac remembering of her body which she has lost and which she yearns for. We knew we wanted something onstage which symbolised her body and her emotional, and eventual physical, separation from it. That's where the morgue table came from. We also spoke about how the character of Alice is deeply self-involved and seems perpetually trapped between this intelligent, brutal self-reflection and a selfish absorption in herself, driving those closest to her away which is where the idea of her being trapped by mirrors and different edges and refractions of herself grew from. There is rarely one single reason why someone decides to take their own life and part of the problem is that people don't feel they can talk openly about the mental and emotional space they're in because of the social stigma which persists around mental health. We wanted to tell the story that the people in Alice's life only saw a fraction, or a side of her, and that her inability to fully express herself is one of the things that led to her taking her own life. What kind of things do you have to gather and study in order to create a fresh new set design for a play with a sensitive nature like Dust? There's a lot of reading and talking to do, to friends and family who have personal experience, online blogs, and a continual process of checking in with each other on the team that we all felt comfortable that what we were saying aesthetically stayed true to the nature of the play: not pulling any punches but remaining sensitive and aware of the subject material. We looked at visual art, film, photography, a lot of it told and seen through a distinctly female lens. How do you want the audience to feel when they see your set designs in Dust? Hopefully, their experience of the design will change as the lighting by Jack Weir and sound design by Max Perryment guide us through the journey of the show. Sometimes they should be struck cold: we're in a morgue, everything is polished hard edges; sometimes they should forget the table is metal and see Alice in her bed at home; sometimes the space should simply dissolve away and just foreground Alice telling her story. My hope is that despite the set being visually very stark and distinct, the sound, the lights and the way Sara and Milly use the space animate it in different ways and infuse it with different energies. You’ve worked on many productions in a variety of venues over the course of your career, like the Bunker Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and the Old Red Lion. How important is the size of the venue when you’re designing a set? Not important. It's about the team and the material. If you have the right team and the right material, you can make a great design in a room the size of your kitchen. If you have a team who don't talk and material you're not sure about, even if you have all the resources in the world it can be hard to produce a design you feel proud of. I've been very lucky that the huge majority of the projects I've worked on over the last few years have been the former. I love the intimacy and exposure of a small space. When did you realise costume and set design was your calling? In the final year of my BA in English literature! I suddenly realised I wasn't applying for masters and academic opportunities which I had always expected I'd go into like all my friends were, and instead, I was spending more and more time at my university theatre. I realised that what really made me happy was telling stories and working with my hands and collaborating with other creative people. Do you have a preference for the types of theatre you create staging for? E.g. Scripted plays, musicals, etc. I love working with new writing, it's always incredibly exciting but I've done a bit of everything and would like to keep it that way. I'd love to have a go at an opera. What’s the most challenging, yet gratifying set design you’ve made? Dust has to rank pretty highly here. It's very rare at this level to be able to go back and refine a design three times over! I feel like myself, Sara, Milly, Jack and Max have been able to come back to the show and finesse it til it's not perfect (nothing ever is) but as close as it possibly could be to the essence of what we're trying to communicate with the show as a whole. I also designed a show called Rattle Snake for an amazing company called Open Clasp which has had several lives touring theatres and community spaces. It's a verbatim piece about the impact of coercive control. Similarly to Dust, Rattle Snake uses a very simple construct (a metal box lit with floodlights, containing a naturalistic dining table) to tell a complicated story. I feel it supports the performers in doing their job really well which is always what I want my work to do. Where will we see your work next? Any current or future projects in the pipeline? I have a few shows opening at Southwark Playhouse, The Sweet Science of Bruising directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward and Twelfth Night directed by Anna Girvan. I've also got a show at Hampstead coming up called The Hoes directed by Lakesha Arie-Angelo which I'm really looking forward to. What advice would you give to an aspiring set designer? Don't look sideways: there is always going to be someone doing better than you. Focus on your own work and on creating meaningful creative relationships which inspire you. There are sometimes tough decisions to be made between standing your ground and knowing when to compromise and sometimes you get it wrong. Always ask for more money. The worst anyone can do is say no. Dust by Milly Thomas is showing at Trafalgar Studios 2 now until Saturday 13th October 2018. Book tickets here. [related_posts_by_tax]
12
Q & A: Andy Smith – Theatre MakerExploring the notions of language, communication and equality, theatre maker Andy Smith talks about his latest collaboration show SUMMIT with Fuel. It shall be showing at the Shoreditch Town Hall from Tuesday 9 until 19 October. Here Andy discusses about the nature of the work, the inspiration behind it and theatre in crisis. The show explores ideas of diversity, inclusion and agency. What inspired you to work on this project? I think the world is asking us to, in a way. The global capitalist systems we have created suggests to us that we have agency, but it often feels like we don’t. It often feels like we are doing more and more to effect inclusion and embrace diversity, but it sometimes feels like we aren’t. We have to work on these things and keep working. There is no solution or answer, just a continued consciousness and hard work. I hope the play suggests this. Was the show influenced by something happening in our current political climate? (E.g. Brexit, Trump.) If not, what was it? No. And yes. I’ve been thinking about and working on this show for three years, so it has come out of that context. It’s not directly connected to any of the things that are happening in our current socio-political climate, but I hope it makes a space in which we (performers and audience) might think a bit together about them. That’s an aim, anyway. Is the UK (or the world) going through a crisis in your opinion? Yes. And no! There are loads of crisis about. Perhaps it was ever thus. These things will become more of a problem, or a crisis if we don’t do anything about them. Or if we feel that we are not able to do anything about them. We need to keep active and find ways to keep being active. Why is the Shoreditch Town Hall is the ideal venue for presenting the show? Because it used to be a town hall, and now it is a theatre. This is a play is about people attending a meeting. A political meeting. We are performing it — and all meeting — in a room that used to be a council chamber. That feels very appropriate to me. How do you want the audience to react when they see the show? I can’t control the audiences' reactions. I don’t want to. I hope that they will laugh, think, be and hope. I hope that they will feel uncertain, feel confused, feel optimistic, feel joyful and many other things besides. I hope that they will have a mix of these things, some of these things, or even something else. You have a breadth of theatre experience. When you're creating theatre, what important things do you think when putting on a show? I try to think and not think. I try to follow my instincts rather than consider what I think I should be saying or doing before I do it. It’s hard, but I try to trust my instincts. Have I got a breadth of experience? It’s true to say that I have been doing this a while, but I am fond of saying that at this time I have reached more confusion as well as more clarity. The things to think about and questions to ask are the same, though. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What is it exactly? Is the theatre the right place to be doing it? I like asking simple questions because if you dig deep enough I think they reveal a wealth of responses. When did you realise directing was your calling? I don’t know that I believe in the idea of ‘calling’. It’s an interesting word. I like writing and I like directing. I’m lucky and/or stubborn enough to be still doing it. There are a million or more ways to direct something. For a long time, I didn’t think I was a director because lots of people told me that what I was doing was not directing. It took a while for me to realise that what they meant was that it was not their way of directing, or what they thought was directing. What about the theatre world, do you feel that it still has a problem with diversity and inclusion? Yes! And the main reason is one of economics. How do you want to describe our world? Capitalist? Post-capitalist? The socio-economic structures that we live in deprive many people in many ways from accessing and being involved in cultural practice, because we see it as a luxury rather than a necessity. Also, wider culture often marginalises and separates rather than unites and embraces difference. That’s why we have problems with diversity and inclusion. What advice would you give to someone thinking about devoting their career into theatre? Be brave. Trust your instincts. Hold your nerve. Listen to others. Listen to yourself. Know that it is ok to disagree. Know that you can make something even if it feels you have nothing. There are times where it will feel like you have nothing. That’s never true. This is not an easy thing to do. It doesn’t pay much and you never, ever stop having days where you feel vulnerable. But some days you feel invincible at the same time, and that’s great. SUMMIT by Andy Smith and Fuel (Co-directed by Andy Smith and Claire Lamont) is showing at Shoreditch Town Hall from 9 October 2018. Book tickets here. [related_posts_by_tax]
10
42nd Street: Theatre Royal Drury Lane (2018)[fivestar] Sometimes I am reminded of how fortunate and spoilt Londoners are given the choice of musicals on offer. It goes without saying that the West End is 'thee' hub of spectacular musicals from the contemporary (Kinky Boots, Jamie: The Musical) to classical productions (Les Misérable sand The King and I). However, fringe theatre and off-West End venues are making a killing with their own productions such as Eugenius! at the Other Palace Theatre and Southwark Playhouse's recent performance of Bring It On. I’m here to write about 42nd Street now showing at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and how unprepared I was for its immensity of sequin shakers and glittering tap dancers. [caption id=attachment_12772 align=aligncenter width=800] Cast of 42nd Street, West End 2018 (Brinkhoff/Mögenburg)[/caption] From the moment the show began, the grand music, show business, glitz and glamour and catchy numbers wowed and grabbed the attention of all eyeballs at the auditorium. Welcome yourself into the 1930s and see 40 dancers tap away to the beat. Director Mark Bramble has devised an awe-inspiring and spine-tingling production that will encourage audiences to appreciate tap dancing, all over again. Bamble and co-writer Michael Stewart took the Warner Bros. 1933 classic, introduced songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, and gave it a major makeover in the 1980s. Producer David Merrick opened the show in Drury Lane in 1984, exclaiming how he wanted the show to be the ‘biggest musical since the Second World War’, and this is more than what the West End had bargained for - it’s simply monumental. [caption id=attachment_12774 align=aligncenter width=684] Cast of 42nd Street, West End 2018 (Brinkhoff/Mögenburg)[/caption] 42nd Street’s lead character, Peggy Sawyer is from out of town, but she is determined to get a role in Broadway (Pretty Lady), but tough competition, first-time stage nerves and a slave-driver of a director, Julian Marsh, get in the way of her journey to success. That is until she is finally given the opportunity to be the lead. Yes, the story of rags to riches is predictable, but the staging, set design, choreography and quality of dance performances are far from foreseeable. It is this element of the production, which I found most astonishing. The decadent and sophisticated costumes, the mirror reflective set designs, and collection of on-stage props are just out of this world, and they kept on coming - one can tell this production had a steep budget. The bright neon lights, the golden chandeliers, synchronisation of long legs belonging to gorgeous dancers and finale scene - with all performers moving fast, energetically and perfectly on cue - are just a sample of the many wonders of this tap dancing extravaganza. [caption id=attachment_12771 align=aligncenter width=800] Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, West End 2018 (Brinkhoff/Mögenburg)[/caption] Credit is due to all principal dancers who are triumphantly radiant on stage. Clare Halse is unstoppable as Peggy and truly impresses with her rapid, elegant dance moves and unconditional smile. Bonnie Langford’s vocal performance has the many versatile attributes of 1930’s New York nostalgia, which makes her performance thrilling and loveable. An American classic and musical dream served on a gold, tap dancing platter. [caption id=attachment_12775 align=aligncenter width=456] Bonnie Langford as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street, West End 2018 (Brinkhoff/Mögenburg)[/caption] 42nd Street is showing now at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until 5 January 2019. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to London Box Office's website here.  Photo credit: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg. The show was reviewed with a complimentary press ticket. First working day of September and my workload has increased. Thankfully I have @42ndStreetLDN to look forward to! 🎶👐🎷🎺⭐👯‍♂️💃👯🕺 pic.twitter.com/cA8IWjYkLh — Trendfem.com🌸🎶 (@MaryGNguyen) September 3, 2018 #IntervalTweet I adore the costumes and large ensemble's tap dance choreography. Those flashy frills, feathers & shimmer. Simply divine! Bonnie Langford as Dorothy Brock is a perfect match for the role, too. Love her voice,evoking NY in the 1920-30s. @42ndStreetLDN is spectacular — Trendfem.com🌸🎶 (@MaryGNguyen) September 3, 2018 So dreamy! I can imagine all of the performers being so pleased to be in such a special production. If I looked, sang, acted and danced the way the cast of @42ndStreetLDN do, I know I would. Thank you for making my Monday something other than dull. 🌟😊👯💃👯‍♂️🎷🎶⭐👐 — Trendfem.com🌸🎶 (@MaryGNguyen) September 3, 2018 [related_posts_by_tax]
8
Handel; Theodora: BBC Proms (2018)Review Written by Tony Watts [fourstar] Although today Theodora, Handel's penultimate oratorio, is recognised as containing some of his most inspired, deeply-felt music it was not much admired at the time of its first performance at Covent Garden in 1750. Working with one of his favourite librettists, Thomas Morell, Handel's only English language oratorio on a Christian subject elicited a deep response from the composer. The story of the persecution and subsequent martyrdom of a saint may not have appealed to the public at its earliest performances, but it inspired Handel to great heights and its themes of religious freedom have rather more resonance for contemporary audiences. It is a wonderfully rich score with the composer at his most inspiredly human. He was in his sixty-fifth year and still in full possession of his powers while using all the experience he had gained during a long, productive career. He considered it among the very finest of all his works and hearing it can be a profoundly moving experience as this admirable performance showed, although it could be argued that the Royal Albert Hall with its capricious acoustic is simply too big for what is, after all, apart from its large-scale choruses, a fairly-intimate work. Initial portents for Theodora were not good. Only a week before the first performance London suffered an unprecedented earthquake. People fled the capital in large numbers and many were still absent on the night of the premiere which partially explained the poor houses at the only three performances that took place. The first cast of Theodora included the castrato Gaetano Guadagni for whom Handel wrote the role of Didymus. It was unusual for him to include this voice type in his English Oratorios, but Guadagni had already appeared with success in performances of Messiah and Samson in specially adapted versions of the roles. He went on to create the title role in Gluck's' Orfeo. [caption id=attachment_12763 align=aligncenter width=800] Louise Alder in the title role. Photograph: Chris Christodoulou/BBC[/caption] In recent years Theodora has been rehabilitated and found a ready audience in the UK through the memorable, if controversial, Peter Sellars production at Glyndebourne with the transcendent performance of the late Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson as Irene at its centre. Sellars later commented that 'visionary works such as this wait for another era in which they are allowed to speak in their own language and not have to ventriloquise the conventional wisdom of the day'. As soon as this year's Prom programme was announced it was clear that this concert performance would be one of the summer's highlights. So it proved! The driving force behind the performance's success was the orchestra and chorus of Arcangelo a fairly new (formed in 2010), expert, stylish period music group under its founder and conductor Jonathan Cohen. The chorus shone particularly in the lengthy 'He saw the lovely youth', Handel's favourite of all the choruses he wrote. Its clean articulation throughout was a model of its kind. The orchestra boasted ideal string tone, beautifully - played woodwind and a duo of superbly pungent horns. It is hard to imagine a finer cast being assembled today for a performance of Theodora than that heard at this Prom. Louise Alder's gleaming lyric soprano was the ideal instrument for the heroine's music, particularly impressive in her sensitive 'Angels ever bright and fair' and in a touching reading of 'When sunk in anguish and despair'. It is a most lovely voice and she was in top form here. Her final duet with Iestyn Davies's near-ideal Didymus brought out all the emotion of the tragic situation so perfectly expressed in Handel's sublime music. Davies was a joy throughout, projecting his voice into the hall's vast spaces to great effect. Benjamin Hulett was a fine, upstanding Septimius, his clear, supple tone making the most of his fairly-limited opportunities to shine. Sadly the composer cut some of the tenor's music when putting together the final version of the score. Bass-baritone Tareq Nazmi gave a vivid character study of the vicious Valens, but sadly his dark tone was somewhat wooly. [caption id=attachment_12764 align=aligncenter width=800] (Not in order of appearance.) Louise Alder, Iestyn Davies, Benjamin Hulett. Ann Hallenberg, Tareq Nazmi, Arcangelo Chorus, Arcangelo Orchestra and Jonathan Cohen. Photography by BBC Chris Chistodoulou.[/caption] It was a pleasure to hear Ann Hallenberg's portrayal of the sympathetic Irene. As beautifully sung as one would expect from this artist, the part is a Handelian gift to any mezzo and she lavished every facet of her superior artistry on it with a most dulcet 'As with rosy steps the morn' and a heartfelt 'Lord, to thee' just two of many highlights, even if there were moments when she seemed a tad too reticent. All in all a most memorable concert and I gather, one of a series of Handel operas and oratorios scheduled to be heard at the Proms in future years. This was one of those evenings which was so involving that the noise and bustle of the outside world afterwards seemed even more intrusive than usual. Handel's Theodora was shown on the BBC Proms on Friday 7 September. If you want to listen to a recording of the performance broadcasted live at BBC Radio 3, please click here. For more information on the BBC Proms 2018 season, go here.  Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.) Tony Watts is a keen opera, concert, theatre and ballet-goer. He has spent most of his working life in the music industry, including a 16-year spell at Decca Records. He has compiled and produced over 1,000 re-issues on CD, LP and digital formats, and written notes for several hundred more. In addition to writing for a wide variety of musical books and publications, Tony has worked as a music consultant on films and on exhibitions for the V&A.  Follow Tony now on Twitter: @Tonywauk [related_posts_by_tax]
14
Grimeborn: Elephant Steps (2018)[fourstar] The Arcola Theatre’s exciting Grimeborn festival has enriched their 2018 programme with Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman’s revolutionary 60s masterwork: Elephant Steps for three exclusive performances only. The 50th anniversary of Elephant Steps’ and its European premiere also coincide with the composer’s 80th birthday. (Each performance includes a post-show Q & A with Silverman.) At the Arcola's Studio 1, the 60s looks and sounds groovy, 'baby'. Patrick Kennedy directs this exciting historical work utilising the medium-sized stage and filling it up with flip doors, incense, cucumbers, elephant masks, fake guns and all-round 60s paraphernalia. Even a white board sort of keeps you posted on what the heck is going on, but fails deliberately. [caption id=attachment_12714 align=aligncenter width=800] (Photo by Alessia Chinazzo)[/caption] Some may call the work experimental; others, bizarre, but one cannot deny how avant-garde and edgy Silverman’s craftsmanship stood, then, as a piece written and composed in 1968. It was considered one of the most tempestuous years of the 20th century: America’s military involvement in Vietnam, the growth of Anti-war sentiment, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the violent riots in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, then the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. And let's not forget The Beatles hottest single ‘Hey Jude.’ Without hesitation, Elephant Steps can be labelled as an aggressive and angry piece. [caption id=attachment_12719 align=aligncenter width=800] (Photo by Alessia Chinazzo)[/caption] In no more than 60 minutes, musical genres harmonise, run wild, move and shape shift into otherworldly dimensions. We’re talking operetta, jazz, rock n roll, chamber music, vaudeville and more. In the Arcola space, there’s constant movement: erratic noise in one scene, pleasurable madrigal music and operatic voices in another. Yet this is an occult, surrealist opera, so anything is possible - expect the offering of fresh cucumbers, for instance. Our lead character Hartman (Jake Stevenson) is suffering from a spiritual illness and only the mysterious Reinhardt can free him. But that’s not the plot. In fact, I’d go as far to say there isn’t one. The piece speaks for its abstract self and it is strung together by a group of vigourous and talented artists. They perform a variety of characters, but it’s hard to pinpoint where everyone is placed in a specific plot. So, don’t look for one! [caption id=attachment_12718 align=aligncenter width=800] (Photo by Alessia Chinazzo)[/caption] Stevenson is dark and alert as Hartman, honing in a rich operatic tone. Hannah is strange. But, Kate Baxter makes Hannah's character vocally strong. Scrubwoman and ragtime lady are outlandish, yet Elissa Churchill portrays them as sparkly and radiant in voice. Jessica Foden and Anna Hallas Smith are animated, hilarious and freakish as the elephant angels. And Otto, depicted by Joshua Lewindon, is wacky, enthusiastic and vocally exuberant. Tom Taplin is weird and wonderful as Doctor Worms, which leaves Blair Robertson as the fun, amusing, yet super serious Max. [caption id=attachment_12716 align=aligncenter width=800] (Photo by Alessia Chinazzo)[/caption] Ten triumphant and savvy musicians, including music director Nathan Jarvis, bring Silverman’s 60s sentiment to life. The ensemble includes John Reddel, Tom Knowles, Elaine Booth, Hannah Fry, Nadine Nagen, Ucheena Cohen-Shah, Artur King, Daniele Borgato and Ian Tripp. Their scope of musical expertise spans keys, wind instruments, violin, trumpet, double bass, guitar and drums. [caption id=attachment_12717 align=alignnone width=800] (Photo by Alessia Chinazzo)[/caption] In hindsight, the music, choreography and 60s flair may not be life-changing, now, as it was at its premiere in Tanglewood. At the time, a New York Magazine critic dubbed Elephant Steps as, 'the best piece of new music I've heard in concert all year.' 50 years have passed and the world has changed dramatically, but if someone wants a peek of the 60s through a pair of John Lennon's hippie sunglasses, look no further. Elephant Steps is showing at the Arcola Theatre on 20, 21 & 22 August 7. 30 pm. For more information on the Grimeborn Festival and get tickets, click here.  I was provided a press ticket to review the show [related_posts_by_tax]
16
Grimeborn: Greek (2018)[fourstar] Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek was the first cockney opera to premiere at Germany (Munich) in 1988. In fact, it was the English composer’s brilliantly timed and socially relevant opera that shot him to fame. Thirty years forward, and many productions later, Thatcher has gone as well as the English riots and miners’ strike. Britain’s new social malaise is more of a technological vermin. At Grimeborn, director Jonathan Moore, who adapted Greek with Turnage from Steven Berkoff’s effing and blinding stage play, instils the same potency and urgency as if it were being staged for the first time, again. [caption id=attachment_12687 align=alignnone width=682] Edmund Danon and Laura Woods in GREEK at Arcola Theatre. (Photo: Lidia-Crisafulli)[/caption] Set in East London, coincidently where the Arcola Theatre resides, Eddy takes ‘no’ for an answer as he forces himself into the Dalston theatre. Edmund Danon plays our lad, geezer… lout! Loud and brash, he takes to the stage as a modern-day bloke from the pub but in Turnage’s eyes he is Sophocles' Greek protagonist Oedipus. Eddy shouts, spits and spills the beans on the country’s bitter disappointments with rage; one side of the stage is a graffiti wall with the capital letters ‘hipsters out’ written on it. Above, there’s video recordings of the 80’s police riots – England has turned into a bloody ‘state of the plague'. [caption id=attachment_12683 align=aligncenter width=684] Richard Morrison, Laura Woods and Edmund Danon in GREEK at Arcola Theatre. (Photo: Lidia-Crisafulli)[/caption] Before the performance begins, Baśka Wesołowska’s set design is taped up – no one can enter the slick, pitch black stage. Yet, once all four performers step onto it they becomes sacred and holy like an artefact of historical significance – Greek sculptures on a plinth. Matt Leventhall’s red and yellow LED lights, which outline the stage, tell the audience to stay out and to keep their eyes on what’s in front of them. [caption id=attachment_12684 align=aligncenter width=684] Edmund Danon, Laura Woods, Philippa-Boyle, and Richard Morrison in GREEK at Arcola Theatre. (Photo: Lidia-Crisafulli)[/caption] Turnage’s electrifying music is brutal, full of attitude and verve, which is eagerly illustrated by the 12-musicians of the Kantanti Ensemble and conductor Tim Anderson, and they deliver on thrill and excitement. There are peculiar notes and intriguing sounds from feet-stomping, the brass and percussion instruments, horns, piano and harp. Yet, lyricism also exists in Turnage's score that the Gooners’ chants seem melodic and sweet-sounding. [caption id=attachment_12689 align=aligncenter width=682] Philippa Boyle and Richard Morrison in GREEK at Arcola Theatre. (Photo: Lidia-Crisafulli)[/caption] Moore has four soloists (playing all eleven characters) perform a montage of theatrical styles: opera, spoken word, vaudeville, comedy and Greek theatre, and they are alert and mighty impressive. It is simply brilliant! Greek is cleverly and dynamically choreographed too. Eddy fights the manager of a cafe (Oedipus's biological father) and the scene is rather memorable. Richard Morrison, also performing the role of Eddy’s non-biological and chavy, skinhead father, punches it out with Eddy from a distance. As they take air swings at each other, their mouths burst with swear words as if they were drawn in a comic book, ‘Kapow!’, ‘Wham!’... 'Testicles!' [caption id=attachment_12690 align=aligncenter width=303] Edmund Danon in GREEK at Arcola Theatre. (Photo: Lidia-Crisafulli)[/caption] Danon is a tour de force as the edgy and restless Eddy. Although Greek is a mix between spoken word and song Danon executes adeptly on all accounts. He demonstrates the facets of his voice and stage abilities: richly seductive vocals with Eddy’s mother and wife, and dramatically violent as Oedipus plucking out his eyes. Laura Woods provides remarkable impressions of several roles: Eddy's sister, the fortune teller at South End, Eddy's wife and, as we discover, his real-life mum too. She is vocally stronger as Oedipus’s mother where Turnage wrote the most eloquent and gut-wrenching bars, especially when she mourns the death of her murdered husband - the dead manager of the cafe. Philippa Boyle’s hilarious waitress and powerful sphinx-like expressions deserve credit too as she transforms into Eddy’s dim-witted mum, always seen in an apron. Boyle’s enthusiasm for performance is evident and her lyric soprano voice alone is outstanding. And Morrison’s unflagging ability to evoke Eddy’s narrow-minded and basic father is constantly animated, evocative, and, in many cases, funny. Greek is a 75-minute mash-up of rough, violent energy and impressively bold performances that merge the old with the new. The work stands as a remarkable piece of operatic history. Hold tight, you’re in for a rude ride. [caption id=attachment_12686 align=aligncenter width=684] Richard Morrison in GREEK at Arcola Theatre. (Photo: Lidia-Crisafulli)[/caption] Greek is showing at the Arcola Theatre on 15, 17 & 18 August 7. 30 pm. For more information on the Grimeborn Festival and get tickets, click here.  I was provided a press ticket to review the show [related_posts_by_tax]
16
Grimeborn: Onegin and Tatiana (2018)[fourstar] The annual Grimeborn opera festival has returned. Keen opera and fringe fans can see and hear new works at the Arcola Theatre. This week – for a two-day showing only – is a new production, Onegin and Tatiana, inspired by the Tchaikovsky’s masterwork opera Eugene Onegin. Its director Guido Martin-Brandis demonstrates the personal and significant influence the composer’s life had on the opera by wrapping the tragic tale in the philosophical and literary movement of the 19th-century. But, Martin-Brandis’s production takes it a step further and unifies the tragic tale of unrequited love with music composed by Mahler, Debussy, Strauss and Rachmaninov. [caption id=attachment_12661 align=alignnone width=800] Baritone Nicolas Dwyer as Onegin (2018)[/caption] In less than two hours – without an interval – the Arcola studio becomes an intimate space that transforms into an open book filled with heart-rending emotions: romance, anguish, rejection and purity of sound. Richard Hall’s superb piano performance sets the delicate and melancholic tone of the work, which includes German operatic song (lieder) and segments from Russian arias and poems. Those in the audience are not left astray, though. Martin-Brandis utilises projectors as theatrical devices to project English words, surtitles, picture frames and scenic images to allow our heroine’s dream world to flourish. Throughout the performance Joan Plunkett illuminates the love tale by articulately narrating each scene as they begins, which is palatable for newbies of the opera. Her storytelling is comforting and reminiscent of a being read children’s novels to at a very young age. Her description of the lethargic and lifeless Onegin is particularly evocative, too. [caption id=attachment_12664 align=aligncenter width=683] Isolde Roxby as Tatiana (2018)[/caption] Originally based off the 19th-century Russian author Alexander Pushkin’s novel, Tchaikovsky fashioned his opera on aspects of memory and nostalgia, and the use of projectors explicitly enhances that. It represents the abstract and mental projections Tatiana and Onegin have of Russian society as well as themselves. There’s a mildly slow and graceful pace to the production to reiterate the tender mood of the score. Lighting designer Edmund Sutton restricts the brightness of the studio for a subtle blend of ambient lighting, mostly limited to a glowing book Tatiana often reads and Martin-Brandis’s fixed projectors. Alexander McPherson colours the stage with autumn hues, adding a vintage table and large carpet to signify notes of Russian high society. Yet McPherson’s custom-made 1800’s costumes for Plunkett’s storyteller, Tatiana and Onegin are delightfully handsome, realistic and precise. The production removes some sections from Pushkin’s original tale. Instead of a grand introduction with a larger cast to present neighbours and Tatiana's family, we immediately meet Tatiana as the hopeful girl in love with the heroes of her favourite books. She meets the attractive Onegin and already knows she has fallen for him and, almost, instantly begins to write her love letter to him. Yet, his rejection of Tatiana's love is heartbreaking. [caption id=attachment_12662 align=aligncenter width=683] Baritone Nicolas Dwyer as Onegin (2018)[/caption] Isolde Roxby has an absolutely stunning voice and gives a wonderful performance encapsulating every part of Tatiana’s innocence and delicate suffering. In the Letter Scene, her performance is filled with sorrow and fragility. This contrasts with the final scenes where Roxby’s Tatiana is married to another, grown-up, composed and unshakeable. Her voice soars as she tells Onegin to leave her alone; it’s too late to ask for her forgiveness, let alone her hand in marriage. Baritone Nicolas Dwyer vocally propels the emotionally detached Onegin, unmoved by anything - not even a six-month vacation away - in the beginning scenes. Yet, he reveals the reflective and regretful Onegin in the final act with a heavy heart, giving an unrestrained and virtuosic performance – vocally unleashing bursts of pain, which deeply affect the audience. (Seriously, you can feel it in the studio!) There were a couple of minor issues with the projector slides, but that didn't detract the audience from the wider flow of the performance. With only four members in the cast, they managed to encapsulate the feelings, characters, and musical splendour all at once. The complexity of Tchaikovsky's past domestic situation manifests itself in his music. It's been a while since I've seen a finer production that manages to seize woeful and despairing music without making others feel the need to leave the room. One walks away with a pleasure-pain relationship with the production, yet the musical pleasure wins the most. [caption id=attachment_12663 align=aligncenter width=800] Isolde Roxby as Tatiana (2018)[/caption] Onegin and Tatiana is showing at the Arcola Theatre today Wednesday 14 August. For more information on the Grimeborn Festival, go here.    I was provided a press ticket to review the show [related_posts_by_tax]
11
BBC Prom 37: Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia & Sir Antonio Pappano (2018)Written by Sebastian Petit [fourstar] Making only it’s sixth appearance at the Proms, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, under the conductor largely responsible for its current, much-garlanded reputation, presented a cannily linked repertoire of programmatic works. As part of the Bernstein Centenary celebrations the works were fascinating as much for their history of critical appreciation as the contrasts and connections. Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 'Jeremiah' was critically hailed at the 1942 premiere in Pittsburgh and reached the dizzy heights of New York only two months later. Contrast that with the near disastrous premiere of Mahler’s first Symphony when the audience reacted with mystification and downright hostility. Yet spool forward nearly eighty years and the position is completely reversed – Mahler’s symphony is staple repertoire while 'Jeremiah' is barely performed, at least in the UK. This was only the second Proms performance while Mahler’s has clocked up over 30 showings without even taking into consideration the performances with the 'Blumine' movement! Under Antonio Pappano the Santa Cecilia Orchestra’s international reputation has burgeoned as has their repertoire. But fortunately they have kept their sense of Italian fun and passion – this is an immensely watchable band. The theme of the programme ran from the Chaos of the opening of Haydn’s Creation through Bernstein’s portrayal of the Biblical catastrophe of the Fall of Jerusalem to the rebirth and cyclical redemption of Mahler. The six minutes of Haydn segued almost directly into the Prophesy opening of the Bernstein. Though clearly calculated, the crunching clash was still shocking – the echoes of Stravinsky and pre-echoes of West Side Story and, more surprisingly, Britten are immediately obvious and brought into relief by Pappano. Also immediately apparent was the quality of the woodwind and brass playing throughout the orchestra : exchanges within and between departments was one of the great joys of this concert. [caption id=attachment_12643 align=aligncenter width=800] All images by Chris Christodoulou/BBC[/caption] The second movement portrays the fall and profanation of the Great Temple in Jerusalem. While in no way wishing to trivialise this cataclysm, one found it hard not to remark on the very jaunty, almost jazzy arrival of the Babylonian hordes. The third Lamentation movement is on an entirely different emotional plane. Sumptuously performed by the wonderful Elizabeth DeShong, the vocal line ranges from breathtaking pianissimi to full out rage on the climactic 'They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not!' DeShong is fully equal to all the demands though the aforementioned section pushes her to the limit. It occurred to me how good DeShong would be as the soloist in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony but that would have made for a very long evening! So that massive work’s predecessor was a more than welcome alternative. Mahler changed his mind more than once regarding the programmatic nature of his first symphony as well as inserting and then removing the Blumine movement. Pappano, rightly in my view, stuck to the final edition. The daringly hushed opening was breathtaking (despite the best efforts of certain audience members. The evening was plagued by bronchial outbursts, loud noises off and a sustained phone interruption) almost requiring one to strain to catch the sustained A as it spread through the strings. The punchy outer section of the second movement contrast with the dappled sunlight of the central Trio though there is more irony to be found there than Pappano allowed. The Huntsman’s Funeral is famously based on Moritz von Schwind’s bizarre woodcut portraying woodland animals hypocritically shedding a tear at the passing of their nemesis. The repeated echoes of lines from the song Bruder Martin (the Germanic version of Frère Jaques) traversed from initial innocence to downright sinister and Pappano also brought out in full the klezmer influences inherent in this movement. The final movement of storm, love and, at last, a renewed hope brought out the best in conductor and orchestra with superbly competitive brass exchanges and luxuriant strings bringing the evening to a spine tingling close and a predictable ovation. Two encores followed, including a hair raisingly fast galop section from the Guillaume Tell overture, bringing a rewarding evening to a blistering close. Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia & Sir Antonio Pappano was shown at the BBC Proms on Friday 10 August. If you want to listen to a recording of the performance broadcasted live at BBC Radio 3, please click here. For more information on the BBC Proms 2018 season, go here.  Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou. Sebastian Petit works full time in technical theatre but his lifelong obsession is classical music especially grand opera. Follow him on now Twitter: @CURZONPRODUCT. [related_posts_by_tax]
14
BBC Proms 33: Brahms’s A German Requiem (2018)Review Written by Tony Watts Given that the BBC Proms has always been considered a platform for promoting British artists and music, it is something of a surprise that it has taken Richard Farnes so long to make his debut in the series. After twelve highly successful years of Opera North, it might have been expected that he would have been long since have appeared. [caption id=attachment_12614 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.)[/caption] In the event [Proms 33], the occasion gave him an opportunity to demonstrate his affinity with vocal music in one of the big choral works which suit the Royal Albert Hall’s notoriously capricious acoustic as well as anything. [caption id=attachment_12619 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.)[/caption] The programme opened with a celebration of Thea Musgrave's ninetieth birthday in the shape of her 1997 single movement orchestral work ‘Phoenix Rising’, a title the composer insists was suggested to her by a sign picturing the legendary bird which she saw outside a coffee shop in Virginia! Dedicated to Sir Andrew Davis and commissioned by the BBC, it was first heard in February 1998 at the Royal Festival Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the dedicatee. [caption id=attachment_12618 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.)[/caption] The opening section, vividly depicts a dystopian, violent world full of despair and emptiness, the sense of desolation intensified by a mournful cor anglais solo. This leads into a wild depiction of chaos, before a central section 'marked mysterious' changes the mood with a series of low chords, progressing to a luminous climax played as the Phoenix rises by pitched percussion with marimba, vibraphone and glockenspiel counterbalanced by harps placed on either side of the platform. The remainder of the work is romantic in tone before reaching a coda of serenity and great beauty. It is a most striking piece of music depicting hope and ultimate rebirth. The BBC Symphony Orchestra under Farnes relished the constantly shifting sonorities and moods of Musgrave’s score in what was a fitting tribute to one of British music’s most individual voices. The musical invention was unflagging, the use of the orchestra strikingly imaginative. There was even a touch of broad physical humour when the tympanist, struggling to make an effect against overwhelmingly heavy brass forces, simply gets up and storms off the platform in a fit of pique. Musgrave’s body of work, particularly her operas, is surely ripe for reappraisal. Happily the nonagenarian composer was present in the hall to receive the warm plaudits of an appreciative audience. [caption id=attachment_12616 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.)[/caption] The single work in the second half of the concert was the Brahms's Deutsches Requiem. Not performed at the Proms until 1965 it is never the easiest piece to bring off in performance, it’s multifaceted nature sometimes proves elusive, not always making it clear why the composer suggested ‘A Human Requiem’ as an alternative title and signally lacking the sort of big dramatic moments that make Verdi’s Dies Irae such a powerful experience. Indeed Brahms was taken to task for the fact that nowhere in the text, based on the Lutheran Bible, do the words ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ' appear. It is a Requiem of an individual caste, inspired by the death of the composer’s mother and full of tenderness and feelings of consolation. In the words of the German philosopher Ernst Bloch the piece has ‘a precious depth that avoids apotheoses’, while the critic Hanslick observed that ‘the shadow of death and the seriousness of loss have scarcely been presented in music with such power.’ This particular Prom performance would not, in all probability, have quite converted George Bernard Shaw from his notorious Wagnerian derision of the work, even though it was not without its merits. At times the orchestra displayed a genuinely Brahmsian resonance, though at others the sound seemed lightweight and rather lacking in the sort of impact needed to fully bring out the music’s drama, a notable exception being the organ’s quite thrilling entrance in the sixth movement which had considerable impact. Similarly the serried ranks of the various BBC choruses alternated passages of well-blended tone with others lacking the requisite rhythmic precision. It was as if the performance rather lacked the ebb and flow needed to make the most of the Requiem’s disparate elements. Consistency was lacking in both conception and execution. Thankfully some incidental minor faults in ensemble proved short-lived. [caption id=attachment_12617 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.)[/caption] The soloists were excellently chosen. Johan Reuter’s warm bass-baritone was matched by pellucid diction together with a skilful use of tone colour which differentiated the contrasting texts of his two solos. Golda Schultz was glorious in ‘Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit’ bringing out the full pathos of ‘wieder sehen’ while emphasising the wisdom of using a genuine jugendliche soprano in this music rather than a soubrette as one so often hears. Sadly, however a slightly disappointing reading of a work which ideally needs a more rather dynamic performance if it is to make its full impact. [threestar] Brahms's A German Requiem was shown on the BBC Proms on Tuesday 7 August. If you want to listen to a recording of the performance broadcasted live at BBC Radio 3, please click here. For more information on the BBC Proms 2018 season, go here.  Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.) Tony Watts is a keen opera, concert, theatre and ballet-goer. He has spent most of his working life in the music industry, including a 16-year spell at Decca Records. He has compiled and produced over 1,000 re-issues on CD, LP and digital formats, and written notes for several hundred more. In addition to writing for a wide variety of musical books and publications, Tony has worked as a music consultant on films and on exhibitions for the V&A.  Follow Tony now on Twitter: @Tonywauk   [related_posts_by_tax]
15
BBC Proms 35: New York: Sound of a City (2018)Written by Thomas Joy [threestar] New York: Sound of a City is the latest in a line of ambitious late-night Proms overseen by the maverick Jules Buckley alongside the Heritage Orchestra, designed as a musical portrait of modern-day NYC featuring artists across the musical spectrum. [caption id=attachment_12632 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.[/caption] Whilst the Proms is perhaps traditionally a bastion of middle-England, the first thing that you notice at this performance is the audience: an ethnically diverse, and noticeably young audience who were obviously here to have a good time, and they certainly weren’t disappointed. [caption id=attachment_12634 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.[/caption] serpentwithfeet. kicked the evening off with effortlessly cool orchestral soul, blending his classically-trained vocal talents with the Heritage Orchestra into a style echoing Benjamin Clementine (though his voice is a lot lighter in tone). That said, one man’s effortlessly cool is another man’s flippancy; this is the Royal Albert Hall, you have a Proms crowd in the palm of your hand, nonchalance seems a bit out of place. Sharon Van Ettentreated us to some brilliantly intense numbers throughout the evening, and whilst I think she may have struggled with nerves in the opening couple of numbers (including an oddly placed 'The End of the World', a la Skeeter Davis / Julie London), as her confidence grew, so did her vocal power, delivering Florence Welch-esque vocals, which when paired with The Heritage Orchestra, soared. [caption id=attachment_12635 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.[/caption] But, it took the concert a good six pieces to find a rhythm that resonated with the audience, with the gentleman next to me leaving within the first half hour. Whilst the orchestrations were truly accomplished, to kick off a concert where everybody is geared up to have a good time, with four or five slower, downbeat numbers seemed to take the momentum out of the evening. Nitty Scott, having told the audience: “come on London, I came all the way from New York for this!”, finally got things moving, her stage presence was electrifying, bringing fresh, modern, orchestral rap to the Albert Hall. The highlight of the evening was certainly Hercules & Love Affair, and a brilliant couple of numbers from backing vocalists Vula Malinga, Brendan Reilly, and Sam White had the audience on their feet, clapping along, dancing, and having the party I think everybody had been hoping for. [caption id=attachment_12630 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.[/caption] For me, the biggest issue was that the concert totally lacked any continuity. When curating an event that covers such a wide variety of genres, a narrative is needed to help the evening flow. The artists rotated on and off stage with no introduction, and as an audience member, it felt a little stilted. A piece would end, there would be applause, then an awkward silence, then the next artist would walk on and just leap straight into the next song to a smattering of ‘oh, should we be applauding them walking on?’ confusion. In terms of ‘bringing Brooklyn to Britain’, the lack of continuity was jarring – if you’re going to present a tapestry that defies genres, then that tapestry needs to be woven. [caption id=attachment_12627 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.[/caption] Writing for this evening’s programme, Hugh McIntryre comments: “the music they’re making might not lead them to success in conventional terms,” but “they want to experiment for the sake of experimenting.”. I think that’s accurate. When this prom succeeded, it was magnificent, with Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra demonstrating versatility, innovation, and a sound that leaves you with shivers. Buckley’s orchestra, alongside the brilliant Hercules & Love Affair, crossed so many genres, and yet with each new piece and style, the ensemble delivered perfect, invigorating performances. In one 90-minute performance, we got soul, disco, rap, dance, funk, gospel, jazz, and I’m sure there were references to genres we didn’t even notice, and I liked the concert, I really did! [caption id=attachment_12629 align=aligncenter width=800] Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou.[/caption] New York: Sound of a City was shown as a late-night BBC Proms event on Wednesday 8 August. If you want to listen to a recording of the performance broadcasted live at BBC Radio 3, please click here. For more information on the BBC Proms 2018 season, go here.  Photo credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou. Thomas Joy is a theatre-lover and musician. Follow him on now Twitter: @TWJ0y [related_posts_by_tax]
13
Mary’s Hand: Tête à Tête (2018)[fourstar] Mary’s Hand is a new opera by writer Di Sherlock and composer Martin Bussey. As part of the Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival, the work was presented at Holy Cross Church at Kings Cross with McCaldin Arts founder and astonishing mezzo-soprano, Clare McCaldin. The dramatic life and difficulties Queen Mary I faced are explored in this 80-minute piece through a one-woman performance with an exceptional trio, including trumpet player Heidi Bennett, cellist Gabriella Swallow, and oboe and cor anglais player Clare Hoskins. For McCaldin’s regal dress, Andie Scott and Sophie Meyer meticulously designed it. It is so life-like that it takes the performance back to the Tudor era, as if the Queen herself was standing right in front of us. Through the use of eleven playing cards, McCaldin revealed Mary I’s relationship and encounters with important people in her life, such as her half-sister Queen Elizabeth I and her father Henry VIII. Randomly, she walked over to members of the audience and asked them to pick a card, which created an episodic structure for the performance and made it feel fresh. [caption id=attachment_12034 align=aligncenter width=427] Clare McCaldin as Queen Mary I in Mary's Hand. Photo by Robert Workman.[/caption] McCaldin guided the audience into the world of ‘Bloody Mary’ and outlined a character we could empathise with, even if historical sources give a different account of the Catholic Queen. The outset was clearly defined. McCaldin appeared statuesque, majestic and Queen-like, yet the more she opened up about Mary’s dark, intimate past and the political battles she fought, McCaldin looked no different than any other woman who had suffered numerous tragedies. Each card permitted her to peel away another piece of clothing, leaving her vulnerable, feeble and entirely human. McCaldin told me in an interview about the level of research she did (here) and what she found most fascinating about Mary. 'Her transition from cosseted child to lonely adult was traumatic as a result of the events following Henry’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon and pursuit of a son at any cost. The domestic and religious convulsions at court over the next twenty years affected Mary deeply. Her relationships with her father and half-siblings were characterised by an exhausting mixture of fear, rage, love, duty, pride and stubbornness. In spite of this, she achieved moments of greatness, but her biggest failures were also her most public and painful. It’s an extraordinary life.' McCaldin's body language on stage was deliberate, poised and enlightening. Her voice soared elegantly across the church and she engaged the audience’s attention with every breath. The songs and spoken text are impressively detailed and include many historical events, including Mary's betrothal to the Holy Roman Emperor at six years old, being forced to change religion and her inability to conceive a child. It seems that Di Sherlock has a wealth of knowledge on the Tudor family and managed to systematically integrate this gracefully into the music. The score and instrumentalists play a crucial part too. The composition sets the tone for each episode, card and person, encased with their own special motif. One can notice how the music for the child Mary never had is playful and light-hearted compared to how severe and dark the atmosphere changes when she talks about her sister, the Virgin Queen. Holy Cross Church is a wonderful venue to put on a performance of this religious nature given Mary's struggle in a world slowly turning towards Protestantism. However, acoustically, it wasn't always possible to hear what McCaldin was trying to say or sing, and there were no surtitles provided. Nonetheless, the audience got a sense of Mary's sentiment and emotional torment evoked fluently through McCaldin. Mary's Hand showings has ended. For more information about McCaldin Arts, click here. For more information on current productions at Tête à Tête: the Opera Festival, click here. I was offered a press ticket to review this show. [Header shot: Clare McCaldin as Queen Mary I in Mary's Hand. Photo by Robert Workman]   [related_posts_by_tax]
8
Q & A with Kate Fabray, Director and Actor (2018)Kate Fabray is director and lead actor of her new show (No) Leaves On My Precious Self, showing at the Drayton Arms on 12 August. It takes the audience into the world of an emerging actor, sharing the challenges they face on their way to making their performing arts' passion into a career. Here Kate tells us about the motivations behind (No) Leaves On My Precious Self, her experience of the theatre industry so far, and how more people are slowly become fed up of maintaining an certain image on social media. When did you realise acting and directing was your calling? When I got a place at a stage school at age of 10. It was so much fun to be there, and brought me a lot of joy. I figured out I totally did not mind doing it for the rest of my life! Which one do you prefer? Directing or acting? Acting. Directing was never an ambition of mine, more of a skill (if you can call it a skill) I figured out was useful to learn and try. For this production, out of interest, did you have auditions for the lead act, or did you feel you might be the best person to encapsulate the narrative of (No) Leaves On My Precious Self? To be honest I started putting up this production because I was desperate to do some theatre, and was struggling to get cast. So I decided to take the matter into my own hands, and see what can come out of it. I was doing it for myself, so auditioning someone for the part never crossed my mind. That said, obviously I could have found someone who would do it better than me, it is very possible, but it has never been the aim. What was the inspiration behind (No) Leaves On My Precious Self? I just had to find a topic I was able to write a 45-minute long script about. Also, I thought this production was a good opportunity to show as much of myself as possible, and 'life of an actor' subject felt like a right direction. Close to home enough, and uncomplicated for a one-woman show. I also could see how I could incorporate all the singing and dancing into it, without overcomplicating the script, or making it too random. [caption id=attachment_12543 align=aligncenter width=768] Kate Fabray in her show, (No) Leaves On My Precious Self (2018).[/caption] How did you decide the name/title of the show from? I wanted something catchy and attention-grabbing, but if you watch the show, the title actually makes perfect sense. It sounds very weird without the context, but this is exactly what I talk about in the show - having or not having some leaves on one's self! Trust me it makes perfect sense once you watch it haha!  The show looks at the mind and life of an emerging actor. Do you feel that there isn't enough literature and information on the the day to day life of an actor, or the acting industry as a whole? There definitely is enough. But if you look at anything around you, arts or not arts related, so many things are in excess. Do we really need another coffee shop chain? Another beauty magazine, or a make-up brand? Another 'Charlie's Angels' or 'Tomb Rider' remake? Another spiritual leader telling us how to live? Do we even need another actor in me, when there are already so many? A 'yes' would be an unlikely answer. But I do not think it's how it should be looked at. Everyone has their own way of thinking, their own artistic vision, and their own take on a subject. Just because this subject is well-explored, does not mean that my take on it would not bring something fresh or new, or would not be looked at from a completely different angle. After all, my experience might differ dramatically from someone else's, therefore our shows might look/ feel completely different, even being on the same subject. Or let's think about the most trivial subject, love. No one thinks, oh there are enough songs about love, no need to write any more. There is enough books about it, and articles, and talks and everything, let's stop questioning anything about it anymore, there is enough material to refer to in a moment of doubt. That would sound blatantly absurd. So as much as I feel there is enough information on actors and acting industry in general, I don't think there is any harm in touching the subject. Do you think that the focus of looks, beauty and appearance has become more important because of social media? Yes, definitely. But I think it's starting to slowly decline, and is on its way down. From what I see around, it feels like people start getting fed up with this need to maintain certain something on social media, as well as with this massive gap between how people are on, let's say, Instagram, and in real life. We all know someone who looks nothing like on their Instagram in real life. I see more and more of my mates taking Instagram and social media in general breaks. So, again, I feel by now this issue has blown up to a completely absurd proportion, peaked some time ago, and now slowly reversing. Ironically, it feels like people start craving something real and something true for a change. Have you performed at the Drayton Arms theatre before? If so, which production? I have by now, as my first (No) Leaves On My Precious Self show was on July 1st. But not before that. However, I have been a big admirer of Drayton Arms for some time now, and it has always been my first choice for the venue. I was over the moon when they took my production! [caption id=attachment_12542 align=aligncenter width=768] Kate Fabray in her show, (No) Leaves On My Precious Self (2018).[/caption] How has the Drayton Arms' space helped in bringing your production to life? First of all, I can't thank Audrey Thayer, programming director of the theatre, enough. I am so grateful she booked my show in, gave me this chance, and has been absolutely wonderful all the way through. I have never produced a show before, and literally learnt as I went. She bared with me, explaining and helping with everything along the way. It was not the space itself that helped a lot, I intentionally created a very simple production that did not require any props or complicated technical arrangements, and could be easily performed in any space. It was all other factors put together, that let me be in a right head space that allowed working on the show. A great programming director, great atmosphere at the theatre and the fact that I booked my first choice theatre brought me a lot of comfort and made me feel much more confident than I was in the beginning - all that helped a lot in bringing production to life. Do you feel your play can relate to other industries outside of theatre? Definitely. After finishing the script, I purposely asked ten people not related to acting or any form of arts to read it. None of them had this issue. Whatever job you do, self-confidence and self-worth play a vital part. Being comfortable enough to stand your ground, or be okay not being liked by someone or not getting on with someone is something everyone faces at some point. And how you deal with it is only down to your relationship with yourself. So I really don't think you have to be a performer to be able to relate. How do you want the audience to feel when they see (No) Leaves On My Precious Self? That was my first question to myself when I started putting the script together. I know exactly how I want them to feel, I just don't really know how to put it into words! You know this feeling of lightness and calmness you sometimes get after finishing a good book or a good film, and you suddenly stop worrying and just want to get on with things! Like you suddenly think, 'I can do it, and everything will be okay, and I am okay and all is good, life is great!'. Don't know if I've explained it clear enough but basically that's the feeling! As a theatre-maker, what would you say is the most gratifying part of what you do? Breaking your own barriers and overcoming fears. It is very liberating thing that changes you a lot. And I've experienced it more than ever before with this production. Because I have written the whole thing myself, directed it too, and it's only me in the show, I am the only one responsible for every single aspect of it. I did not expect how different it would feel from being cast by someone else. I honestly have never been so scared or unsure before. And here is something almost anyone in arts can relate to - while writing and rehearsing the show, sometimes I really could not tell whether what I was doing was amazing, or simply a piece of sh*t. Concentrating on the process and filtering out all doubts and fears is a massive mental job. Because before anything else, first of all I have to relax both mentally and physically, and put myself into right head space. So at the end of the day, it's between you and you. Doing the first (No) Leaves On My Precious Self show was a very liberating experience in a sense that I had to overcome absolutely new type of nerves I never knew existed. It is a very, very amazing feeling of breaking down your own limits and barriers that exist nowhere but in your head. I don't even care anymore how others like my show - now that I majorly overcame fear and all insecurities, I am just so happy to be able to do the show that that is all that matters. And on a lighter and a slightly cheesy note, just doing what you love is very gratifying. So every aspect of theatre-making is! (No) Leaves On My Precious Self is showing at the Drayton Arms on Sunday 12 August, 5 pm. Go to the the Drayton Arms website to purchases tickets now here. [related_posts_by_tax]
11
Ian McKellen’s King Lear: Duke of York’s Theatre (2018)[fivestar] It’s Gandalf the White, Gandalf the Grey… no, it’s Ian McKellen. That, in itself, is all the excuses you need to secure a ticket to see one of the greatest living actors of our time perform his biggest Shakespearean role. McKellen has already announced that Jonathan Munby’s production is his last time in a Shakespearean role. (And there goes another excuse.) Last year, many saw him first at Chichester Festival as the aging king - loved by many, hated by two. McKellen is more than familiar with the inner workings of Shakespeare’s play given the gravitas of his experience. Upholding a 60-year stage career, he has performed the roles of Edgar (1974), Kent (1990) and Lear (2007) in the past. This explains why his tremendous performance, now, at the Duke of York’s Theatre is executed with panache and flair. Watching from the grand circle of the intimate space, I noted how McKellen took small, minor liberties with the play by adding on his own words and stage directions, which didn’t muddle the craftsmanship of the Bard. You can see McKellen’s genuine wit in these precious moments. And for all of those big famous lines we know of King Lear McKellen would say them as if he were making a statement about the world. When he said the words ‘when we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools’ McKellen didn’t rush to say his next lines. Instead, he left those poignant words floating in the air just as Shakespeare would have wanted the audience to realise them. [caption id=attachment_12531 align=aligncenter width=683] Ian McKellen as King Lear. Credit: Johan Persson[/caption] Munby’s modern-day production begins with a sparse stage with Kent and Gloucester (Sinead Cusack and Danny Webb) having a private conversation. Suddenly, a majestic procession comes bursting onto the stage with people cheering into song, hailing the king. Then, a union jack unravels and a large oil portrait of McKellen as king takes centre. Everything appears civilised and neatly orchestrated, except for the king who pulls out a pair of scissors and cuts a map of his kingdom into three pieces. All hell breaks loose as he disowns his youngest daughter and strips away the titles of his second in command, Kent. Munby’s production carefully unwraps the weak from the strong in Lear's world. It successfully manages to reveal humanity and the deeper intricacies of Shakespeare’s symbolism. As much as the narrative is a great success on its own right, I found it easier to fall in love with its characters more. [caption id=attachment_12528 align=aligncenter width=800] Danny Webb as Gloucester and Kirsty Bushell as Regan. Credit: Johan Persson[/caption] Around the time the storm comes, we see McKellen and Lloyd Hutchinson, performing as the king’s fool, completely wet through and through. It’s quite a revelatory scene that says a lot about the stagecraft of the Duke of York’s theatre, which somehow manages to recreate a scene filled with real rain. Over the course of the three and a half hours, the audience sees a quick descent of the king’s lucid mind as he makes friends with loyal servants and estranged ‘Poor Tom’ (Luke Thompson) whilst seeing imaginary beasts that don't exist. His former kingdoms slowly disintegrate and more gore, disorder and murdering takes place. The body count goes up to 10 in King Lear, which makes it one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedies. [caption id=attachment_12527 align=aligncenter width=683] Danny Webb as Gloucester. Credit: Johan Persson[/caption] An astonishing cast supports McKellen. Kirsty Bushell and Claire Price are excellent as the villainous sisters. James Corrigan provides a brilliant portrayal of the scheming and ruthless son of Gloucester as Edmund. Anita-Joy Uwajeh is also a great match for her character title as the dutiful daughter, Cordelia, and Danny Webb’s honourable Gloucester gives a sympathetic and noteworthy performance too. That leaves Luke Thompson with the tough job of bringing the athletic and emotionally torn Edgar to life, and he does it so well. In short, with a winning combination including McKellen, Shakespeare and a first-class cast... what more could you want? [caption id=attachment_12529 align=aligncenter width=683] Ian McKellen as King Lear and Anita-Joy Uwajeh as Cordelia. Credit: Johan Persson[/caption] King Lear is showing at the Duke of York's Theatre now until 3 November, 2018. Go to the ATG website to purchases tickets as low as £25 here. I purchased tickets to review this show. [Header shot: Ian McKellen and Danny Webb. Credit: Johan Persson]   [related_posts_by_tax]
9