Posts Tagged ‘ opening shows ’

Red, Black and Ignorant, Cock Tavern Theatre: review

Edward Bond, Red, Black and Ignorant

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith

Dir: Maja Milatovic-Ovadia

The final play in the Cock Tavern’s Edward Bond season takes aim at the atrocities of war. The storyline – in so far as there is one – revolves around a character called Monster and charts, according to the flyer, “man’s decline into greed and despair”.

Maja Milatovic-Ovadia’s production is thoughtfully staged and it was nice to see a more adventurous set in the theatre, courtesy of designers Julia Berndt and Vanda Butkovic. Melanie Ramsay is arresting as a fresh-faced, wide-eyed mother caught in the fray while Andrew Lewis delivers even the most overblown lines with weight and conviction. Alex Farrow is chillingly vacant as the granite-faced soldier who shoots his own father.

These highly accomplished performances, however, struggle to make sense of a bewildering script. The action takes place in a dystopian parallel world in which sons are sold to the state to join the army and there are murders on the street. Bond’s text (re-written for this performance) is highly stylised with some memorable lines – “There’s nothing wrong with him a good post-mortem wouldn’t put right”. It’s surreal and angry but you come away unsure what it is Bond’s exactly angry about.

He has several axes to grind: about the West, world leaders and the technology and machinery of war. How it dehumanises, numbs us and strips life of any value. These are vital points but Red, Black and Ignorant is too preachy, too pleased with itself and too moralising to make them well.

3 Comedy Masks

 

 

 

This review first appeared in the Willesden and Brent Times on 11 November 2010

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Theatrigirl’s Weekly Highlights

As the winter chill begins to set in, here’s Theatrigirl’s list of reasons to be cheerful this week. There’s Hamlet at the National, whimsical fun at Upstairs at the Gatehouse and Anthony Sher in Arthur Miller at the Tricycle. Brave the cold and wrap yourself up in a good play…

  • Or You Could Kiss Me, Cottesloe Theatre, National TheatreInteresting new puppetry piece by Neil Bartlett about how to say goodbye: an “intimate history of two very private lives.” The puppets have been created by the same team as War Horse.

    Previews from 28 Sept

  • Burn My Heart, New Diorama TheatreAdapted from Beverley Naidoo’s novel of the same name, this production, by theatre companies Trestle and Blindeye, is part of Black History Month. The play is set during the Mau Mau uprising in 1950s Kenya and focuses on the destruction wrought by the conflict on the lives of two young boys.

    28 Sept-2 Oct

  • Hamlet, Olivier Theatre, National TheatreHamlet is this season’s “must-have” – the Crucible is also staging a production at the moment and the National have commissioned a “prequel” to Shakespeare’s work (The Prince of Denmark) which will open next week. Rory Kinnear takes the title role in Nicholas Hytner’s production in the NT’s Olivier Theatre.

    Previews from 30 Sept

  • Broken Glass, The TricycleAnthony Sher stars in Arthur Miller’s tale of guilt, love and tragedy in 1930s Brooklyn.

    Previews from 30 Sept

  • The Drowsy Chaperone, Upstairs at the GatehouseA musical within a musical. A self-conscious parody. An anonymous narrator introduces and guides the audience through his favourite musical: The Drowsy Chaperone from 1928. Frivolous frippery.

    23 Sept-31 Oct

  • What’s On Highlights 20-26 September

    Just a quick one today. My ones to watch this week are:

    Pope’s Wedding at the Cock Tavern Theatre

    The second play in the Cock’s Edward Bond Season. Disappointingly, the title is not a literal reference to the events of the play…

    19 Sep-2 Oct

    The Makropulos Case, by Leoš Janáček, Coliseum
    ENO’s first revival of  Christopher Alden’s staging of the Czech composer’s penultimate opera “which tells the story of the enigmatic Emilia Marty, the cold-hearted diva whose uncanny knowledge of past events provides the key to resolving a 100-year-old lawsuit but also unlocks ancient mysteries that call into question mankind’s obsessive quest for eternal life.”

    20 Sep-5 Oct
    Pocket Dream, Hampstead Theatre
    Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for young audiences. At only 60 minutes long, Pocket Dream promises “a dynamic, contemporary and physical introduction to Shakespeare”. Oh my!

    21-24 Sep

    Niobe, Regina di Tebe, by Agostino Steffani, ROH
    Although well-regarded in his own time, Steffani (1654–1728) is little known today. This opera takes the ancient Greek story of Niobe, who angered the gods and so was punished with the of all her children. Cheery stuff – and unmissable for any early opera enthusiasts (…anyone??). And it claims there are £5 tickets available.

    23 Sep-3 Oct

    Theatrigirl’s highlights, 13-19 September

    Edward Bond Season – Olly’s Prison, Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn

    The first play in the eagerly anticipated Edward Bond season at the Cock Tavern, which will culminate with the premiere of a new play. Famed for the violent and controversial subjects of his work, Bond is one of the most important living British playwrights. Olly’s Prison examines a father-daughter relationship gone horribly wrong.

    Olly’s Prison: 14 Sep-2 Oct
    Edward Bond Season:14 Sep-13 Nov

    The Human Comedy, The Young Vic

    Set in a small town California during the second World War, The Human Comedy is a coming-of-age story complete with musical numbers. This production, directed by John Fulljames boasts a “Community Chorus” of 80 in addition to the principal roles. The stage might get a bit cosy!

    13-18 Sep

    Faust at ENO opens this week

    Les Misérables, Barbican

    To celebrate this ridiculously successful musical’s 25th anniversary, a different cast are bringing the show to the Barbican for a few nights only. A chance to see this hugely popular musical for a more reasonable price!

    14 Sep-2 Oct

    Krapp’s Last Tape, Duchess Theatre

    Good, solid Beckettian stuff: gloom, doom and a funny bit with a banana. With Michael Gambon as the eponymous Krapp, this existential monologue should have plenty of gravitas and absurdity.

    15 Sep-20 Nov

    Faust, by Gounod, Barbier and Carré, after Goethe, ENO at the London Coliseum

    Goethe’s tale of the man who wanted to know everything there was to know gets the operatic treatment courtesy of this new production at ENO. Edward Gardner conducts while Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys) directs a modern-dress production.

    18 Sep-16 Oct

    What’s On this Week

    Love on the Dole, by Walter Greenwood and Ronald Gow, Finborough Theatre

    Walter Greenwood’s tale of 1930s Salford in the midst of mass unemployment and poverty.

    “With their father out of work, the burden of keeping the family together falls to Sally Hardcastle and her brother, Harry, as they desperately fight to break free from the shackles of poverty.”

    Cosi fan Tutte, by Mozart, Royal Opera House

    Jonathan Miller’s updated production of Mozart’s classic – if rather anti-feminist – tale of the fickle nature of women. This ultra-modern production apparently even involves iphones.

    Blood and Gifts, by J T Rogers, National Theatre

    Originally seen in a shorter version in The Tricycle Theatre’s The Great Game season.

    “1981. As the Soviet army burns its way through Afghanistan and toward the critical Pakistani border, CIA operative Jim Warnock is sent to try and halt its bloody progress. Joining forces with a larger than life Afghan warlord, and with the Pakistani and British secret services, Jim spearheads the covert struggle.”

    House of Games, by David Mamet, adapted by Richard Bean, Almeida Theatre

    David Mamet’s thriller about the con, high-stakes poker and gambling, adapted for the stage by Richard Bean.

    “This is a confidence game, not because you give me your confidence, but because I give you mine.”

    A Disappearing Number, by Complicite, Novello Theatre

    A revival of Complicite’s 2007 play about mathematical patterns and puzzles and the men who spent their lives pondering them. This production will also be broadcast as part of the NT Live season on 14 October.

    What’s On Highlights

    The Maddening Rain, by Nicholas Pierpan, Old Red Lion Theatre

    “You think you can live by your own rules – until you work in the City”

    Pierpan’s play, like many before it, finds the cut-throat life in the City fertile ground for drama.

    31 August – 18 September

    The Remains of the Day, music, book and lyrics by Alex Loveless, Union Theatre

    A new musical, based on the well-known novel by Kazuo Ishiguro

    “Darlington Hall lies dormant, its prior distinction a passing memory.
    In the twilight of his life, Stevens, long-standing and devoted butler to the late Lord Darlington struggles to meet the needs of its new owner.

    Convinced he requires more staff in order to remedy his professional woes, Stevens sets out to meet his one-time housekeeper and bring her back to Darlington Hall.”

    1 September – 25 September

    Tiny Kushner, The Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn

    Five One-Act Plays

    The Tricycle theatre welcomes the American Berkeley Repertory Theatre to their stage with five short plays by Tony Kushner (of Angels in America fame).

    Expect Kushner’s trademark sharp writing and pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword social comment.

    The Five plays are:

    Flip Flop Fly!

    Terminating or Sonnet LXXV or “Lass Meine Schmerzen Nicht Verloren Sein”or Ambivalence

    East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis: a little teleplay in tiny monologues

    Dr. Arnold A. Hutschnecker in Paradise

    Only We Who Guard The Mystery Shall Be Unhappy

    Click here for details

    1 September – 25 September

    REVIEW TO COME SHORTLY!

    The Thunderbolt, by Arthur Wing Pinero, The Orange Tree, Richmond-Upon-Thames

    Greed, guilt and envy fight it out in this 1908 play set in provincial England. The eldest Mortimore dies. Estranged siblings and an illegitimate daughter gather to divide the spoils.

    1 September – 2 October
    British Youth Opera: La Boheme / Euridice, Peacock Theatre

    A chance to see the singers of the future and to enjoy two classic operas without the palaver of the big professional productions.

    Puccini’s La Boheme is a text-book tale of love, death and the artistic temperament – Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge used Puccini’s plot as his film’s blueprint.

    BYO’s production of Euridice mixes Jacopo Peri’s 16th century music with new work by Stephen Oliver in a semi-stage production.

    La Boheme: 4, 7 & 10 September  Euridice: 8 & 11 September

    What’s On this week: Highlights

    The Road to Mecca, by Athol Fugard, Arcola, Studio 1

    Miss Helen is facing the biggest decision of her life. After spending fifteen years transforming her house into a haven of light and colour against the desolate South African plains, a darkness has set in. Rejected by the deeply religious South African community and with only an idealistic young friend to fight for her, will Miss Helen be forced from her personal Mecca?”

    Welcome to Thebes, by Moira Buffini, Olivier Theatre, National Theatre

    A new play by writer-in-residence at the National Theatre Studio, Moira Buffini (whose play, Handbagged, is currently playing as part of the Tricycle’s Women, Power and Politics season).

    “Faced with an impoverished population, a shattered infrastructure and a volatile army, the first democratic president of Thebes, Eurydice, promises peace to her nation. Without the aid of Theseus, the leader of the vastly wealthy state of Athens, she doesn’t stand a chance. But Theseus is arrogant, mercurial and motivated by profit.”

    Manon, by Jules Massenet, conducted by Antonio Pappano, Royal Opera House

    Director Laurent Pelly (who also oversaw the ROH’s La Fille du Régiment) brings Massenet’s tragic tale to the stage.

    “Manon evokes in its designs and action all the colour, the life and the disturbing social underside of Paris in the 1880s, when the opera was written.

    The story’s theme is familiar and powerful: a naive young woman is drawn into a world of men, torn between love and luxury, unable to resist the wrong things and paying the ultimate price.”

    As You Like It / The Tempest – The Bridge Project, The Old Vic

    Sam Mendes cross-Atlantic troupe tackle two of Shakespeare’s most complex plays.

    As You Like It, with its pastoral setting and cross-dressing characters, has a healthy dose of mischief and mayhem. The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s later plays, takes place on an enchanted island and simmers with repressed darkness and disaster.

    Sucker Punch, by Roy Williams, The Royal Court Theatre

    Roy Williams’ dynamic play about being young and Black in the 80s is getting rave reviews.

    back on what it was like to be young and Black in the 80s and asks if the right battles have been fought, let alone won.
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