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

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


    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.

    What’s On this week – Highlights

    Henry VIII, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

    Possibly most famous for being the which brought about the downfall – very literally – of the original Globe theatre. The firing of a cannon during one performance ignited the theatre’s thatched roof and burned the “wooden ‘O’” to the ground. Health and safety has improved since 1613 and so the modern Globe is staging this lesser known work. Like Hilary Mantel’s recent door-stopper, ‘Wolf Hall’, Shakespeare’s play focuses on the period when Henry decides to divorce Katherine and marry Anne.

    Until 21 August

    Canary, by John Harvey Hampstead Theatre

    “Canary, a new play by Jonathan Harvey, is a hard-hitting tale of forbidden love that could tear families and lives apart. Set in Liverpool and London across five decades, Canary is a tragic, comic and surreal exploration of the changing attitudes towards homosexuality in contemporary Britain. Canary is directed by Hettie MacDonald, who also directed Beautiful Thing on stage and film.”

    Until 12 June

    Paradise Found, by Hal Prince and Susan Stroman, Menier Chocolate Factory

    Based on the novel The Tale Of The 1002nd Night by Viennese author Joseph Roth, Paradise Found centres on the Shah of Persia, who is feeling low. To lift his spirits he is off to Vienna with his eunuch in tow for some new adventures. He promptly falls in love with the Empress of the Empire, much to the dismay of her husband, so a resident of the local brothel – who is a double for the Empress – is substituted for a night of passion. But she is in love with a Baron, who is having an affair with the soap manufacturer’s wife.”

    Until 26 June

    Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, by Frank McGuinness, Greenwich Theatre

    A powerful, moving and harrowing play which tells the tale of three men taken hostage and imprisoned in a small cell together. With escape an impossibility, the three men try to make the time pass by indulging in flights of fantasy, games of the imagination and conversation. Poignant and life-affirming in equal measure.

    2 June only

    The Pearl Fishers, by Bizet, London Coliseum

    “A thrilling tale of friendship tested by love, set on an exotic isle in an eastern sea, Bizet’s early masterpiece. The Pearl Fishers tells the story of friends Zurga and Nadir, who both swear to leave far behind them all thoughts of the beautiful young woman they once met, for the good of their friendship. It is a task more easily sworn to than upheld, and her reappearance ignites jealousy and vengeance.”

    Until 8 July

    What’s On in London 3rd May-9th May


    The Roman Bath, by Stanislev Stratiev Arcola Studio 1

    “Ivan returns from a trip to the seaside to find his home torn apart. Builders have unearthed a lost treasure dating back to Roman times. As the excavation destroys his flat, professors, businessmen with dodgy Swiss connections, local councillors, reporters and even the national union of lifeguards set up camp. Everyone wants to claim the discovery, while all Ivan wants is some peace.”


    Desert Boy, by Mojisola Adebayo, Albany, London

    “Soldier Boy’s in a deep situation. Minding his own on the streets of Deptford, he collides with the wrong crowd and meets trouble. Just one more hoody with a knife in his belly, he lies crying for his mother on a riverbank. Instead his cries are heard by the long-dead Desert Man, from Mali 300 years ago… “

    Sweet Charity, by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Theatre Royal, Haymarket

    The Menier Chocolate Factory production of Sweet Charity transfers to the West End with its original lead, Tamzin Outhwaite.

    “Sweet Charity tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a gullible and guileless girl who always gives her heart and dreams to the wrong man. When she meets the nervy Oscar in a lift, she hopes to put her misfortune in love behind her.”

    Henry V, by Shakespeare, Westminster Abbey

    Part of the ‘Shakespeare’s Kings’ Series. Shakespeare’s Henry V has always caused controversy: tale of a hero or Tudor propaganda?

    The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, New Wimbledon Theatre

    “Bilbo Baggins, a quiet and contented hobbit, has his life turned upside down when he is chosen by Gandalf the Sorcerer to join Thorin Oakenshield, exiled king of the Dwarves, on his quest to reclaim their kingdom and treasure.

    He embarks on a frightening but magical journey, from which they may never return. The adventurers battle through the Misty Mountains, wind, rain, hail and thunderstorms, narrowly escaping trolls, goblins, wolves and giant spiders. Finally Bilbo alone must face the guardian of the treasure, the most feared dragon in all Middle Earth – Smaug.”

    Holding the Man, by Tim Conigrave adapted by Tommy Murphy Trafalgar Studios 1

    “A true life story about the relationship between Australian writer, actor and activist Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo.

    Falling in love with the captain of the football team at an all-male Melbourne High School in the 1970s was never going to be universally popular. But for Tim, being young and gay in Australia was exciting but uncharted territory.
    Holding The Man is based on Conigrave’s memoirs”


    Those Magnificent Men, by Brian Mitchell & Joseph Nixon Greenwich Theatre

    “The story of Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, a WW1 fighter pilot and his navigational genius, who are huddled together against the elements in the tiny timber and canvas cockpit of their converted Vickers Vimy biplane.”

    The Riddle of the Sands, adapted by Philip Dart from the novel by Erskine Childers, Jermyn Street, London

    When Foreign Office high flyer Carruthers accepts an invitation to sail the coastline of the German Frisian Islands with an old university chum, he pictures a lazy cruise on a luxury yacht. His dreams are shattered when he finds that he and his friend Davies are the only crew aboard the converted lifeboat ‘Dulcibella’. but not even the hazards of ship-board life can prepare him for the perilous adventure to come.”

    Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl, The Maria, Young Vic

    “Eurydice loves Orpheus. Her dead father’s letters of advice for her wedding aren’t reaching the land of the living. She crashes down a flight of stairs and wakes in the underworld, her memory wiped. How will she ever get home…?
    Alice In Wonderland meets Greek mythology; Eurydice is a playful and heart-breaking take on a timeless tale of grief and redemption.”

    Musashi, by Hisashi Inoue, Barbican Theatre

    Celebrated director Yukio Ninagawa returns to the Barbican Theatre with Musashi, following the sell out Kabuki season of Twelfth Night.
    ”Set in the early 17th century, six years after the Duel of Ganryu between legendary swordsmen, Kojiro Sasaki and Musashi Miyamoto, the play joins Kojiro on a mission for retribution. Using the contemporary comedy elements of Noh and Kyogen and the spirit of the Samurai, Musashi demonstrates the ultimate futility of seeking vengeance. Musashi is suitable for theatregoers aged 14 and older, and is performed in Japanese with English surtitles.”


    Airswimming, by Charlotte Jones, Hen and Chickens, London

    “Charlotte Jones’ 1920s-set comedy-drama, in which two different women in an institution find that dreaming of Doris Day and military escape manoeuvres are the only things that keep them going.”

    Elevator, by Gabriel Pintilei New Diorama, London (performed in English)

    “Two Teenagers. A jammed lift. No mobile signal. Inspired by a true story, Gabriel Pintilei’s moving two-hander explores human dynamics in an extreme environment as it follows two youngsters’ journey through one of life’s worst nightmares.”

    Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare, Tricycle Theatre

    “Experience the madness of love and loss in a radically cut, fast paced version of Shakespeare’s much loved comedy Twelfth Night, where classical verse meets riotous gig.

    Filter’s explosive and irreverent take on Twelfth Night’s story of romance, satire and mistaken identity combines dynamic narrative drive with a torrent of sound and music creating one of the most accessible Shakespeare productions of recent years.”


    Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot, adapted by John Cooper, Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London

    When society beauty Gwendolen Harleth gambles away a small fortune at a fashionable casino on the continent, she attracts the attentions of the exotic Daniel Deronda, already involved in the destiny of a young Jewish woman, Mirah Lapidoth. However Gwendolen is an object of desire for Henleigh Grandcourt, a man used to getting what he wants.”

    The Fabulous Flutterbys, by Barb Jungr, Little Angel

    “THE FABULOUS FLUTTERBYS follows the adventures of two very different caterpillars who eat their way to success. Hamish and Grace are searching for their missing friend. As they travel through their insect sized world they encounter a host of fabulous and fascinating creatures, including blues singing slow worm Joe, a patch of mean strawberries and Adam and his army of marching ants. They have a long journey ahead of them before they can become beautiful flutterbys.”


    Nagging Doubt, by Jack Klaff, Finborough Theatre

    Marking the centenary of the Union of South Africa and the 50th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, Jack Klaff presents his one-man show, Nagging Doubt at the Finborough Theatre for six performances only. Drawing on Klaff’s own childhood memories, Nagging Doubt takes us back to a watershed moment in history, exactly half a century ago. On 21st March 1960, outside Sharpeville police station, 35 miles from Johannesburg, panicked police officers fired at peaceful black demonstrators, killing seventy people and wounding two hundred more, including women and children. Following that atrocity, apartheid South Africa teetered on the verge of a racial bloodbath.”