Thursday, January 31, 2013

Privileging the Regulars: Trojan Women at the Jack Studio Theatre

I've developed  an addiction to Greek drama. It 'privileges' the regular viewer, just like a TV soap. At first it makes little sense - overwrought characters ranting on about horrific crimes committed elsewhere, backed up by a chorus. Mainly they blame fate, but more often they name names, which over time stand for abstract concepts such as courage and beauty  - Hector and Agamemnon, Helen and Cassandra. Some you know about, some you get to know, but eventually, when you've seen a few episodes,  they become familiar. You get caught up in the multiple  storylines.
The Trojan Women is set in the aftermath of war. It's the women who are strong, who face with stoicism whatever the gods throw at them, while trying to advise and support the men. As in soaps, their advice tends to go unheeded.  

This Jack Theatre production was very well done. With Greek drama, success depends a lot on design and choreography, but here the acting was uniformly strong, and the updated script was marvellous, particularly when voicing the soldiers, who'd spent ten weary years fighting the  Trojans.

It's good, too, when the the programme comes in the form of a complete text of the play. I have a friend in Bahrain who's always looking for good scripts for her play-reading group.

My complete review is on the Remotegoat website

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Letting the Side Down: Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde at Bridewell Theatre


It's not often I feel sorry for the actors in a play; in this case a fine cast  and a talented creative team were let down by the lead. There's no hiding unsuitability when the perpetrator appears in almost every scene. Not that I blame Autumn Ellis, making her professional debut. Even allowing for press night jitters, whoever cast her has a lot to answer for.

I love a going to a venue I haven't been to before.  Bridewell Theatre, located up an alleyway off Fleet Street, had extra appeal: a fifteen minute walk from Cannon Street station took us past St Pauls cathedral, even more imposing when floodlit. Unfortunately we had to hurry past as the train from Lewisham was delayed.

Most of the audience were luckier and the mini-warehouse space with steeply raked seating was quickly filled. In fact, it was over-sold, always a problem with an unreserved policy, especially when everyone is admitted only at the last minute. We had a good view of the subsequent kerfuffle, as the entrance was directly beside the front row.
 With an author of Oscar Wilde's calibre, and a play I hadn't seen before I was anticipating a treat. There was a lot to enjoy. As the comment at the end of my review indicates, however, not everyone was able to look beyond a poor performance by the leading lady.
My full review is on the Public Reviews website.