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Dec 11th

Sleeping Beauty at the Richmond Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Maureen Lipman as the Wicked Fairy in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugden - Copy.jpg

Maureen Lipman as Carabosse

For the first time in my life I feel free! 

The traditional pantomime at the Richmond Theatre is one of the highlights of the year in this lovely town, offering delightful entertainment for the entire family with amazing stage designs, beautiful costumes and featuring at least one big star. This year it is Maureen Lipman's turn to appear as the evil fairy Carabosse, a part she has played before with great success.

The show definitely focusses on the younger members of the audience. The foyer of the theatre is decorated as a castle and the show starts off with the announcement: "Turn off your mobile phone and turn up the volume of your children!", which was met with happy screaming as the curtain rose to a village scene right out of a fairy tale picture book and Princess Beauty's first day outside the castle walls. Closely guarded by Nurse Mollycoddle (Matt Rixon) aka "Nursie", Beauty discovers the excitement of the real world together with her friend Chester (Chris Jarvis), the court jester, Both Chris Jarvis and Matt Rixon know how to connect with the younger members of the audience, making Chester and Nursie truly endearing characters.

Lauren Hood as Princess Beauty, Matthew Rixon as Nanny and Dan Partridge as Prince Antonio in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugd

Nursie (Matt Rixon) protecting Beauty's (Lauren Hood) innocence from the bold Prince (Dan Partridge)

And Maureen Lipman enjoys every second of her performance as Carabosse, accepting boos and hisses as her special badge of honour. Arriving in a dragon wagon and wearing a sexy vamp outfit, Carabosse is a formidable sight indeed. And she becomes ever more frightening when she begins to sing, making Florence Foster Jenkins appear a gifted opera diva in comparison. Accompanied by devils and ravens, the fearsome Carabosse announces that her curse on Beauty will take effect before Beauty's 18th birthday.

Meanwhile Beauty is taking a walk in the forest where she encounters the dashing Prince of Aragon (Dan Patridge), who is in search of a bride - and it seems that he has found her! Yet before the Prince can present himself to Beauty's parents and ask the King for the hand of his daughter, Carabosse's curse fulfills itself and Beauty falls into a 100-year long sleep whilst the Prince is abducted by Carabosse who means to make him her husband. 

Tilly Ford as Lilac Fairy (front centre) and the Ensemble in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugden.jpg

The Lilac Fairy (Tilly Ford) in all her splendour

The book by Eric Potts does not offer a lot of surprises but the children loved the colourful show, directed by Chris Jarvis, which emphasises humour rather than romance. The adults in the audience appreciated the local references and the satirical quips on current political events and had as much fun as the children when some of the gifts in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song were replaced by other less desirable items. The music includes pop songs from the 1970s through today, including the "Time Warp" which takes us back to Beauty's childhood when she grew up with the "Chiswick Chav".

Apart from the lovely Lauren Hood and Dan Partridge as the princely couple, the excellent Maureen Lipman as Carabosse, the delightful Chris Jarvis as Chester and the endearing Matt Rixon as Nursie, one must not forget to mention Graham James and Tania Newton as Beauty's parents - the King who is somewhat hard of hearing and his Chiswick-Queen.

The stage design and costumes were often held in pink which might have pleased many of the little girls in the audience but I don't think the boys minded too much either.

A delightful evening out for the whole family. 

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 8th January 2017

Richmond Theatre
The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including one interval

Tickets: http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Photographs by Craig Sugden.

Dec 9th

Scenes from the End at the Tristan Bates Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Héloïse Werner

Indifferent, inhuman, inevitable!

How do you deal with grief? You will find it hard to express your feelings in a society in which most people will avoid the subject of death after quickly expressing their deepest sympathy. The subject is awkward and best to be avoided.

After successful appearances at this year’s Camden and Edinburgh festivals, this new one-woman opera, a collaboration of soprano Héloïse Werner, composer Jonathan Woolgar and director Emily Burns, explores the difficult themes of death and grief. The opera is divided into three parts, moving from the cosmic to the intimate: End of the Universe, End of Humanity and End of the Human Life. Using comic and tragic images to illustrate the end, Héloïse Werner's performance is complemented by quotes by Carl Sagan, T. S. Elliot and William Shakespeare that are projected against a wall.

Scenes from the End showcases Héloïse Werner's talents as both a singer and a performer. Accompanying herself with wooden claves and a small gong and using the impressive range of her vocal and acting skills, Héloïse Werner's character tries to come to terms with the feeling of loss. Often using only sounds because "words cannot express grief", Werner's voice conveys infinite pain and sadness but there are also more upbeat moments when the character laughs at the absurdity of life or takes a necessary break to gather strength, such as in the "Interlude Blues".

Jonathan Woolgar, BBC Young Composer 2010, who is responsible for music and  libretto, regularly works with Werner, who is fascinated by the idea of music as drama and enjoys experimenting with different genres and techniques.

An intriguing show on a difficult subject.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 10th December 2016

Tristan Bates Theatre

1a Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP

Box office: 020 3841 6611

Running time: 45 minutes

Photograph provided by Chris Hislop.

Dec 4th

Gothic Season at the Hope Theatre: Her Aching Heart

By Carolin Kopplin

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Last night I dreamt I went to Hellstone Hall again.

The final offering of the Gothic Season at the Hope Theatre is a parody on Gothic romantic novels, framed by a modern day love story. A London couple is reading the same novel, thereby entering the world of Lady Harriet (Colette Eaton) of Hellstone Hall and peasant girl Molly (Naomi Todd). One of the two London women is abroad but as they are reading the novel, they share a special closeness all the same as the love story unfolds and they picture themselves as characters in the story.

In the novel, Lady Harriet comes across Molly during a fox hunt when Molly desperately tries to save the fox, only to see it perish. Molly blames the haughty Lady Harriet for the fox's demise and but a fire of passion has been kindled by their encounter, leaving their rather inept male suitors without a chance. Held back by the restraints of the class system and the taboo on their special kind of love, there is quite a bit of sighing and chest heaving before their romance eventually gains momentum - leading to murders most foul with one of the protagonists fleeing to revolutionary France whilst the other becomes a nun. 

Matthew Parker's 25th Anniversary production of Bryony Lavery's play intelligently spoofs the style and language of novels such as "Rebecca" and "Wuthering Heights" with Ian Brandon's songs adding to the romantic atmosphere of the piece. The two actors convince as the two female leads along with a variety of other roles, including Molly's granny (Colette Eaton) who is quite a character, Lady Harriet's slutty and insolent maid Betsy (Naomi Todd), and the two suitors - the hilarious Lord Rothermere (Naomi Todd), whose plan for romancing Lady Harriet includes "Bed her and get her breeding", and a good natured country yokel (Colette Eaton).

The intimate venue is transformed from a bar, where Colette Eaton starts off the performance as a torch singer seductively crooning "Babe, you're unwelcome, so why are you here?" to Lady Harriet's stately home and Molly's village, using few props and a lot of imagination (set and costume design by Rachael Ryan).

There is not a dull moment in this fast-paced production, providing lots of laughs, a fiery romance, and an exciting sword fight.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 23rd December 2016

Hope Theatre

207 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1RL and can be found on the corner of Upper Street and Islington Park Street.

Box office: 0333 666 3366

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes including one interval

 

Nov 30th

Dr Angelus at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

15272235_10153920984311372_6342575706037104149_o.jpgJanet McAdam (Rosalind McAndrew) and Dr Angelus (David Rintoul)

You did your best but it wasn't very good.

Glaswegian James Bridie worked as a doctor before he became a full-time writer in 1938. The main founder of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, Bridie was also instrumental in the establishment of the Edinburgh Festival. In the late 1940s, he collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on several films, including The Paradine Case (1947). Although one of the most successful and best known playwrights of the 1930s and 1940s, Bridie's work has not been seen outside Scotland for many years. This production by the Finborough Theatre marks the first production of Dr Angelus in England since its 1947 London premiere, starring Alastair Sim and George Cole.

Glasgow, 1920. Doctor Angelus has taken on a junior partner, earnest young doctor George Johnson. When Dr Angelus’ treatment of his own mother-in-law, who suffers from a gastric complaint,  results in her death, George remains fiercely loyal, although he is warned against his eccentric senior partner. However, when Mrs Angelus suddenly begins to suffer from the same gastric complaint as her mother, Dr Johnson's suspicions are aroused.

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Dr George Johnson (Alex Bhat) and Inspector MacIvor (Malcolm Rennie)

Dr Angelus is a classic psychological thriller, based on the true life case of Dr Edward Pritchard, the last person to be hanged in Glasgow. Drawing on James Bridie's medical experience, the play focuses on what it means to be a doctor, repeatedly referring to the Hippocratic Oath which is, of course, in stark contrast to what Dr Angelus is up to.

Jenny Ogilvie's exciting production mostly serves the form of a classic thriller yet departs from it in a surreal dream sequence presenting the inner conflict of the young doctor, who finds himself torn between loyalty to his mentor and his duty to save lives. Despite its sombre subject, the play is darkly funny with more than a touch of gallows humour.

The production features a tour-de-force performance by David Rintoul. Rintoul inhabits the role of Dr Cyril Angelus, a charismatic and cunning manipulator with delusions of grandeur who takes advantage of Dr Johnson's naivité to execute his evil plan. Using an innocent yet slightly ambiguous episode with seductive patient Irene Corcoran (Lesley Harcourt), Rintoul evades Johnson's questions, indirectly accusing Johnson of unprofessional behaviour with a patient and warning him that this might cost him his license. Alex Bhat is very good as the young, inexperienced doctor who wants to do the right thing but finds himself incapable to do so.

However, the female roles are rather two-dimensional. Rosalind McAndrew does make an impact as the insolent servant Janet McAdam who openly shows her disdain for Mrs Angelus (Vivien Heilbron), the obedient and rather passive wife of a patriarch. Malcolm Rennie provides comic relief as the pompous Sir Gregory Butt, a senior doctor who is consulted by Dr Angelus when it is already too late, and the quirky yet good-natured Inspector MacIvor.

There were problems with the lighting and rather obtrusive sound effects but I assume that these were early run issues that will be taken care of before long.

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 20th December 2016 at the Finborough Theatre

118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652
Book online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes including one interval.

Photographs by Lidia Crisafulli

Nov 26th

Rodney Ackland's After October at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Marigold Ivens (Beverley Klein) encourages Clive Monkhams (Adam Buchanan)

The fabric of this house is built on the idea that I'm a genius.

It is surprising that Rodney Ackland's most autobiographical play has not been shown in Central London since its premiere in 1936. But thanks to Troupe and the Finborough Theatre, Ackland's forgotten drama can currently be seen at the Chelsea venue, which has been transformed in a big living room with the audience seated on all sides, making this experience even more intimate than usual.

Taking place in a run-down flat in Hampstead, the drama focusses on aspiring playwright Clive Monkhams (Adam Buchanan) who is dreaming of fame and fortune. As the performance begins, Clive is working on an overdue article whilst his mother, retired actor Rhoda (Sasha Waddell), reminisces about past glory. The widowed Rhoda, who is slowly running out of ideas of how to avoid her numerous creditors, completely relies on her son's future success - as do his penniless sisters and a number of artistic friends. When Clive learns that his play will be shown in the West End, the future suddenly looks all too bright. Everybody, except rebel-poet Oliver Nashwick (Patrick Osborne), expects the play to be a success and plans are being made. 

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Rhoda Monkhams (Sasha Waddell)

Clive promises to marry his secret love Frances (Jasmine Blackborow), who has been going out with dull civil servant Brian Guest (Stephen Rashbrook) to combat her loneliness. Rhoda is hoping to move into a bigger flat with Mrs Batley (Josie Kidd) as a live-in servant, thereby rescuing her from her vicious son-in-law. Clive's bohemian friend Marigold Ivens (Beverley Klein) hopes that Clive can get her nephew Bobby, currently residing at Wandsworth Prison, a job once the play will be touring. Oliver expects a £100 loan to publish his brilliant poems in case he is wrong and the "boring" play will be a success.

As opening night is drawing nearer, Clive's sister Joan (Allegra Marland) has quit her job as a secretary for her overbearing lover Alec Mant (Jonathan Oliver), married with children, and is concentrating on her art work. Sister Lou (Peta Cornish), a dancer, has returned from France with her French husband Armand (Andrew Cazanave Pin), adding to Rhoda's financial burden. Money is running out fast.

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Frances Dent (Jasmine Blackborow), Joan Monkhams (Allegra Marland), Alec Mant (Jonathan Oliver) and Lou St. René (Peta Cornish) 

Oscar Toeman's production might be a bit longish but there is not one dull moment. Rodney Ackland's satirical play about a bohemian family, with touches of Coward and Rattigan, is delightful and all of his characters, no matter how small the part, are well written. The talented cast make the most of it. Apart from the impressive leads - Adam Buchanan and Sasha Waddell -, Beverley Klein is hilarious as the eccentric Marigold Ivens, believer in numerology and amateur actor. Peta Cornish is terribly stylish as Clive's sister Lou and Josie Kidd inhabits her role as Mrs Batley.

An atmospheric set design by Ann Vize, Anna Lewis' authentic costumes and music by Lucinda Mason Brown add to the appeal of the play.

A forgotten classic that should not be missed.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 22nd December 2016 at the Finborough Theatre

118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED Box Office 0844 847 1652

Book online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes including one interval

Photographs by Mitzi de Margary

Nov 21st

Mad Meg at the Blue Elephant Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Mad meg new_0.jpgMarianne Tuckman and Phoebe Ophelia Douthwaite

Meg spent much time with thinking. Her favourite topic: How the world connects.

The final production of the Elefeet Dance Festival 2016 at the Blue Elephant Theatre was a fusion of dance, folk music, and storytelling, skilfully presented by MAZPOD. Starting off in a rather unconventional way, Laurence Marshall, a multi-instrumentalists, sang a couple of folk songs, accompanying himself with a variety of instruments, whilst the audience were waiting in the upstairs bar for the actual show to begin. The cheerful and comical gig included songs about pirates and how hard it is to be a breakfast cereal.

The actual dance performance kicked off with Phoebe Ophelia Douthwaite and Marianne Tuckman sitting at a table with Laurence Marshall, having a couple of beers. As they began to tell the story of Mad Meg, Marshall accompanied them on the accordion, a ukulele and percussive instruments, whilst the two dancers/actors took turns playing Meg and the people she associated with. The extremely physical performance narrated the story of a lonely woman, socially isolated because of her odd behaviour - "she shrieked her questions so loud and so coarse" - and her plain looks. Nobody wanted to talk to her and listen to her, she was silenced by everybody. But one day she met a man who was willing to marry her.

Meg's story, her awkwardness and loneliness were transported by movement as well as words. Her shrinking from others, the rejection she experienced, yet also her unpleasant groping and her involuntarily aggressive behaviour became apparent in the performance. The scene when Meg's husband showed his true feelings for her was devastating.

Inspired by Texas Gladden's ballad "The Scolding Wife" and Clarissa Pinkolas book "Women Who Run With Wolves", this production discussed relationships, abusive behaviour and domestic violence, and the soul destroying effect of loneliness.

An intense and intriguing production.

By Carolin Kopplin 

The short run has now ended. 

Running time: Approximately one hour

Photograph provided by the Blue Elephant Theatre.

Nov 20th

Princess - The Good Girls Gone Bad at LOST Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

download.jpegJennie Dickie and Morgan Scott

Critically acclaimed writer/director Stuart Saint presented his variation on the "Princess" theme in a unique interdisciplinary dance performance, fusing video projections with live performance, at LOST Theatre, one of the more hidden venues near Vauxhall station. 

Saint's gig theatre features an electro-pop soundtrack inspired by Soft Cell and Depeche Mode and an impressive choreography. Structuring the show like a series of quests in a videogame, Stuart Saint provides a spirit guide in the form of a Rabbit (Morgan Scott) to a little girl (Jennie Dickie) who dreams of becoming a princess. But princesses are not the way they are portrayed in Disney movies any more. A coming-of-age tale as well as a quest to become a Princess, Princess shows how the Girl discovers a world of wonders as well as cruelty.

The bare stage is lined with old TV sets with a little white rabbit placed in the centre. The Girl comes on wearing dungarees and carrying her soft toy rabbit. As she is entering the fairy tale world, her toy eventually turns into a man wearing a rabbit mask. The princesses have a definitive Goth look with dark eyes and dark lips, dismissing the Girl as obviously not being one of their equals. But this is only the beginning of the Girl's adventure.

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Stuart Saint takes his audience into a mysterious world of princes, princesses and fairies but the princes are not always charming and the princesses can be tough and rather unpleasant. The Girl has her Rabbit guide to cling to but if she wants to become a Princess, she might have to leave him behind.

The most important element in this production is not the acting, it is the choreography performed by very skilful dancers. Some of the acrobatic stunts, especially by Morgan Scott and Onyemachi Ejimofor, are breathtaking. Stuart Saint creates some memorable images such as Ejimofor's Granola, an evil presence in a black cape, and a gigantic ballooning dress worn by the Girl as the rest of the company moves underneath.

The narrative seems open to many interpretations, which is actually a very welcome aspect of this production. Stuart Saint is certainly a name to remember. I am looking forward to his next work.

By Carolin Kopplin 

The run has now ended.

Running time: 65 minutes without an inteval

Further info on LOST Theatre: http://losttheatre.co.uk/

Nov 19th

Pride and Prejudice at the Richmond Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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My good opinion once lost is lost forever.

Following a sucessful run at Regent's Park Theatre, Simon Reade's adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel is now touring the UK, starring Matthew Kelly and Felicity Montagu as Mr and Mrs Bennet.

Mrs Bennet (Felicity Montagu) is burdened with five daughters, none of them married yet. What to do? When eligible bachelor Mr Bingley (Jordan Mifsúd) arrives at his country home, he is immediately targeted as a prospective husband for her eldest daughter Jane (Hollie Edwin). Mrs Bennet's plan seems to work as Mr Bingley is enchanted by the lovely Jane. Meanwhile Mr Bingley's friend Mr Darcy (Benjamin Dilloway) is less impressed by the charms of the Bennet girls, clearly showing his disdain for Mrs Bennet's predatory behaviour. Elizabeth Bennet (Tafline Steen) overhears Mr Darcy's remarks and dismisses him as proud and arrogant.

Written almost 200 years ago, Jane Austen's novel, in Simon Reade's adaptation, is as delightful as ever. Of course this is not just a shallow romantic comedy about a money-grabbing woman, trying to marry off her daughters to the richest bidders. When Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, only men could inherit property, which means that in the case of Mr Bennet's demise his wife and five daughters would have to rely on the generosity of his heir - Mr Bennet's cousin Mr Collins - who might very well decide to turn them out of their own home. Considering the gravity of the situation, it is more than understandable that Mrs Bennet frantically tries to marry off her daughters so they won't be destitute in the future. When Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth, Mrs Bennet is overjoyed because, along with Elizabeth being taken care of, this would also mean that she is less likely to be evicted by the prospective heir. Therefore, Mrs Bennet's hostile reaction to Elizabeth's refusal to marry Mr Collins is not as selfish as it seems at first glance.

Although Tafline Steen is excellent as Elizabeth Bennet, who is one of the most endearing characters in literature, capturing her intelligence, wit, honesty, and compassion, Deborah Bruce's production clearly focusses on Felicity Montagu who inhabits the role of Mrs Bennet, giving an outstanding comical performance. Matthew Kelly is also very good as Mr Bennet, a gentleman who has married below his station, delivering some of the witties lines of the play with dry humour. Equally remarkable is Steven Meo's portrayal of Mr Collins, a frightful little man and busybody who is in great awe of his benefactor Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Doña Croll), a haughty aristocrat and Mr Darcy's aunt, who greatly disapproves of her nephew's interest in Elizabeth Bennet, expecting Darcy to marry her sickly daughter Annabel (Leigh Quinn). Mr Darcy has never seemed more arrogant and disdainful as being played by Benjamin Dilloway before he reveals his true feelings to Elizabeth.

Diverse casting adds to the attraction of this charming production, featuring an beautiful costumes (designed by Tom Piper), skilfully choreographed dances with a lovely musical score by Lillian Henley, and a flexible stage design consisting of a metallic structure and enhanced by projections of forests and soft landscapes to replace the open air venue at Regent's Park (designed by Max Jones).

By Carolin Kopplin

The run at the Richmond Theatre has now ended.

The next stop of the Pride and Prejudice UK Tour will be Bath.

Further information: http://prideandprejudiceplay.com/#tour

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes including one interval.

 

Nov 14th

This Really Is Too Much by Gracefool Collective at the Blue Elephant Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Gracefool_Image web.jpgLook. (Point.) You've never had it so good. We. Are moving. Forward.

 

Gracefool Collective is a company of dancemakers consisting of four women: Kate Cox, Sofia Edstran, Rachel Fullegar and Rebecca Holmberg. Their "post-intellectual-pseudo-spiritual-feminist-comedy-dance" has been twice shortlisted for the Vantage Art Prize and after seeing their latest work, I can understand why.

This Really Is Too Much focusses on female gender stereotypes in an anarchical and hilarious way as the four characters struggle to find their own identities only to be put in boxes because there is no room for variation.

4 characters, dressed in black, are sitting on the stage, looking straight ahead with a blank stare. As the show begins, there is silence. Suddenly, one character speaks: "I'll tell you something." Again silence. "I am the answer." This is followed by variations of the quote "Look. (Point.) You've never had it so good." Suddenly, a tune resembling elevator music leads to a surprising change: All four characters strip down to bikinis and begin performing in commercials for various products, from cleaner to skin lotion. As soon as the music stops, the characters get dressed, changing into their different roles: a participant in a beauty pageant, a  housewife who shows off her impressive skills in a very seductive way, a scientist, and lastly an umemployed therapist searching for work. As the characters are trying to tell their stories, they are frequently interrupted by the elevator music and they immediately feel the urge to strip off for the objectifying commercials.

The production is highly entertaining as well as thought provoking as Gracefool Collective show the absurdity of trying to be a person as well as a woman in our society in their dance comedy. The scientist is as much ignored as the beauty queen, who is completely reduced to her looks, the job searching therapist is confronted with a rigid bureaucrat who has boxes to tick, no matter whether the answers fit or not. But no use complaining: "Through all of this, it is important that you keep smiling." Nobody likes an ill-tempered woman.

By Carolin Kopplin

This Really Is Too Much was shown at the Blue Elephant Theatre on 11th & 12th November.

It will transfer to Yorkshire Dance, Leeds for one performance on 26th May 2017 only. Further info: yorkshiredance.com.

Running time: 60 minutes without interval

Nov 13th

Gothic Season at the Hope Theatre: The Worst Was This

By Carolin Kopplin

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... if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this: my love was my decay.

The Gothic Season at the Hope Theatre continues with the latest production by Wild Goose Chase in association with the critically acclaimed New Room Theatre. Matte O'Brien's play, a mix of modern Grand Guignol and Elizabethan mystery story, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Britain.

After a great war has destroyed all animal life on Earth, meat has become very scarce. However, in a pub named "The Wayward Sisters", there seems to be a constant supply of fresh meat. Pub landlady Agatha (Sarah Barron) and her two sisters Rue (Lauren Hurwood) and Odette (Beth Kovarik) run a successful black market business with the help of Bob aka "Bones" (Mark Jeary), who carries out the bloody deeds. When Will (Ben Clifford), a young actor and playwright, enters the sisters' pub to meet with disfigured poet Chris (Robin Hellier), who was presumed dead, a Shakespearean love triangle turns into tragedy. 

The show begins with cheerful songs by Lesley Gore and the Partridge Family but the joyful tunes are soon distorted and a breathless man enters with a dagger and a bloodied script. Cut to the pub "The Wayward Sisters" where Bob drags in some more fresh meat to be turned into a tasty stew. When Will enters the pub, the sisters make a mess trying to explain what is in the bag but Will is not really interested, he is looking for Chris to teach him how to write plays.

Director and playwright Matte O'Brien transports Elizabethans Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare into the future with the premise that Marlowe survived the attack on his life, though badly disfigured, and Shakespeare took advantage of Marlowe's preference to be assumed dead, claiming Marlowe's plays as his own. Combined with a Grand Guignol type horror story that involves gory murder, cannibalism, and resurrection of corpses, this production is a lot of nonsensical fun, written in blank verse and prose that is skilfully delivered by the cast.

Sarah Barron is especially good as Agatha, the eldest of the three sisters who considers Lady Macbeth a softie and follows in Dr Frankenstein's footsteps to pass the time. Beth Kovarik is enticing as Marlowe's muse, desiring so much more from the poet who is unable to reciprocate her feelings. Robin Hellier gives a fine performance as the tortured Marlowe.

Vari Gardner's costumes are a successful mix of modern garments, such as t-shirts, and period costumes. The fight scenes, choreographed by Robin Hellier, are very exciting and somewhat frightening in such an intimate space.

An absurd horror story with a lot of funny moments. 

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 26th November 2016

The Hope Theatre

Running time: 80 minutes without interval