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Oct 15th

Songs for the End of the World at Battersea Arts Centre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Milly Oldfield as Betty

Earth's silent. I think I might be the only one left.

After a successful run at the Vaults Festival earlier this year, Dom Coyote's apocalyptic cabaret is shown at the Battersea Arts Centre. Commissioned by the Battersea Arts Centre and supported by Kneehigh, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Tobacco Factory Theatres, Songs for the End of the World is part gig and part theatrical performance.

The show takes place in the Member's Bar on the first floor but the audience is advised to use a different route around the back where some of the cast, clad in white overalls, guide us through plastic curtains into the auditorium. A placard with "REPENT THE END IS NIGH" welcomes us to the world of Ashley-Coombe.

Inspired by Philip K. Dick's post-apocalyptic novel Dr. Bloodmoney and the star-gazing world of Ziggy Stardust, the show, created by Dom Coyote and Michael Vale, is set in the dystopian future of post-Brexit Britain. Ashley-Coombe is one of the few safe-zone communities in New Albion, built and controlled by New Global Inc. The Free Radicals oppose the money-grabbing company and fight for a better future whilst evangelists preach about Armageddon. Astronaut Jim Walters is on his way to Mars to found a new colony with his new Eve when the catastrophe happens and he finds himself trapped in Earth's orbit. He spends his final days broadcasting songs for the end of the world hoping for a sign of life whilst Earth remains silent.

Dom Coyote plays astronaut Jim Walters and the rest of his band "The Bloodmoneys" take on the other roles. Milly Oldfield, the other lead singer, plays Betty who joins the Free Radicals, after listening to their pirate station, because she doesn't want to become a New Global clone. Ted Barnes is Arnold, a man tired of war and having nightmares about an imminent nuclear assault. His doctor (John Biddle) recomends Arnold use a dream purifier before he turns into the leader of Mrs Worthing's New Church, complete with white neon light crosses and her own New Bible preaching xenophobia.

The plot is rather thin but Dom Coyote's music covers a variety of styles, from rock 'n roll to Pink Floyd, performed beautifully by the band, particularly Daisy Palmer on the drums. Brett Harvey provides an impressive video design to create the pulp fiction world of Ashley-Coombe.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 15th October 2016 at the Battersea Arts Centre.

Running time: 60 minutes.

Photograph by Libby Overton.

Further info on the show:

http://www.domcoyote.com/projects/songs-for-the-end-of-the-world/

Oct 13th

The Right Ballerina at the Hen & Chickens

By Carolin Kopplin

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 We have voted.

Penny Leigh is the top ballerina of the company, attracting audiences from near and far who come to see her dance Gisèle. Artistic Director Jack Stevens and the board consider her a valuable asset. But Penny has a secret that endangers her entire future. When the enigmatic Mr X, who represents a powerful organisation, makes it known to the world, Penny has to make a choice between standing up for her convictions and saving her career.

Artistic Director Jack Stevens (Adam Grayson) has a problem. Somebody has spread a rumour that his principal dancer Penny Leigh (Genevieve Berkeley-Steele) is a member of an extreme right-wing party. When member of the board Trevor (Gregory A Smith) informs Jack that protesters are marching outside the theatre and booing, Jack is sure that the accusations are unwarranted and the whole thing will blow over in a few days. Penny refuses to comment on the accusations and expects Jack and the board to protect her freedom of thought and expression. Even after she agrees to comment on the accusations, the protests don't cease but instead grow stronger, affecting the box office and turning the board against her. The mysterious Mr X (Filip Krenus), who seems to suffer from a form of neurosis, informs Jack that he is representing an organisation and Penny Leigh will have to resign if he wants the protests to stop. There is no remedy as the organisation has voted on it.

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The absurdist drama by award-winning playwright Billy Cowan is very entertaining as well as highly relevant. There are quite a few recent examples when political and public pressure have forced the arts to cancel performances or exhibitions making them appear spineless in the face of massive opposition, often by badly informed people. Cowan asks important questions regarding the reliance of the arts on private sponsors who might pull out at any time if the arts organisation does not conform to their ideas. Another crucial issue in the play is the question whether freedom of expression should have its limits at views that we find appalling. It is easy to be protective of political thoughts and ideas that match our own. These questions are especially relevant in our society that is still deeply divided over "Brexit".

Skilfully directed by Matthew Gould, the performance is fast-paced and features a good cast: Adam Grayson as the smooth and slightly manipulative Jack Stevens, Genevieve Berkeley-Steele - convincing as a star ballerina who worked her way up and made the company only to find herself abandoned by her friends and employers when she needs them most, Gregory A Smith as the duplicitous Trevor, and Filip Krenus as Mr X, an unremarkable, slightly neurotic man who wields enormous power through his organisation.    

Inspired by true events this darkly absurdist drama is a fun night out but also provides food for thought.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 21st October 2016 at the Hen & Chickens

109 St Pauls Road, London, N1 2NA

Box office: 0207 704 2001

Book online: www.unrestrictedview.co.uk

Photograph provided by Chris Hislop.

Oct 12th

Trident Moon at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Listen? Now I am the one who is to listen? Hai? Where were you when my sons were screaming? Where were you when my husband scream? Hai? No no no no no…I am not to listen to you, I am listen only to myself. 

Commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, the world premiere of Trident Moon by award-winning Canadian playwright Anusree Roy almost conincides with the 70th anniversary of India's partition in 1947. Her UK debut focuses on the women who are caught up in the conflict.

India, 1947. Six women are hiding in a coal truck that will take them from East Pakistan (today's Bangladesh) to the new India. Alia (Sakuntala Ramanee) has captured her former Muslim employers and intends to have her revenge on them for the death of her husband and her sons, who were beheaded by Muslims. She is well aware that the women will be raped and probably killed, including the child she has raised, yet like an Angel of Death she remains unmoved. Alia's sister has been shot and is critically injured. Also in the truck is Alia's mentally handicapped niece Arun (Rebecca Banatvala). As the Muslim women are pleading with Alia not to take them to India, rioting and shouting can be heard outside the truck. On their way to India Alia picks up more passengers: a very pregnant Hindu woman and a grandmother with her niece, who are disguised as Muslims.

Anusree Roy's play describes how friends and neighbours can turn into deadly enemies, which we have more recently witnessed in former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and the Middle East. Trident Moon focuses on the role of women in these conflicts as they are often used as tools to harm the enemy. Throughout their journey, Alia and her passengers are in constant fear that they might be stopped by the wrong side, which would mean that half of them would be raped and murdered.

This well-intentioned play deals with very important issues and carries a crucial and humane message. Yet it is lacking in content and there are too many implausibilities and logical errors. Would a highly pregnant woman really take a blunt knife and try to cut out a bullet from a stomach wound, without any way to sterilise the knife (except spit) whilst travelling across bumpy roads? This scene comes across as quite amateurish and also feels too long like Anna Pool's production as a whole, which was meant to be 90 minutes according to the program but now lasts almost two hours. However, the production benefits from an outstanding cast.

When the women encounter a Sikh thug, who wants to rob them, nobody thinks of untying the Muslim women although any kind of assistance would be helpful at this moment. The ensuing search for hidden gold is very unpleasant to watch and humiliating in the extreme but actually ineffective except for its demonstration of the disgusting treatment of women in times of war and civil unrest. The author also includes a child-bride, who survived the burning of her whole family, scarred and marked for life. Although I agree that it is necessary to make the public aware of these horrors, it would be more helpful to find out where this intense hatred and aggression stems from instead of focusing simply on the terrible crimes that caused by it.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 18th October 2016

Finborough Theatre

Running time: 115 minutes without an interval. 

Oct 8th

Domestica at the Battersea Arts Centre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Tonight there will be the truth in its banality and its horror.

Following their critically acclaimed work Amusements (2012) and Karaoke (2013), award-winning live-art and experimental theatre company Sleepwalk Collective are celebrating their tenth anniversary with a UK tour of their new show Domestica, the final part of a trilogy entitled Lost In The Funhouse, starting off at the Battersea Arts Centre.

Described by the company as "part narcoleptic beauty pageant, part psychosexual fever dream", Domestica examines our relationship with classical art - from the ancient Greeks to 19th century naturalism.

The show is divided into seven panels, each examining a work of art - paintings as well as literature and music -, set in different centuries. The First Panel, however, is set today and entails a declaration of war by Sleepwalk Collective: "us versus you, the audience" as smoke is rising behind the speaker who is bathed in an eerie light and promises that "we are going to bore you to death."

Three women, wearing long dresses in primary colours with big bows on their backs, making them appear like gifts that are waiting to be unwrapped, form tableaux vivants from classical works, starting off with Botticelli's Venus, described in the Second Panel (1485). Whilst one of the cast is posing, another adds numbered blocks on the stage indicating missing props, such as a pool of blood or a curtain, whilst the third reads the footnotes referring to the numbers as they are projected onto a big screen. The growing amount of numbered blocks eventually make the stage look like a crime scene whilst a disturbingly monotonous soundtrack vibrates across the auditorium.

The works of art all feature women - love goddesses, Madonnas and victims of crimes, the Three Sisters in Chekhov's play who are "decaying over four acts" or the victims of Don Giovanni who ejects his seeds into women all over Europe.

This production is not actually a celebration of the classics, instead it is trying to shed new light on the way women are depicted in these classical works that were created by men who categorised and used them as projections for their fantasies, thereby influencing society as a whole. Propagating the ideal of beauty, the content becomes secondary although the underlying messages remain stuck in our subconscience. 

Sammy Metcalfe's texts, written together with the ensemble, are poetic and hard-hitting as they dissect the misogynism of classical works of art that we adore without ever questioning what they truly entail.

A fascinating and challenging production.

By Carolin Kopplin

The short run at Battersea Arts Centre has ended.

Running time: 75 minutes with no interval

UK Tour Dates:

CAMBRIDGE, Junction | 10 October | junction.co.uk MANCHESTER, HOME | 14 – 15 October | homemcr.org | Part of Orbit Festival BIRMINGHAM, Birmingham Repertory Theatre | 17 October | birmingham-rep.co.uk CREWE, Axis Arts Centre | 18 October | axisartscentre.org.uk NEWCASTLE, GIFT Festival | 20 October | giftfestival.co.uk

Photograph by Alessia Bombaci.

Oct 4th

Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking at Richmond Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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You are not losing a wife but gaining a brother-in-law!

When Relatively Speaking opened at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1967, Alan Ayckbourn was celebrated as the coming man of the commercial theatre. Critics and audiences alike loved his show and Noel Coward sent a telegram praising Ayckbourn's "beautifully constructed and very very funny comedy". Almost 50 years later, Relatively Speaking is still as enjoyable as ever and the Theatre Royal Bath Productions, together with Kenny Wax, now present a touring production of the play starring Robert Powell and Liza Goddard.

Greg has spent the night with Ginny in her bed-sit in London. He is still in bed while Ginny is getting ready to catch a train, supposedly to visit her parents in the country. Greg is somewhat confused. The phone rings and the caller hangs up. There are flowers and boxes of chocolates everywhere. Is Ginny seeing another man? Despite his suspicion and although he met her only a month ago, the rather inexperienced Greg is convinced that Ginny is the girl he wants to marry. Greg decides to catch an earlier train and ask Ginny's father for her hand. But Ginny is not planning to see her parents. She has been having an affair with Philip, an older, married man, and intends to visit him at his home to break off the romance. Greg arrives at the house before Ginny and assumes Philip and Sheila are Ginny's parents, which leads to a series of misunderstandings until things spiral completely out of control.

Robin Herford's production transports us straight back to the 1960s, which makes sense because the play works best in the time period when it was written. Greg and Ginny are in a sexual relationship without being married, but Greg still intends to do right by Ginny by marrying her, even involving her father. Many of the conventions and ideas in the piece would appear rather strange and old-fashioned in a production that was set today. The clever construct of the play and the richness of the characters still make for great entertainment.

Robert Powell is hilarious as the pugnacious Philip, who thinks he has everything under control, including Ginny, who he is trying to force into joining him on a "business trip". Yet the opposite is true. His wife Sheila has received mysterious letters, possibly from a lover, and his affair with Ginny is not going as well as expected. Liza Goddard's Sheila appears to be a dutiful housewife with infinite patience but there is a hidden side to her. Lindsey Campbell and Antony Eden convince as Philip's secretary and ex-lover Ginny and the naive but charming insurance clerk Greg. 

Peter McKintosh's design for Ginny's London bed-sit impresses with typical 1960s wallpaper in showy patterns, held in warm colours, and film posters of the time. Ginny's trendy flat is in stark contrast to Philip and Sheila's traditional country estate "The Willows" in Buckinghamshire.  

A delightful evening out.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until  8th October 2016 at Richmond Theatre

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

Running time: 2 hours including one interval

Tour schedule: http://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/page/3899/Relatively-Speaking

Oct 2nd

Adding Machine: A Musical at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Joseph Alessi as Mr Zero

I dream in figures in my head.

Based on Elmer Rice's 1923 expressionist satire with echoes of Thornton Wilder, this chamber musical by Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith tells the story of mediocre nonentity Mr Zero who spends his life crunching numbers in a department store. For his Silver Jubilee he expects his long overdue promotion but receives his notice instead - he is to be replaced by an adding machine. After years of frustrated hopes and expectations, Zero snaps and kills his boss. He is swiftly sentenced to death. Does Mr Zero now have the freedom he always desired? 

Joseph Alessi inhabits the role of Mr Zero, a henpecked husband whose disappointed wife, played with indignant offendedness by Kate Milner-Evans, starts off the first solo number of the show "Something to be Proud of" - which is obviously not her husband. Picked on at home and ignored at work, Mr Zero is trapped in his mediocrity but still feels superior to those with a lower status in society - recent immigrants and people of colour, whom he derides at "The Party". Only Daisy Dorothea Devore, charmingly played by Joanna Kirkland, brings a ray of sunshine in his dreary life. Edd Campbell Bird impresses as the fresh-faced killer Shrdlu who is looking forward to his execution and an eternity of pain and torture, only to find himself with Mr Zero in the Elysian Fields. 

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Kate Milner-Evans as Mrs Zero

Josh Seymour's gritty production of this anti-musical is set on a bare traverse stage. Joshua Schmidt’s haunting score, inspired by gospel, opera, jazz and rock and roll with a touch of Philip Glass, is beautifully sung by the cast and skilfully played by the band - Ben Ferguson (Musical Director / Piano), Tristan Butler (Percussion), and Hamish Brown (Synth). At the department store, the cast move like automatons to Butler's persistent beat, resembling robots at an assembly line. Daisy has a beautiful jazzy number in "I'd Rather Watch You", singing into a 1920s style microphone. When Mrs Zero meets her husband for the last time, their expected reconciliation explodes in the discords of "Didn't We?"

Adding Machine: A Musical premiered in Illinois in 2007 before it transferred Off-Broadway and won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical and Outstanding New Score. The Finborough Theatre now presents the overdue UK premiere.

Not to be missed.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 22nd October 2016 at the Finborough Theatre

Box office: 0844 847 1652

Running time: 95 minutes without an interval.

Photographs by Alex Brenner.

FREE POST SHOW DISCUSSION ON WEDNESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2016

What is the future for new musicals in the UK and the US? At a time when ticket prices are higher than ever and the need to cast stars seems increasingly urgent, how can creators of new musicals balance these pressures with their need to experiment and innovate? This discussion, featuring experts and artists of varied backgrounds and experiences, will explore whether there is any place for musicals that challenge and develop the form in today's testing theatrical climate.

Josh Schmidt, award-winning US-based composer of Adding Machine: A Musical, will be joined by Mark Shenton, theatre critic and Associate Editor of The Stage, Vicky Graham, producer of the recent critically acclaimed new British musical Flowers for Mrs Harris at Sheffield Crucible – nominated for three UK Theatre Awards, and British composer Pippa Cleary, whose work includes The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole at Curve Theatre, Leicester.

This event is free to ticket holders for the Wednesday 5 October performance.

FREE POST SHOW DIRECTOR AND CAST Q&A ON TUESDAY 12 OCTOBER 2016

Josh Seymour and members of the company discuss the process of rehearsing the UK premiere production of Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith’s provocative and darkly comic musical, and answer your questions.

This event is free to ticket holders for the Tuesday 12 October performance.

Sep 29th

Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities at the Richmond Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...

Charles Dickens considered A Tale of Two Cities the best story he had ever written. It remains a timeless classic, as relevant today as it was at its publication as citizens protest around the world against globalisation and injustice. Co-produced by Touring Consortium and Royal & Derngate, Northampton, James Dacre's seminal 2014 production is presently touring the country. Adapted by Mike Poulton, with whom James Dacre collaborated on Wolf Hall, the production does not attempt to bring the entire novel to the stage but distills the essence of the epic story interweaving a family's personal drama with the violence and terror of the French Revolution.

Starting off with a gripping courtroom scene that sees French aristocrat Charles Darnay falsely accused of spying for the mutinous American colonies, it is only due to the intervention of the clever barrister Sydney Carton, who bears an uncanny resemblence to the accused, that saves Darnay from being sentenced as a traitor. Carton dilligently undermines the credibility of the witnesses - Jenny Herring, who works in a house of ill repute, and Mr Barsad who is anything but the English patriot as which he presents himself to the court. The testimony of the pub landlady of the Homesick Cabinboy brings some necessary comic relief to the tenseness of the trial.

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Sydney Carton (Joseph Timms) and Charles Darnay (Jacob Ifans) enjoying a drink after the trial, served by Waitress (Rebecca Birch)

James Dacre's production has the pace of a thriller. It keeps the audience in suspense throughout as the aftermath of the French Revolution unfolds and draws both Darnay and Carton into the bloody terror. 

The excellent cast of 10, some of which perform a variety of roles, is augmented by the Edmundian Players. As Darnay and Carton, Jacob Ifans and Joseph Timms are complete opposites in temperament though so similar in looks. Darnay is a selfless nobleman who is in a romantic relationship with Dr Manette's lovely daughter Lucie, a delicate Shanaya Rafaat. Joseph Timms gives an outstanding performance as Carton, an embittered, self-destructive drunk who, although desiring Lucie Manette, knows that he will never be worthy of her. Michael Garner impresses as the sympathetic banker Mr Lorry, a loyal friend to the Manettes and Darnay. Noa Bodner is relentless in her longing for revenge as Madame Defarge as she cries: "Vengeance before justice!" 

Although James Dacre's production is set in the late 18th century, the play still speaks to us today. When the odious Marquis de Evrément states that "Repression is the only lasting philosophy” contemporary dictators come to mind. The witch hunt and paranoia after the revolution recalls the excesses of Stalinism and the Cultural Revolution in China.

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Carton (Joseph Timms) and Barsad (Sean Murray) execute a bold plan

Mike Britton's shifting stage design creates picturesque views of the English countryside contrasting with the imposing walls for the courtroom and prison scenes in Paris. Ruth Hall's costumes and Paul Keogan's lighting paint beautiful images and Oscar winning composer Rachel Portman's stirring score boosts the tension of the piece.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 1st October 2016 at Richmond Theatre, then touring

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes including one interval

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

Tour dates: http://touringconsortium.co.uk/show/twocities/

All photographs by Robert Day. 

Sep 27th

VIBRANT 2016 – A FESTIVAL OF FINBOROUGH PLAYWRIGHTS Sunday, 30 October – Thursday, 17 November 2016

By Carolin Kopplin

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THE EIGHTH YEAR: VIBRANT 2016 – A FESTIVAL OF FINBOROUGH PLAYWRIGHTS

Curated by Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson.

with plays by Gerry Moynihan, Colleen Murphy, Jim Nolan, Sarah Page, Micah Smith, and James Anthony Tyler

and The Earl’s Court Film Festival 2016

and After Orlando International Theatre Action

Now in its eighth consecutive year, the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre presents Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, its annual celebration of new writing, running between 30 October – 17 November 2016. This year's festival also includes the Earl's Court Film Festival 2016, and the European premiere of the After Orlando International Theatre Action, 70 short plays inspired by the Orlando nightclub shooting earlier this year. As always, this year's festival features an intriguing selection of staged readings of new works by UK and international playwrights, both established and new, discovered, developed or championed by the Finborough Theatre.

The Earl’s Court Film Festival 2016, one of the most innovative short film events in London, the Earl’s Court Film Festival returns for the second year featuring six locally shot and co-produced Earl’s Court Film Festival funded short films, as well as showings of an additional 12 external film submissions. The estimated running time of each screening will be 1 hour 30 minutes including a post-film Questions and Answers session led by Festival Producers Sean Duffy and Caroline Tod-Richardson. 

After Orlando International Theatre Action is an international playwright driven theatre action including over seventy playwrights from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Africa. Plays have been specifically written and curated in response to this tragic event and will be performed across the US and in the UK throughout the autumn including readings in New York City (Rattlestick Theatre, LGBT Center, Abingdon Theatre, and HERE); Los Angeles (Theatre @ Boston Court, The Road Theatre, East West Players and EST-LA); Seattle (Forward Flux Productions and Cornish College); Portland, Oregon (Artists Repertory Theatre and Boom Arts): Washington, DC (Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center); Philadelphia (Philadelphia Theatre Company); Boston (Brandeis University) and many more theatres and universities across the United States and internationally.

Playwrights include both noted and emerging voices in the theatre including Israel Horovitz, Neil Labute, Anders Lustgarten, Jordan Tannahill, Caridad Svich, Lindsey Ferrentino, Stephen Sewell, and many, many, more. 

Directed by Clare Bloomer, Liz Carruthers, Robert Cavanah, Helen Donnelly, Melissa Dunne, Tommo Fowler, Sara Joyce, Jonny Kelly, Scott Le Crass, Anna Marsland, Lydia Parkerand Lotte Wakeham

Further information: www.finboroughtheatre.com

PLEASE NOTE – Tickets for the Earl’s Court Film Festival are only available on the Earl’s Court Film Festival website at www.filmearlscourt.com or by calling 07789 435448. 

Sep 25th

Finborough Winter Season 2016/17 Announced

By Carolin Kopplin

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Winter Season at the Finborough concentrates on rediscoveries with works from the 1930s, 1940s, 1970s and 1980s including the rediscovery of playwright James Bridie, one of the West End’s most popular dramatists of the 1930s and 1940s. New writing is represented by the eighth consecutive year of Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights featuring a selection of staged readings by UK and international playwrights, developed, nurtured or championed by the Finborough Theatre. This year’s festival also includes new filmmaking from the Earl’s Court Film Festival, and the European premiere of the After Orlando International Theatre Action, a collection of 70 short plays in response to the massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016.

The season opens with Magnificence, Howard Brenton’s seminal 1973 political drama, playing 25 October–19 November 2016. It runs alongside the eighth consecutive year of Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, on Sunday and Monday evenings and Thursday matinees from 30 October–17 November 2016.

Rodney Ackland’s After October receives its first Central London production in 80 years, playing from 22 November–22 December 2016, running alongside the first English production for nearly 70 years of Scottish dramatist James Bridie’s Dr Angelus, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from 27 November–20 December 2016.

The season culminates with Tony Harrison’s The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus in its first London production for nearly 30 years playing 3–28 January 2017, together with the first UK production in over 25 years of Veterans Day by multi-award-winning American playwright Donald Freed, on Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from 8–24 January 2017. The Finborough Theatre will also be relaunching its Friends Scheme this Winter with a new range of categories and benefits.

Elsewhere, following its critically acclaimed sell-out run at the Finborough Theatre earlier this year where it was nominated for seven OffWestEnd Awards including Best New Play, Best Male Performance, and Best Director, Neil McPherson's new play It Is Easy To Be Dead transfers to the Trafalgar Studios playing 9 November–3 December 2016.

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Sep 21st

Haydn's London Ladies at St Paul's Church Knightsbridge

By Carolin Kopplin

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My heart is fixed in thee.

The Austrian composer Joseph Haydn made two hugely successful visits to London in 1791-2 and 1794-5 where he was welcomed as an international celebrity by the musical society and the Royal Family. During his visits to London, Haydn developed strong friendships with several of his female admirers, some of which were artists themselves - pianist Therese Jansen, soprano Harriet Abrams, poetess Anne Hunter, Rebecca Schroeder, and Lady Emma Hamilton. Some of the relationships are preserved through notes and letters, others only through Haydn's music and other writers references.

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Clare McCaldin

St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, is a magnificent setting for a concert and the acoustics are rather good. Clare McCaldin begins the evening by illustrating Haydn's voyage from Vienna to London with "The Sailor's Song", a rousing tune about a swashbuckling seaman. When Haydn went to London he was trapped in a childless, loveless marriage and hampered in his creativity by his connection to the wealthy Esterhazy family. He came to London for big ideas and big money - subscription concerts were money-making machines. Many composers from the Continent came to London because English gentlemen did not perform and there was a huge demand for concerts. Haydn returned to Vienna as a wealthy man.

Although not a matinee idol, Haydn had considerable charm and enjoyed the company of women. He admired pianist Therese Jansen and dedicated a sonata to her. When he met Harriet Abrams at a benefit concert, they formed a friendship and collaborated on various songs, which appealed to Haydn's love for folk music - "Crazy Jane" and "The Ballad of William and Mary". He also used some of Anne Hunter's poems for his compositions, such as "The Mermaid's Song". Yet Haydn lost his heart to Rebecca Schroeter, who caused a rift in her family by marrying a German musician.

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Paul Turner

The charming Clare McCaldin provides an intriguing picture of London society in the late 18th century and describes the social position of women at this time. As Ms McCaldin talks about Haydn's relationships with his London ladies, it becomes clear how dependent women still were on their families and their husbands. Financial independence was rare. Gifted performers had to quit the stage or concert halls once they got married because they were not supposed to upstage their husbands. But Joseph Haydn was also trapped, married to the sister of the woman that he actually loved, and unable to leave his loveless marriage for Rebecca Schroeter because of his strict Catholicism.

Performed by Clare McCaldin (voice) and Paul Turner (piano), this delightful concert includes songs by Joseph Haydn with lyrics by Harriet Abrams, Haydn's beautiful cantata Arianna a Naxos and excerpts of various sonatas and other solo piano music.

By Carolin Kopplin

The concert took place on 20th September 2016 at St. Paul's Church in Knightsbridge.

Running time: 2 hours including one interval.

Further information: http://mccaldinarts.com/

Photos provided by McCaldin Arts