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Review: Deathwatch

20th May 2016 | Theatre

Review: Deathwatch

Question: what do you get when you combine absurdism, a cast with three recent drama schools gradates in it and a veteran director? Answer: confused.

Green Eyes is a murderer. Lefranc wants to be a murderer. Maurice wants to be Green Eyes’ best friend. Green Eyes is going to be executed. These are the parameters in which Geraldine Alexander’s production of Jean Genet’s Deathwatch happens. Genet, who spent some time incarcerated himself, studies the absurdity of enforced male proximity, and how the confines of the prison become the entire world to some. There is also an interesting point made of society’s morbid fasciation with murder (which if you deny we have, just look at any of ITV 3 daytime schedule), and the kind of celebrity status that people can achieve through it.

All three actors are excellent, especially when you consider they are mostly recent drama school graduates. Tom Varey is mesmerising as Green Eyes. His physicality and strength as this prison big dog fits the character perfectly. Danny Lee Wynter (the only actor that you could really call a veteran) plays a very delicate Lefranc fighting for dominance in the world of the cell. Joseph Quinn’s Maurice is the least impressive out of the main three. However, this is mostly due to the writing of the character, who has a lot less of a journey, and so is unable to shine as much as the other two.

Physical theatre is another area where the production really stands out. Tom Varey is especially impressive to watch, with his description of his crime combined with a dream-like dance sequence being uncomfortably beautiful.

However, is one main area that makes this show less attractive; as with most absurdism, it is very confusing. The show sees to stumble over…

Review: People, Places and Things

17th April 2016 | Theatre

Review: People, Places and Things

This is Emma. Emma has a problem with drugs and alcohol. Emma maintains she does not have a problem with drugs and alcohol. Emma is now in Rehab.

After its massively successful run at the National Theatre, Duncan MacMillan’s smash hit play, People, Places and Things has made its transfer to Wyndham. The plot would (at face value) seem to be a very simple one. Emma, an actress suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, has a breakdown on stage during a performance of The Seagull and is sent to rehab to get a certificate that says that she is allowed to work again. Emma, throughout the first half of the play, stays adamant that she has no problem, and wants to get through her 29 days in rehab and get back to work. What follows is a series of intense clashes between Emma as they argue over the nature of addiction, religion and life, as well as dealing with the death of her brother.

This production, directed by Jeremy Herrin, is spellbinding. The physical theatre elements of the production, born out of it being a Headlong/National Theatre production not only work but astound the audience, with multiple Emmas going through drug withdrawal making the whole experience of the withdrawal so much more painful and real for those watching. The set is also very much a massive draw. The sickly hospital white walls constantly break to make the set for new scenes. The show is a marvel of technical stage design.

However, it would be impossible to talk about this show without talking of the marvel that is Denise Gough. Gough, a native of County Clare in Ireland, has been theatre’s best kept secret, but now is getting the popular recognition that she so blatantly deserves. Gough plays…

Review: Strange and Familiar

26th March 2016 | Theatre

Review: Strange and Familiar

Strange and Familiar is the title of the new exhibit (curated by Martin Parr) and is the perfect title for a show that is both strange and familiar to all those who visit it.

This show is about modern Britain. All of it. Parr has collected the work of non-British photographers who have done projects in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to give an almost anthropological look at the people of Britain. The locations will be familiar, as they are places that Britons have been to or lived in, but the perspective that we see it through is one that is both strange to us, and strange to those taking the photos.

One of the first thing that interested me about the show is who is mainly portrayed in these photographs. It is not the rich, or even the middle class who are the main subjects of this show, but it is instead the working classes. However, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. According to the 2013 British Social Attitude survey, 60% of Britons identify themselves as working class, a statistic the same level as when the survey was taken in 1983. It would seem then, that the choice to focus on the working classes is really just a reflection on the way that we are viewed by the outside world. We are, as a nation, a lot less Downton Abbey than we would like to think.

Although all of the work is really good, there were a few artists who really caught my eye. Bruce Gilden’s (American) collection of close up faces of members of the public, with such a detailed lens that you can see every contour, every line and blemish on their skin. These images have been blown up to…