Regular reviews of new London theatre, from the West End and the National Theatre to the fringe, plus occasional dispatches from around the UK and beyond.
Some believe that finding out how things work takes away their beauty, but when Robin McLoughlin discusses the science behind his monitoring of the whale and the way these huge mammals communicate with each other, the whole thing seems all the more perfect.
This is a world made of gorgeous, visceral images. Two massive treadmills on Rhys Jaman’s surprisingly minimalist set are used throughout, allowing quick shifts in tense and location, ensuring everything is always moving. When they stop, it feels like the whole world has ceased to turn.
After pulling a pained expression, for example, Priestley then looked proud of herself, pointed to her face and shouted ‘Acting’. It’s a tiny gesture, but I genuinely wish we’d get these nods to audience more when at the theatre.
Lucy Ellinson as the Pilot pretends for a long while that it is she who has the power, portraying confidence and gumption, but right from the off it’s clear this character is not as comfortable as she’d like us to think
On the face of it, Ballad of the Burning Star is a seemingly broad and vulgar presentation of a highly complex subject, but in fact there is a lot more depth here than meets the eye, in this sharp and nuanced critique of a war which forever feels completely unnecessary.
It’s difficult to know quite how much Have I No Mouth? is about this mother and son helping themselves understand their losses and how much it is about healing in general, but Gary Keegan’s direction manages to create some powerful images regardless.
Perhaps, it suggests, in a world which seemingly features too much choice, we are forgetting that there are a few things we have absolutely no say over. A gloriously uplifting ending, complete with multi-coloured balls, subverts all this.
This difficulty in understanding and grasping reality in our current context is highlighted by placing ‘postmodern’ in opposition to ‘genius’ and including the glorious phrasing ‘Metanarrative - get it up ye’ in a way which both utilises and ridicules contemporary discourse about art.
A show about the Titanic was always going to be predictable but it would have be nice to have a few surprises along the way; some oddball characters or a few patches of dialogue that didn’t run as smooth as silk
Marcin Bartnikowski and Marcin Bikowski work up a sweat as they span almost sixty years of human history, and perform in a suitably knowing way considering the hypertheatrical style, but their performances lack heart and precision
Staunton could easily have slipped into caricature, as the ex-hippy drama teacher who just wants everyone to be happy – but her performance, though superficially funny, is so rich that one can see the child her character once was, the old lady she will eventually become. Staunton sets the tone of this piece and it is one of strained optimism and pooling panic.
This is a world that has the potential to send anyone insane – not least the audience (all in masks), desperately trying to keep up with the action. There are not one but two plot threads. Punchdrunk has taken the main plot of Woyzeck and doubled it, executing mirrored stories both inside and outside the movie studio. It is an awful lot to keep up with and a genuine burden.