Monthly Archives: September 2015
Brave New World
29 Sept-Sat 3 Oct
(Wed & Sat Matinees 14:30)
Condensing a classic tale such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a challenge, but one met with extreme professionalism by young playwright Dawn King & director, James Dacre. Premiering only two weeks ago in Northampton, its first port of call was Edinburgh’s internationally renowned King’s Theatre, a perfect test-water for such a fascinating & prophetic piece.
Penetrating the smoke of ethereality experienced by Huxley back in 1931 as he wrote his wonderful sci-fi satire on the 20th century was no easy task, but the dramaturgical combinations of sound, scenery & some highly effective line-delivery was a true wonder to watch. Its purveyors are the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, whose self-generated vision is, ‘to inspire our audiences with life-affirming, excellent theatre. To make our work accessible and diverse.’ The universality of Brave New World, then, is an excellent choice, & whether you have the read book or not, I advise a visit to whichever theatre this play finds itself.
Set in the 26th century, Huxley’s dysto-utopian masterpiece splices Shakespeare with cutting-edge 1930’s scientific endeavour & philosophical reasoning, while at the same time weaving Shakespeare quotes into a simple boy-meets-girl love story. Ahead of its time in more ways than one, it is amazing to see how we humans of 2015 still reproduce in the old-fashioned way & still believe in God – both vastly outdated notions in the 26th century.
The young & virile cast brought to life the sex-loving, soma-supping lifestyle of the godlike Alphas – a nod to the free-living hedonism of the rich & famous between the wars: at times I felt as if I was watching a well coreographised musical. The best performer of this bubbly troupe was Abigail McKern, whose powerful performance as Linda really brought her character’s desperation to life… a scruffy beacon of humanity in a land of affluent degenerates.
Fear, pleasure-seeking, detached sexual encounters – this play pokes its nose into the secret troughs of the modern psyche. A savage & emotionally interactive production that breaks the mould in a lyrical & daring fashion. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Waiting for Godot
Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
Until October 10th
Tuesday – Saturday
£15 – £29.50
With the lines ‘Nobody comes. Nobody goes. It’s awful.’ Beckett threw down the gauntlet to critics with his seminal play Waiting for Godot, first performed in English in 1955, and now kickstarting the Lyceum’s 50th anniversary programme. In a way the above lines are a very succinct summation of the play, except it’s not awful. A stellar cast, with no one performer outclassing any other, bring out the fun and seriousness in Beckett’s sparse masterpiece. Brian Cox’s playful, optimistic and dynamic Vladimir and Bill Paterson’s quiet, lugubrious and restrained Estragon is a perfectly judged pairing and interpretation of the main protagonists. You can tell Didi and Gogo, as they call each other, enjoy their interactions, both swift and measured and both actors superbly embody their characters’ interiority in their movement and posture.
Cox’s use of his body and facial expressions – darting beady eyes, rising and falling height – is particularly good and help to show the impotence he feels in front of John Bett’s authoritarian Pozzo, who really comes across as a nasty piece of class oppressor. Another standout is the impressively static endurance performance of Benny Young as Pozzo’s workhorse Lucky, standing immobile for the best part of half an hour before launching into a superb rendition of Lucky’s ‘nonsense’ speech – surely one of the best examples of stream of consciousness in all literature.
The sparseness of the play is perfectly mirrored by Michael Taylor’s stage design, with its lone windblown tree and snowblind vanishing point effect. The design is cleverly enhanced by Mark Doubleday’s beautifully controlled lighting, which creates a cloudlike layer of shadow that creeps imperceptibly across the barren stage, subtly suggesting the passage of day into the night that Didi longs for in each act.
Lyceum director Mark Thomson and his talented team have pulled off a difficult trick, injecting something new into such a well-known, well-worn, and oft-performed play. The sense of optimism in this version, to ‘go on’ despite all, is very strong and makes the play read less pessimistically than it is sometimes accused of being. The love between Didi and Gogo, exemplified by their hug in the second act, is also very strong and more moving than other versions and demonstrates the importance, and strength, of friendship in the face of adversity. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Nicky Melville
September 19th and 20th
Sat 11am and 2pm/Sunday 2pm
I arrived with my daughter and her friend, both aged nine, at a fairly full Festival Theatre, mingling with a mixed bunch of parents and children mainly aged six and under. The show we sat down to was introduced by our host for the next hour Shaun Morton. The journey begins with our host introducing us to the smaller dinosaurs moving gradually onto the slightly scary Tyrannosaurus Rex for the grand finale. The great thing about the show was the constant audience participation. Shaun Morton manages to engage the audience at all points – the adults with his quick wit and the children with his enthusiasm and knowledge, The show is clearly aimed to be educational as well as fun, with lots of interesting facts about how dinosaurs interacted with each other and their environment through the ages.
The children’s interaction with these extraordinary life-like puppets was hugely entertaining, Children of various ages joined the team on stage to tame and feed the huge creatures, and seemed to fully enjoy the experience. The ‘meat and greet’ after the show allowed the entire audience to get up close with the dinosaurs. Thanks to the great job the cast does, the show transports you to the dinosaur age, with screams of terror and joy throughout. The girls gave it FOUR STARS