|Banksy: The Room in the Elephant|
Reviewed by Cameron Dunham
"Eastender's solo operation homeless guy"
The first consists of the play, a fictionalised account of the real story and a fictionalised presentation of Tachowa Covington, Banksy's hapless, homeless 'victim'. Gary Beadle's performance is nothing short of sensational - you will be hard pressed to see a better stage performance this year. The audience was captivated from the moment he wandered on and was with him completely as he ran a full range of emotions in this fifty minute masterclass. It is a credit to Beadle's talent that he managed tears, laughter and rage whilst carrying a fascinating narrative without once straining belief.
Writer Tom Wainwright and director Emma Callander also warrant high praise: Beadle is clearly revelling in the chance to tell such a quirky, fascinating tale whilst the minimalistic set still allows for some hugely evocative musical transitions and absorbing, if subtle, use of back screen. The play also manages the difficult trick of being self referential without tripping over its own, post modern, shoe laces: no mean feat. This served to whet the appetite for part two.
I think many of us in the audience were surprised that the second half of the evening's entertainment would not see the return of Beadle but was a showing of the film 'Something from Nothing'. Hal Samples' documentary lifted the lid on the fact behind the fiction of Covington's eviction and revealed that Banksy wasn't quite the villain of the piece after all. The real life Covington proved to be a markedly different character to the one portrayed by Beadle but no less interesting. Scenes where he was shown video footage of the play were notable if only for his disinterest but Covington seemed to enjoy his experience at last year's Fringe Festival. Footage of him watching the play in performance, a play that we had just watched in performance, a play where a fictionalised version of himself is the main subject, made for an enjoyably disorientating, inter-textual experience. This was further enhanced by his on screen meeting with Beadle, post performance.
It is, of course, heartbreaking to see that after his recent experience as a guest of honour at Edinburgh, Covington remains, essentially, a homeless man: a final sequence from February of this year showed him living in a tent on the Hollywood hills and whilst he clearly doesn't want, or need, the audience's sympathy, his story does raise interesting questions about the nature of art, celebrity and territory.
This evening presents an artistic experience that is completely satisfying. The ambitious pairings of theatre and film, fiction and fact, blend seamlessly and prove hugely entertaining and moving. One final tip: the mixture of theatre and film wrong footed this audience and we missed the opportunity to give Gary Beadle the standing ovation that he undoubtedly deserved. Don't make the same mistake!read less
|Bite-Size Lunchtime Fourplay|
Reviewed by Andy Moseley
"Lunchtime theatre has good menu"
Presented as a menu, the starter is Nice People by Gareth Brierly. It begins as an almost ‘When Harry Met Sally’ style talking head with a sweet sounding couple recounting how they met. There is nothing I can say about what happens next without completely spoiling the surprise and giving the game away, so all I’ll say is that the twist and the play are both clever and funny. Miles Mlambo and Tegen Hitchens as the young couple both have superb delivery, making this the ideal starter.
The main course is Cake on a Plate by Gina Schien, a monologue with Nicole Ollivere playing a teacher in charge of a slightly unruly class with one pupil in particular causing her problems. It’s less inventive than the other courses but still has enough good lines to fill ten minutes without dragging.
Dessert is Tell Someone Who Cares by Sarah Browne. Set in a coffee bar where two friends are having their regular weekly meet up, both characters break the fourth wall and reveal their inner thoughts to the audience. This adds an extra dimension to the conversation and elevates it above the mundane as the actors reveal what they think of each other, and what is really going on in their own lives. Hitchens and Louise Fairbrother feed off each other excellently as the two friends, helped by a clever script with some great lines, particularly a reference to The Only Ways is Essex, and even the names of the characters adds to the comedy.
Coffee is Undress Me Clarence by Doug Grissom. Rather than being the take it or leave it last course this is actually the strongest play as Alexander Hathaway as Clarence is instructed by Cassandra Foster, playing his wife, to imagine he is undressing her and talk about what he is doing. From rebuking him for skipping several key moments of the process, to chastising him for his choice of imagined underwear colour, and complaining about inconsistencies in his account, Foster gets little pleasure from Clarence’s account, and Clarence himself is wonderfully disinterested in the process, sounding like it is an obligation he takes no pleasure in. The deadpan delivery of a very funny script makes it funnier still and a great end to the overall production.
At less than ten minutes each the plays provide a perfect lunchtime accompaniment. Light and entertaining, humorous and well observed, it’s a great way to break up a day’s work, and far more entertaining than most other things you could do on a lunchtime in Victoria.read less
|Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap|
Reviewed by Jeremy Miles
"strong cast and astute direction"
Despite being unfashionable for years - during the 50s and 60s it was eclipsed in turn by angry young men, kitchen sink drama and the rise of cutting edge theatre on TV - The Mousetrap just kept on keeping on. There have been more than 25,000 performances so far.
It is classic Agatha Christie. A country house murder mystery produced at the height of the doyen of crime writer’s formidable powers. Unusually it started life not as a book, but as a half hour radio play. By 1952 Christie’s tale had become a full-scale West End theatrical drama.
The touring production arrived in Poole for a six night run on Monday and played to a packed house. They'd have given it a standing ovation if they'f been a little more nimble on their pins. No wonder! With its tale of five rather strange guests finding themselves snowed into a creaky old guest house only to discover that the phone line has been cut and a killer is on the loose, it’s a compelling tale and a quintessential Christie thriller.
The tension mounts when intrepid detective Sergeant Trotter (Jonathan Woolf) battles his way through the blizzard on skis to warn of grave danger and fears that the murderer may be among their number. But who is it? Guesthouse proprietors Mollie and Giles Ralston (Joanna Croll and Henry Luxemburg) start seeing their residents in a different light - there’s the old soldier Major Metcalf (Chris Gilling); crabby elderly widow Mrs Boyle (Anne Kavanagh); aloof and difficult Miss Casewell (Ellie Jacob); the mysterious foreigner Mr Paravicini (Michael Fenner) and the crazy young architect who calls himself Christopher Wren (Ryan Saunders). They’re all…a bit odd. When one of them is found dead paranoia kicks in. The Ralstons even begin to suspect each other.
Set in immediate post-war Britain The Mousetrap may seem genteel by today’s standards but it deals with issues like child abuse and mental illness that were rarely aired in mainstream theatre in the early 1950s. A flurry of possible clues and false trails keep the audience guessing until the killer is finally unveiled.
A strong cast, astute direction from Ian Watt-Smith, a classic set and judicious use of sound and light keeps the unquenchable spirit of this play alive. The Mousetrap, though unashamedly old fashioned remains not only good entertainment but part of British theatre history.read less
Despite being unfashionable for years - during the 50s and 60s it was eclipsed in turn by angry young men, kitchen sink... read more