Mosquitoes by Lucy Kirkwood
At the Dorfman Theatre(NT)
29th July, 2017
Lucy Kirkwood and Rufus Norris – What’s not to like!
Mosquitoes is set in Switzerland among the scientific community who have come to work at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in order to find the Higgs Boson, the infinitesimal particle believed to be the elusive thing binding all matter together, indeed holding everything together in the universe. This event acts as backdrop against which we see a personification of magnetised particles. On the one side, staunch belief in scientific facts and logic, and on the other, an emotional resilience, gut feelings and the internet – as they repel, fight and yet are still drawn to each other.
The title works on several levels: the force of a proton collision is described as being like two mosquitoes flying into each other, and Alice’s boyfriend is a World Health Organization entomologist trying to combat insect-borne diseases.
So on one level, the play is the story of sisters Alice (Olivia Williams) and Jenny (Olivia Colman). Alice and Jenny could not be more different, with one invested in hard science and the other a horoscope-reading, gullible woman. Alice is a brilliant scientist who has been working at CERN in Geneva for eleven years. In 2008, she is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: to work on the Large Hadron Collider to search for the Higgs Boson. Alice also has a son, Luke, who is critical of the environmental impacts of his mother’s work and believes his Aunt to be stupid. Jenny, Alice’s sister, lives in Luton where she sells medical insurance to women with vaginal cancer and looks after their ailing mother (Amanda Boxer), and has lost her baby because of following some advice she found online against vaccination. In addition to carrying the guilt, Jenny is also underhandedly reminded of her stupidity by her mother, who calls Alice “the clever one. Alice flies to Geneva for an impromptu holiday with her mother, who we are reminded is a retired scientist who missed out on the Nobel Prize because their father took the credit. Continue reading Mosquitoes
“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill ” at The Wyndham’s Theatre.
July 29th, 2017
“Bein’ arrested in this country,”….that’s a coloured folks’ tradition”
As I enter, Christopher Oram’s bar designs transform Wyndham theatre. The front rows of the stalls have been taken out and replaced with cabaret tables, and there is a bar onstage, with seating for more of the audience.
The play’s conceit is that we are watching Holiday perform in a north Philadelphia dive in 1959, a few months before her death at the age of only 44. Lanie Robertson’s play is essentially a one woman show. I was spellbound from the moment Audra McDonald arrives as the troubled jazz and blues singer, Billie Holiday on stage, cocooned in white, stumbling, whether tipsy or drug induced. In role, she drinks, she swears and she rambles, occasionally monitored and cajoled gently to sing by the pianist, Jimmy (Shelton Becton). Macdonald inhabits Holliday’s posture, the tilt of the head and the delicious, sumptuous, smoky voice which is spellbinding. At one stage, she re-enters, clutching a tumbler of booze or her beloved Chihuahua, Pepi, then stumbles about the platform and, in one heart-stopping moment, slips off it.
Amongst a full repertoire, we are given Halliday’s signature song, “ God Bless the Child” which was written for her mother who she call The Duchess; “Ain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness if I Do”, a grim justification of her right to self-destruct; and for me that heart-stopping lament for black victims of lynchings, “Strange Fruit” is particularly haunting. Continue reading Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Ink at The Almeida Theatre,
July 22nd, 2017
” Law to the Left, God to the Right”
I loved James Graham’s last work, “This House”, which explored the hung parliament of the 70s, but loved “Ink” even more. The drama traces the transition from The Sun as a failing broadsheet (Never knew that! before!) to a populist-driven tabloid.
The stage is set with positioned “Five ‘W’s”: “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” and “Why.” Referring back to the Five “W”s helps journalists address the fundamental questions that every story should be able to answer. Here, their answers in the present instance: Who? Publisher Rupert Murdoch and Editor Larry Lamb. What? Murdoch’s takeover, and Lamb’s reinvention, of The Sun newspaper. When? 1969-70. Where? Fleet Street, London, when it was still so deeply identified with the press that in this play it’s simply referred to by locals as “the street”. Why? Ah, now, that’s the interesting one.
From the outset, The Murdoch Sun is a byword for “fun” and, above all, sales and never claims to be investigative. Murdoch’s ambition was for it to overtake the Daily Mirror within a year of his buying The Sun from IPC, owner of the Mirror. The first half of the play, at least, shows liberalism as a contrast to the increasingly stuffy preachiness of the Mirror under Hugh Cudlipp (David Schofield). Cudlipp is a believer in the duty of newspapers to guide and educate the working class. S, its two warring philosophies – holding up a mirror to who we are versus showing who we might be and, when judged solely by the market, the former wins out. It is with this mind set that Murdoch is able to persuade Lamb to take on his former employers, whispering, tactically that he never got to edit the Mirror because he wasn’t part of the old boys’ network.
Continue reading Ink