‘Spring Awakening’ by Anya Reiss from Frank Wedekind’s original play
at The Richmond Theatre
8th May, 2014
“The fog is clearing; life is a matter of taste.”
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: abortion, rape, suicide, pornography, masturbation and homosexuality are still hot topics. The issues remain the same, only the method of access is different. ‘Spring Awakening’ – first performed in 1906 – was highly controversial at the time and remained censored for years. Its author, the German playwright, Frank Wedekind’s subtitle: ‘A Children’s Tragedy’ dedicates the work to parents and teachers. Anya Reiss, a young British playwright updates the play by adding social media and internet porn.
The play opens boldly with uncompromising, graphic sexuality: scenes of male and female teenage masturbation against the background projection of Laurence Olivier as Othello; later, a rape – Melchior (Oliver Johnstone) appears to force himself upon Wendla Bergman (Aoife Duffin). The razor-sharp, bright lights cut through scenes and the pulsing soundtrack is so breathtakingly good that I envisaged Roger Daltrey (as Tommy) bursting on stage singing: ‘See me, feel me, touch me, heal me’. Continue reading Spring Awakening
Kindertransport by Diane Samuels at the Richmond Theatre
7th February, 2014
‘How could I swim ashore with so much heaviness on me? I was drowning in leagues and leagues of salty water…. .I had to let go to float.’ Eva
Diane Samuels’s splendid play was revived last year for the 75th anniversary year to commemorate the dramatic decision of desperate Jewish parents to get their children out of the growing Nazi territory , mainly to Britain; the vast majority never to see their parents again. The exodus became known as Kindertransport which literally translates as ‘the transportation of children’. Nine year old, Eva Schlesinger(Gabrielle Dempsey) becomes the fictional composite of those kinder- survivors the playwright interviewed.
To add to the narrative, light falls on a pair of shoes is to prepare us for the themes of isolation and dislocation and displacement. Continue reading Kindertransport
1984 :a Headlong Company adaptation of George Orwell’s novel at Richmond Theatre
24th October, 2013
‘The arbitrary power of the Government is unlimited, and unexampled in history; freedom of the Press, of opinion and of movement are as thoroughly exterminated as though the proclamation of the Rights of Man had never been.’
(Arthur Koestler, ‘Darkness at Noon’)
Most people have heard of Big Brother, Newspeak, Room 101 and Thought Crime, but how they fit together in Orwell’s 1984 eludes many. Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s ambitious adaptation of the dystopian masterpiece, opens in 2050 after the autocratic Party has fallen. We are eavesdroppers on a book club from the distant future discussing a document from the past – Winston’s diary. They believe, as the Party would have wanted, that Winston Smith never existed.
Our perceptions of reality are never stable, for the year 1984 initially runs concurrently with the book club discussions. Winston is seen struggling to write a diary ‘for the unborn’ – a ‘thought-crime’ punishable by death. As he writes the audience watches a close-up of the words on a big multi-media screen above the stage – we are inside Winston’s head. Continue reading 1984