Category Archives: Riverside Studios

En un Lugar Del Quijote

quijote-edited‘En un Lugar Del Quijote’
(‘Somewhere In The Quixote’)
at The Riverside Studios

24th May, 2014

‘Tal es su imaginación, tan insano es su existencia, que sus propios libros son invisibles como un sueño.’
[‘Such is his imagination, so insane is his existence, that his own books are like an invisible dream.’]

Our second visit within a week to The Riverside Studios did not fail to disappoint. This time we were treated to the Ron Lalá Company’s version of ‘Don Quixote (the non-Spanish spelling) of La Mancha’.

The word ‘quixotic’ is nearly always meant as an insult. The way most people refer to Don Quixote makes you wonder if they have actually read the book. It would be interesting to find out whether Don Quixote is still as widely read as the universal popularity of the character would normally suggest.  In my early twenties, I resolved to read the massive tome which exceeds 1200 pages: I failed. Enlightened, I will revisit it now.

Very simply the tale of Don Quixote is polarised – either it is seen as a comic hero’s predicament or as a tragic hero driven by an impossible dream. Continue reading En un Lugar Del Quijote

Nordic Noir – The Evil

nordicnoirThe Evil by Jan Guillou, Dramatised by Benny Haag

Part of a Nordic Noir evening at the Riverside Studios – 13th May 2014

A guest review by Derek Linney

The Evil is an adaption of a novel by the Swedish writer Jan Guillou. It is performed as a monologue by Danish actor Claes K. Bang – who has played parts in The Bridge and Borgen.

Guillou’s work is allegedly an autobiographical account of his home life as a child and particularly his time at boarding school, having been expelled from his previous school. It portrays a world of subjugation maintained by fear and bullying. When direct pressure on the individual fails then it is exerted through their weaknesses – in this case the protagonists best, and only, friend. In this world violence can only be countered by violence. As the character maintains: “Passive resistance doesn’t work in the short term”.

The piece is powerfully portrayed and leaves a distinctly uncomfortable feeling in the audience. The only upside for the character is that the violence he is subjected to at school enables him to finally stand up to the violence from his father at home, but only through the threat of violence in return. A morally ambiguous position.

Guillou’s account of his childhood has been challenged by his family but nonetheless the image conjured up by Claus Bang is, unfortunately, too easy to recognise as real. An exhausting performance, for actor and audience alike, that one can hardly say is enjoyable but  one which is rewarding to see.


Nordic Noir – Killing the Danes

nordicnoirKilling the Danes by Vivienne McKee

Part of a Nordic Noir evening at the Riverside Studios – 13th May 2014

A guest review by Derek Linney

Killing the Danes is a light-hearted revue by actor/writer Vivienne McKee who has lived in Denmark for many years. After the tense, dark atmosphere of The Evil this was light relief. McKee pokes fun at the Danes in an endearing way that reflects both her integration into their culture but also her ability to stand outside of it.

lundAt first, as McKee started the piece, I had severe doubts that we were about to experience an embarrassing, unfunny hour with McKee coming across as slightly patronising. But, it turned very quickly into a highly amusing look at the Danes, which had some Danish members of the audience behind us nodding and enthusiastically agreeing with her many characterisations of their culture and their seemingly unstoppable output of black crime thrillers.

And, there was a guest appearance by the ‘Lund Sweater’ – McKee claims it is the original borrowed from The Killing actress Sofie Gråbøl. Yeside couldn’t help having her picture taken with The Sweater after the show.

McKee’s piece only came about because she introduced The Evil to the Riverside Studios’ management but since it was only one hour they needed something to make up the show into a couple of hours. Hence McKee wrote and developed the piece.

Othello: Cheek by Jowl

othello‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare: Cheek by Jowl

Riverside Studios, November, 2004

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is topping your white ewe.’  

The basic plot of the tragedy  of ‘Othello’is well-known: Iago (Jonny Phillips), jealous that he’s been passed over for military promotion in favour of Michael Cassio (Ryan Kiggell), plots revenge against his general, Othello (Nonso Anozie). From beginning to end we have a sense of entrapment.

Declan Donnellan’s modern-dress production, staged with the audience seated on either side of an acting area that runs the whole impressive width of the Riverside auditorium Nick Ormerod’s design is virtually non-existent, consisting of nothing more than five wooden ammunition boxes. The audience is forced into an aural landscape of Shakespeare’s language – the clues to character and situation that any reader or actor needs. The clues are not necessarily in the meanings of the words. We are drawn into the rhythms of the language: the patterns and sounds of the words that contain a great deal of valuable information. Continue reading Othello: Cheek by Jowl

The Witches of Eastwick

WitchesThe Witches of Eastwick – Riverside Studios – 28th July 2013

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”  Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

A musical? I hear myself groan but hey, loyalty demands that a mother sees her daughter perform. Based on an early novel by John Updike, the show tells a semi-Faustian tale of three dis-satisfied women, tired of their mundane lives and hungry for a man. Their desires are answered by the arrival of the devilish Darryl Van Horne, who seduces all three women, unlocks their true power and sparks controversy in the town of Eastwick. As their modern day witchcraft becomes darker and out of control, the women realise their mistake and seek to cast Darryl out of their lives.

Helena Tang as Jane Smart excels in the scene during which Van Horne seduces her through her love of music, Claire Linney is a revelation as Alexandra Spofford, and Katharine Banbury (Sukie Rougemont) is a perfect example of frustration personified. All three have confident vocals and forcefully carry the show with the full support of an enthusiastic cast. Continue reading The Witches of Eastwick