Category Archives: Reviews

The Croydon Avengers – 3 Stars

Croydon

The Croydon Avengers

Ovalhouse

Reviewed – 20th June 2018

★★★

“sophisticated, even slick, staging serving an unsophisticated plot”

 

Recently endowed with superpowers, the Croydon Avengers take the Ovalhouse by storm on a mission to fight crime and bring justice and peace. Inspired by Maya Productions ‘Superheroes: South of the River’, a project involving young Londoners including young refugees, writer, Oladipo Agboluaje, draws a budding junior audience into a world they can relate to, a world of comic books, superheroes and martial arts. With energy and enthusiasm, Petre (Theo Toksvig-Stewart), Laure (Nicole Sawyerr) and Aisha (Shala Nyx), three refugees from different ethnic backgrounds, set out to show that they are not helpless and needy, but are ready to fight for their places in British society. But Regina Rump, played by Tania Rodrigues, fears they are a threat to British identity and orders her media empire to stop them. Will her political influence overcome the trio? Or will their strength and determination prove too powerful even for her?

Director, Suzanne Gorman, creates a fast-moving narrative, interposing live action with clips of video, illustration, audio and audience participation. The fluidity of the complex coordination of images (Victor Ross) and sound (Riz Maslen) together with the functional set designed by Marina Hadjilouca, which neatly adapts to change the scenes, helps to hold a school-age audience’s attention. The lighting (Katherine Williams) works to emphasise dramatic moments but could be used to greater effect in keeping with a comic book’s exaggerated visual impact.

The cast work well to form a team yet portray three individual stories with empathy. They discuss and debate their different backgrounds, their journeys to the same situation, their confused feelings and their determination. Tania Rodrigues’ Regina sheds light on a dissonant viewpoint; she, like many, does not see the refugees as victims. It’s not always easy to say whether plays of this simplistic and fast-moving kind make children think about the predicaments of refugees unless they have some follow-up or prepping. In any case its saliency would vary between and within audiences. Eight-year-olds, who are included within the production’s target range, would enjoy it as a superhero comic brought to life. At a school with displaced students it’s likely to be powerful, fulfilling a deep need for representation. For the more mature, young adult audiences such as that at Ovalhouse, it borders on trite; sophisticated, even slick, staging serving an unsophisticated plot and a moral that the newcomer’s desperate need to fit in can be resolved through positivity and teamwork. Not for everyone, but in the scripting, projections and interplay of the young performers, some hidden theatrical superpowers are on display.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Barnaby Aldrick

 


The Croydon Avengers

Ovalhouse until 23rd June

 

 

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Care Not, Fear Naught – 3 Stars

Naught

Care Not, Fear Naught

Bridewell Lunchbox Theatre

Reviewed – 20th June 2018

★★★

“Despite the exploration of Anne Bonny’s intentions and feelings, the play seems to lack depth in some places”

 

In the face of cruelty and exclusion, Anne Bonny chooses the path of defiance. Mirroring Joan of Arc, she is driven by her own understanding of right and wrong and an insurmountable desire for freedom. Anne, who is based on a real 18th century person, becomes one of the most notorious pirates of her time, and not only because she is a woman.

The fast-paced account of her life is supported by a comparatively large cast whose rhythmic movement and speech make the play an almost musical experience. As a group the actors are brilliant, showing several actions at once or expressing the multitude of feelings a character has at the same moment. Like an audience that knows the story already and is eager to hear the ending, the chorus intervenes, answers and adds, creating a multitude of different voices and opinions.

Despite the exploration of Anne Bonny’s intentions and feelings, the play seems to lack depth in some places, especially regarding the idea of female pirates which could have incited such a relevant discussion. In addition to that, there were too many clichés used for my taste, especially with regards to the music. The dialogue, too, seemed a bit too modern regarding the historical setting. Even though it was sometimes difficult to understand the actors, the use of sound was generally good, with for example the sound of waves helping to create a sense of the setting on an otherwise minimalist stage. However, some motifs, such as Bonny’s mantra ‘I care not,’ lacked conviction, feeling repetitive rather than tying the story together.

Nevertheless, the play is an interesting glance at one of history’s lesser known pirates. Despite some issues with the script, it is powerful thanks to its choreography and Emily Hutt’s direction. Anne Bonny chooses chaos over law to achieve freedom at any cost. Similarly, the play uses layering, both in its movement and text, to create as wide a picture as possible.

 

Reviewed by Laura Thorn

 

St Bride Foundation [logo]

Care Not, Fear Naught

Bridewell Lunchbox Theatre until 22nd June

 

 

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