Tag Archives: Azusa Ono

Love-Lies-Bleeding – 4 Stars



Print Room at the Coronet

Reviewed – 14th November 2018


“The cast’s depictions are all pin sharp, yet McGann stands out”


Alex is an artist enduring the final stages of his life following a brutal, second stroke. Living, barely, in the arid, American South West, he is the subject of practical and philosophical contemplations between his son Sean (Jack Wilkinson), second wife Toinette (Josie Lawrence) and fourth, younger wife Lia (Clara Indrani) as to when and how he should be guided into the beyond. We see Alex (Joe McGann) at different stages: in his cavorting and carefree prime, between strokes in a wheelchair, and finally in a vegetative state to be sedated at the whim of his significant others. His fate is now dependent on the trio’s conflicting views of him as a father or husband, as much as on their ponderings on morality and mortality.

As a novelist for whom writing is ‘a concentrated form of thinking’, Don DeLillo seems impossible to transfer stylistically to the stage. His slow and sublime evocation of mood and abstract themes don’t promise much for a theatre-goer to engage with. Director Jack McNamara admits his reservations were eventually overcome only by having the resources to create theatricality by other means. That he pulls it off is a noteworthy feat. Lily Arnold’s set design shows us the comfortable sofa and wooden floor of Alex’s home, essential for long, angsty interactions, but surrounding it is the sand and scrub that symbolises the immense unknown, creating a sense that Alex and everyone else sit at the edge of eternity. Over this scene looms a huge transparent screen, host to some stunning video and lighting effects (Azusa Ono and Andrzej Goulding) which somehow create the distance and nostalgia of memories by technical means, assisted by cinematic sound design from Alexandra Faye Braithwaite.

Given the sedentary nature of the main character, action is difficult to contrive. The brilliance of the script prompts regular chuckles of appreciation from the audience, but emotional connection is harder to come by. The cast’s depictions are all pin sharp, yet McGann stands out, despite or because of having the hardest task, by breathing authenticity into a mostly cerebral role; an artist creating art out of his bleak context. This may or may not be a parallel with De Lillo himself, but given the control and precision in every aspect of the play, including this production, it seems unlikely to be a coincidence.

A memorable production, this Love-Lies-Bleeding matches poetic imagery with precise staging. However, if you’re left pleasantly haunted by the show, it’s accompanied by a strange desire to find a copy of the text to experience it properly, as a reader.


Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by  Tristram Kenton



Print Room at the Coronet until 8th December


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Open House | ★★★★ | January 2018
The Comet | ★★★★ | March 2018
How It Is (Part One) | ★★½ | May 2018
Act & Terminal 3 | ★★★★ | June 2018
The Outsider | ★★★★★ | September 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com


Moot Moot – 2 Stars

Moot Moot

Moot Moot

The Yard Theatre

Reviewed – 31st October 2018


“We don’t care enough about these (what I would dare call) ‘characters’ to be moved by their desperation and loneliness”


Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick. The audience settles as the lights dim. Two figures enter a darkened auditorium. The lights do not go up. For quite a while. A distorted voice resounds in the void: “Are we good?”

Thus begins ‘Moot Moot’. With identical buzzcuts and grey suits, Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill (also the creators of this piece) are Barry and Barry, hapless hosts of a call-in talk show complete with hyperbolic goofy sound effects and spinning office chairs. Despite it being “all about you and you-ou-our opinions”, no one is calling in. In this absence, what are Barry and Barry to do?

The answer is: not a lot. Or at least, nothing interesting. Wearing headphones and microphones electronically distorting their voices, Cade and MacAskill use the repetition of banal phrases and musical interludes to desperately cry out for opinions, any opinions. It’s all a surreal spectacle: at times funny, at times worryingly hollow. Is the point that we are Barrys in our own way, seeking other people and their thoughts to fill a void in our own lives? Are we supposed to be bored? Is it this boredom with what we are witnessing that is meant to jolt us into action? Who knows.

Despite there being a fair number of the audience gamely laughing along, the piece reaches towards absurdist comedy but never really gets there. Laughter, in the end, comes at the expense of what’s on show. It tiptoes into “is this really happening?” territory, so much so the audience members’ reactions become more interesting than the Barrys messing around on stage. We don’t care enough about these (what I would dare call) ‘characters’ to be moved by their desperation and loneliness, and leaving the space becomes a relief in a number of ways.

Azusa Ono’s lighting design is by far the most visually arresting aspect of this show, with graceful fades, subtle colours and clever spatial structures created by light. The Yard Theatre, on a similarly positive note, is an open and versatile space obviously not afraid of taking risks and programming work that challenges as well as entertains. At the end of the day though, Barry and Barry’s headphones take on a neat symbolic value: they hear each other, but not us. Does this extend to Cade and MacAskill? Have they found here a comfortable echo chamber for themselves? These two artists could do a lot more to dispel notions that inaccessible ‘art’ can be found in disused warehouses in East London and could strive next time to say something that really matters. Is this good? No.

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by  Jemima Yong


Moot Moot

The Yard Theatre until 10th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Buggy Baby | ★★★★ | March 2018
Three Sisters by RashDash after Chekhov | ★★★★ | May 2018
A New and Better You | ★★★★ | June 2018
The Act | ★★★½ | July 2018
A Kettle of Fish | ★★★ | September 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com