Tag Archives: Dan de la Motte

A Deed Without a Name

★★★½

Theatro Technis

A Deed Without a Name

A Deed Without a Name

Theatro Technis

Reviewed – 21st February

★★★½

 

“there’s enough hard-working ambition to raise this above merely being an interesting exercise”

 

Dark, satirical political comedy with a liberal peppering of the absurd ensures a bizarre but entertaining evening at Theatro Technis in Camden.

The spy thriller “A Deed Without a Name” (“Bezimienne dzieło” – also known as “Nameless Work” or “Anonymous Work: Four Acts of a Rather Nasty Nightmare”) was written in 1921 but not published until 1962 and only first performed in 1967.

This fascinating work by the Polish avant garde writer, artist, philosopher and theorist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz is rarely seen so applause is due to the newly-formed Wayward Theatre Productions, who specialise in staging productions of European drama little-known to British audiences.

You might not expect to find a large-scale political and social piece about spies, a working class rebellion against authority, a strange religious cult, artists and family revelations played out in a former church hall in Camden but this is what the extremely capable company pulls off.

There is so much back-stabbing, betrayal and self interest in the play, which also has an authentic common touch, that it could be a cross between “Game of Thrones” and “EastEnders” set against popular revolution.

In truth, not every nail is hit firmly on the head and some of what is going on can be hard to follow but there’s enough hard-working ambition to raise this above merely being an interesting exercise. Several of the cast do not have English as their first language, so there is a colourful cosmopolitan presence throughout in the ensemble performance.

Georgio Galassi, who was inspired casting as Holmes in last year’s “Hound of the Baskervilles” in Abney Park, has brought several of that company with him not only to direct but also as co-translator of the play and starring as the hero Plamonick Blodestaug, the consumptive painter losing his artistic touch and suspected of spying. Galassi never loses sight of the protagonist’s tragic despair as politics and the new order suffocate art and create a world in which he can neither live nor love.

The other translator is Polish-American actress Dorota Krimmel, who has enormous fun as the composer Rosa Van Der Blaast, the hero’s sweetheart, whose affections lie elsewhere, while Sarah J Warren is the bright young painter trying to bring colour to a grey society.

Reed Stokes is both dashing and disagreeable as the Baron who pretends to support a secret religious society in order to overthrow the tyrannical ruling class, though who in reality has more personal ambitions at heart. Gary Cain is suitably weasly as the officer who unwisely pitches in with whoever he feels may be on the winning side.

The production is particularly successful in showing the struggles between the classes and the strata of different ideologies, backgrounds and cultures. Thus Peter Revel-Walsh as a bluff first gravedigger and Jonathan Brandt as the second gravedigger Girtak make the most of their revolutionary down to earth subversive characters who want to bury the old system. Brandt’s sneering underground poet is a chilling example of one who storms to the top on the wave of fresh ideologies, no better than the predecessors they have toppled.

Dan de la Motte’s bored Prince Padoval is gloriously effete, never truly finding purpose until he dons the black hat of the revolutionaries, discovering another pointless direction to travel, while Gerry Skeens maintains a shocked regal dignity as the Princess.

The set (Aurelie Freoua) is a fabulous and colourful artistic mess, with paintings, sheets of verse, violins and materials strewn across the playing area, a symbol of the way of life being rejected.

Hats off to this bright and personable new company for daring to shun the tried and tested in favour of this unlikely romantic action drama from a pioneering Polish commentator who led the way in rewriting theatrical norms and expectations which might otherwise have been overlooked or ignored in this country at this time.

 

Reviewed by David Guest

 


A Deed Without a Name

Theatro Technis until 2nd March

 

Last ten shows reviewed by David:
The Process | ★★★★★ | January 2020
Autoreverse | ★★★★ | February 2020
Bible John | ★★★★ | February 2020
Oddball | ★★★★ | February 2020
On McQuillan’s Hill | ★★★★ | February 2020
The Cobbled Streets Of Geneva | ★★★½ | February 2020
The First | ★★★★★ | February 2020
Syndrome | ★★★★ | February 2020
The Future Is Mental | ★★★ | February 2020
Who Cares? | ★★★★★ | February 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

The Hound of The Baskervilles

★★★★

Abney Park

The Hound of The Baskervilles

Abney Park

Reviewed – 17th September 2019

★★★★

 

“one of the finest promenade productions to be seen for some time”

 

A wonderfully atmospheric and well-adapted new version of the classic The Hound of the Baskervilles proves that there’s no plays like Holmes when it comes to murder mysteries.

“One false step means certain death to man or beast – so tread carefully!” The warning given by one of the characters in the production could hardly be more appropriate for the audience who walk around Abney Park Cemetery as night falls in this clever and engaging promenade version from the 09 Lives company.

Director Lil Warren avoids tiresome clichés (there’s not a deerstalker in sight and no whiff of “Elementary, my dear Watson!”) and creates a thrilling reworking of the 1901 detective story with a freshness and sense of fun which would surely delight Conan Doyle himself.

Such is the ability of the actors that it’s easy to overlook the fact that there are only six of them. In a couple of cases there is a genuine murmur of surprise from the audience when they cotton on to the fact that the performer who disappeared down one twilit track has reappeared in another guise only seconds later.

It’s a good notion to have Conan Doyle (Angus Chisholm) narrate the story in each scene and lead the way in the movement around the park, as it leaves the other actors free to concentrate on the drama without having to worry about promenading practicalities. Chisholm gets the measure of the writer, who had an interest in the magical and mysterious, and there’s a twinkle in his eye when he declares “the game’s afoot!”

Giorgio Galassi is fantastic casting as Holmes, giving the well-known character a completely original take without feeling the need to draw any inspiration from Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone, or Benedict Cumberbatch. His is an arrogant and irritating consulting detective showing little patience with his companion and the hint of the actor’s Italian heritage adds a splendid touch of fiery Latin temperament to this most British of fictional creations.

Despite being the most famous – and oft-produced – Sherlock Holmes adventure the sleuth himself vanishes for the central part of the narrative, so Galassi also dons an outrageous moustache to play the Baskerville butler Barrymore.

Holmes’ absence means a lot hangs on Dr Watson and Gary Cain also resists copying others who have played the part of the diarist and companion. Instead we are shown a loyal sidekick who is not treated entirely kindly by his eccentric friend and who has more than a mind of his own.

Dan de la Motte is a suitably stiff upper lipped Mortimer but has some fun with the devious naturalist Stapleton who hides his own family secrets, while Andrew Phipps is a jovial Sir Henry Baskerville, whose family appears to be cursed by the legend of the diabolical hound.

Playing the two female roles is Sarah Warren – founder and artistic director of 09 Lives – who gives some welcome feminine strength to the feisty Beryl Stapleton and a sense of duty to the unfortunate Mrs Barrymore.

The piece is completed by its creepy sound design (Yvonne Gilbert), with a convincing hound occasionally heard howling in the trees and SLAY’s installation design, which allows us to be transported effortlessly from Baker Street to Baskerville Hall, Merripit House, Grimpen Mire and other locations in the Dartmoor setting, with each location perfectly chosen. We even glimpse two fierce red eyes of the hound peering through a Devon fog.

This Hound of the Baskervilles is a well-produced treat and is certainly one of the finest promenade productions to be seen for some time.

 

Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Terrill

 

 

The Hound of The Baskervilles

Abney Park until 29th September

 

 

 

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