Tag Archives: Dominica Plummer

Intruder

Intruder | Intruz

★★★★

VAULT Festival

INTRUDER | INTRUZ at the VAULT Festival

★★★★

Intruder

“There’s a lot packed into this sixty five minute show, and it will make you think”

 

Polish actor Remi Rachuba gives a high octane account of his early experiences teaching English in his one man show Intruder/Intruz. The most important part of this story, however, is not that Rachuba goes to Scotland to be a teacher, but that he wants to come to Scotland to follow his dream of becoming an actor. Such a circuitous route into the acting profession is, as might be expected, fraught with pitfalls. Rachuba, to his credit, manages to present this tale in a way that is by turns, funny, horrifying and ultimately uplifting.

Intruder/Intruz begins, after a comic lesson in Glaswegian slang, with a violent mugging. What follows is a non-linear telling of Rachuba’s attempts to report the crime against him, and participate in restorative justice against his attackers. Switching rapidly between scenes set in Glasgow, Warsaw, and Edinburgh, among others, Rachuba presents us with a play about a man who refuses to be beaten down even when he is being beaten up.

Intruder/Intruz is an unusual piece because it is told in English, Polish and Glaswegian. Rachuba is obviously fluent in all three—no mean feat. This fact is important because Intruder/Intruz is not just a drama about an English teacher struggling to teach in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and about a series of attacks, both physical and linguistic, upon him. Audiences might be forgiven for thinking that the Intruder in the title is just a reference to Rachuba’s attackers, and the phobias that threaten his psychological well being after the event. But Intruz has another meaning as well. That of the intruder—an unwelcome immigrant—arriving in a foreign land. Intruder/Intruz is an eye opening account of the violence that immigrants have to reckon with, as they move to a different country to pursue a dream. There’s a lot packed into this sixty five minute show, and it will make you think.

Intruder/Intruz is also not the most accessible of shows unless you are, like its creator, fluent in English, Polish and Glaswegian. If you aren’t, quite a few of Rachuba’s words are going to be lost because there are no subtitles to help. It’s hard to tell from moment to moment where you are in time in the story, as Rachuba switches with breath taking speed from present to past and back again. He is an engaging performer, and director Marcus Montgomery Roche makes the most of the space at the Network Theatre. But the threads of Rachuba’s narrative bend and weave until suddenly, without much warning, you’re at the end. The individual scenes in Intruder/Intruz, such in Rachuba’s classroom with his special needs students; his acting audition; his encounter with a student in a Polish casino before an important English test, are memorable—and wryly humorous. These moments of comedy contrast vividly with the violence that is at the heart of this piece. And there are also moments when you wonder how Rachuba could ever summon up the courage to return to the places where he was under such constant attack.

If you’re looking for a solo show that is distinctively different, and you don’t mind a linguistic challenge—you will find Intruder/Intruz well worth your time. It is an energetic show from an actor who left Warsaw and came to Glasgow to realize his dream.

 

Reviewed on 28th January 2023

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Robin Mitchell

 

Vault Festival 2023

 

Other shows reviewed at VAULT Festival:

 

Caceroleo | ★★★★ | January 2023
Cybil Service | ★★★★ | January 2023

 

Click here to read all our latest reviews

 

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

★★★★

New Victoria Theatre

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE at the New Victoria Theatre | UK Tour

★★★★

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

“a wealth of eye catching staging and sound effects”

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same title, adapted by Joel Horwood, and directed by Katy Rudd, will not disappoint Gaiman fans. This production, which opened at the National Theatre in 2019, is now touring at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. This show is a treat for those who enjoy spectacle. It has a wealth of eye catching staging and sound effects, plus a seamless merging of human actors and puppets of all shapes and sizes. The story is about a twelve year old boy, told from his perspective, and it is, in typical Gaiman fashion, a nightmarish tale. It begins with a suicide in a car.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is set in a place both familiar, and deeply and thrillingly strange. A boy of the verge of adolescence finds himself battling forces beyond his imagination and control, assisted only by his best friend, Lettie. Life has been pretty unremarkable for the Boy and his family until the night when their lodger’s body is discovered in the family car. The world as the Boy knows it suddenly becomes unrecognizable, and inexplicable. Together, he and Lettie attempt to banish the supernatural forces unleashed by the suicide into their placid neighbourhood. It turns out that Lettie and her family are pretty strange also, hiding in plain sight in an old farmhouse that appears to have existed forever. Lettie is similarly timeless, showing the Boy a duck pond that can become an ocean, and how to fight a flea that has become a monster beyond imagining. Horwood’s adaptation  is true to its sources, but it does suffer from a common problem when adapting novels to the stage. Sooner or later, the dramatic action gets swallowed up by the exposition, and the pace begins to drag. But there is so much going on visually in in this production that most audiences will not mind. The sympathetic characters, and the strength of the story, will keep people happily engaged.

Despite the lengthy playing time of play, time passes quickly enough in the company of Katy Rudd’s imaginative direction, and her talented band of actors and puppeteers. There is the set, designed by Fly Davis, which gives us a sense of a mysterious dark space framed by tree branches, and which also light up like Christmas trees when occasion demands. There’s a nice shift between the every day clothing of the Boy and his family, with the outlandish, out of time clothes of Lettie, her mother and grandmother (designed by Samuel Wyer, who also designed the puppets.) Paule Constable’s lighting is likewise essential for a well defined shift between worlds. But the real power of this production is wielded by the actors and puppeteers, who not only bring the main characters to life, but the constantly changing sets as well. With a nod to the techniques of bunraku, figures dressed in black are constantly bringing furniture on and off the stage. More frighteningly, they create the huge, otherworldly monsters that are conjured out the liminal spaces that exist just on the edge of the Sussex countryside. Finn Caldwell’s puppetry direction, together with Steven Hoggett’s movement direction, deserve special notice for all the complicated work that makes this such a visual feast.

The actors are more than up to the task of working with such a complex palette of sound, light and visuals. The Boy (played on this evening by Keir Ogilvy) and Lettie (Millie Hikasa) are a sympathetic duo caught up in an epic battle. Charlie Brooks, in the thankless task of playing the villain, deftly manages the shifts between the seemingly unthreatening Ursula, and her terrifying alter-ego. Dad, played by Trevor Fox, is particularly good as a man caught up in hiding his grief and trying to remain cheerful and positive for his children. The witchy trio of Lettie, her mother Winnie (Kemi-Bo Jacobs) and grandmother Old Mrs Hempstock (Finty Williams) bring magic and comic reassurance to the stage. The scenes in which they appear always seem brighter and more vivid, despite the lack of modern conveniences in their old farmhouse.

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s work will enjoy this show. It’s also well worth a visit for audiences who have never seen this kind of production before. The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives us performers who do the lion’s share of the work. In their hard working hands, they show us the collision of reality and magic. An ocean really does seem to come on stage for the children to play in. See it, and marvel at all the things a theatre of the imagination can do.

 

 

Reviewed on 25th January 2023

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Brinkhoff Moegenburg

 

 

UK Tour continues until September – click for details

 

 

 

Other Shows Recently reviewed by Dominica

 

Waterloo | ★★★★ | Edinburgh Festival Fringe | August 2022
Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | September 2022
House of Flamenka | ★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | September 2022
Hofesh Shecter: Contemporary Dance 2 | ★★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | October 2022
Mary | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | October 2022
999 | ★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | November 2022
Peter Pan’s Labyrinth | ★★★★ | The Vaults | November 2022
Tanz | ★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | November 2022
The Return | ★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | November 2022
Little Red Riding Hood | ★★½ | Battersea Arts Centre | December 2022
Orlando | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | December 2022
The Art of Illusion | ★★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | January 2023

 

Click here to read all our latest reviews