Tag Archives: Fleur de Wit

King Lear

King Lear
★★★

Jack Studio Theatre

King Lear

King Lear

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 21st March 2019

★★★

 

“the Ed Miliband of Shakespeare: reliable, dependable, with the right words in the correct order but lacking that sense of purpose or timeliness”

 

I understand why people want to put on Shakespeare. It’s deep, people want to watch it, and it’s royalty free. What more could you want? But Shakespeare isn’t impressive like surgery is, it’s impressive like running a marathon is. Now, everyone has seen a marathon and if you want to make a statement you either need to do it exceptionally well, or you need to dress up as a Rhino and deliver your message.

And if putting on a Shakespeare isn’t like running a marathon, then it’s really like trying to be prime minister or a member of parliament. I want to know ‘why you?’ What does the version of Lear say different from the last? What extra insight do you have into our contemporary world? What do you believe in? This production of King Lear was the Ed Miliband of Shakespeare: reliable, dependable, with the right words in the correct order but lacking that sense of purpose or timeliness.

James Eley’s production at the impressive Jack Studio Theatre isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. The cuts to the script are sensible; the performances are credible, and the production tells the story. But this is all cone and no ice cream. It leaves an audience member wanting more and with their attention free to focus on minor defects of pace and accent. You will be sure you saw King Lear but not sure why.

Themes were suggested and hinted but never committed to. In the beginning, the play seemed to be set in a series of pubs with Lear and his daughters as landlords, and club owners waging a turf war. But then the ‘fool’ was more Commedia dell’arte, the fighting Tarantino and the soundtrack part classical and part brit pop. Edmund became Ada with lesbian relations, but nothing came of it. All good ideas but the question ‘why’ just swirls and swirls.

Lear isn’t a simple production, and between disguises and actors playing many parts, it’s easy to get lost. Our players did a reasonable job of telling the story and keeping it clear, although occasionally we got lost with some scenes delivered like the actors quickly needed to get to the end. The experience of Christopher Poke (Glouster) and Alan Booty (Lear) did shine as they slowed down and gave some timing to the scenes.

Ultimately this is not a bad show. Lear is long and challenging and complex and just getting through it is often enough as the text does so much. If you like Shakespeare then this is worth a shake. But if you’ve read King Lear, you know the rough story, and you’re looking for more then you might be disappointed. In the end, just like a politician, I would prefer a flawed play with something to say, rather than a polished production saying everything all at once.

 

Reviewed by William Nash

Photography courtesy Yard Players

 


King Lear

Jack Studio Theatre until 30th March

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Hobson’s Choice | ★★★★ | September 2018
Dracula | ★★★½ | October 2018
Radiant Vermin | ★★★★ | November 2018
Sweet Like Chocolate Boy | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Cinderella | ★★★ | December 2018
Gentleman Jack | ★★★★ | January 2019
Taro | ★★★½ | January 2019
As A Man Grows Younger | ★★★ | February 2019
Footfalls And Play | ★★★★★ | February 2019
The Silence Of Snow | ★★★ | March 2019

 

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Review of America’s No 1 Detective Agency – 3 Stars

 

America’s No 1 Detective Agency

Drayton Arms Theatre

Reviewed – 7th August 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

“With time, and with more conviction, I think we have a little gem”

 

 

We’re in downtown LA, in the run down offices of private investigator Vivian O’Connell (Fleur de Wit). A single overhead light bulb casts its sad glow as Vivian sits at her desk, feet propped up next to a half empty whisky bottle. A detached air belies her anxiety as she draws on a cigarette. A jazz trio plays in the corner as other shadowy figures whisp through the haze. One almost expects to hear Sam Spade’s dreamlike drawl over the rhythms and arpeggios of the ‘film noir’ music.

The aptly named “Fatale Femme” Theatre Company have transformed the upstairs space of the Drayton Arms into an evocative replica of a film noir setting and, right on cue, a femme fatale bursts through the door. She is Betty Channing (Alex Hinson), a Hollywood wannabe who has (supposedly) come to enlist the services of the private investigator and her sidekick Joey (Siobhan Cha Cha). The scene is set, but then all too quickly dismantled as the various strands of the convoluted plot twist and knot together in a whirlwind of hidden motives and double crossing.

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It is all great fun, and part of the fun is trying to keep up with the action. But it can leave you breathless and wanting the cast to just slow down a little and let you come up for air. Liv Hunterson’s writing is as sharp as a knife but, in the hands of this ensemble cast, didn’t always cut the mustard.

The script needs more careful handling and a calibre of acting that this more than able troupe didn’t quite reach. Anna Marshall’s direction was assured (the use of a live band to underscore and punctuate the action was an inspired choice), and the mix of ideas worked well to achieve a balance of humour and menace, ingredients essential to the classic film noir genre. And the stock characters were all there in the ensemble; the anti-hero Bobby Munroe (Hamish Adams-Cairns), the villainous mob boss Larry Siegeli (Oliver-David Harrison) and squealer “Teddy” Worthington who has some of the best lines, incisively delivered in a cut glass English accent by Iain Gibbons.

However, all the ingredients came out of the pot slightly half-baked, with too many ideas vying for centre stage and too little time to concentrate. This could certainly benefit from both a longer running time and a longer run. With time, and with more conviction, I think we have a little gem, and a format that could really work in the theatre.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

 

 

AMERICA’S No 1 DETECTIVE AGENCY

was at the Drayton Arms

 

 

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