Tag Archives: Flora Doble

Lautrec

Lautrec

★★★½

Hen and Chickens Theatre

LAUTREC  at the Hen and Chickens Theatre

★★★½

Lautrec

“Both Rattigan and Drisch look the part in detailed and timely costumes”

 

Comte Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa was a French painter whose art gained significant notoriety through its colourful and lively depiction of the theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century. Producing over 737 canvases, 363 prints and posters and over 5,000 drawings in a career of less than 20 years, Toulouse-Lautrec was a powerhouse of the post-Impressionist movement.

Shadowmask Theatre’s new play Lautrec – directed by Natalie Winter – explores the success of this incredible artist but also his tragic fate. Born to nobility, Toulouse-Lautrec – played by Fergus Rattigan – suffered from stunted growth, his legs never healing properly from injuries in his early teens. In his despair, the young man turned his attention to creative endeavours whilst also embracing a philosophy of complete hedonism which included drinking to excess and frequenting brothels. Marie Drisch joins Rattigan on stage to play an impressive eleven characters – from Lautrec’s mother to the co-founder of the Moulin Rouge – all of which hold a significant place in the artist’s rise and fall.

Rattigan is fantastic as the play’s tragic hero, initially bursting onto stage speaking impassioned French before adapting for his English audience. He mixes the two languages well throughout with his accent rarely slipping. Our lead brings a great comedy to the role – a particular highlight being his first rendezvous with a prostitute – but he really shines in Lautrec’s final scenes in a psychiatric hospital where he suffers from hallucinations due to syphilis.

Drisch is a fine partner to the troubled artist, but her multitude of roles often makes her feel stretched thin as she frequently must throw on a new hat or accessory to signify the entrance of a new character. Drisch is best when she is allowed to settle into a role such as in an extended scene as Lautrec’s friend Yvette Guilbert where they discuss the artist’s frustration at never being considered a sexual option due to his disability. The play packs a lot into its hour runtime, and it is Drisch who unfortunately suffers most.

The theatre space is successfully utilised – a sofa, a small table and chairs and various props including a sketch book, a bottle of wine and numerous concealed hip flasks. Some of Lautrec’s most famous paintings and sketches decorate the surrounding walls – they are revealed throughout the performance as we move through the artist’s life. This is highly effective and makes the play’s final scenes even more poignant. One suggestion would be to litter the stage with more debris such as empty bottles and dirty clothes as the painter’s life spirals downwards.

Sound and lighting is basic and rarely used to its full potential. There are a few sound effects – dogs barking off stage, the sound of drinks pouring – but they are utilised inconsistently, and the actors unfortunately do not react in good time to their deployment. Lighting could be used for exciting results such as to emulate the excitement of the cabaret stage but instead remains static throughout except for the final scenes where Lautrec is on his deathbed. This feels like a missed opportunity and could really enliven the hedonistic portions of the play.

Both Rattigan and Drisch look the part in detailed and timely costumes. Notably, Rattigan becomes more and more dishevelled throughout the performance, removing his signature bowler hat and smart jacket as he descends into madness.

Lautrec is greatly successful in spotlighting the work and life of the formidable Toulouse-Lautrec and its vignettes will have you googling the artist for some time. With some polish and refinement, this play will go far.

 

Reviewed on 15th August 2022

by Flora Doble

PART OF CAMDEN FRINGE 2022

 

 

Latest reviews from the other Fringe – Edinburgh Festival Fringe:

Boorish Trumpson | ★★★ | August 2022
About Money | ★★★½ | August 2022
Fabulett 1933 | ★★★ | August 2022
Tropicana | ★★★★ | August 2022
No Place Like Home | ★★★★ | August 2022
Age Is A Feeling | ★★★★ | August 2022
My Son’s A Queer | ★★★★★ | August 2022
Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen | ★★★★ | August 2022
Grandmother’s Closet | ★★★ | August 2022
Brown Boys Swim | ★★★★ | August 2022

 

Click here to read all our latest reviews

 

American Idiot

American Idiot

★★★★

Bridewell Theatre

American Idiot

American Idiot

Bridewell Theatre

Reviewed – 5th May 2022

★★★★

 

“the large ensemble inject a real energy into the show”

 

American Idiot, directed by Matt Bentley, follows the lives of three disgruntled young men struggling to find purpose after the events of 9/11. Leaving their small town for the big city with big dreams, the trio’s paths soon diverge when Johnny (Nick Dore) succumbs to his drug addicted alter ego St. Jimmy (Sorrel Brown), Tunny (George Langdown) enlists in the army, and Will (Joshua Yeardley) returns home to look after his young child.

All set to the songs of Green Day’s chart-topping album American Idiot, the eponymous musical explores the political atmosphere of the early 2000s and the presidency of George W. Bush. The album in fact was conceived by the band as a concept album telling the story of a low-middle class American anti-hero Jesus of Suburbia and thus its rendering on stage should not be considered a jukebox musical but rather an already fleshed out tale of woe. The album only has two explicitly political songs – American Idiot and Holiday, both of which feature in the show – but a general theme of anti-establishment is threaded throughout.

Despite its relatively depressing subject matter, American Idiot is a complete romp. The show is jam-packed with songs and medleys and the large ensemble (led by Alice Signell) inject a real energy into the show with their lively dancing and expressive movements (Jen Bullock). The plot itself is simple enough to follow but some more dialogue between songs would really help to bridge the gap between back-to-back songs.

Brown’s performance as St. Jimmy is particularly dynamic and her performance of the song St. Jimmy the strongest in the show. It is a joy every time she is on stage. Dore’s performance is strong too and he truly embodies the early-2000s punk in both attitude and aesthetic. He is wholly believable, and his voice is perfect for his numerous solos. Other notable songs include American Idiot, Know Your Enemy and 21 Guns – all of which the cast deliver with great emotion and enthusiasm.

The band, led by Oscar Denihan, are phenomenal, blasting out track after track. Unfortunately, there were a few technical difficulties with electric guitars not working and sound levels varying slightly, but it was otherwise a fantastic performance from all. James Green on the drums is particularly good.

The set (Andrew Laidlaw) is simple but highly adaptable and the space well used. Black flight cases are used effectively as seats, hospital beds and even coffins of the American soldiers killed in the Iraq war. A Murphy bed is used for certain scenes and cleverly has a shelf with glued-on beer cans on its underside for décor when it is put away.

Costumes (Clare Harding) are authentically early-2000s punk with skinny jeans, flannel and eyeliner abound. Lighting (Olly Levett) is for the most part well done though again there were a few technical glitches with late spotlights and light changes out of beat to the music.

Though a cultural commentary of its time, Green Day’s call for radical change remains relevant today. American Idiot will be a thrill for any lover of pop punk and the amateur cast should be very proud of this production.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Stephen Russell

 


American Idiot

Bridewell Theatre until 14th May

 

Other shows recently reviewed by Flora:
Myra Dubois: Dead Funny | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | September 2021
Flushed | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | October 2021
Dick Whittington | ★★★★ | Phoenix Theatre | December 2021
Dog Show | ★★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | December 2021
& Juliet | ★★★★ | Shaftesbury Theatre | April 2022

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews