Tag Archives: Jonathan Brandt

A Deed Without a Name


Theatro Technis

A Deed Without a Name

A Deed Without a Name

Theatro Technis

Reviewed – 21st February



“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


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The Flies

The Bunker

The Flies

The Flies

The  Bunker

Reviewed – 13th June 2019



“with some fine-tuning and syncopation there is quite a stunning show buried in there somewhere”


Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, “The Flies” (Les Mouches), is a complicated and serious affair, perhaps overburdened with symbolism and allegory. At its core is the myth of Orestes and Electra, who murder their mother and her lover in order to seek revenge for the death of their father. Sartre took many sweeping liberties with the story, bending it to fit in with his philosophical leanings at the time – having spent nine months as a prisoner of war. Equating the ancient Greek city of Argos with occupied France, the themes of revenge are replaced by quite laborious and introspective questions about freedom.

Described as a thriller, the text is not necessarily thrilling in itself, but Exchange Theatre certainly know how to strip it bare and dress it up again in a multi-coloured cloak of ideas and invention. Set in a dystopian world without any real reference to time or place, the themes acquire a contemporary poignancy, where the Gods are video screens from which the black-clad, Klansman-like, ‘Avenging Furies’ steal the hard drives from their broken chassis. It is a scene unrecognisable by Orestes (Samy Elkhatib) who is returning home fifteen years after his father’s murder. Finding his people under the oppression of guilt and fear he seeks out his sister, Electra (Meena Rayann), and persuades her to help him exact his revenge and ultimately try to free his townspeople.

Underscored by a live, power-driven rock band the premise is exciting, but the raw promise of the opening moments soon wanders into a maze of confusion. Director David Furlong (who also plays the usurping tyrant Aegisthus) has swamped the action in a riot of ideas which battle with each other. This is no bad thing, and we must applaud the idea of theatre reflecting the disquieting uncertainty of our times; and this company does that with a real punch. “The Flies” is about fighting for liberty against misguided populist powers, but the energy expended in this production is just as misguided. Too much writhing and unneeded robotic movement cloud the intention and, while the music (and occasional raucous singing) embraces the rebellious punk ethic, it lacks the edge. It all comes across as a bit messy. Sartre’s script is replete with ‘what-ifs’ as it explores its philosophical paths: this show, too, is built on ‘what-ifs’, as a succession of ideas are played out in front of us as though being workshopped.

But there is no denying that this is a visual and aural treat, although the most affecting moments are when the actors are left alone on the stage with nothing but their dialogue. Overall, though, subtlety isn’t the object here. ‘The Flies’ is being performed alternately in French and English, so to a certain extent we are obviously liberated from the reliance on the language. This is no rock opera, but with some fine-tuning and syncopation there is quite a stunning show buried in there somewhere.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Camille Dufrénoy


The Flies

The Bunker until 6th July


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019


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