Tag Archives: Katie Mitchell



Royal Court Theatre

BLUETS at the Royal Court Theatre


“Undoubtedly audacious and innovative, “Bluets” defies categorisation.”

“Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a colour”. So begins both Maggie Nelson’s 2009 novel, and Margaret Perry’s stage adaptation of the same title. If you wanted to find Nelson’s original in a bookshop, it would be filed under ‘poetry’. It comprises 240 prose poems that, although disjointed, explores the themes of sadness, grief and heartbreak. The colour blue is the obvious common thread which gets woven into the short essays like a Satin Bowerbird would decorate its nest with blue items.

Being unfamiliar with Nelson’s novella (as I am) is no handicap when approaching Perry’s interpretation. Every spoken word is lifted from Nelson’s text and moulded into an hour-long monologue, narrated by three actors all playing the same character. They each express the author’s innermost thoughts in an understated fashion that sometimes borders on whispering. The most striking feature is the staging. One cannot fail to notice the bank of cameras occupying the space, and the large video screen across the back wall. The impulse is to groan inwardly. There’s so much of it about at the moment; with Jamie Lloyd repeating the technique for his latest two productions, and even Ivo van Hove jumping on the bandwagon. But you have to remember that director Katie Mitchell pioneered the form, coining it ‘live cinema’ as far back as 2006.

The intention is that the audience are watching a film being made in real time while the finished product is projected onto the screen above the action. In reality, “Bluets” comes across more as a radio play than a film, and the transition from the spoken word to the visual perspective is often a distraction rather than an enhancement. It is ingeniously realised though. With the use of props and a mix of close ups and superimposed backdrops the impression of watching a film is uncannily simulated. We are often in awe at the technical wizardry, not to mention the concentration and prowess of the backstage crew. But the content inevitably suffers, and is overshadowed. So much so that we also forget the starry line up in the cast.



Ben Whishaw, Emma D’Arcy and Kayla Meikle are A, B and C respectively. But it doesn’t matter, as A, B and C are all the same person. The three performers move and speak as one, finishing each other’s sentences and covering up each other’s frequent non-sequiturs. It often resembles the childhood game of ‘Consequences’, but more grown up and sadly duller. Which is a shame. Stripped of the cleverness that surrounds them, the words would resonate much more if allowed to speak for themselves. Nelson’s writing is beautifully rhythmic, reflective and evocative. There are frequent pauses in the pathos and the poetry. The tight choreography of monologue and movement trips every so often as we worry that a prop is delivered correctly and on time, or that the actor is still on the right page.

Amid the clutter of a film set and the chaos of non-chronological shooting, it is only in the editing room that the vision begins to become coherent. In “Bluets” we get the sense that we are watching the raw material, and we are given little time or space to reflect on what the performers are saying. We are left with having to try and decipher it later, but at least are inspired to root out the original book.

Undoubtedly audacious and innovative, “Bluets” defies categorisation. Sometimes dreamlike, it also shows the grinding cogs that conjure the dreams. It verges on being hypnotic while narrowly avoiding soporific. The hour does seem to stretch, but the urge to look at our watches is mercifully suppressed enough as we are occasionally caught off guard by a moving and lyrical turn of phrase. An intriguing piece of theatre and at times a poignant exploration of grief, loneliness, sadness, heartbreak – but also pleasure. Yet the true emotion is hard to locate in this interpretation and only really tracked down in retrospect; like “a pile of thin blue gels scattered on the stage long after the show has come and gone”. It’s a challenge, but one worth taking.

BLUETS at the Royal Court Theatre

Reviewed on 24th May 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Camilla Greenwood




Previously reviewed at this venue:

GUNTER | ★★★★ | April 2024
COWBOIS | ★★★★★ | January 2024
MATES IN CHELSEA | ★★★ | November 2023
CUCKOO | ★★½ | July 2023
BLACK SUPERHERO | ★★★★ | March 2023
FOR BLACK BOYS … | ★★★★★ | April 2022



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The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston & UK Tour

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston

Reviewed – 10th April 2019



“a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp”


As the Dr Seuss classic has entertained the minds of young readers for half a century, this Rose Theatre Kingston and Curve co-production of The Cat in the Hat (originally adapted by Katie Mitchell) has a lot to live up to. So how do you translate the unique writing style of such a celebrated artist to stage? Throw in an abundance of acrobatics, a plethora of singalong songs and a water gun or two and you have got a spectacle that will keep the under fives transfixed.

The story we all know and love is that of two children whose miserable rainy day is thankfully interrupted by a cat, in a hat of all garments. While trying to entertain Sally (Melissa Lowe) and her little brother, the cat in the hat (Nana Amoo-Gottfried) gets up to all sorts of tricks and chaos ensues. Standout performances are Sam Angell as Boy, Sally’s incongruously Scottish yet harmlessly endearing little brother and Charley Magalit as the ever bubbly and surprisingly operatic Fish. With direction from Curve’s Associate Director Suba Das, the second half revs up the pacing to fourth gear when Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Celia Francis and Robert Penny) bamboozle the crowd with seemingly infinite combinations of attractive acrobatics.

The clever design of The Cat in the Hat (Isla Shaw) repeatedly takes the audience by surprise with imaginative costume choices and a cleverly camouflaged, movable set, that plays host to a range of elements bursting out, popping up and dangling all over the place. The beautifully oversized, cartoon backdrop, inspired by Ted Geisel’s original illustrations (with every prop giving a nod to the fifty-two year old publication), is set with angles and colourful lighting that reads like a book.

Performance teeters on the edge of pantomime as each character in turn asks the boys and girls (and grownups) to stand up and call out before, during and after each interactive number. Although this musical is filled with fun fantastical compositions from Tasha Taylor Johnson, most of the melodies are quite forgettable considering the rhyming genius of the source lyrics.

The Cat in the Hat is a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp, albeit some way off the purrfect execution of a page to stage adaptation that one might hope for.


Reviewed by Vivienne King

Photography by Manuel Harlan


The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston until 21st April completing UK Tour




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