Tag Archives: Lizzy Leech

Antigone

Antigone

★★★★★

New Diorama Theatre

Antigone

Antigone

New Diorama Theatre

Reviewed – 9th January 2020

★★★★★

 

“Holy What’s excruciatingly incisive and nuanced production wrenches this classical play from its historical resting place and plants it firmly in the modern canon”

 

Honestly, Greek plays make me think of my GCSE drama theory, and just the idea of actually sitting through one makes me want to take a nap. Fortunately, Holy What’s production is having none of that.

Antigone (Annabel Baldwin) and Ismene (Rachel Hosker), two teenage sisters, are holding up the home front whilst their brothers fight against one another in a war for leadership of the city. The sisters spend their time playing games, talking about boys and sex, and venturing in to city’s nightlife.

When the soldiers finally return, both brothers are dead. Creon, their uncle and the newly appointed leader of the city, proclaims that one brother will be honourably buried and the other will be left unburied on the battlefield. Antigone insists that no-one should be punished this way, no matter their crime. Despite Creon’s decree of death for anyone who tries to bury her brother’s body, Antigone is insistent.

And that is the shortest possible synopsis for the ultimate Greek tragedy. On top of that, we’ve got incest, lots of tragic death, heroic acts, love, and let’s not forget the thing that brings it all together, the lashings and lashings of family drama. All this, undertaken by a two-hander in one act.

Under Ali Pidsley’s direction, Antigone focuses solely on the intense relationship between the sisters. Clearly far less interested in the particular twists and turns of the original character-packed plot, Lulu Raczka’s script is an immensely intimate portrayal of sisterly love. Whilst the generalities of Sophocles’ plot remains, the dialect is hyper modern. But somehow, despite plenty of talk of battlefields and death by starvation in a cave, it doesn’t feel uncomfortably anachronistic. Instead, we’re thoroughly drawn in to crushing moral dilemmas, and the impossible choices between doing the right thing and doing what’s necessary to survive.

The performances of both Baldwin and Hosker are heartbreakingly honest. Their delivery so closely mirrors the intimate nuances of sisterly love that if it weren’t for the fact that this is a rewrite of a Greek drama, I’d assume a lot of the script was verbatim.

The setting (Lizzy Leech), a small tiered platform filled with soil, evades complete understanding but is effective nonetheless. The dirt provides a play pit for the sisters in their jollier moments, and evidence of Antigone’s actions later in the plot. And all that aside, it provides a pleasing texture to a story that otherwise requires few props.

Lighting (Tim Kelly) and sound (Kieran Lucas), both deceptively simple, play almost as much of a role in this production as the script. Lucas’ score artfully navigates between low ominous rumbles, thumping soundscapes and noughties R&B. Kelly’s lighting is similarly emotionally calculating and playful, amping up the drama when a two-person cast can’t quite cut it.

My only real criticism for this production is that the soundtrack was a little too loud at various points – I had to plug my ears for a good couple of minutes in the middle, and I was still capable of hearing everything. And my other criticism would be that I’d appreciate if the lights stayed down for a minute or two at the end so that no-one could see my runny nose and blood-shot eyes. That’s right, I was completely crushed by a Greek tragedy.

Holy What’s excruciatingly incisive and nuanced production wrenches this classical play from its historical resting place and plants it firmly in the modern canon. What a way to start the new year.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ali Wright

 


Antigone

New Diorama Theatre until 1st February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Trap Street | ★★★★ | March 2018
Left my Desk | ★★★★ | May 2018
Bitter | ★★★ | June 2018
Taking Flight | ★★★ | June 2018
4.48 Psychosis | ★★★★ | September 2018
Boys | ★★★★★ | November 2018
The War Of The Worlds | ★★★½ | January 2019
Operation Mincemeat | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Art Heist | ★★★½ | October 2019
Joan Of Leeds | ★★★★ | December 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Joan of Leeds

★★★★

New Diorama Theatre

Joan of Leeds

Joan of Leeds

New Diorama Theatre

Reviewed – 9th December 2019

★★★★

 

“A couple of the numbers were so camp, it was like watching a medieval Village People”

 

Joan Of Leeds was an English nun, who bored of her monastic life, feigned mortal illness, constructed a dummy of herself which was buried in holy ground and hot-footed it off to Beverley to shack up with a man. This account only came to light this year, when a research project into the Registry of the Archbishops Of York for 1305-1405, uncovered historical notes documenting this story.

Breach Theatre Company have done what any self-respecting group would do and turned it into a bawdy, medieval musical. Presenting themselves as The Yorkshire Medieval Players, the opening scene cleverly sets the tone for the fun and frolics ahead.

The set with a starry back cloth and cardboard clouds and an apple tree, looks a little ‘primary school’ and yet works perfectly with the style of the piece.

Joan, in this production, during a severe famine, is tempted by the devil and ends up in a convent where she falls in love with fellow nun Agnes. Refusing to admit her true feelings, she runs away to Beverley to live with the man who is in love with her. Interesting to see the ‘queer’ angle explored, although the world has changed beyond recognition in five hundred years, maybe human desires and feelings have not.
This is brilliantly directed by Billy Barrett who co-wrote the play with Ellice Stevens. Cast appeared on gantries, up trap doors, through curtains, each time delivering real attack and comic timing to the character they were portraying. 
With all the outrageous costumes and Python like silliness, it was easy to overlook some of the brilliantly constructed rhyming text, much of it as ingenious and lyrical as the musical numbers themselves.

The five strong cast were all terrific, Bryony Davies showing us angst, anger, vulnerability and bewilderment as the tormented Joan, Rachel Barnes, Olivia Hirst, Laurie Jamieson and Alex Roberts all matched her with their highly skilled performances.

One particularly clever scene change took the whole audience by surprise, only when we stepped into this domestic set, did the pace drop a little. Although I understood the purpose of the scene, this show is at its strongest when the five actors are bouncing off each other. They are all so musically talented and versatile, we were treated to musical styles from Broadway to madrigal to a jaw dropping, thrash metal finale. A couple of the numbers were so camp, it was like watching a medieval Village People.

Not your most traditional of seasonal shows and all the more enjoyable for this very reason. This is an extraordinary story, maybe one of the earliest demonstrations of ‘Girl Power’ from a most unexpected source.

Although Breach Theatre Company have adapted this story with their own unique style, if history lessons had been like this at school, I would never have missed a class.

 

Reviewed by Chris White

Photography by The Other Richard

 


Joan of Leeds

New Diorama Theatre until 21st December

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
It Made me Consider | ★★★ | February 2018
Trap Street | ★★★★ | March 2018
Left my Desk | ★★★★ | May 2018
Bitter | ★★★ | June 2018
Taking Flight | ★★★ | June 2018
4.48 Psychosis | ★★★★ | September 2018
Boys | ★★★★★ | November 2018
The War Of The Worlds | ★★★½ | January 2019
Operation Mincemeat | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Art Heist | ★★★½ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews