Tag Archives: Pippin

Pippin

Pippin

★★★★

The Garden Theatre

Pippin

Pippin

 The Garden Theatre

Reviewed – 17th September 2020

★★★★

 

“fast-paced and engaging”

 

These last seven months have taken a toll on the best of us, least of all this reviewer, who was beyond excited to have an energetic performance of the 1972 musical Pippin, directed by Steven Dexter, at The Garden Theatre in Vauxhall mark her return to attending live theatre. Upon taking my seat, the excitement in the air was palpable. Certainly, many in the audience will have felt the theatrical lacuna caused by lockdown restrictions. So, to begin, a thank you to all who worked towards making this show possible whilst abiding by the government’s safety guidelines.

Secondly, the show itself. Pippin follows the young prince Pippin (Ryan Anderson), son of the great leader Charlemagne (Dan Krikler), on his search for a significant and fulfilling life. Along the way, Pippin must contend with his self-obsessed stepbrother Lewis (Harry Francis) and his power-hungry stepmother Fastrada (Joanne Clifton) who have their eyes on the throne. Pippin must also navigate a mysterious fourth wall-breaking chorus led by the aptly named Leading Player (Tsemaye Bob-Egbe) whose motives are questionable to say the least. When Pippin meets the widow farm-owner Catherine (Tanisha-Mae Brown) and finds purpose in a simpler life, Pippin must confront what really makes him happy and whether his pursuit of ‘the extraordinary’ is really so wonderful at all.

The cast have great chemistry and work effortlessly together. Anderson’s range is phenomenal. He is as convincing when playing a son desperate to impress his nonchalant father as he is as an anguished young man torn between two drastically different life paths in his final scene. Clifton is also particularly strong in her role as Pippin’s grandmother Berthe, performing a lively and hilarious rendition of the song ‘No Time At All’ in which the audience were encouraged to sing along.

Psychedelic wall hangings and plants surround the courtyard that acts as the stage (David Shields). The stage itself is for the large part empty, excluding a bench and a set of boxes that are periodically set down to act as seating or dance apparatus. Incense burns throughout the performance and the cast are decked out in hippy garb, tying the ‘peace and love’ theme together nicely. Props are cleverly hidden amongst the foliage, the best of which is a tambourine which has a dual purpose of crown and instrument.

The performance space is surrounded by a plethora of different lighting. Fairy lights – both gold and blue – intermingle amongst the greenery and trellises while bulbed lights and a disco ball hang above centre stage. The lights are well-timed to flash and change colours to reflect the mood on stage.

The songs (Michael Bradley) are well performed and accompanied by dynamic choreography (Nick Winston). Krikler gives a standout performance of ‘War is a Science’ and the dancing is particularly strong during ‘On the Right Track’ performed by Anderson and Bob-Egbe. Brown provides good backing vocals before stepping into her own in the role of Catherine and the song ‘Kind of Woman’.

Pippin is a fast-paced and engaging musical, especially in its latter half, and the cast and crew should be proud of their spirited performance. Music and laughter abound, Pippin finds new meaning in these strange times, when we all have been forced to reflect on the simple pleasures of life and consider what truly makes us happy.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Bonnie Britain Photography

 


Pippin

 The Garden Theatre until 11th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed by Flora:
Julius Caesar | ★★½ | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | January 2020
Scrounger | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | January 2020
Something Awful | ★★★★★ | The Vaults | January 2020
Tribes | ★★★★ | Putney Arts Theatre | January 2020
Important Art | ★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Jekyll & Hyde | ★★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
Minority Report | ★★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII | ★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | February 2020
Julius Caesar | ★★★★ | The Space | March 2020
The Haus Of Kunst | ★★★ | The Vaults | March 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

How We Begin

★★★★

King’s Head Theatre

How We Begin

How We Begin

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 11th August 2019

★★★★

 

“It’s always wonderful to see roles written for women that are robust and real”

 

Surfacing Act Theatre present their debut play, How We Begin at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. Written by Elisabeth Lewerenz, it depicts the beautifully complex love story of best friends Helen and Diana.

How We Begin is described, by the company, as ‘a queer female love story, told in a way, which has never been told before’ and after watching the show you can understand why they would so, boldly, declare this. Their production, certainly, has a unique voice and style that sharply defines itself. Surfacing Act Theatre was founded in 2019 when Elisabeth Lewerenz and Elizabeth Benbow (director) met during the VAULT Festival’s New Writers Showcase. Finding a kindred affinity for storytelling, they joined forces to write queer narratives which are often overlooked and left on the periphery of our stages.

The show begins with Helen (Talia Pick) and Diana (Emma Lucia) who intimately share their journey of friendship to secret lovers and then back to friendship again. This cyclical love tale; poignant and incredibly witty, was deftly navigated by Pick and Lucia who portrayed the vulnerable and conflicted characters with great emotional intelligence. Both actresses were confident, displaying perfect comic timing as they bantered on stage. Their presentation of the flexible duality of love, delicately peeled away the binary spectrum so predominantly seen. It’s always wonderful to see roles written for women that are robust and real. Lewerenz’s writing provided the platform for these actresses to thrive and Benbow’s direction was the catalyst to making the piece a seamless and engaging watch.

The stage was designed (Delyth Evans) with minimalist precision and though the space was not particularly large, somehow, it began to expand before our eyes; transporting us from one location to the next. This illusion was facilitated by the subtle lighting cues (Lucía Sánchez Roldán) that silently sang alongside the action whilst steering the direction of the play. Such is the magic of theatre when it is done well – all wheels of the production moving in one smooth motion.

The true power of this play, however, is in the ‘ordinariness’ of it. It is a transferable story, relatable to all ages, genders and demographics and yet this ordinary story (and those like it) are ignored and rarely represented. How We Begin opens up the box that queer love is repeatedly stuffed into and draws out the many layers and nuances that exist within it.

Surfacing Act Theatre have created an astute, professional and accomplished production. If this is what they achieve as a debut, then they have a bright future ahead of them.

 

Reviewed by Pippin

Photography by Charlie Sambrook

 

kings head theatre

How We Begin

King’s Head Theatre until 12th August

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019
Awkward Conversations With Animals … | ★★★★ | April 2019
HMS Pinafore | ★★★★ | April 2019
Unsung | ★★★½ | April 2019
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | June 2019
Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World | ★★★ | July 2019
Mating In Captivity | ★★★★ | July 2019
Oddball | ★★★½ | July 2019

 

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