Tag Archives: Rory Fairbairn

The Wider Earth – 3.5 Stars


The Wider Earth

Jerwood Gallery, Natural History Museum

Reviewed – 12th October 2018


“Visually, the production is stunning from the moment you enter the space”


The Wider Earth is a new play by David Morton being performed in the Jerwood Gallery of the Natural History Museum, after a sell out run at the Sydney Opera House. It explores Darwin’s maiden journey on the HMS Beagle, where he began to form his theory of evolution. It follows him and the members of the crew on their journey across the world, Christian missionaries and scientists side by side.

Visually, the production is stunning from the moment you enter the space, it’s a shame it doesn’t keep to the same standard throughout the whole performance, the issue lying mainly in the fact that it merges different artistic styles, creating an almost amateur effect within the projections. Moments within the play, combined with the mismatched style of the projections, made me feel like I was in an exhibition at a museum, whether or not that was the desired effect, I have no idea. However it left me feeling displaced.

Occasionally the story becomes stilted, especially as the writer struggles to fit in the scientific explanation accurately into the story. It briefly touches on the more ‘unsavoury’ aspects of Darwin’s generation, although it needs to explore them deeper, rather than sugar coating slavery, even if the desired audience is for families and children. Morton, however, does a brilliant job of realising his play on the stage, naturally fitting comfortably in the role of director.

There were moments that were absolutely gorgeous, for example the supplies sequence which was beautifully timed and an absolute pleasure to watch. The puppets, created by Dead Puppet Society, were beautifully intricate, and brought each of the Beagle’s destinations to life. The whole cast worked fantastically as a team, all puppeteering several different animals, and providing each one with their own personality including a very personable iguana. Bradley Foster as Darwin was strong throughout and his interactions with puppets were utterly convincing.

Sound and lighting, were aspects of the production that at times seemed to overpower the very versatile and deceptively simple set. The music, by Lior and Tony Buchan, was beautiful, but excessive sometimes. The production, often, fell into the ‘too much’ category and could have been a lot more effective, by taking away a lot of the glitz and glamour.

Overall a beautifully directed play, about an important era in history. With its glorious cinematic score, and some stunning visuals, it brings to life a story that previously only existed in books and specimens.


Reviewed by Charlotte Hurford

Photography by Mark Douet


The Wider Earth

The Wider Earth

Jerwood Gallery, Natural History Museum until 30th December



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Review of Macbeeth – 3 Stars



Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 12th December 2017


“there was some reliance on background tomfoolery, which occasionally distracted from the plot”


Approaching one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays of all time is in itself a daunting prospect, but Red Squash Theatre have gone the extra mile to make their lives difficult; three actors take one hour to perform Macbeth and make it funny. The result is Macbeeth, a knowingly daft and irreverent take on a plot of witchcraft, betrayal and murder.

Despite the utter silliness, there are very few deviations from the original text, although, by necessity, it is highly and effectively condensed. The limitations of this challenge mode edition of a classic are tackled effectively and get a lot of the laughs; the actors have good fun with the constraints of playing multiple characters and lean on the fourth wall with a cordial grin. The gags are mostly hits and the performers, particularly Rory Fairbairn (who is credited to fourteen roles in this one production), are likeable and welcome the audience into their good-natured mayhem.

Unfortunately, the humour rarely derives from the text itself, and I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was watching a performance of the original tragedy with some gags thrown in. While the best jokes poked fun at the original play’s most well known soliloquies, many more were incidental and failed to feel at home against the original text; there was some reliance on background tomfoolery, which occasionally distracted from the plot, while the few sections that were played mostly straight felt out of place with them absent.

Nevertheless, Macbeeth responds to the core demands of the original play excellently and this was one of its delights. The murder of Duncan and the appearance of Banquo’s ghost in particular are handled in surprising and effective ways. Props are simple but used well and resonate with Red Squash Theatre’s minimalist approach, although at times the cardboard crowns and plastic daggers can run the risk of being naff.

Macbeeth is a breathless and gleefully childish romp that refuses to take Shakespeare too seriously. Its silliness, while throwaway, is often genuinely very funny, and the ambitious project of condensing five acts of Macbeth, without losing content, is realised successfully. However, Macbeeth suffers from the unfortunate, but predictable, consequence of trying to make a tragedy into a comedy with few editions to the original text; it doesn’t quite feel like one thing but doesn’t feel like the other, either.


Reviewed by Matthew Wild

Photography courtesy Red Squash Theatre




is at the Hen & Chickens Theatre until 16th December



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