Tag Archives: William Reynolds

The Process

The Process

★★★★★

The Bunker

The Process

The Process

The Bunker

Reviewed – 18th January 2020

★★★★★

 

“a haunting wake-up call to a society already trapped in a nightmare of its own creation”

 

Language, communication, understanding, conformity, politics, brutal bureaucracy, deafness and the future of a nation are the unlikely bedfellows in a scorching new drama at the Bunker Theatre.

Sarah Bedi’s powerful The Process hits its targets again and again, leaves the audience on the edge of their seats, and may even send them out weeping.

The artistic twist of this piece, which Bedi also directs with flair, is that it is presented in spoken English and British Sign Language. It is a clever device because it means that, but for a very small number in the audience, there are chunks of the play that will not be comprehended fully.

It may be a cliché to describe any drama set in a future dystopian society as resembling the TV series Black Mirror, but in this case it only scratches the surface of a thriller that will evoke shock, anger and even uncomfortable laughter.

From the outset we are told via a bleak projection that some will understand some things, some will understand different things and nobody will understand everything – that is how it is meant to be. What follows is a striking and often scary representation of a society that has become too clever for its own good, rating anyone not fitting in to a precise mould as troublesome or beneath respect.

The central characters in The Process are D/deaf but as a horrifying double climax makes clear it’s as much about the foreigner, the homeless, the poor, the uneducated, the disabled – in fact anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into a preconceived and comfortable package.

The scenario is “the day after tomorrow” with strong hints of a post-Brexit apocalypse. Tech wizard Jo (a blistering and robust performance from Jean St Clair) has created a cost efficiency app which monitors one’s value in society. Contribute too little for the benefit of those around you and you become a Null, a worthless member of the community destined to be locked away and forgotten.

The entrepreneur rapidly finds her personal life and that of those close to her spiralling downwards, with attempts to be heard and understood heartlessly ignored and her own invention turned against her.

This is a strong ensemble piece with all the other actors variously compelling in several roles. William Grint, Catherine Bailey, Ralph Bogard, George Eggay and Erin Siobhan Hutching find humour and subtle shades as the tension builds.

The set, an austere backdrop of impersonal and foreboding cells by Mayou Trikerioti, is cold and unyielding. The discompassionate picture is helped by the hums and throbs of a constant rich soundscape (Oliver Vibrans) and noteworthy lighting/video (William Reynolds).

This fourth full length project from BAZ Productions is not without its flaws – there are moments when the action cracks on a shade too rapidly at the expense of coherence and sometimes belief has to be suspended beyond normal bounds of acceptability – but the gritty credibility and the bold audacity in writing, directing and performances quickly outweighs them.

The Process is uncompromising in its dark message. It is the sort of timely and quality experimental production that makes you desperate for the Bunker to stay open and keep tackling such important issues through drama rather than having to close in the Spring for site redevelopment.

It offers a haunting wake-up call to a society already trapped in a nightmare of its own creation. If we fail to communicate with or attempt to listen to each other then this imagined stark future can only become a grim reality.

We don’t need to understand everything to respond and this stimulating and visionary production could be the first step in mending civilisation.

 

Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Paul Biver

 


The Process

The Bunker until 1st February

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019
Before I Was A Bear | ★★★★★ | November 2019
I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half) | ★★★★ | November 2019
My White Best Friend And Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid | ★★★★ | November 2019
The Girl With Glitter in Her Eye | ★★½ | January 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Pictures of Dorian Gray – D
★★

Jermyn Street Theatre

Pictures of Dorian Gray - D

Pictures of Dorian Gray – D

Jermyn Street Theatre

Reviewed – 12th June 2019

★★

 

“this Dorian-meets-Dracula interpretation has left the story drained of its lifeblood”

 

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray – about the beautiful young man whose portrait grows old and marred over the years, while he remains a picture of innocent youth – is famous enough to be familiar even if you haven’t read it. The novel doesn’t lend itself well to the stage, and it’s an ambitious choice for an adaptation. Unfortunately, Tom Littler and Lucy Shaw’s one-note show doesn’t capture the complexity of Wilde’s writing.

Directed by Littler and adapted by Shaw, Pictures of Dorian Gray is titled in the plural to reflect its twist: the cast rotates through four different performances (‘Pictures’), gender swapping Dorian (Stanton Wright or Helen Reuben), Wotton (Richard Keightley or Augustina Seymour), Basil (Rueben or Wright), and Sibyl Vane (Seymour or Keightley).

The performances are strong all around – Reuben (Picture D) stands out for her portrayal of Dorian’s gradually souring innocence. However, the characters, and the intrigue around their gender-swapped dynamics, are drowned by Littler and Shaw’s heavily stylised presentation, which focuses solely on the darkness in Wilde’s story at the expense of all other elements. The aesthetic is gothic horror. The set is a sparse, black room with stark hanging lights and gothic mirrors (William Reynolds). The costumes are Victorian-influenced black robes (Emily Stuart). Disappointingly, this Dorian-meets-Dracula interpretation has left the story drained of its lifeblood. I found myself regularly reaching back to the novel for its colour and humour to contrast the hollow, unvarying bleakness of the production.

The characters who aren’t in scene slowly pace the edges of the stage, interspersing the dialogue with monotone prose from the novel, or blankly chanting scrambled, dissociated quotes. The constant repetition of echoing words – “Books. Mirror. Realism. Art. Art. Art.” – is grating and meaningless. The effect is a joyless, alienating tone. A few half-hearted chuckles from a handful of audience members survive the cleansing, but mostly the production dispenses with what is entertaining and engaging in favour of being confrontationally cold. Wilde would be the last person to take himself as seriously as this show wants to.

There’s plenty of darkness in Wilde’s works, but it’s insidious. In his plays, he slips his criticism into the comedy like razors. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, it takes a while to realise it’s a horror story. His writing lures you in with its warmth and humour, pretty dresses and lovely gardens. He’s still making light, witty jokes in the final chapters. Wilde is never straightforward. He’s very funny when he’s serious, and sincerity is his way of being playful. Littler and Shaw have missed this entirely.

In its attempt to stuff the story into a simplistic, one-note horror box, Pictures of Dorian Gray has stripped away the humour, the subtlety, the contradictions, all of Wilde’s colours, and left only black. It’s necessary to remember the original Dorian Gray is hugely enjoyable, even if Littler and Shaw want to argue it isn’t.

 

Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by  S R Taylor

 


Pictures of Dorian Gray – D

Jermyn Street Theatre until 6th July

The cast switch roles at different performances, giving you a choice of four versions:  A – Male Dorian with male Wotton, B – Male Dorian with female Wotton, C – Female Dorian with male Wotton and D – Female Dorian with female Wotton. See Jermyn Street Theatre website for dates each version is performed.

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Tomorrow at Noon | ★★★★ | May 2018
Stitchers | ★★★½ | June 2018
The Play About my Dad | ★★★★ | June 2018
Hymn to Love | ★★★ | July 2018
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | November 2018
Original Death Rabbit | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Agnes Colander: An Attempt At Life | ★★★★ | February 2019
Mary’s Babies | ★★★ | March 2019
Creditors | ★★★★ | April 2019
Miss Julie | ★★★ | April 2019

 

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