Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 Quarter 2 Reviews - 5/13

005 Contemporary Drama – New

I resisted listening to lament by stage playwright debbie tucker green as I wasn’t sure I would like it.  I was very pleasantly surprised and thought it was a great piece of drama. It only consisted of four or five scenes, and in a sense you could tell it was written by a stage playwright; there was no specific appeal to the radiophonic senses.  Nevertheless, as a drama, it was good.  In the first scene, the Man (Paterson Joseph) and the Woman (Nadie Marshall) were meeting years after they broke up.  The Woman is extremely guarded and resentful, and the Man is still interested in her.  The second scene takes place a few weeks before, when the Man tries to take his ailing mother (Cecilia Noble) to the same restaurant he will eventually take the Woman to.  In this scene, we realize that the Man is devoting his whole life, without much rancour, to helping his wheelchair-bound mother, who, in the epitome of a strong Afro-Caribbean mother, is finding her lack of independence hard to take.  In the next scene, the Woman is at home with her husband (Lucien Asmati), an arrogant SOB who declines to help her at all with their young child.  It’s a powerful example of immersive dialogue and character. It was directed by Mary Peate.

I was really moved by Mark Lawson’s latest play, Holy Father. Set in 2020 and directed by Eoin O’Callaghan, it posits the moment a new pope is being elected.  The front-runners are an English cardinal (Nick Dunning) and a cardinal from Madagascar (the always excellent Jude Akuwudike).  They fundamentally disagree on the direction the Church should go:  the English cardinal was originally a City banker and has been secretly giving communion to the divorced, the gay, and women who have had abortions (he confesses to a fellow priest in a great scene).  Furthermore, he says he is responsible for a woman having an abortion in that before he became a priest he was in a relationship with a woman who got pregnant.  The reason she decided to have the abortion was because he entered the priesthood.  Nevertheless, he refuses to back down when the African cardinal wants to cut a deal so that he can be ready—à la, it is alleged, that “the Argentinean” refused to take the mantle in 2005 until the world was ready. At the same time, he ends up meeting his daughter—the woman did not, after all, have the abortion. Highly recommended. It also starred Lizanne Macloughlan, Scarlet Brookes, Patrick Fitzsymons, and Pad Laffan.

What I’ll take away from Pandora was the shocking moment when I was crossing the road in front of St George the Martyr Church in Borough High Street (completely safely, I might add) while in the drama, Pandora ran in front of a car and got into an accident.  Written by and starring Caroline Horton, this was a well-written and well-acted drama with good musical bookends.  Pandora, for no apparent reason, tried to kill herself.  Her partner Tom (Martin Bohmer) tries to help, but he can’t seem to get through to her.  They live in Paris, and Pandora starts spiralling into reckless behavior; the more Tom tries to help, the more irresponsible she gets and is aided and abetted, up to a point, by their Dutch friend Bert (Trolls Haenffensson).  In the end, Pandora has to get away from Paris and her life with Tom in order to heal, and it’s never explained what exactly is the source of her depression. It was well-made and emotionally engaging. It was directed by James Robinson.

The Rage was one of those plays I was almost going to delete without listening to it, but I’m glad I didn’t.  Perhaps the tried-and-true device of interior monologue from the main character didn’t break any new ground in terms of technique; nevertheless, the main character, Anthony, was sympathetic and very well-played by Theo Barklem-Biggs (who did sound like a teenager, whereas Danusia Samal, who played Becky, sounded older).  Anthony is a typical teenager, wanting to make a good impression on his girlfriend Becky; he has a good relationship with his slightly dysfunctional mother, but his parents are not on speaking terms.  His dad (Lee Ross) tells him that his condition of rage is genetic and can only be cured by becoming a hermetically-sealed misanthrope.  Anthony doesn’t want to believe him, but kids at his new school find out that he put a girl in the hospital at his last school when he was goaded into enraged violence. It was written by Clare Lizzimore and directed by Jonquil Panting.    

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