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“The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland”

at Shoreditch Town Hall, Wednesday 12th March 2014

The concept for Ridiculusmus’ The Eradication of Schizophrenia In Western Lapland is one of the most intelligent yet simple ideas to hit our stages this year. The basic premise is that, in an attempt to understand and represent the condition and treatment of schizophrenia, two separate-but-linked plays are put on stage simultaneously, their sets back-to-back so that the audience, split in two on either side of the room, can only see one scene played out proper as they hear mumblings and snippets from the other. It’s an ambitious, brilliant arrangement, but somehow it never quite pays off; you get the sense that there’s a whole new form here ready to be explored, but that the company haven’t yet succeeded in making it work.

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“The Body Of An American” by Dan O’Brien

at the Royal and Derngate, Tuesday 4th March 2014

As we step into the low, claustrophobic bunker which houses The Body Of An American and separates us from the rest of the world, we’re greeted with a message projected onto either end of the long space. It’s the kind of message you get at the beginning of a documentary or a verbatim play, reading: “Every word, photograph or video included in this production was spoken, heard, written, taken or filmed by Dan O’Brien or Paul Watson between 1993 and 2014″. At first, this might seem like a relatively simple and obvious thing to say; after all, this play is based on genuine conversations and discusses real-life events, so it makes sense to mention this in order to signify the play’s veracity. Continue reading

Heather Christian as Miss Atomic photo by Rachel Chavkin

Interview: Heather Christian

*Originally written for Exeunt*

It’s difficult to find the adjectives to describe Heather Christian’s extraordinary voice. “Like an emphysemic angel,” some have said. Others prefer describing it as “a crazed rubber band”.Variety suggested that “Christian howls like a werewolf with a voice made of molasses”. Whatever your preferred descriptor, it’s impossible for anyone with ears to deny that this songstress owns a voice of staggering quality. Her varied and extensive CV as a songwriter for her group The Arbornauts and as a theatre-composer is therefore unsurprising. In the UK, she’s perhaps best known for her work as Miss Atomic in The TEAM’s Mission Drift, which took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm in 2011 and triumphed at the National Theatre’s Shed last summer. Her “big European adventure” this year is of a similarly American flavour, as she takes on the challenge of playing Curley’s Wife in and composing the music for West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

Due to the book’s status as a set-text in American schools, Christian was highly familiar with it before she began work, though she admits she finds it “very difficult to get through”. Continue reading

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nabokov Arts Club

*Originally written for Exeunt*

At your average club, you’re lucky enough to get a choice of which room to dance in, let alone which art form you want to watch. At any one time at nabovok Arts Club, however, there are plenty of decisions to make about which activity you’d like to undergo, from short plays to spoken word to twenty-first century ska. It’s like theatrical bricolage, coming together to create a mad, dizzy night which lights up the Waterloo Vaults in a way only an arty club night in central London can.

The various rooms at the Vaults have been taken over by a variety of acts. Here’s Luke Barnes’ touching and terrifyingly honest new play about twenty-something love. Continue reading

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“Each Of Us” by Ben Moor

at Tristan Bates Theatre, Monday 3rd March 2014

Mitterrand once suggested that “Mourning for others is a way of mourning for yourself. Those who die take away a part of you.” This idea is at the heart of Ben Moor’s Each Of Us, a solo show which considers the ways in which we connect to and borrow from those around us to make up what we consider to be our ‘identity’. It’s simple structure, following one man’s encounters with various people, ideas and memories throughout his life, is hugely endearing, but somehow the whole piece fails to get off the ground, remaining in a comfortable third gear with few dramatic shifts.

Moor’s monologue follows the contours and routines of daily life, deviating with interesting stories and thoughts before considering how we may measure of quantify the important moments along the way, our “treasures”. Continue reading

Secret Cinema - GBH - Photo by Laura Little [8]

Secret Cinema: The Grand Budapest Hotel

*Originally written for Exeunt*

In the space of about seven years, Secret Cinema and its affiliates have taken on a sort of mythical status in the capital. Everyone knows they exist but you come across very few people who have actually attended an event. They are always just out of reach, and a run is over before you get a chance to jump on the bandwagon, murkily slipping into transience. Similarly, you tend not to be bothered in any way unless it’s a film you know and love; why would you want to ‘immerse’ yourself in an environment about which you know next to nothing? Why would you fork out fifty quid for a ticket to a film you have no idea will be any good? Why would you fork out that money to see even your favourite film, for that matter, when you could spend it on drinks and snacks to entice friends to come over so you can watch it in the comfort of your own home?

I didn’t know any of the answers to those questions before visiting The Grand Budapest Hotel. I am still none the wiser. Continue reading

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“Karaoke”

at Battersea Arts Centre, Monday 24th February 2014

Karaoke is a strange, strange concept. Try explaining it to an alien: “Well, you go to a bar full of strangers and get up to sing a song you probably know really well but they put the words and instructions on the screen anyway”. Weird, right? It’s an odd, but peculiarly pervasive phenomenon, exacerbated (I imagine) by TV talent shows and sing-a-long video games, allowing everyone their two-hundred-and-fifteen second of fame as they (badly) sing lyrics to a synthy backing track. In Karaoke, Sleepwalk Collective take this idea and project it onto a theatrical setting, asking what a ‘play’ may look like if performed by people reading off a screen and rigidly following its instructions.

The first fifteen minutes are predictable enough; Continue reading

Writer and Theatre-Maker

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