Friday, 20 November 2020
Philip Ridley continues to go above and beyond in providing Southwark Playhouse, production company Tramp and director Wiebke Green with replacement work for the cancelled Beast of Blue Yonder that was meant to play when the first lockdown came in. And while the venue was among the first out of the gates to get live audiences back in they were also comparatively prepared for things to go tits up again for Lockdown 2: Electric Fuckeroo: I was meant to be in Elephant & Castle in person tonight for Ridley's latest, The Poltergeist, but the limited run was always going to be live-streamed as well, and when the kybosh got put back on live audiences my ticket just got converted to an online one. A shame in the sense that seeing Joseph Potter's performance in an intimate space would no doubt have been an electric experience, but a lot of that power still comes through on screen.
Wednesday, 4 November 2020
Death of England was a hit in the National's Dorfman; a major part of the conflicted, grieving Michael's monologue revolved around his black best friend Delroy, and the way his father treated him. Like everyone else in that story, Delroy got an unfiltered taste of how Michael felt about him in an eventful, coke-fuelled eulogy, but he also ended up hooking up with his lifelong crush, Michael's sister Carly. Although the original monologue was powerful and self-contained, it did also effectively set up its unseen supporting cast of characters enough that Rufus Norris commissioned a companion piece soon after it opened. The resulting sequel/spin-off Death of England - Delroy hasn't had the best of luck - original star Giles Terera got appendicitis but his hand-picked understudy Michael Balogun has ably taken over; only for the NT's post-lockdown return to fall victim to Lockdown 2: Here We Go Again, meaning tonight's official opening is also its closing night (it was filmed so people who'd booked for a cancelled performance can be offered a digital alternative.)
Monday, 2 November 2020
With Crave I've now seen all of Sarah Kane's inevitably small canon of theatrical work; originally premiered under a pseudonym to avoid being judged on the playwright's notoriety, her penultimate play marks a shift of direction into a more abstract poetic style. It famously has no stage directions and the characters are lettered rather than named, leaving it up to the actors and director to find characters in the stream of words (by the time of her de facto suicide note 4:48 Psychosis, Kane had also dispensed with telling us which character says which line, or indeed how many characters there are.) It's a piece that defies an easy summary of what it's about, although like its successor it's built on despair - though rather than that wider existential horror this is more specifically rooted in having despaired of love. There's a failed relationship at the heart of Crave, an intense and highly sexual one and almost certainly abusive to some degree, although whether this is the voice of the abused or the abuser is as fluid as anything else here.