Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley by The Faction

The Talented Mr. Ripley is something of a departure for The Faction, being more modern than their usual source material, and also an adaptation, by Faction Artistic Director Mark Leipacher, of a novel by Patricia Highsmith. But the choice of subject is not the only departure for this New Diorama Associate Company. One is used to seeing The Faction perform on a bare stage, but in this production the space is dominated by a raised square platform, painted white and filling the black box space, with only a small corridor around the outside and a square pit in the centre. Gone, too, is The Faction’s fluid, shifting ensemble – the whole weight of this production rests heavily on the shoulders of Christopher Hughes, who plays the creepily obsessive Ripley.

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Review: Borges and I by Idle Motion

This is the second time I have seen Borges and I, but it definitely bears seeing twice! The beauty and fluidity of the physical language perfectly enhances the interwoven stories of Spanish poet and writer Jorge Luis Borges, told through the eyes of Alice, and her book-group friend, Sophie, who finds romance just as tragedy strikes.

The parallels of the two lives, both blighted by the onset of blindness are told through narrative and metaphor, and every visual image is created with books. The tiger, which Borges admired above all other animals, and which features again in Sophie’s favourite childhood book, is illustrated with flicking pages. Books become butterflies, cityscapes, aeroplanes and dominoes; pages flutter down like rain, and we literally see the images contained within the words and feel the power of literature in a way that no other play has ever achieved.

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Review: One Man, Two Guvnors by The National Theatre

I have wanted to see this show ever since it first began to create a buzz, and the perfect opportunity presented itself when it came to my local theatre, the Wycombe Swan, this week. I was, however, a little worried that my expectations were so high that the show would never live up to them.

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Review: Mother Goose by Hackney Empire Theatre

I love panto. I know that may not be a culturally-correct view, but I stand by how I feel. Due, in part, to an appreciation of commedia dell’arte, from which it is descended, but also for a very happy decade as a DSM, where calling panto is the most fun, and frantic time of the year, despite having to do three shows on Boxing Day. So it was with great anticipation that I went to Hackney Empire to see their latest festive offering Mother Goose.

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Review: He Had Hairy Hands by Kill The Beast

He Had Hairy Hands is billed as ‘a brand new tale of supernatural slaughter’ and the show is a manic whirlwind of fast-paced physical comedy, hilarious one-liners and stunning animations. It takes as its setting the sleepy village of Hemlock-Under-Lye, whose legend of a benign werewolf suddenly takes a turn for the macabre when the bodies of well-loved residents are found, disembowelled and mutilated, resulting in a storm of hommages to Victorian melodrama, Hammer horror and classic detective films, raining down upon the audience at a furious pace.

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Review: 64 Squares by Rhum and Clay

64-squares2Rhum and Clay have been one of my favourite companies ever since I saw the amazing A Strange Wild Song a year and a half ago. Formed at the world-famous l’Ecole Internationale Jacques LeCoq by three students before they graduated, Rhum and Clay are supremely talented storytellers with a sense of the theatrical which employs any and every device possible to sweep its audience along with the story.

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Review: Rudy’s Rare Records by Hackney Empire and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Rudys-recordsThis co-production by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Hackney Empire ought to be a sure-fire success, written by Danny Robins, who penned the popular Radio 4 comedy series of the same name, and starring the talented Lenny Henry. Sadly, however, it was the most disappointing piece of theatre I have seen in a very long time.

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Review: Reptember by The Faction

ReptemberThis year, The Faction have departed from their usual Spring repertory season of large-scale ensemble plays, to produce an extra series, or rather three series, of short, one-person performances, adapted from original classics. On 16th September, I saw one of those sets: The Man with the Flower in his Mouth by Luigi Pirandello, Medea, adapted by Emily Juniper from Euripedes and Metamorphosis, by Faction-regular Gareth Jandrell, from the original Kafka.

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Review: Sex Idiot by Bryony Kimmings

Sex Idiot was first created four years ago and, before the performance, Bryony was at pains to remind me that it is part of her earlier canon of work which has matured significantly since then. But I am in haste to make up for lost time and Bryony’s work has been on my ‘must-see-but-haven’t-managed-to-yet’ list for too long, so it seemed fitting that I started with the earlier stuff and can work my way forward from here.

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An open letter to all non-NPOs: sometimes it pays not to be funded

David Byrne of the New Diorama Theatre, wrote an open letter in response to the latest NPO funding round. It’s one of the most positive, refreshing and exciting letters I have ever seen about arts funding, and I think it’s worth preserving for posterity. The letter was published in The Guardian, but here is the text in full:


Watching the Arts Council’s funding announcements, celebrations and commiserations fizz on my Twitter timeline last week, I was reminded of a panel I sat on just a year ago. I was next to an artistic director of a very well-subsidised London theatre who said the line that I’d heard many times before: “If our NPO grant, our Arts Council subsidy, gets cut, salami sliced any further, we will no longer be able to afford to take risks.”

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