Review: Down and Out in Paris and London by New Diorama Theatre / PIT

Down and Out in Paris and London, written and directed by NDT / PIT Artistic Director, David Byrne, fuses two books, written half a century apart. The first by George Orwell, which lends its title to the production, and the second, Hard Work by Polly Toynbee, a journalist and reporter for The Guardian, in which she researches minimum-wage, zero-hours contracts by living for several months as one of those reliant on them to survive.

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Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by the National Theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been on my must-see list of shows for quite a while, so when I found out it was going on tour, I happily headed out to the New Theatre in Oxford to cross it off the list.

Based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Mark Haddon, the show concerns autistic teenager, Christopher, whose mother died several years previously, and who lives on his own with his Dad. When a neighbour’s dog is murdered with a garden fork, the body left on the front lawn for all to see, Christopher sets out to act detective and find out who committed the heinous crime, becoming more and more determined as the world tries to convince him to leave well alone. What transpires when he finally discovers the perpetrator and motivation for the crime, changes his life forever.

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Review: Shooting with Light by Idle Motion

In the last few years, Idle Motion have been taking the world by storm with their particular brand of physical and visual storytelling, and their newest show, Shooting with Light, is the latest, and most mature, in their exceptional canon of work.

Shooting with Light began as a piece about photography, but came alive during the research period when the company uncovered the remarkable story of Gerda Taro, the pioneering war photographer who has been almost forgotten by history, largely because of her gender.

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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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Review: Kubrick3 by PIT

There are too few comedies on the small-scale scene these days, mainly because it is one of the most difficult genres to get right, but PIT are masters of it and Kubrick3 (tongue-twistingly pronounced ‘Kubrick cubed’) is the latest gem in their canon.

As PIT shows so often are, Kubrick3 is inspired by a true story – that of Alan Conway, described in the publicity as a “failed businessman and unsuccessful homosexual [who] decides his life might improve if he just tells people he’s award-winning film director Stanley Kubrick.” And from that premise comes a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride of hilarious proportions.

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Review: Rift Zone by Night Light Theatre

Night Light Theatre is a devising company and Rift Zone is their latest show, directed by Rich Rusk (Associate Director of Gecko), and based on the company’s experience during a trip to Iceland.

The set is the first thing that strikes you as you wait for the performance to begin, dominated by coloured light bulbs on pendants, some of which hang at different levels over the playing space, and some of which are tangled together to decorate a crude throne at the centre of the back wall. Music is playing, live, as you enter the space; strange, unearthly music which, as the lights go down, is swelled by three vocalists, trying-out sounds which, at first, present a cacophony of meaningless syllables, but which gradually come together to create harmony and the beginning of a narrative.  And this is a glimpse of the show to come.

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Review: Thebes, Hamlet and The Robbers by The Faction

The Faction are nothing if not ambitious, and it is their regular rep’ seasons at New Diorama which have raised their profile so extensively. Where else can you see three such diverse plays in one season by the same company, and thus get to know their work so well?

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Review: Rúa Aire by El Retrete de Dorian Gray

El Retrete de Dorian Gray (The Toilet of Dorian Gray) are a Spanish puppet company, brought to the UK as part of the Suspense Puppetry Festival, produced biennially by Little Angel Theatre. The company is two performers and puppeteers: Ezra Moreno and Marcos PTT Carballido, and their Artistic Policy (according to their website) is ‘We Do Things’ which, like their performance style, is refreshingly uncluttered with today’s artistic cliché.

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Review: The Heads by Blind Summit

THe HeadsThe Heads is a new piece of work by acclaimed puppet company, Blind Summit, and this was its first outing.  Although developed directly from a section of their previous work, The Table, The Heads is a departure from the narrative style and Blind Summit have to be applauded for taking risks and not sticking with a formula, especially one so successful.

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New Website

Having spent a number of years acting as a consultant for arts organisations, without ever deliberately seeking the work, I decided it was time to advertise my services.  I am deeply committed to ensuring the survival of creative industries,  in particular (but not limited to) theatre companies.  I have helped quite a few of those grow, or survive difficult times, and their continuance vindicates my work in a way that is profoundly satisfying. 

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