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: 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: 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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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: 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: 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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Review: Fiesco by The Faction

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The Faction produce a heady mix of classic, text-based, physical theatre which is a joy to witness.  They are dedicated to producing the complete works of Schiller, but also include other classics in their repertoire, such as Chekov, Lorca, Shakespeare and Strindberg, to name but a few.  But it was Schiller who drew me to the New Diorama Theatre on a cold January evening.  Last year I was privileged to see The Faction’s Mary Stuart, and I had high expectations of this latest production.  I was not disappointed.

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Vision and passion

I am consistently amazed at the meteoric rise of the New Diorama Theatre.  The building opened just over a year ago and has already made a name for itself as THE place in London to see exciting new work.  Much of this is down to the vision and ambition of its team, led by Artistic and Executive Director David Byrne.  It also helps if you have a brand new venue in the heart of Euston, just two minutes walk from seven different tube lines.  Nevertheless, there are plenty of fringe venues in London with a good location which haven’t achieved in decades what the New Diorama has achieved in less than two years.

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