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: Fake It ‘Til You Make It by Bryony Kimmings

Bryony Kimmings makes work about things that are personal to her, and things that make her angry. In her latest show, that’s male depression. More specifically, why men don’t seek help in dealing with their depression, resulting in a frighteningly high suicide rate amongst that gender. And why is it personal to her? Because, six months into her relationship with her fiancé and father of her unborn son, Tim Grayburn, she found that he had been hiding severe depression from her, and from the world, for ten years.

Typical of Kimmings, instead of screaming ‘betrayal’ and running away, she confronted the situation with her usual sensitivity and understanding, and set to work to do something about it. The result: Tim left his highly-paid job as an advertising executive to collaborate with her in making a show documenting the way in which his depression affected their relationship, learned to play the guitar (not very well, but that’s part of the charm of the piece), and joined her on stage to tour the show around the world for a year.

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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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Review: Push and Citizen Puppet by final year students at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

There isn’t much to link these two pieces, other than that they are showcases for students graduating from Central. Push, directed by Catherine Alexander and Grainne Byrne is a devised piece based on the novel of the same name by Sapphire. Citizen Puppet is also devised, in collaboration with acclaimed puppet company Blind Summit, and is a whimsical piece of (allegedly) verbatim theatre centring around the events of a well-known fairy-tale.

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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: 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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Review: A Dashing Fellow by Belka Productions

Belka Productions is dedicated to presenting rare Russian and European texts, and it was therefore fitting that my first encounter with their work was a fusion of both – an adaptation of three stories by Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian emigré who lived for a while in West Germany. The play is a strange Russo-German amalgamation: evoking Isherwood‘s Berlin, as interpreted by Ebb and Fosse, and combining the detachment of Brecht with the lack of moral finality of Chekov, which would leave you unsatisfied were it not for the perfidious, yet magnetic central character.

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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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