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: Blue Remembered Hills by New Rep Theatre

This is the first production I’ve seen by New Rep Theatre, which was founded four years ago by Mari Cameron and Cecilia Colby, and the play itself is a particular favourite of mine, although I have never seen it on the stage, despite being the proud owner of a copy of the original television version. So it was with great interest that I sat expectantly in the audience at the New Diorama, waiting for the show to begin.

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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: Where the White Stops by Antler Theatre

Antler Theatre is a new, young company, founded only last year (2012) by a group of students who met at East 15, under the mentorship of their tutor, Uri Roodner. In this way, they follow in the fine tradition of companies such as Trestle and Idle Motion, and their work certainly lives up to that legacy.

Where the White Stops, Antler’s latest show, is the story of Crab, a young girl who dares to step outside the boundaries of her village in the far north, and chance the wrath of the Beast who roams ‘the white’, to search for something else. On her way she meets Carpenters and Kings, makes friends and foes, and battles through cold and blizzards to find the elusive place where the white stops.

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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: Like Enemies of the State by BeFrank Theatre

The latest show by BeFrank, who define themselves as an international theatre company, is Like Enemies of the State – a journey into the world of child-soldiers based on Writer / Director Tommy Lexen‘s research and experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Much of the text is taken from interviews with former child soldiers, as well as with villagers, representatives of NGOs, the UN and the Congolese Government and, as such, is mainly verbatim theatre, with some dramatisation to break the narrative. Performed in the round, with a cast of four, it places the audience uncomfortably close to the action, and within the squallor and privation of the setting, which only serves to enhance the message it clearly wants to convey.

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Review: Dissolve by Awkward City

DissolveDissolve by Awkward City is a non-narrative glimpse into the world of memory loss. I usually find it difficult to connect with shows which don’t have a strong storyline, but in this case it was entirely appropriate.

Olivia is a young woman who has lost several years of her life and is struggling to reconnect with herself and the world. The show draws the audience into her struggle, by presenting a series of dissociated fragments of her incomplete memory … we strive to connect them, to build up a picture of who this person is, but the ‘now’ of her identity as a fractured mind is more pervasive than the ‘then’ of her personality, built on forgotten experiences.

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Review: A Strange Wild Song by Rhum and Clay

A Strange Wild Song stillRhum and Clay are a young company who have only been going a couple of years but they have already come to the attention of Arts Council England, as well as other notable organisations who are always on the lookout for exciting new talent to partner with, such as the New Diorama Theatre, the Bike Shed and the Watermill. If A Strange Wild Song is anything to go by, it’s hardly surprising that Rhum and Clay have much more established organisations queueing up to work with them, as they are a hugely talented group of actors with a real flair for storytelling.

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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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