Short Review: The Changeling (Young Vic, February 18th 2012)

The Changeling is one of my favourite plays. This is a modern version that plays up the surrealism in the play.  One of the highlights was the wedding scene, which was brilliantly played.  Food became sexy, but it also became the blood. The play is about sex and madness and this production drew on these themes.  it was never clear who was really mad, who was pretending to be made and indeed what madness was.

One of my thoughts was that he layout of the theatre was a little strange. I was lucky to have got a good seat on the front row of the circle, but this was hit and miss.  I think several people had blind spots.

The Changeling returns to the Young Vic in Autumn

Written on the Heart (The Swan Theatre)

Written on the Heart is a fantastic glimpse at an interesting period of history. There are some really engaging performances particularly from Oliver Ford Davies as Lancelot Andrews and Stephen Boxer as William Tyndale. The play explores the creation of the King James Bible and focuses on a group set up to compile it. Alongside wrangles over wording, the politics of the project are dramatised. Some of the most interesting parts are the references back to previous translations. There are some really engaging moments when characters debate over words and phrasing. At one point there’s a debate about whether ‘Thy faith has saved me rather than they faith has healed thee,’ is correct.

Written on the Heart presents a clear sense of moving forward. There’s a wider society at view, but at the same time, the play presents Andrews’ story and there is a focus how he tries to confront his past. The use of flashbacks work really well and there is a sense of a structure in the play that takes you through the events. My one criticism was that I found the play a little too long, but I learnt a lot, and enjoyed the exploration of detail which the play drew attention to. It felt very satisfying to have to listen carefully and that language was a major feature of the production.

Short Review: The Winter's Tale (Propeller, Sheffield Lyceum, 4th February 2012)

Thinking back to this production, I have a memory of sand, snow, models, and a rather sinister Mamillius (Ben Allen), who doubles as Perdita in the second half.

What I find fascinating about Propeller’s work is that I am always aware that this is men playing women’s parts.  There is never an attempt to pretend to look like women, but at times the effect is to give a fresh perspective on the issues.  In casting the most masculine man in the company, it brings a very different perspective on Paulina (Vince Leigh).  Propeller has a habit of being brilliant at portraying characters and then being able to give the sense of being anonymous.  In this production, the company were able to turn themselves into sheep with great effect.

My colleague, Saffron, has written about this production here: