Fire and Phoenix

In this captivating drama, playwright Kate Glover has brought back the time and place, capturing not only the immensity of the event, but also the sometimes shocking human dramas it produced. Director Kenneth Michaels makes full use of the generous Bridewell Theatre stage, itself a victim of the fire back then. Unusually, the play consists of 22 short scenes, and while this does provide a framework for coverage of a wide number of issues, it does make the structure of the evening somewhat fragmented and stop start. However, (apart from a tendency in some to ‘ face front and play to the gallery’) the highly committed company overcome this with a dedication and relish for the meatiness of their roles and the unfolding story. Read more

Wild At Hear

The programme is a quartet of one-act plays seldom seen, dating from early in the playwright’s career, and is redolent of his preoccupation with the disintegration of hopes and dreams. The guillotine decends as the poor creatures finally face the shattering truth of their lives. Williams' masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, comes to mind particularly. In the ironically named At Liberty, and in Hello From Bertha, facets of the early life of Blanche du Bois from Streetcar can be witnessed. Read more

Chastity Belt

The show is packed with sensational scenes and naughty but very nice suggestion, but principally, it is the last word in brilliant, devastatingly daring acting, singing and mime, in the highest tradition of burlesque. If burlesque is defined as ‘a humorous and provocative stage show featuring slapstick humor, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts, and a scantily clad female chorus’, Chastity Belt is the most sublime burlesque show in this or any other town. Read more

Danger: Memory

Apparently an examination of a fading memory, plus alcohol (she) and a dropping off of professional skills (he), it was, in the end, none of this, merely a superficial recounting of the playwright’s words, with not a thought for any great depth. Arthur Miller did not become one of the giants of 20th century American drama by turning out shallow material. As a result, the supposed climax and highlight, the dance scene at the end, exemplified this. What could have been exquisite nostalgia was simply embarrassing. Read more

The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone

This is the second incarnation of The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone that I have seen. Previously, at its Edinburgh festival outing, it was Eddie on his own with his demons, and I was moved to write: ‘With flashes of brilliance, mixing comedy and pathos, and with his original and bitingly powerful writing, the redoubtable Chris Sullivan’s performance is his most memorable to date’. He has lost none of this winning emotional cocktail. This version of the play now features Shian Denovan, who plays his daughter, in a beautifully delivered and felt performance. Read more

Invitation To A Beheading

By Vladimir Nabokov Adapted and directed by Victor Sobchak Theatre Collection Baron’s Court Theatre 28a Comeragh Rd, London W149HR Call (0)20 8932 4747 Tickets £10 - £12 Wed - Sat 7.30pm Sun 6.30pm Running time 2 hrs with intermission Through April 24 2016 Trust Me, I’m An Executioner  *** This sparkling play derives from the book of the same name, by Vladimir Nabokov. It has provoked much analysis and much comparison with Kafka, whom he never read. Written in Nazi Germany and published in 1938, with the war around the corner, it does not seem such a mystery to find some poor sod banged up and awaiting execution for having nothing more than impure thoughts, or ‘gnostic turpitude’ as he called it. For the piece to work, the audience should be bewildered as to why he is being given the treatment a cat gives a mouse. And so I was. As  Cincinnatus, in the standout performance of the evening, Garry Voss earns his star billing handsomely. His depths and his hopes, his bewilderment and his frustrations told of his total immersion in the absurd cruelty of Nabokov’s  imagination. An impressive and magnetic performance. Distilling the author’s brilliance in his adaptation, and injecting this cocktail of the theatre of the absurd and theatre of cruelty into his cast, adaptor/director Victor Sobchak has  produced a ‘style’, perhaps intended to show, in each characterisation of the large cast, the surreal artificiality of the prisoner’s ‘friends’. Some effort has been spent on costume and the impressive sound, and maximum use is made of the most unusual layout of this three sided stage. This company continues to provide the London fringe with some of the most interesting drama ever written.   Recommended Saul Reichlin www.chicagocritic.com www.remotegoat.com… Read more

LOLITA

by Vladimir Nabokov Adapted by Victor Sobchak Theatre Collection directed by Victor Sobchak and Chris Diacopoulos at Baron’s Court Theatre, 28a Comeragh Rd London W14 9HR Call 00 44 (0) 208 932 4747 April 9,16, 23 at 3pm April 11, 12, 18, 19 at 7.30pm Running time 2 hours with intermission This won’t hurt, darling. Promise! Vladimir Nabokov’s sensational 1955 novel arrived at The Rabbit Hole Theatre, Hampstead via an excellent adaptation by Director Victor Sobchak. The first season of Theatre Collection’s residency at this intimate North London venue is well launched with one of their most popular productions, which will transfer to The Baron Court Theatre, from April 9th. In the past, other versions of this story, notably Stanley Kubrik’s 1962 film, the age of the young girl and the emphasis on just how perverse Humbert is in his obsession with the ‘nymphet’ Charlotte (Lolita) is adjusted according to the permissions of censors, and the mores of the time. In this highly original version of the story, the young girl goes to great lengths to flaunt her charms at the lodger, Humbert, who also provides a target for the girl’s mother (a man-eating performance by Chloe Fontaine). In Sobchak’s adaptation, the fresh and modern feel is enhanced by the appearance by none other than Vladimir Nabokov himself, a constant alter ego, tormentor, and co-accused in their alternating appearances at a trial in which the audience are cast as jurors. A fuller exploration of this conceipt might have heightened tension even further than it did. In the title role, Katie Joyce travels a rich path, from the daring young tease, to the manipulating, but vulnerable sexual adventuress, to the woman of depth and sadness, in an utterly believable and compelling performance. Mark Aldridge as Humbert presents a seemingly confused, weak, but driven man, unable to resist the girl. Sassy Clyde provided a marvellous characterisation as the drunken vamp, Constance. In this day and age, when trials of men who have abused and molested children are a regular news item, this is a tricky plot to traverse, but the treatment in this constantly absorbing production is theatrically superbly handled. An evening of quality drama. Highly recommended. Saul Reichlin… Read more

King Lear at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

With the exception of the extraordinary staging of one of the most memorable ever speeches, Lear's 'Blow wind and crack your cheeks..' being shouted by him with his back to the audience, the production's modern dress style was filled with engaging movement and visually skillful staging. The attention never wavered, even though it was like watching a foreign language play at times.This reviewer was seated at the extreme right of the thrust stage. Perhaps because of this, most of the language was unintelligible, with actors facing away. Added to this this was the indistinct delivery of the text, with actors allowed, or directed, to speak with great speed, as they would a Mamet text, often with poor enunciation and vocal projection. Read more