Lost Souls by Loosely Based Theatre.

The latest work by Jayne Woodhouse comprises of five monologues performed in the compilation of Lost Souls produced by loosely Based Theatre. Each of the five characters may be recognised from our everyday life as they battle with their own addictions, mental health problems and difficulties that life in general creates.

David House gives a moving performance in Beautiful talking about his relationship with the dog he bought home from a man in the pub. Bella his faithful dog meant everything to him. Yet his struggle with alcoholism finds him separated from her. After his wife has thrown him out of the house.

Home Comforts takes place as a one-sided conversation performed by Rosannah Lenaghan as the Mother. With her daughter returning home and suffering from mental health problems she desperately tries to do what many parents like to achieve which is to help her get better. However the harder she tries the worse the situation becomes.

Neil Gardner in Eddie’s Encounter is rather an unusually short play. Throughout the entire performance, there is no doubt that drugs and illegal events have led to Eddie being visited by the man on the other side of the camera.

Chains tackle the impact of domestic abuse on friendships and outside relationships. Kayley Rainton plays the victim meeting up with a friend for a quick drink and catches up. Constant interruptions from her boyfriend quickly unravel the scale of abuse and control he holds over her. This subject is never an easy one to watch yet with the rise in domestic violence cases it’s definitely a subject that should be openly discussed more to raise awareness. Teaching people to understand what the signs of abuse are.

Woebot performed and directed by Calum Robshaw is an extremely thought-provoking conversation between Robshaw’s character Alex and his “Alexa” style woebot called Joy (Carmen Ali). The recent break up between Alex and his now ex-girlfriend appears to be a straightforward split. Without giving away too much of the plot I strongly suggest watching this production on YouTube and discover the truth for yourself.

The challenges for performing and filming during the lockdown has meant creatives need to find other ways to make these kinds of productions. Watching this series of short plays is a huge credit to all the actors and creative team at Loosley Based Theatre.

Each of the five monologues tackles a different situation. There are a couple that seems to be slightly far fetched but in an ever-changing world, this could perhaps one day be closer to reality than we would be comfortable with. My overall favourite short play was Beautiful the rich dialogue combined with House’s moving performance stood out to me, the conviction in his performance is definitely worth taking the time to watch.

Four Stars.

TITLES AND CAST

1. Beautiful. Written by Jayne Woodhouse. Performed by David House. Directed by Calum Robshaw. Edited by Matt Shears.

2. Home Comforts. Written by Jayne Woodhouse. Performed by Rosannah Lenaghan. Directed by Calum Robshaw.

3. Eddie’s Encounter. Written by Jayne Woodhouse. Eddie Neil Gardner. Camera Rachelle Grubb. Directed by Calum Robshaw.

4. Chains. Written by Jayne Woodhouse. Performed by Kayley Rainton. Directed by Calum Robshaw.

5. Woebot. Written by Jayne Woodhouse. Joy Carmen Ali. Alex Calum Robshaw. Directed by Calum Robshaw.

All of these are available to watch on the YouTube link below. https://t.co/C0Llz1netB

Loosely Based Theatre Company

Within by Threedumb Theatre.

Threedumb Theatre’s latest production Within by Joseph Furey watches a disillusioned and disappointed 23-year-old Joe performed by Stephen Smith in his search to find the age-old answers to “the meaning of life” as he attempts to be “happy.”

Joe decides to download what he believes to be a presumably free app which promises to answer this age-old question. Introduced to S.U.E the relationship develops at an alarming pace and you watch as Joe becomes consumed by “it”. Can it really be this easy to find the answer?

Within is filmed inside a small self-contained holiday let style flat which heightens Joe’s sense of isolation and entrapment in a world where he has found himself stuck in a monotonous rut.

Filming and special effects during lockdown are challenging for many productions. Yet Threedumb Theatre proves that this can be achieved using smaller scaled filming techniques. Their use of green neon lighting changes the atmosphere incredibly well adding a very sinister tone as the direction of the narrative changes.

While the world becomes more dependent on technology and online apps Within offers a macabre view on how easily people can be brainwashed when they are in the search of answers that sometimes are best left unanswered, as often things are never as they first appear.

During the lockdown, Threedumb Theatre has filmed a couple of live performances through their Facebook page and posted them onto their YouTube channel this production is now available on the scenesaver platform.

Four Stars.

http://www.threedumbtheatre.com/

https://www.scenesaver.co.uk/

What does the Five Stage Reopening Phase mean for Fringe/Pub Theatre’s?

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden published a five-stage “phased return” plan for live performances on June 25th 2020.

Stage One – Rehearsal and training (no audiences and adhering to social distancing guidelines)

Stage Two – Performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines)

Stage Three – Performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience

Stage Four – Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors)

Stage Five – Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)

Jon Morgan, director of The Theatres Trust, a national advisory public body for theatres has commented:

“The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s announcement of a five-step roadmap for reopening of theatres is a move in the right direction, but critically it does not offer any timescales for stages 3 to 5, the stages when audiences will be admitted to performances. Without this detail, theatres will still be unable to plan effectively for their reopening. The impact of this uncertainty is devastating for the theatre industry. Each day there is news of another theatre-making large-scale redundancy and, for every day of delay, there is the grave danger of more theatres closing permanently. The government must urgently confirm ‘no earlier than’ dates for stages 3 to 5 and respond to the sector’s calls for a financial rescue package to protect our world-class theatre. Without this critical support, we face a cultural catastrophe.”

As a supporter of Off West Theatre’s and in the role of a reviewer and Offies Assessor I question how much thought Dowden has put into how the smaller capacity theatres will be in a position to accommodate these measures. For example, a smaller boxed Theatre seating a maximum audience of 60 on a full house will be restricted to around 25 people per performance. Possibly Leaving Artistic Directors and creatives questioning whether it is going to be viable to open?

Stage 1 and 2 are already in discussion and platforms such as Scenesaver that have been running throughout lockdown showing some new work filmed via zoom and offering Theatre companies who have at some point filmed their Productions the opportunity to show them on there. Up until the end of May 2020, there had also been the opportunity to watch performances on the Off Fringe Festival. Stage 3 and 4 almost overlap. Stage 5 suggests that Theatres could perform outside. However, in the smaller London based venues, this seems to be unfeasible due to the lack of outside space.

The fact that the culture secretary is addressing the fast-growing concerns of losing so many theatres is reassuring. Although I have to question just how much of the five-step phase would have thought through with Fringe and Pub Theatre’s specifically taken into consideration. After all without the vast array of these venues, many up and coming creatives would not have had an opportunity to perform and in many instances showcase their debut work. I decided to ask two Artistic directors on how they were planning on reopening their Theatre’s in accordance with Government guidelines.

David Brady has been artistic director at The Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre in Kentish Town for just over a year. “Like most fringe theatres we’re anxiously waiting on information from the government as to when we can reopen safely and welcome people back. The challenge of coronavirus is it affected all of us in the industry from our regular programming to the cancellation of Camden Fringe to the massive Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is on hiatus for this year. It’s really important that where possible and like so many other Industries we’re given clear guidance and support to be able to manage the challenge of social distancing performances, and I am currently asking the government to do what they can to support the theatre and creative industries who are under huge pressure at this time to survive during this period of uncertainty”.

David Brady The Lion and Unicorn Artistic Director.

Brady goes on to tell me that “At The Lion and Unicorn we’ve been very lucky to have had the support of Young’s our landlord and are working closely with the theatre companies who are either due to having work staged here or their performance was cancelled earlier this year in order to bring their work back. We are currently looking at a number of possibilities which include live streaming. The brilliant thing about fringe theatre is that it has the ability to continually react to the world around us.”

Mark Lyminster has been the AD for the Hen and Chickens in Islington for the last twenty years and in all those years experience this situation requires a new approach. I asked him what the theatre has put in place in light of thinking about reopening its doors. He told me “we are looking to open the side door from the street to allow theatregoers into the theatre” which is an extremely sensible idea and I would expect other theatres might open up using alternative entrances where possible. He goes on to explain how drinks will be served for each performance “we are thinking of asking a member of staff to take drink orders in the theatre and then bring their orders up into the theatre” which will definitely reduce traffic inside the bar which at this venue can be limited during busy periods.

Mark Lyminster The Hen and Chickens Artistic Director.

The Hen and Chickens Theatre usually seats around 54 people in their auditorium on a full night. “At the present time, we are looking at about half those numbers and possibly between about 15 and 20 people at any one time” Lyminster explained and “we are working very closely with the brewery to enable us to open at any time and get the theatre back up and running.”

Yet as you can see from the answers given by 2 of London’s Artistic Directors they are taking a slightly different approach but with the same aim in mind and as David Brady quite rightly says Fringe Theatre will always adapt. Despite what is being published and the Doom and Gloom stories about Theatre’s not surviving just from this article you can see that the creatives are ready to get straight back to work and are already starting to be creative and work outside the box although I do fear that we could lose some of the Off-West End venues as a result of the lockdown, all we can do is watch this space and support them once the lights go back on.

On the surface, the Five Stage Plan in helping the Theatre return to the stage looks promising yet the absence of clarity as to exactly how and without any key dates mentioned many are left without clear direction. It’s time that the culture secretary helped the Industry properly by putting a dated timeline in place for everyone to work towards.

If you are still uncertain when venues open about how the measures could affect your Theatre visit to the chosen venue please do not hesitate to contact them or check out their websites for details. I am sure all venues will have clearly marked out areas and put the new guidelines in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.

I strongly urge anyone who has never seen a production in a Pub/ Fringe Theatre to go along and support them once these precious spaces can once open and do what they do best, which which is create fantastic productions. If you would like to find out more about either of these venues please check out the links at the bottom.

https://www.thelionandunicorntheatre.com/

https://www.unrestrictedview.co.uk/

The White Hart by Judy Upton.

Pictured above Jodyanne Richardson as Hannah.

In just under thirteen minutes Jodyanne Richardson delivers a moving and thoughtful monologue by the writer Judy Upton. Truck driver, Hannah shares her experiences of working through the coronavirus lockdown and describes an unnerving incident involving a White Hart which took place the night before while she was out on the road.

Drivers are now confined to separate areas in the loading bays and banned from using staff toilets. She feels they are being treated like ‘lepers’ tucked into these spaces eating homemade food and drinking ‘lukewarm’ coffee from flasks as the usual coffee making facilities they use are in the taped off areas they can no longer access.

Themes of loneliness and alienation run throughout this monologue. Hannah describes missing small details from her working day which for her have been changed to nights. The smiles have been replaced with face masks at her regular depots. To the point where she cannot work out whether the security guard she knows was Steve or Dave behind the mask and with social distancing, in place, her normal chats with supermarket shelf stackers are no longer allowed.

The significance of seeing The White Hart dates back to Arthurian legend. This mysterious animal rarely appears yet when it does it supposedly represents change and apparently, only appears during times of turmoil. Which Hannah finds “slightly unnerving”. It’s questionable as to whether she actually saw this creature and it hasn’t been bought on by tiredness and stress as Hannah finds no evidence on her truck that she had hit the deer as she first assumed.

Richardson’s performance has opened my eyes to how these new working conditions have changed truck drivers a day to day lives. The solo jobs they carry out have almost alienated them from society during lockdown to ensure deliveries have got through. I would think these changes have made their lives very stressful at times.

The platform scenesaver are now showing performances from Off West End Theatres and other Fringe venues from around the world. Giving these productions a virtual stage to show their work from. The scenesaver link is available below, you just need to register for free in order to enter the site. If you are in a position to donate towards any of these shows it would be really appreciated.

Caley Powell set up The Light on in January 2018 to produce female-led new writing and created Showcase in May 2020. The White Hart is just one of the pieces produced during the lockdown and in their press release have said: “we didn’t want the lockdown to stop us from creating and promoting new female-led work”. They have most certainly managed to achieve their aim. Please have a look piece and other work available using the links below.

Four Stars

Hannah-Jodyanne Richardson

Writer-Judy Upton

Director-Leah Townley

Producer-Caley Powell

https://www.scenesaver.co.uk/

https://lightsdownprod.wixsite.com/about/

https://www.facebook.com/LightsDownProductions/

The Delight of Dogs and the Problems of People by Rosalind Blessed.

Nobody ever really knows what takes place behind closed doors. Which allows domestic abuse to thrive undetected and the first signs we often hear about it is when tragedy strikes. Often followed by an outcry of why didn’t the victim speak out. Rosalind Blessed’s play The Delight of Dogs and the Problems of People gives an insight into how a victim is manipulated and “made to feel” as to why speaking out is not that straightforward.

James (Duncan Wilkins) begins their story on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary evening as he is preparing dinner for Robin (Rosalind Blessed). The scene of domesticity appears to be completely normal. Why wouldn’t someone cook an anniversary meal to show someone how much they care?

The dense storyline is brilliantly scripted with Wilkins deadly portrayal of James bringing the twisted and calculated mind of a perpetrator uncomfortably to life. There are many keys words used and he often adds a sly laugh at the end to pretend that he was just kidding. There are so many trigger messages delivered throughout which are unnerving.

The death of their beloved dog Ben sees the couple reunite again after Robin had fled their family home. The meeting is fairly brief as the couple bury him, but as James starts to question Robin his old habits return. Questions remain unclear as to the nature of his death. Yet killing family pets has been documented as part of a perpetrators profile. They will destroy anything the victim loves to relish in causing.

This isn’t an easy play to watch. Yet, I felt it delivers an extremely important insight into how domestic abuse takes place. How it demoralises the victim and empowers the abuser. The rational thought process used by James into how “she made him do it” from an outsiders perspective as an isolated incident could easily be believed. Which is exactly what the perpetrators rely on.

The online production filmed by Aydan Wilder has captured the intense drama between Robin and James throughout the entire performance. The skill in which he focuses in at the exact time on each character during key scenes is superb. Filming live Theatre in a Fringe venue which is often small with limited flexibility is definitely not an easy task. Wilder has done this production justice with his camera skills.

The Delight of Dogs and the Problems with people is an eye-opening account for anyone who is unsure about how domestic abuse manifests inside a relationship and the play offers a very raw and honest answer. What makes this play harder to watch is knowing that for many thousands of people this staged version is actually their reality.

Please use the link below to see this and other productions on the online Fringe festival site. For anyone affected by any of the themes in this production please check out the websites below and please do not hesitate to ask for help.

Five Stars.

Cast

Robin-Rosalind Blessed

James-Duncan Wilkins

Director-Caroline Devlin

Filmed by-Aydan Wilder

https://www.onlinefringefestival.com/

https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help

What is domestic abuse?

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/getting-help-for-domestic-violence/

https://freedomprogramme.co.uk/lwd.php

Baaba’s Footprints by Susan Hingley.

I had been due to review Baaba’s Footprints at the Vaults Festival in March 2020, the fast spread of COVID-19 saw me cancel my review diary just before the Theatre’s all shut. For the first time, I didn’t feel safe travelling to London. Now for the new Oncomm category in the Offies franchise, I can now review this production from home. I am not sure I could ever get used to reviewing this way however, for now, it’s my only contact with the Theatre world.

Yu (Eyre Kurasawa) loses her job at 39 leaving her bereft and suffering from an identity crisis as she begins to question her life. The pressure to marry is pushing down heavily onto her shoulders yet she likes her life the way it is and enjoys being single. However, peer pressure keeps telling her it’s time to settle down and get married fulfilling the role that is expected from her. Yet rather than staying and succumbing to others expectations, she chooses to grab her passport and travel to San Francisco.

The choice of country isn’t just a random decision Yu chooses to follow in her Grandmother’s Takako (Tomoko Komura) footsteps. Takako had embarked on this journey at 16 and had been one of the “Japanese Picture Brides” who were married on paper and travelled alone to their new husbands and a new country armed only with their passport, bag of belongings and a photograph of their betrothed.

Throughout the play, there is a strong sense of identity and the inability to settle down where neither woman feels as if truly fit in. I think this story can translate across to anyone regardless of gender, race or sexuality as many people struggle with fitting into the roles that they believe they should be fulfilling.

Susan Hingley’s new play balances the generations and timelines smoothly. Although circumstances between the generations were different the feelings of loss, disappointment and not fitting in are shared across the timeline by both generations.

Hingley’s writing is superb in bringing together a strong well-balanced look at how the characters felt about themselves and their place within the world while at the same time it took account of how they perceived others possibly saw them too. After all, nobody is ever certain about how the outside actually views us.

Baaba’s Footprints is set at a fairly fast pace and watching it on the screen lost some of the Theatre magic ones gets from Fringe Theatre productions. The cameras angle was pretty good but I would have liked to have seen more of the entire stage throughout the performance. I sincerely hope they bring this back to the stage at a later date as I want to experience the whole performance.

Director Ragga Dahl Johansen overlaps scenes smoothly where the audience watch Grandmother’s role as a young wife talking about everyday life while Yu observes silently close by. The two characters never interact as they are in different time periods yet they are close enough to touch each other. A simple yet extremely effective stage direction.

The current link to watch this production is linked below. You can choose between the Online Fringe Festival and Scenesaver.

Four Stars.

https://www.onlinefringefestival.com/shows/baabas-footsteps/?occurrence=2020-05-25

https://www.scenesaver.co.uk/production/baabas-footsteps/

Baaba’s Footsteps

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.

Threedumb Theatre presents an adaptation of the short grim gothic style tale The Tell-Tale Heart by American playwright Edgar Allan Poe.  Performed by Stephen Smith with Stephanie Van Den Driesen operating the lights, sound and music they bring this macabre tale to life.

The start of the production leads you into the door and under the floorboards. It feels slightly longer than it necessarily needed to be and at times disjointed but please watch beyond this as you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Smith captures the depth of the unnamed murderer in this one-man performance. His victim is targeted solely on the basis that he has a ‘vulture eye’. Definitely not a justification for murder although through the narrator’s twisted explanation it suggests otherwise.

I especially liked the way in which Smith drew you into the horror of the storyline solely by the tone of his voice. As madness takes hold of him his speech quickens and just as you expect to be struck with a ghastly ending he releases you by softening his tone and changing direction.

Throughout his performance, it’s questionable as to whether you are watching the madness unfold before you or a calculated cold-blooded killer using madness as a justification. Although the narrator does explain that his illness has “sharpened his senses”. I would suggest that is for the audience to decide as I was personally left undecided.

It is worth bearing in mind while watching this production that the entire performance was improvised during the lockdown and Smith explained to me that the entire set was staged”…with hand-made props and no budget” from his home and his brother David behind the camera. I think he has managed to capture the atmosphere of this tale brilliantly. In watching pieces like this you get a greater sense of how creative and talented performers truly are.

The entire production is just under 30-minutes long. However, Poe wrote it as a short piece and in order to deliver the shock of the horror any longer would destroy the impact. Threedumb Theatre has certainly bought it to life and created another chilling episode in the history of this 1843 tale.



To watch this production or to find out more about the work by Threedumb Theatre please use the links below. I hope you enjoy this performance.

Four Stars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK0DsbP_DHw&t=5s


http://www.threedumbtheatre.com/

Key Change by Open Clasp Theatre.

Combining physical theatre and an extremely well-scripted dialogue between the cast of five. Key Change is a story of friendship, abuse, drugs and a lifetime of unfortunate circumstances in which Lucy played by Cheryl Dixon and Angie played by Jessica Johnson find themselves meeting first in a women’s refuge after different journeys of tragedy and abuse. They later find themselves inside the same women’s prison.

Personally, I found the scenes in which they had their phone calls to home very moving and the conflict often escalated quickly as they vied for pole position as to who was going to get to speak to their loved ones first. The women hang onto the phone tightly in order to get every drop out of their conversations with children, grandchildren and loved ones. Fighting to hold their positions in the queue with such passion there was no doubt that the audience could see just how important that grasp on the normality of everyday life was so important to each of the female inmates.

This project was funded in 1998 and based in Newcastle upon Tyne the play Key Change is based on stories from working with women inside the prison and their honest accounts of the circumstances in which they find themselves ending up inside the prison walls. This play was later performed in male prisons too as many perpetrators could see the effects of their actions.

Writer Catrina McHugh MBE along with director Laura Lindow brilliantly created a truthful and explosive production about the stories leading up to why women can find themselves in prison. Often we only see an unflattering picture of the person sentenced and rarely hear their voice or the true story of why they ended up in there.

The key point for many survivors of domestic abuse is that they don’t wish to be seen as victims they wish to be seen as survivors. This I can agree with on a personal level and the part in which they discuss the ladies empowering themselves by taking part in the Freedom Programme I can say from experience you learn an awful lot about understanding how different abusers use the same tactic in order to win over their victims. A link to this programme will be available at the end of this review.

The fast pace in which this 60-minute production moves at mimics the chaos in which many of these women have led their lives up to the point in which they arrive inside a prison. The frank and openness about Angie’s drug addiction was a refreshing account and it didn’t gloss over and romanticise anything which can often be the case in some productions. Her performance is a very honest and open account of how she would score and to what extent it impacted her day to day existence.

I would highly recommend that anyone who has not yet seen this production to try and do so while it’s still available on YouTube the link is available below.

Five Stars.

Writer Catrina McHugh MBE

Director Laura Lindow.

https://www.openclasp.org.uk/productions/key-change/

https://www.freedomprogramme.co.uk/

A Separate Peace by Tom Stoppard.

During this unprecedented time during the Covid 19 lockdown creatives and Theatre companies have been trying to come up with new ideas to keep the industry alive and raise some money for those who are now out of work until the Theatres reopen.

The performance of A Separate Peace lasted approximately thirty minutes comprising of five characters. David Morrissey’s central character John Brown had called ahead to Staff Nurse (Maggie Service) asking if the hospital had a spare bed for an emergency.

When he turns up at the hospital as arranged the Staff Nurse asks him “what is wrong with him?” To which he doesn’t have an answer apart from a slightly sore finger. After trying to ascertain what his medical emergency is Brown explains it was an emergency although nothing medical appears to be wrong.

This raises suspicions by the Dr (Denise Gough) and Matron (Ed Stoppard) as to why a healthy man wants to be there. What has he done or who is hiding from? After various conversations between then, they never ascertain a reason. They ask Nurse Maggie Coates (Jenna Coleman) to befriend him and find out his reasons for being in a hospital. Surely nobody wants to just be there.

In truth, Brown isn’t hiding from anyone he just wants a break from every day and does absolutely nothing. Regular mealtimes and a simple routine are all he requires. With a bag full of money to cover the cost of his stay he doesn’t understand why it raises so much concern or be such an issue with him staying.

Matron isn’t satisfied with Brown simply doing nothing and suggests he should try basket weaving which wasn’t a success and then painting. Brown decides against using the paper provided for him and brings his room to life with a detailed countryside scene of rolling fields and trees. He explains to Nurse Coates that he wanted to bring the outside inside without going outside. The mural takes shape nicely behind Morrissey in phases as the painting and his stay progressed.

Using the Zoom meetings platform app the five actors in this production entered and exited in a similar manner to a staged performance. Dressed in black against a white background the performance is focused on its delivery alone. Only those who were in each scene were visible. For a written piece like this, I thought it worked extremely well. Although this production isn’t very long it isn’t short in its delivery.

Originally written for Television in 1964 this particular Tom Stoppard’s production has been performed to raise money for stage technicians and creatives along with supporting The Felix Project food charity too. When stuck in our metaphorical boxes during this lockdown there’s no better time to think outside of it.

Four Stars

CAST

John Brown – David Morrissey (Hangmen, Britannia, The Walking Dead)

Nurse Maggie Coates – Jenna Coleman (Victoria, Doctor Who)Doctor- 

Denise Gough (two time Olivier Award winner for People, Places and Things and Angels in America)

Matron – Ed Stoppard (Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldsdtadt in the West End)

Nurse – Maggie Service (Quiz on ITV, W1A, Call The Midwife)


CREATIVE TEAM

Director Sam Yates
(The Starry Messenger with Matthew Broderick, Wyndham’s Theatre and The Phlebotomist, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs; Film: The Hope Rooms with Andrew Scott and Ciarán Hinds, Cymbeline with Hayley Atwell, All’s Well That Ends Well with Ruth Wilson and Lindsay Duncan).
Video Designer Andrzej Goulding
Sound Designer Sam Glossop
Costume Designer Amelia Sierevogel
Lighting Designer Nat GreenTech Designer Tim KashaniStage Manager Georgia Bird
Production Manager Kate West
Deputy Stage Manager Kim Battistini
PR Kevin Wilson PR
Producer Curtain CallCo-producer Platform Presents
Co-producer Apples & Oranges Arts
Partner Shubert Organization
Sponsor SHURESponsor ZoomCharity The Felix Project

Drawing the Line by Howard Brenton.

Hampstead Theatre’s latest online production which is being aired this week is “Drawing the Line” by Howard Brenton which has been taken from the Theatres 2014 season.

My knowledge about the days of the British Empire is extremely limited. However, watching this production has certainly opened up my eyes to an interesting part of history and the influence the United Kingdom had over that area of the world during that period.

Judge Cyril Radcliffe played by Tom Beard has been ordered by the British government to go and map out the territories dividing up India as the empire begins to close down. A somewhat daunting prospect for somebody who had never been to India or had any previous experience in making maps or the division of territory.

The 14th August had been set as the deadline for India to be “carved up” the definition used by Jinnah ( Paul Bazely) in one of the official meetings. Radcliffe soon realises that the sub-continent is not just a single country as he had been led to believe. This division would never go to be straight forward. passions ran high between all the head of states who quite rightly wanted a say in how their future was going to be shaped. Tempers often flare as different cultures and religions clashed over the land, it’s borders and the ports. Who would have thought drawing a line could have such devastating consequences, which is exactly what Radcliffe was told to do.

References to cricket running throughout the play tend to be used for comedic effect and releasing tensions between the officials as it was one interest both countries shared. Although the subject matter is extremely serious and sensitive the audience is seeing this interpretation through the eyes of the writer, Brenton which is based on factual evidence bringing this important historical period to life through this dark comedy.

The Viceroy “Dickie” Mountbatten (Andrew Havill) and his wife Edwina (Lucy Black) along with PM Attlee(John Mackay) and the political activist  Gandhi (Tanveer Ghani) all played a vital role in shaping the subcontinents history and the land division that we now see today. Their interwoven relationships and influences have left a lasting unsettled legacy behind.

For an Off West End Theatre, the staging for this play is superb. The combined sound effects and set design felt as if I was transported temporarily to India. Designer Tim Hatley has proved that the smaller Theatres time after time create some remarkable productions. Another good reason to visit them once all the Theatre’s finally reopen.

Running until Sunday 19th April 10pm it is definitely one worth trying to see before it finishes. If you are interested in watching it please use the link below or perhaps use it to see more information about their future online productions. All the production team and cast are also available there too.

Four Stars.

Photo credit Catherine Ashmore.

https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/hampstead-theatre-at-home/drawing-the-line/