Author: Tom Ward

Interview: Mark Hadfield and Liz White on Jim Cartwright’s Road

Interview: Mark Hadfield and Liz White on Jim Cartwright’s Road

For more details about Road, please see the accompanying review.


The recent production of Jim Cartwrwight’s Road at the Royal Court made for unmissible viewing  – a blindingly relevant show that gives expression to the inhabitants of an unnamed northern road in Eighties Britain.

After seeing John Tiffany’s production, I sat down with actors Mark Hadfield and Liz White to find out more about the process that went into creating the show:

 

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Review: Road

Review: Road

There is an assumption that Road by Jim Cartwright would feel outdated. Its plot is so geographically and temporally specific that a play about the North East’s experience of the Thatcherite years could have gone the way of Look Back in Anger and feel irrelevant to a modern audience. Under John Tiffany’s direction, Road feels terrifyingly present, and still as necessary after over thirty years since its debut.
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Review: Bodies

Review: Bodies

Featured Review by Tom Ward.


Purchased from Russia. Developed in India. Delivered to the UK’. Vivienne Franzmann’s Bodies is a blindingly relevant story that has as much to say about the pain of not being able to conceive a child, as it does about who we are willing to take advantage of in order to get what we want. In this case, it is being blind to the realities of the effect that the surrogacy industry has on developing and vulnerable third world communities.

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Review: Dead Souls

Review: Dead Souls

Featured Review by Tom Ward.


Monkhead Theatre’s debut piece, Dead Souls, by writer Chloë Myerson, is an adaptation from Nikolai Gogol’s infamously unfinished novel that attempts to engage its audience with a ‘well-structured narrative’, presented through the ‘wild rock & roll playfulness of experimental multimedia theatre’.

It tells the story of one man’s desire for wealth through the acquisition of souls (or dead Surfs) in 1800 ‘and something’ Russia. It does not live up to its promise. If you are going to throw around a phrase such as rock & roll you better deliver. Rock & Roll is divisive, pervasive, shocking and boundary pushing. This show is not.

Having a projector in a show does not make it multimedia as a theatrical form. Dead Souls appears more like a traditional play (in terms of plot) that is then intersected with projection, rather than a true blending of both. Placed upstage, the projector is used to both create and define space, where scenes are played throughout the rest of the building to positive comical effect, and to provide both sentence-long (amusingly subjective) descriptions of character and definitions of words (such as Surfdom). More interesting to note is Nicolas Pimparé’s creation placed centre stage, aptly named The Machine. Its mechanics cannot be described by this humble reviewer (lots of science stuff  that this theatre brain can’t comprehend), but the outcome generates the bulk of the show’s sound design that punctuates shifts in performative tone. Echoing and distorting sound so violently is has the potential to impart some real theatrical bite.

And then we move onto the rest of the piece. First and foremost this cast is devoid of subtext which makes their performances one dimensional. Here performances are played for laughs – actors keep looking down at the floor and the direction is uninspired. Certain simple character-driven moments are missed and these have jarring, and lasting, effects. For example, if Chichikov’s (Joshua Jacob) briefcase containing the list of purchased souls is so important, why would he leave it unattended at the other side of the room so that it can be conveniently opened and therefore cause his downfall? It’s as if Pimparé thought as far as his multimedia concept and that’s about it.

Monkhead’s Dead Souls doesn’t pack the punches that are promised, and it doesn’t feel like it is even attempted. Yes, there are some smart moments – The Machine is genuinely intriguing and more interrogation into this craft will produce even more sophisticated, idiosyncratic instruments. The show needs a serious shift in terms of smartly directing bodies on stage and how they present text, because Dead Souls feels about 50% complete.

 

Director: Nicolas Pimparé

Writer: Nikolai Gogol

Adaptor: Chloë Myerson

Design: Catalina Velez (Video); Jake Carno (music)

Cast: Toby Osmond; Joshua Jacob; Jules Armana

Dead Souls played TheatreN16 until 8 July 2017. For more information, please visit the website.