RAYMONDO at the Bristol Old Vic


Marcus Hamblett’s clever music score augments the atmosphere, and shifts in mood are emphasized by skillfully placed changes in the lighting, but above all Raymondo is a dazzling display of unconventional story-telling. There will be those who find the language a little too self-consciously aware of its own cleverness, but I was totally absorbed by this strange and beguiling tale. Annie Siddons has described Raymondo as being about ‘resilience, adversity, fraternity and love.’ By delivering these themes through the medium of magical realism she has been able to let her imagination run free, to great effect.

1984 at Bath Theatre Royal

1984 Slider

Orwell’s novel of existential angst (subsequently given the appearance of alarming prescience by events in the Cold War) set in a dystopian future, is well established as a classic of the genre. The mark of its status within the culture is that even those unfamiliar with the novel will likely have heard of Big Brother and Room 101 and thoughtcrime. The story is an ironic take on a post war Britain which has supposedly been subsumed into the super-state of Oceania, that is ruled by the invisible, omnipresent being known as Big Brother and who is not known directly, but only through his iconic image. It is a dark vision in which ‘thought crime’ is relentlessly policed and punished.

Handbagged at the Oxford Playhouse

A scene from Handbagged by Moira Buffini @ Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Directed by Indhu Rubasingham
(Opening  09-09-15)
©Tristram Kenton 09/15
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

Name the two most influential British women of the past 50 years. I can confidently predict (mainly because we are not face to face, so I can happily make up statistics with no fear of repercussions) that 95% of you said The Queen and Margaret Thatcher . . . Seamlessly mixing the serious with the absurd, Handbagged is great fun. It’s a real treat to get to imagine what made The Queen and Margaret Thatcher tick, and to get to know them, just a little bit. Yes they were influential figureheads, but they were also real people.

Birmingham Royal Ballet costume exhibition

Costume exhibtion

BIRMINGHAM’S ICONIC DEPARTMENT STORE PUTS THE SPOTLIGHT ON 25 YEARS OF CLASSIC COSTUMES BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET: 25 YEARS OF COSTUME. For the first time ever, Birmingham Royal Ballet have teamed up with the city’s most illustrious department store, House of Fraser to display a few highlights from the company’s extensive catalogue of costumes from their 25 year residency in the city. This intimate exhibition is created to give members of the public a rare up-close experience of the beautiful and intricate designs seen on stage . . .

The RSC’s HECUBA at the Swan, Stratford upon Avon.

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In this latest telling of a 3,000-year-old story about the fall of Troy, Marina Carr has amplified the woman’s perspective during times of testosterone fuelled slaughter and mayhem. Her Hecuba stands witness to the worst men can do when released from law and drunk on violence. From a bottomless pit of despair she presents a hauntingly simple but unarguable truth: “Society cannot run if women are unhappy.”

LA TRAVIATA at the Everyman Cheltenham

Trav 2

La Traviata is perhaps the most dramatic (in the sense of it being like a play) of all operas – intimate, intense, domestic even. It basically has only three characters and takes place in three rooms. Consequently the burden of performance sits heavily on the principal singers. Much of opera demands a suspension of belief which is as important as wearing your diamond tiara and sipping a glass of champagne in the interval, but Traviata is all fairly believable stuff.

HENRY V at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

Royal Shakespeare Company production of
by William Shakespeare
directed by Gregory Doran

Director Gregory Doran and actor Alex Hassell memorably presented Prince Harry’s riotous youth with the roguish old knight Falstaff in Henry IV. Now he’s under the microscope on the hottest of hot seats, the throne. A process leavened by the introduction of some worthy and valid humour . . . Hassell’s performance too is nigh miraculous. It ranges from isolated, tense fixation as he affects the authority he strives to build – voice and movement full of edgy introversion, to assured soldierly bonhomie as success crowns his efforts.