Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs comes to London for its 20th anniversary and brings a punch of energy and youthfulness.
John Haidar directs this upbeat, whirlwind of a story that follows Pig (Colin Campbell) and Runt (Evanna Lynch), who are born on the same day, at the same time. They’ve been inseparable ever since, dancing and drinking. They’ve created a world just for the two of them, in which they speak their own language, slang and only follow their own rules. Their friendship almost has a Bonnie and Clyde-esque feel to it, it’s them against the rest of the world, or at least their hometown of Cork. On their 17th birthday however, something changes. They find themselves growing apart.
The production manages to take the audience on the lively and adventurous journey with Pig and Runt through their life in Cork, their own little world with humorous stories and their hopes for the future.
Evanna Lynch, who is best known for her role as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series, gives such a strong performance as Runt. She shows versatility and skill, switching to other characters in a heartbeat. A shimmer of dreaminess shines through when Runt is dreaming of a different life, away from her home and even her best friend Pig.
Colin Campbell is excellent as the youthful, quite intense Pig. His range of emotion keeps the audience on their toes and surprises them when he shows his true feelings for Runt, something other than just the friendship they clearly have.
Many things are left to the audience’s imagination. The movements created within the play, with thanks to Naomi Said, plays a big part of the production as it creates the space for the audience to use their own imagination. Wonderfully executed, the lighting is magnificent (Elliot Griggs) and transports the viewer into a 90s disco, with (almost) magical lighting effects.
Disco Pigs runs at Trafalgar Studios until 19 August.
It seems fitting that I meet the founders of the new theatre company Paper Creatures at the National Theatre.
It’s only morning but the National Theatre is already buzzing with people, guided tours, tourists and people who are desperately trying to get tickets to Angels in America. We find a quiet and cool space on a warm, sunny day and start talking about Flood, the debut production by Paper Creatures.
The themes were important, we wanted to look at grief within the millennial generation, humour and heart.
Flood is a new comedy drama by playwright Tom Hartwell, about Adam who is “forced to confront his future when those closest to him return after the death of his Mum. Upon their arrival, repressed truths and unsettling secrets are revealed. Flood is a complex and humane portrayal of a group of friends struggling to define themselves beyond the confines of their small town.”
Starting rehearsal on 17 July, the two talk about the first read through of the script.
The first read through was really special. It was so relatble, he [Tom Hartwell] managed to take an ancient idea of a village flooding and put it in such a modern light of 20 year olds, dealing with home and identity. We were fascinated with the idea, why is it that people want to leave their homes.
Jon and Nathan met when they were both working in an all-male Shakespeare troupe and travelled around the UK and Europe doing open air Shakespeare. “We became quite close on tour, got chatting and when we finished the tour we wanted to do something different after spending five months doing Shakespeare. We thought why don’t we put on a play?”
After seeing a lot of theatre once returned from their tour, they noticed that millennials need a “realistic and honest voice for our generation, the millennial generation, we sometimes felt we were painted a bit one dimensional.”
Also passionate about new plays, they decided to set up a theatre company.
The name paper creatures came from the paper representing the script, where it starts, the blank piece of paper. And then the creatures being the characters that come from that. We are the creatures that make the story and the theatre is the place where we perform, it’s the place where we can tell those stories.
Wanting to create a voice for not only this generation, Jon and Nathan also hope that in the future people will look back on these plays that are new writing now, but could be a potential classic in the future.
Talking about the importance of new writing, Paper Creatures explains why they’re happy to be part of London’s theatre community. “There is so much opportunity for fringe theatre, there are so many lovely pub theatres in London and around the UK. It’s thriving at the moment. It’s almost like a revolution, all these new playwrights emerging, coming out of every place you can imagine and then they get transferred to the West End.”
There is such a dynamic community of new writing on the fringe circuit in London that is dominated by the millennial generation in a very positive way and it’s so vibrant, so helpful and so supportive. It’s a really great community to be part of.
By setting up Paper Creatures, the actors want to create a “platform for young new writers, young creators from all different fields, lighting designers, sound designers, to come together and create stories which are simple, bold and compelling.”
Our long term goal is to create a really creative environment to tell these stories with our generation contributing to them, for our generation.
Flood runs as part of the Camden Fringe 2017 at the Tristan Bate Theatre from 31 July until 5 August. You can get tickets here.
A lot of young people are not interested in going to the theatre for several reasons, but the benefits of regularly seeing a show outweigh their doubts
From the Adelphi theatre in the West End to a fringe show in a 15 seat theatre in East London. The city offers endless amounts of theatrical productions. Revivals, musicals, straight plays and comedies, the choices are endless and cater to every taste. Whether you want a night of dramatic over the top colourful costumes and catchy songs, or a two-actor hour long play that will have you thinking about it for hours afterwards. The choices are as diverse as the audience, or is the audience not as varied as it could be?
According to Andrew Lloyd Webber, London is now behind Broadway with only three new musicals opening until May 2017, whereas New York has 14 new shows. Instead of supporting new work and giving new writers opportunities to showcase their work, London produces a lot of revivals. But Lloyd Webber claims, it’s not because the West End is not giving enough chances to young writers and producers. He’s criticising the lack of education in the arts in British schools. If there’s no proficient arts education in schools, how are young people supposed to get interested in the arts, particularly the theatre?
Millennials attitudes towards theatre
There’s a community of young theatre lovers in London that can’t imagine anything better than sitting inside an old building and watching people perform. Unfortunately, even more people of the younger generation have no interest in this art form or have the wrong idea about it. The most common thoughts about the performing arts are that it’s unaffordable, not knowing what to expect and thinking it’s too old fashioned.
It’s clear that something needs to change. The theatre has been around for so long, because it has evolved and changed throughout hundreds of years. From the Shakespeare Globe, with bad lighting to contemporary theatre and special effects. The theatre has to change with the times.
However, there’s something about the theatre that is captivating and magical. A good play can make you feel like the last two hours flew by in five minutes.
Culture is an important part of human development. Art has always been used as a way of trying to make sense of the world. Whether it’s through a painting, a sculpture or other artistic creations. Most plays and even musicals are written to highlight problems around the world, in our daily lives, and the way we live and how we might influence the future. Shows usually bring attention to things that should concern all of us. A lot of plays will have you thinking about its content hours after you’ve left the theatre, because you’ll be drawing connections to contemporary life.
It’s going to make you feel emotions that compare to nothing else. Having something happen right in front of you, is unlike any other medium or type of entertainment. Every performance is different, not considering the big hick ups that might happen. Each show the actors might use a different tempo in a monologue or use different facial expressions. Sometimes the energy in the theatre is so intense that you can’t help but feel excited. Being part of a show is always something unique, you’ll never know how other performances went and how other audience members have experienced it. Unless, you see a show several times, but that’s a whole new topic.
There’s a community of theatre lovers that can’t wait to share their favourite hobby with others. Whether they’re theatre blogger, frequent visitors or actively performing. Thanks to social media you can not only connect with the actors and production team of each show, you can also be part of a huge community that is happy to arrange theatre trips and share their thoughts and feelings about issues in the industry.
It’s understandable that a visit to the theatre seems a bit daunting. Not knowing what to expect, how to behave and what you’re going to experience can be scary for anyone who has no knowledge of anything theatre related. However, once you’ve given it a try and see a production that’ll take your breath away, the benefits of regularly attending shows and letting culture into your life, will be clear.
An intense and brave tale of evil, the death penalty and the human inside a monster.
The play based on the novel by Rene Denfeld looks at the person behind a murderer and the death penalty. Waiting for your death on death row is lonely. Arden is mute and as he waits for his day, he listens and watches an investigator trying to save some of the prisoners from their deaths. While doing so, she uncovers the sad and disturbing past of some of the ‘monsters’ in the maximum security prison.
The choreography by movement director Emily Orme, conveys a sense of helplessness and sadness that carries throughout the whole play, with an eerie undertone through the music.
The stage and background are completely white and chalk is used to draw on it. However sometimes it doesn’t have enough of an impact as the light blue colour of the chalk gets lost easily.
The use of puppetry shows a certain vulnerability each of the characters have, it’s done so delicate and creatively it adds to the aesthetics of the show. However, the puppets are always used during narration, therefore they have to compete for the audiences’ attention with the actor on stage and it looses its impact slightly. It would’ve worked better if they had been on stage by itself.
Corey Montague-Sholay who plays the narrator and Arden, a silent killer is captivating. He captured the essence of his character and the play so well, it’s beguiling and so compelling that it would probably work with just him telling the story of all the other characters.
Devastated fans explain what happened when their favourite show left the West End for good.
“I’m missing a huge part of my life. I used to have somewhere to go to, knowing it would make me happy and feel good, I don’t anymore,” said Jessica Gray, 26.
Whether you’re a musical or play lover, London’s West End offers a wide range of shows: from the emotional Les Misèrables, to a juke box musical like Jersey Boys and Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, the longest running show in London, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
Every show accumulates a fan base with the musical becoming part of their life, developing friendships with supporters as well as cast members, following the show to other events and creating social media fan accounts becomes a normality. So, what happens when a show closes?
Sunny Afternoon has grazed the West End for the two rock ‘n’ roll filled years. Not only has it accumulated a huge fan base, it has also won four Olivier Awards and has been praised by many stars, Mark Hamill being one of them.
In August 2016, the hit show on the rise and stardom of iconic English band The Kinks embarked on their first UK Tour, with the West End cast doing their last performance on October 29th 2016.
Below, three very dedicated followers shared their experiences.
Deborah,28, undoubtedly set the record for seeing the most shows within the Sunny Afternoon fan base, hitting the mark at 279 times.
How involved were you with Sunny Afternoon?
Deborah Gilpin: I ended up seeing 279 shows, although I’d have liked to reach the 300 mark.
Throughout her visits, Debbie quickly became friends with other regular audience members, together they started a Twitter fan account. “We just wanted to bring people together initially, then this year we’ve tried our best to promote the second cast as they seemed to be getting less attention, which led to the Cast Member & Understudy of the Month awards,” said Debbie.
How are you coping with the show leaving the West End?
I had no idea how to cope with it at the beginning, my plan was to make the most of it being there, enjoying every minute of it and waiting to see how everything went afterwards. Luckily I have my theatre reviewing keeping me busy. I’m waiting for more of the actors (from both casts) to get new jobs or announce gigs, I’m going to follow them on their new projects. Plus I’m excited to see what the tour is like, I’m planning to see it once it reaches a venue closer to me.
Ksenia,30, travelled to London from Russia a lot, seeing the show 122 times: “Being a Kinks fan, I’d been following the development of the show since its first workshop in December 2012.”
“I fell in love with Sunny Afternoon and there was no turning back. I’m also co-running the fan page with Debbie and Jess”.
How you’re feeling now and how you’re trying to cope with its ending, do you have a special plan for that?
Ksenia Nemchinova: I’ve never been this attached to a show before so it’s not easy to process and to cope. Sunny Afternoon may not be in London anymore, but I’ve seen the touring production several times and I have grown to love them dearly, so it’s definitely not the end for me, the tour will keep me going for another few months.
And after that, who knows? The show may be back in London again, maybe if we all wish really hard…
Jessica has been following the show since its very beginning: “I first saw Sunny Afternoon at the beginning of October 2014.
“I had been invited to review the show for my blog, and became a fan immediately.”
“I started a fan page first on Twitter and then on Facebook and eventually I made arrangements with the show’s marketing company for an official Sunny Afternoon Challenge Week to happen.”
“During it, we would attend every show over a week and blog about it daily, with a new challenge being assigned to us every day.”
What are your plans now?
Jessica Gray: I’m actually leaving London – not exactly because of the show closing, but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t make my decision a lot easier. I’d like to see the tour again, however following it around the country isn’t an option for me. I’d mostly like to see what actors from the West End production do in the future in terms of new shows.
The world doesn’t end when a show ends. There are different ways to cope with it, whether that is concentrating on other shows, supporting the cast members in new projects or trying to stay away. Even when the show has ended, you’ll always have the memories. Not to forget the cast recording.
Alice’s Adventures Underground is an unmissable production that has created the most imaginative way of telling a story.
Upon arrival, it feels like walking into a different, whimsical world. Before the performance has even started, you find yourself in awe by the creative design and themed (and strong!) cocktails. Once the journey begins, it’s up to you where it will lead. Alice’s Underground Adventure is unlike anything I’ve seen at The Vaults.
Instead of watching the story unfold right in front of you, you’re part of it and not only that, it’s like stepping into it and you decide where the adventure will take you. Depending on what route you choose, either shrink by taking a drink or grow by having a sweet, you steer your journey through Wonderland.
The Queen of Hearts has turned so evil, chopping off people’s heads for anything. An underground group grows and tries to ignite a revolution…Will you be part of the secret revolution? Or will you be on the Queen’s side?
Be wary that if you’ve come with someone you might not end up with them, as groups are split throughout the production. This is done by picking a playing card and depending on the suit you have chosen, you have to complete a different secret mission.
The design and details are the most interesting thing about this immersive production. You could go several times and still find new things and discover details about this incredible underground world that you haven’t seen before. Besides the creative set up, the actors (or interactors) are the other wonderful thing. Not only do they stay in character the whole time, they also interact incredibly well with the audience. Theyhave an off-the-cuff humour and the talent to improvise, which you find endearing.
Another amazing thing is that the cast switches roles, so if you come twice you’re likely to see different people play different characters. Combined with the different story lines, it’s possible to go several times and still experience something completely new.
The best part about this adventure is that you’ll actually feel like you’re part of it, you’re making a difference in the story. It’s almost heartbreaking leaving the characters and Wonderland behind. The intricate details of the production won’t leave your mind, even after leaving the venue.
Moonchild Theatre Company stages an impressive first production of a new play that captures many important issues in today’s world, by personifying likeable planets, comets and moons.
The New Horizons probe lands on Pluto in 2006 and brings bad news for the planet, who is currently having a party which no one has turned up to, except for his best friend Charon. The probe that arrives bears news from NASA telling PLUTO that he’s no longer a planet. He’s now labelled a ‘Dwarf Planet’ which throws Pluto into total chaos, “I’ve been conned into hosting my own funeral”. He’s confused about his identity and has only Charon (and a stripper she hired), to cheer him up and help him to understand.
“Pluto: The subject of much confusion,” as his friend Charon puts it, is mirroring people in our society who have things decided for them, often by men in power who cannot even begin to understand their situation.
The production touches on a fair amount of social and political issues, maybe too many to completely be sure of its message. The staging is sparse but it works, due to the dark walls of the tiny Baron’s Court Theatre, giving you a feeling of deep space.
Callum O’Brien takes Pluto and turns his story into a perfect metaphor for issues such as labelling others, accepting people for who they are and feeling lonely. His direction is clear, fresh and ideal for millennials who would love to see their first play but are daunted by big Shakespearian productions.
The stripper scene is hilariously awkward. The overall humour of the play manages to cover up many of the issues and problems in today’s society. Liam Joseph’s Saturn impression is brilliant and draws the audience on his side. He brings Pluto to life and turns him into a character that you like instantly. He’s not just a planet but a man with a heart and soul.
Charon, played by Charlotte Price is extremely gripping and intriguing. You find yourself hanging to every word during her monologue about her friendship to Pluto. She simply leaves you wanting more.
Pluto might not be as smooth sailing as a West End production might be, but as a brand new play, it definitely is a strong first production for the Moonchild Theatre Company who’ve managed to capture the current issues perfectly.
Pluto runs at Baron’s Court Theatre until 23 April and will transfer to the Cockpit Theatre from 14 August until 17 August.