ZANE KHAN interviews Beth McAulay and Thomas Harcourt, co-founders of Church St. Theatre, a student-run theatre company.  What inspired you to set up Church St. Theatre?  THOMAS: I suppose the right thing to say here is that, at the start, I didn’t. Beth did and, once she proposed it to me, I couldn’t get enough of the idea. Beth and I both had plays on in the past year, and we’ve always said to each other how much we admired each other’s work, so not only did the opportunity to do something with her excite me, but also the fact that it would allow us to work with other writers, actors, directors and designers of our age and take our work to the next level. Also, since the coronavirus basically closed down a lot of the channels that would otherwise have been open to us, it seemed the perfect way…Continue Reading

Interview: Church St. Theatre

ISABELLE OSBORNE discusses how the closure of Phantom of the Opera is a dark omen for the future of British theatrical companies Since 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece The Phantom of the Opera has delighted audiences across generations with its timelessly beautiful story and exquisite music. It is no surprise, therefore, that producer Cameron Mackintosh’s declaration that the musical has been forced to close permanently on the West End has come as a tragic shock to both the industry and lovers of theatre.  Closing Phantom arguably marks the end of the golden age of West End theatre. As London’s second-longest-running musical, Phantom has withstood many challenging times, such as the 2008 financial crisis that saw a huge economic downturn. Yet after 33 years of theatrical prowess, the show has finally met its match with COVID-19 restrictions. The government-imposed coronavirus restrictions have been of severe detriment to the theatre industry, threatening…Continue Reading

The Show Must Not Go On

MAYA BOWLES discusses how her experience of Small Island has evolved in light of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The National Theatre’s production of Small Island, broadcast for one week on their YouTube channel, coincided not only with the second annual Windrush Day on 22nd of June, but also with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. I first saw the play last August at the National Theatre, and while I thought it was outstanding then, watching it for a second time online during the coronavirus pandemic and the BLM movement gave the story a new gravitas. Based on the novel by the late Andrea Levy, Small Island moves between Jamaica and Britain, telling a story that spans the Second World War, and the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush in 1948. In a recent interview for The Guardian, Leah Harvey (who plays Hortense) said that…Continue Reading

Small Island and the Windrush Scandal

SOPHIE CUNDALL discusses theatre, intimacy, and the virtual stage. TW: sexual assault. Theatre requires intimacy. Theatre is intimacy. By definition, theatre is intimate. Whether it is our closeness to the stage, to the other audience members, or in more abstract terms, to the story and the characters we see depicted before us: intimacy makes theatre. In the theatres above pubs, in nightclubs and in Edinburgh venues, there are barely two metres between the door and the stage. This is where the best theatre happens – on beer-soaked floors that stick to your shoes, on slightly uncomfortable chairs where you are as close to strangers as you are on the Victoria Line at 8:30 am. Costumes often consist of leggings and a block coloured t-shirt. Maybe some white trainers; they are not necessary in theatre where the execution of the plot carries the play and its audience. The lights are minimal,…Continue Reading

Performance in a Pandemic

ISABELLE OSBORNE reviews A Clockwork Orange at Bloomsbury Theatre. Performed by the UCL Drama Society in collaboration with Film Society, A Clockwork Orange captures the danger of state power in a corrupt dystopian setting. Directed by Srishti Chakraborty and produced by Tanya Dudnikova, The show interprets Anthony Burgess’ play based on his 1962 novel. The play follows Alex (Luke Kelliher), the leader of a gang of ‘droogs’ (Elizabeth Zubanova, Rob Davidson, Charlie Sayer), who is notorious for his violent criminal activity. After being caught by the police and imprisoned for two years, Alex becomes victim to the brutal ‘Ludovico Technique’ in order to obtain a suspended sentence. Led by Dr. Brodsky (Maciej Manka), the experiment forces Alex to watch horrific video clips and is designed to make him detest any form of violence, conditioning him to vomit at the mere thought of it.  Chakraborty and the cast are successful in vividly…Continue Reading

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

ZANE KHAN reviews Death of England at the National Theatre. Death of England, written by Roy Williams and Clint Dyer and performed at the National Theatre, is a powerful extended monologue that concerns the paternal bond in a working-class family and how it undergoes incredible pressure through its relationship with England. Michael (played by Rafe Spall) is a young individual who is in mourning. His search for his father’s true identity is marred by the racial and social differences that have plagued England from the late 1960s to the present day. Death of England is a one-man play, with the stage as the Cross of Saint George. The presence of the red-lit cross allows Spall to take advantage of spatial opportunities in interacting with the audience; often with a comedic pun that lightens the mood in the first act of the play. Items that are significant to Michael and his…Continue Reading

DEATH OF ENGLAND

MAEVE HASTINGS discusses the first same-sex couple on Dancing on Ice. Last Sunday was the first time I tuned into Dancing on Ice, a highly unrealistic ‘reality’-competition show, that, as a figure skater, I feel underplays the difficulties of a sport which requires having, as Johnny Weir so aptly puts it, ‘brass knuckles under velvet gloves’. Reluctantly, I soon find myself sucked into the self-professed ‘greatest show on ice’. One pair, in particular, is the epitome of commercialised family TV, oozing with charisma, offset only by the occasional technical element, and skating to the inescapable soundtrack of The Greatest Showman (what else?). However, they are, in fact, anything but cliché: ‘H’ from Steps and Matt: the first same-sex pair on Dancing on Ice. The backlash online highlights the stagnated perceptions people still have against anything that might digress from social norms. Although within competitive figure skating, a pair usually consists…Continue Reading

Taking Steps Towards Equality

RONI MEVROACH reviews I Could Go on Singing at the Southbank Centre. This performance doesn’t leave you certain about many things, but one thing is for sure – it is very well-titled. FK Alexander really does go on, and on, and on singing. The show celebrates the legacy of Judy Garland, with a reference to her 1963 film in the title. Indeed, it is essentially one hour of Alexander performing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ alongside the final recording of Garland singing it in 1969, just four months before her death. It is a weird, bizarre experience and the repetitive nature of the performance makes it almost hypnotic – you are transported to an alternate universe.  FK Alexander is a Glaswegian performance artist, who is known for her work about wounds, recovery, aggressive healing, radical wellness, industrialisation and noise music. She is accompanied in this performance by Okishima Island Tourist Association,…Continue Reading

I Could Go On Singing

ELLIE LACHS reviews Faithful Creatures at Camden People’s Theatre. Isobel Macleod’s Faithful Creatures, directed by Evie Robinson, is a revelation. It bravely strides away from familiarity as Macleod breathes life back into the story of Gerrard Winstanley’s Diggers, a group of English Protestant radicals in 1649 who occupied St George’s Hill, Surrey and establish an alternative society based on communal living and economic equality. The actors command the stage and the story as their own with re-oiled zealotry. It isn’t, however, solely the period costume that roots us within the realm of a period drama, for that we can look to Winstanley’s consciously verbose and biblically infused speeches.  Macleod’s interests are not focused on the politics and contention, but with the relationships and identities that comprise the movement. She gives the Diggers’ ideology a human face which might otherwise have been difficult to identify with for a modern audience. Through this…Continue Reading

Faithful Creatures

SOPHIE CUNDALL interviews the director and producer of the upcoming production of A Clockwork Orange at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Since March last year, Srishti Chakraborty (Director) and Tanya Dudnikova (Producer) and their production team have been working on Drama society’s collaborative second term show with the help of film society: A Clockwork Orange. I sat down with the pair to have a chat about the project, one of drama society’s most modern and radical choices to date. Why A Clockwork Orange? [S] I took the Utopias and Dystopias module in second year, and was initially keen to bid A Brave New World, but the play written on it is…bad. Instead, I chose Clockwork Orange which I’ve studied a lot, and we took the play that was written by Antony Burgess in response to Kubrick’s film which he didn’t like. We’ve actually rewritten a lot of the script! Basically, we really wanted…Continue Reading

A Clockwork Orange Interview

ELLIE LACHS reviews Swive [Elizabeth] at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. The Sam Wanamaker Theatre’s latest production, Swive, directed by Natalie Abrahami and written by Ella Hickson, is mischievous, cuttingly crude and persistently powerful. The play’s anachronistic meddling and conscious theatricality set it firmly in its own league. Its staging in the barely revealing candlelit space conjures an atmosphere of amused shock, wide-set smirks and subtle thrills, all of which pave the way (if not split the sea) for Ella Hickson’s indignant, power-hungry and feminist Elizabeth I. As the woman who has been remembered for her successful ruling of the throne for 44 years despite a lack of husband or heir, Hickson has re-painted Elizabeth’s face with the extremes of ambition, and does so in a human, hubristic and relatable manner. Her actions might be conniving, self-serving and malicious, but in a world pitted against her for her ovaries and natural powers…Continue Reading

Swive [Elizabeth]

SELMA REZGUI reviews Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again at Bloomsbury Theatre.  A series of straws that break the camel’s back. Alice Birch’s Revolt. She said. Revolt again asks what would happen if certain things, ostensibly small things, harmless everyday things, would happen one time too many. What if you just… exploded? The play, directed by Seren John-Wood, is broken into 4 fragments of furious imperatives. Revolutionise the language. Invert it. A couple talks over dinner. The man (Gabriel Fagan) unsexily proclaims that he is desperate to ‘make love to you!’ His partner (Suhanya J de Saram) objects. Make love with, she insists: language matters. Soon they’re dancing around one another on the stage verbally jousting, and she is destroying his naïve Freudian notions of a gap being there to be filled, and telling us in no uncertain terms who gets to put what in whom. The dialogue is precise and…Continue Reading

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.