Archive for August 15th, 2016

THE ELEPHANT MAN

The Elephant Man
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The tragic tale of John Merrick, born with extreme physical deformities, has become a familiar one thanks to David Lynch’s classic 1980 version and David Bowie’s performance in the lead role on the Broadway stage from around the same time. Whilst obviously a more low-key offering this production from Fringe Management and Canny Creatures is no less affecting with strong, touching performances which capture the essence of the tale.
It is a beautifully paced adaptation which is perfect if you are looking for a late lunchtime/early afternoon show to see. It captures in an extremely concise manner how Merrick went from being a prize exhibit in a travelling freak show to being the toast of Victorian London society-itself something of freak show in itself- even winning admiration from royalty due to the patronage of a star of London stage and theatres, Mrs. Kendal.
Great performances all round especially from Michael Roy Andrew as Merrick who uses his body to capture the sinuous awkwardness and deformities of Merrick rather than relying on the grotesquery of make up or prosthetics. My one concern is that all five female roles were played by Kirsty Eila McIntyre when each male character had a different actor assigned. Not that McIntyre was less than capable in each of her roles-she actually excelled- but in some ways it spoke to me of women being interchangeable and indistinguishable from each other. Of course I could be wrong and it was all down to a matter of economics and practicality.
Definitely a show worth seeing and even if it doesn’t add anything to its more famous interpretation be glad at least that it certainly doesn’t detract from them either.
****
The Elephant Man is on at the Gilded Balloon until August 28th at 13.15 daily

BLUSH

Blush
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This very relevant piece of theatre by Charlotte Josephine- who also acts out a variety of different roles- in collaboration with Snuff Box Theatre looks at the controversial topic of revenge porn and the shame an guilt it engenders and what actually motivates such hideous acts.
Alongside Josephine on the stage is the sole other actor Daniel Foxsmith – who also performs various roles- and the tension the two manage to produce is impressively palpable never letting up for a second. The speed perfectly captures how such situations can escalate especially after the clicking of a solitary button on a computer, phone or device can radically alter a person’s life and affect how others see them from then on.
Whilst Foxsmith is impressive in his roles it is Josephine who really seems to get inside her characters with a sinuous intensity and insight. You sense her frustration, her shame and her confusion as to why all this is happening and you feel her strength for coping with it at all.
Definitely a thoughtfully conceive and well paced piece of theatre it never fails to impress and in particular the scene where the two actors run round in circles captures the lightning speed in which it takes to change a life and a life is changed.
The dialogue is crisp, well conceived and perpetually captivating. The director Edward Stambollouian manages to coax outstanding performances and the simple but effective set and well-timed lighting contribute to the action but never distracts from it. An impressive piece of modern theatre!
Blush is on at Underbelly until August 28th at 18.00 daily (not 16th)