Archive for August 6th, 2017

CATHY

Cathy

An imagined re-fashioning of Ken Loach’s social commentary film of 1966 Cathy Come Home, this production by Cardboard Citizens written by Ali Taylor and directed by Adrian Jackson called simply Cathy is a powerful and thought-provoking work which looks at how although we are supposed to be a civilised society it is still possible for someone to be failed by the system, through no discernible fault of their own. It captures perfectly one person’s spiralling descent into a nightmare situation from which it seems there is little chance of resolution, escape or halting.
The drama revolves around a Cathy, a single parent, and her daughter Danielle who have lived in private accommodation for years but recently she has got behind with her rent. Her landlord, spotting an opportunity of new tenants at increased prices due to the recent gentrification of the area, hands her an eviction notice unless she can meet his demands.
Unable to meet this ultimatum Cathy gathers Danielle, who is close to sitting her GSCSE’s and could really do without such upheavals at an already stressful time, and moves into emergency housing for supposedly 33 days when a more permanent solution will apparently be offered. Of course 33 days becomes 97 days and when an offer is made it is for another part of the country and if it is refused then social services will become involved and mother and child could be separated.
Suffice to say that the situation becomes progressively worse and Cathy’s predicament worsens and worsens until she hits rock bottom.
This production is a very powerful work and Cathy Owen in the title role is quite outstanding and she is ably supported by a small but effective and flexible cast: Hayley Wareham, Amy Loughton and Alex Jones. It certainly gives you something to consider in that on the surface there have been huge changes in social care but not so many that situations, such as Cathy’s, can still occur. It feels unnecessary and the system which is supposedly in place to prevent things such as this occurring can, if abused or not thought out properly, sometimes do more harm than good.
A powerful, thought-provoking work !
****
Cathy is on at Pleasance Dome Aug 5th-26th (not 14th) at 3,30pm

Advertisements

THE PORTABLE DOROTHY PARKER

The Portable Dorothy Parker

Known for her acerbic razor-sharp wit and in being in possession of a tongue you most certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of Dorothy Parker makes excellent subject matter for any playwright and this outing does a commendable job of representing this.
Written by Annie Lux, directed by Lee Costello and with Margot Avery in the central role as Parker- we, the audience are the invited publisher for Viking that Parker really can’t be bothered with- this production captures something of the spirit of its protagonist as she reminisces through her memoirs for selected works to be known as The Portable Dorothy Parker.
Taking us through a list of her achievements: writing for Vogue, Vanity Fair,. Her stint as a Hollywood screen writer to hanging out with literary bigwigs such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway all leading to those legendary lunches at The Algonquin Hotel where she held court with members of her ‘round table’; it is an exhilarating ride. It is of course peppered with wonderful anecdotes and spiky comments drip fed and delivered with almost icy detachment. In fact sometimes they are delivered a little too coolly and subtly so therefore are not always easy to spot.
Avery does a great job as Parker and you get the sense of the authoritative superiority and sense of entitlement those of supreme intelligence seem to possess. You also get a sense of the ennui and subsequent loneliness that lies at her core with the only real companionship she feels is with the ever-present bottle of Haig and Haig she keeps replenishing her glass from.
The portable Dorothy Parker is a nicely paced- not too fast as this would dilute the essence of the character whose laissez-faire attitude is essential to the role- and even if it does slow down towards the end it always manages to retain your interest.
****
The Portable Dorothy Parker is showing at Gilded Balloon Rose August 5th-28th-not 14th or 21st- at 4pm.

FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads

‘From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ borrows its title from one David Bowie’s greatest and most loved songs and cleverly opens with Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, the song Bowie wrote ‘Life on Mars’ as a retaliation to after having his lyrics rejected –Paul Anka won out- and this one man play focuses on a teenager who is not only a Bowie obsessive but also suffers from mental health issues including an eating disorder.
Martin, played by Alex Walton, is the confused teenager at the centre of this work, which may actually disappoint Bowie fans expecting a musical homage to their hero but it is still a compelling drama in its own right. It is in essence a voyage of discovery for the teenage misfit as he tries to make sense of his dad who abandoned him at an early age but who left him a box to be opened on his 18th birthday which retraces the steps of both his life and that of his idol David Bowie.
Written and directed by Adrian Berry the production is not always easy to follow but it is always compelling. Likewise the use of Bowie’s music is slightly on the sparse side and more use could have been made of it in order to sustain a narrative thread.
In fact one scene which uses the isolated vocal from Ziggy Stardust track Five Years loses its momentum slightly as the impassioned vocal is set alongside a hysterical outpouring from Martin which distracts rather than adds to the drama. The vocal alone would have been more effective and I found myself more gripped by it than the dialogue.
At the end I was unsure of what conclusions had been reached and at times it felt as if the whole production was slightly under developed. I have seen this play before-about 15 years ago I think- and I felt much the same then. That said it is still worth seeing just don’t go along expecting it to enlighten you in any way about David Bowie as his role is a minor and at times inconsequential one even if he is the subject matter at its heart.
***
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is on at Pleasance Courtyard August 5-28 at 13.55pm