Nominations for Olivier awards 2014, where did all go wrong?

I need to start with an overriding principle: all awards for artistic achievement are inherently flawed. They always represent a compromise and therefore can’t express the joy of personal experience. They are also needed in hundred different practical ways, no point bemoaning their sheer existence or the agenda a specific award represents. The Oliviers focus on mainstream productions, complaining they ignore obscure edgier offerings is pointless. What struck me with the 2014 Oliviers nominations though was how the list was underwhelming, even by the standards of the commercial mainstream agenda.

Let’s count the ways: Continue reading

Review: Dante or Die’s I Do (permutations meet theatre at the Hilton London Docklands Riverside)

Rachel Drazek as the Bride. Photo Ludovic Des Cognets

Rachel Drazek as the Bride. Photo Ludovic Des Cognets

A few years ago I saw a play called Scarborough at the Royal Court Upstairs. The story was set in a hotel and the space was made into a hotel room. In fact there was no seating for the audience: we were sitting wherever we could: at the edge of a sofa or a window seat and the actors were working around us. Not so much around us but through us: we were ducking and diving to get out of their way. Which was all very good practice for Dante Or Die’s I Do, a story playing out in six rooms of a real hotel at the run up to a wedding. The audience, in six separate groups, is led from room to room and witnesses the last fifteen minutes of preparation from all different perspectives.

There is something particularly appealing in being a spectator (or “fly in the wall” as we were encouraged to be) in a familiar yet stressful situation. No leap of faith is needed, we recognise our stories played out. It’s surprising how much of the big day is not about the wedding: everyone has their own story, troubles, interests and preoccupations. Joy and sorrow, the sublime and the ridiculous live side by side, the condensed nature of the experience brings the contrast to the fore.

Set design is another joy: Continue reading