Review: Pomona, by Alistair McDowall at the Orange Tree Theatre

Sam Swann and Charlie and Sean Rigby as Moe. Photo Manuel Harlan

Sam Swann and Charlie and Sean Rigby as Moe. Photo Manuel Harlan

Think of your life as a conveyor belt. The metaphor works perfectly in all ways, not least the physical: you only do a circle of a journey most days, and it’s difficult to get off when you want to.

This is how I think of Alistair McDowall’s Pomona: it’s the play that pushes you out of the conveyor belt. If that’s true for all good theatre, it’s more true for Pomona. Or rather Pomona throws you out in unfamiliar places: not quite scary or threatening, but places where you see things at the corner of your eye, and your heart starts racing before you have time to know why. If it’s a game, it’s thrilling, if it’s not a game, we are in serious trouble. With Pomona it’s both, all the time. Continue reading

Review: Alistair McDowall’s Talk Show at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs

Jonjo O'Neill and the snake. In case you didn't believe me. Photo Helen Murray

Jonjo O’Neill and the snake. In case you didn’t believe me. Photo Helen Murray

This is not the way I wanted to start this review. Or any review for that matter. The evening of July 17th, when I saw Talk Show at the Royal Court, the news that actor Paul Bhattacharjee had been missing for a week was hanging in the air. He had been part of the weekly rep ensemble, playing the president in The President Has Come to See You and the father in Pigeons, and was due to appear in Talk Show. But after the rehearsal on July 10th, he had gone missing. I can’t know how staff and actors at the Royal Court were feeling, but I was unnerved and sad: pit of the stomach sad, hoping that everything would be alright and wondering how this can happen to someone I stood so close to only a couple of weeks before.

With this absurd, even selfish, thought, I sat down to watch Alistair McDowall’s Talk Show directed by Caroline Steineis. The story of three generations of men, all of them struggling to survive financially, emotionally, existentially. The more they need each other, the more they drift apart. Through pride and stubbornness, they barely keep their head above the water. Continue reading