Review: John Webster’s The White Devil, RSC, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Kirsty Bushell as Vittoria and David Sturzaker as Bracciano. Photo Tristram Kenton

Kirsty Bushell as Vittoria and David Sturzaker as Bracciano. Photo Tristram Kenton

For better or worse, I rarely research plays before I see them. Some plays, I know better than others, but when unfamiliar I don’t seek information out. Part of it it’s being otherwise busy, part of it it’s a belief the production will and should deliver in its own terms.

This is a long-winded way of saying I knew nothing of The White Devil as I sat on my seat to see Maria Aberg’s production. I knew it was John Webster, which meant the mysteries of life would be explored through the prism of grizzly deaths. I knew there would be sexual references because it was written on a sign as we were entering the auditorium. I couldn’t help but think “sexual references” felt much too tame for what I had in mind. In the end, this proved correct. My impression of the production was it felt tame and kept the audience at arm’s length. Continue reading

Review: Nicole Beckwith’s Untitled Matriarch Play (or Seven Sisters), at the Royal Court

From left: Laura Elphinstone, Natasha Gordon, Angela Terence, Debbie Crazen, Anna Calder-Marshall. Photo Helen Murray

From left: Laura Elphinstone, Natasha Gordon, Angela Terence, Debbie Crazen, Anna Calder-Marshall. Photo Helen Murray

The Royal Court Weekly Rep continues, we are at number five of six plays in six weeks. The Untitled Matriarch Play (or Seven Sisters), written by Nicole Beckwith and directed by Vicky Featherstone, doesn’t hold any mysteries in its title. Seven women, related to each other in different ways, or not at all, grudgingly come together to argue, undermine and occasionally support each other. Men are largely absent. Apart from a boy who died as a child, Ted whose best quality is he is irrelevant and a father who looks like the captain from Love Boat (you need to be of a certain age to appreciate this reference). Continue reading

Review: Clare Lizzimore’s Mint at the Royal Court Downstairs

Laura Elphinstone as Stephanie and Sam Troughton as Alan. Photo Helen Murray

Laura Elphinstone as Stephanie and Sam Troughton as Alan. Photo Helen Murray

That was unexpected: could it be that the Royal Court weekly rep season, rough, quick and unpolished, produced one of the best acting performances of the year? When the time comes and I look back on 2013, I have little doubt Sam Troughton playing Alan in Clare Lizzimore’s Mint will be a definitive theatre moment of the year.

Mint tracks Alan, a 26 year old prisoner, through the next seven years of his life: prison visits, relocations, release. Family relationships, dreams, world events, personal milestones for loved ones. Alan is forced to watch from the sidelines, trapped physically and emotionally. He is desperate to connect, wrestle some control back and find his way. He struggles too hard to see that everyone is moving away. Continue reading