Theatrically Yours

Daniel Radcliffe in 'The Cripple of Inishmaan'
In the last four weeks I've been blessed enough to see four plays. My mission took me from the Arcola Theatre Tent in Dalston to the very fringe Vogue Fabrics in Stoke Newington to the Orangery in Holland Park to the Noel Coward Theatre (again) in the West End. The first performance was put on by the Arts Council England-funded Generation Arts Future Stage Company. Generation Arts is a company which provides a training ground for young people who would otherwise not have such exposure to the arts. It works specifically with those in the margins of London who are not in education, employment or training and who are considered at risk. The Future Stage program allows such young people to form a theatre company for a year and put on a production, which I was fortunate enough to witness. I was immensely impressed by both the talent and the writing in 'Enough Said'. I usually don't like comedies, but I laughed out loud throughout it. I have to admit I didn't have the highest expectations for this production and really had no idea what I was going to see (a friend was one of the participants), but I was delighted with the outcome. 

At Vogue Fabrics I saw 'Codependently Yours' a two-man show written by the actors with acoustic-guitar musical interludes. The concept was interesting and I thought the writing excellent, but the actors weren't off-script and I found that distracting. I'm not entirely sure why they would put on the production without having learned the lines, but it definitely detracted from the experience. I was also experiencing high levels of anxiety that evening and sitting on the floor in such a small space didn't help matters. I wanted to run away. Far, far away.

Jason Eddy as Ferdinand in Teatro Vivo's  'After the Tempest'
I then took ten friends to see my friend and fellow Bermudian actor Jason Eddy in the Teatro Vivo production of 'After the Tempest'. Another outdoor theatre experience, this was immersive and interactive. It was absolutely fantastic and I'm not just saying that because I love Jason and he's a beautiful talent. Using the original text of The Tempest, the play begins with the spirits of the island celebrating "Independence Day" after Prospero has departed and freed them from his magic. The audience is part of the celebrations and to mark the occasion the spirits become actors and re-enact the original plot of The Tempest in all its Shakespearean glory. I had never acknowledged the beauty of  Holland Park and, as we weaved through the trees and stumbled across branches following the actors on foot, I was transplanted from the centre of London into a foreign land of spirits. Brilliant story-telling by the performers and a fantastic adaptation by director Sophie Austin. It finishes this weekend and will be taking place in the Church House Gardens in Bromley. I urge you to experience it if you are able. 

Lastly (but certainly not least) I saw Daniel Radcliffe perform in 'The Cripple of Inishmaan', an Irish play about...well... a cripple... of Inishmaan. It is a dark comedy by Irish writer Martin McDonagh set off the Western coast of Ireland in the 1930s. A Hollywood film crew has arrived in neighbouring Inishmore and Cripple Billy is intent on escaping his monotonous existence to become a star, much to the ridicule of his neighbours. The first half moved relatively slowly, but I was also exhausted and desperate for caffeine. After the intermission (and the necessary coffee injection) the play really hit its stride. Daniel totally transformed physically as his deformed body struggled to move about the stage. Daniel was able to completely set aside any memories of The Boy Who Lived with his believable Irish accent, raw wit and stage capabilities. Sarah Greene, as Helen, Billy's object of affection, was fantastically crude and engaging and her exchanges with her on-stage brother Bartley (played by Conor MacNeil) were crucial to the momentum of the production. 

"We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."

- The Tempest. Act 4, Sc. 1, Lines 173-175


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