Fringe Focus:

Written for The Stage

The Faction – Andrew Chevalier, Gary Crankson, Richard Delaney, Gareth Fordred, Alexander Guiney, Mark Leipacher, Lachlan McCall, Jonny McPherson, Derval Mellett, Daniel Millar, Jonathan Plummer, Tom Radford, Kate Sawyer, Isobel Smith, Rachel Valentine Smith.

The Faction

Within the fringe an exciting trend for repertory and ensemble work is appearing. Against tough economic odds, two companies are pioneering sustainable fringe models for genuine ensemble, while others are successfully bringing American ideas of repertory to fringe stages.

First up The Faction are coming to the end of their second repertory season at the New Diorama. An ensemble of 15 performers has presented three plays in rotation. Rehearsing during the day and performing at night it is a gruelling schedule – as you can see from their refreshingly honest blog. But the trust built up within this tight-knit group has enabled them to delve deeper into each piece resulting in an insightful and fresh season that has garnered much critical praise. To read more go here.

The Stage: Fringe Focus

As 2013 begins afresh here are a collection of my 2012 Fringe Focus blogs to get you warmed up for those to come.

Catch a rising star

masterclass-offies

Recently, I was asked what I thought of The Off West End Awards (or the ‘Offies’ as they are affectionately known). The person in question had issues with their validity, suggesting that to score one thing against another was unavoidably reductive. But while I could see their point – having a love/hate relationship to awards myself – for Off-West End venues they can be essential. To read more.

Is this theatre’s ‘new’ new writing?

The Bush Theatre announced its new writing policy last week. To do so during the first season without a new play in the theatre’s 41 year history was brave. Sure enough voices of dissent were soon heard, none more frankly than original Artistic Director Mike Bradwell, who wrote – on a social networking site that shall not be named

“THIS IS NEW BUSH THEATRE NEW WRITING POLICY AND IT IS UTTER…”

– well you can imagine the rest. His reaction has elicited more than 80 responses with people anxious not only about the restricted application time but also the workshop and seed funding processes that will follow. To read more

The dramatic appliance of science.

As Nick Payne’s dazzling Constellations or Katie Mitchell’s disquieting Ten Billion shows there are a million and one ways to dramatise science. The Barbican’s exciting collaboration with the Wellcome Trust  and FUEL’s partnership with the UCL Ear Institute continue to explore how art can open up the complicated DNA of physics, biology and chemistry for an audience to experience and enjoy. To read more

We can learn from panto – oh, yes we can!

The cast of Snow White at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen parody this year's favourite cultural reference Gangnam Style. Photo: Donald Stewart

For some people pantomime is only bearable because it encourages families who never go to the theatre into it, and for others it’s not even bearable then. But I’ve always been rather fond of the “He’s behind you!” hoopla.

I enjoy the silly antics and clever pop culture references (if there’s a pantomime on the planet this year without a Gangnam Style pastiche I’ll run around the stage with bloomers on my head). Most of all I get a thrill about being part of an audience so involved in their own entertainment, proactively working with the performers to ensure a good night out. To read more

 

ROLL UP! ROLL UP! To The Stage Off West End Column

Here are links to my two inaugral blogs for The Stage Off West End column.

The beating heart of British theatre.

What defines fringe theatre? It’s such a vast landscape the possibilities are endless. Location, radicalism, financial constraints, the imagination born from those financial constraints – each answer has passionate advocates who constantly use their opinions as barometers to announce either its death or rude healthread more.

Political theatre needs to hit the mark.

As the TUC action of last weekend proves, we are living in protest filled times. More voices than ever are rising up against perceived injustices both at home and abroad. Into this cacophony the theatre can be heard through brilliant endeavours like Theatre Uncut, plays such as The Riots from the ever political Tricycle Theatre and performance art collective #TORYCORE.  This is where the fringe and Off-West End artists come into their own… read more.

Review: The Enormous Turnip

Written for The Stage

Puppetry, live music and good old-fashioned charm are sprouting up left, right and centre from the stage of Jacksons Lane this Christmas. Children’s theatre veterans Stuff and Nonsense have taken the classic tale The Enormous Turnip and turned it into a jolly two-hander full of wry smiles and bendy legs.

A scene from The Enormous Turnip at Jacksons Lane, London

Dotty and Raymond Chickweed live a seemingly idyllic existence in a shed on an allotment. They sing to their vegetables and their vegetables sing to them. Raymond mischievously longs to travel the world whilst Dotty is happy where she is. But when they plant a turnip seed close to their home they get much more than they bargained for.

Fiona Putnam and Marc Parrett are engaging and likeable storytellers who are adored by the sea of six year olds in front of them. Luckily for the rest of us they more than manage that special trick that only certain Blue Peter presenters do, balancing enough know how and energy to please both parents and ‘seedlings’ alike.

Edwina Bridgeman’s design appears pleasingly home made while impressing with its ingenuity and the folksy music makes both mice and children dance.

The Enormous Turnip is as wholesome and warming as Dotty Chickweed’s Christmas vegetable soup and just as yummy.

Runs until 31st December. For more information go here.