Sunday, 22 March 2009

*** Kinkan Shonen + Toki (Sankai Juku)

19 November 2008
Kinkan Shonen (Kumquat Seed)

23 November 2008
Toki (Time)

Sankai Juku
Direction, Choreography and Design ~~~~~~~~~~ Ushio Amagatsu

Ushio Amagatsu (toki)
Semimaru (toki)
Sho Takeuchi
Akhito Ichihara
Taiyo Tochiaki
Ichiro Haseqawa
Dai Matsuoka
Nobuyoshi Asai

Sadlers Wells
A soldier - he comes towards us - salutes - eats sand - grins eats sand again - grins again - eats sand

Four men in long skirts and masks of artful disfigurement dance together - their hands are huge and sometimes claws - then they are entwined together almost loving - then they are a gyrating diagonal line - now they are still gyrating bare bottoms in our faces - sexy rude funny subversive

A man and a peacock locked together face to beak come towards us - slow - they are one entity - then they are two separates dancing together - then they are man and ornamental bird the cock perched on his back - then they are apart: the dancer sinuously moving the bird still and watching - he will stay present for the rest of the show

Then another three dancers arrive so we are given a couple a single man and a man and a peacock - near naked the couple show us fighters wrestlers determined and cruel then increasingly tender until they are lovers - the single two men find each other and become a couple - counterpointing fighting with the other couple's loving and vice versa

A dancer comes on squashed into a small box version of himself - his face widely pleased and comic

A near-naked man hangs upside down slowly turning from a golden kite triangle of against vivid blue….

moving ….

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Faure' Requiem (Bradenburg Sinfonia & Whitehall Choir)

Faure' Requiem at St Martin the Fields

wonderful treat in the newly refurbished st martin in the fields with its fabulous new window

as well as the requiem, the two other highlights were the Cantique de Jean Racine (Faure') and the Air (Andante religioso) from the Holberg Suite (Greig)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

'madame de sade'

Comtesse de Saint-Fond ~~~~~~~ Frances Barber
Baronesse de Simaine ~~~~~~~~~ Deborah Findlay
Charlotte ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jenny Galloway
Madame de Montreuil ~~~~~~~~~ Judi Dench
Anne ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Fiona Button
Renee, Madame de Sade ~~~~~~~ Rosamund Pike

Director ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Michale Grandage
Designer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Christopher Oram
Lighting Designer ~~~~~~~~~~~ Neil Austin
Composer & Sound Designer ~~~~ Adam Cork
Video Art & Projection Designer ~ Lorna Heavy
Act I
1772 The salon in Madame de Montreuil's house. Autumn.
Act 2
1778 The same. September.
Act 3
1790 The same. April, nine months sonce the outbreak of the French Revolution.

A difficult play - intellectual in its preponderance of words, ideas, argument - and wonderful for this, and for bringing us something non-naturalistic and this good in the west end. Annoying that a lot of the critics seem incapable of reviewing the actual piece rather than trotting out their different lists of what theatre should be as if a) their tastes are that authoritative and b) that theatre should be just one thing. (e.g. Susannah Clapp’s requirement for ‘fast pace’, and ‘women to be like women’ whatever that might mean.)

So this is an expressionist piece much closer to Brechtian theatre than the usual naturalistic fare. Played against an opulent gold-walled salon that shines and reflects wealth and purposelessness
Lighting, colours (browns to greens to icy metallic blues) and projections are used expressionistically. Played out between six articulate certain women who all arrive in impossibly ornate and heavy architectural concoctions to position themselves to present their views of the matter and who all easily breach the confines of their character types.

The women arrive and place themselves and are mostly still - Frances Barber's character getting the only real action from her whip play. All are strong and full in their characters, and listening to them reason and debate their different certainties from such fine actors who all bring such total presence makes the show compelling. And the substance of the piece is made stark and unremitting by the absolute absence of editorial comment - there are no easy indulgences of knowing who or what is right or wrong here: hear the arguments and make up your own mind. Listening to what is said in the onslaught of words is as problematic as the Marquis de Sade himself - overly ornamental sex & violations or philosophical testings on the nature of devotion? The inevitable decay of an aristocracy redolent with its own pointlessness or a new libertarian emancipation? Salacious gossip-mongering or high-minded argument?

This is a show of dense & relentless words counterbalanced by performances of crystal clarity and vibrating stillness masquerading as a richly made flummery of period opulence.

Mishima apparently wanted to make something that showed 'fire through ice', and to a greater extent this is what we get: the burning passions and pulsations of craving control are in every case perfectly glazed in icy stillness and religiously constructed manners.

And difficult in a personal sense perhaps in its investigation of a woman under the ruinous spell of a potently toxic man, not unlike a woman I know. And actually in this case (too?) it turns out not to be him she is so fettered to, but her own construction of him as a symbol of holiness which his actual presence could only shatter ...

cf. Chrstopher Harts's Sunday Times review

Thursday, 12 March 2009

'fall of the peacock throne' (wildbird)

Wildbird presents
Fall of the Peacock Throne
by Chris Lee
Southwark Playhouse
March 5th 2009 - March 28th 2009
Show starts: 7.30pm
Running time: 100mins

Directed by - Chris Lee
Multimedia - Graeme Roger
Sound Design - Dave Martin
Lighting Design - Ali Ross

Creative Team
Directed by -
Chris Lee
Multimedia -
Graeme Roger
Sound Design - Dave Martin
Lighting Design - Ali Ross

Innovative new Highland theatre company, Wildbird, presents the world premiere of Fall of the Peacock Throne.
Raymond Chandler meets Greek tragedy in this political thriller charting the story of the 1953 Iranian coup alongside that of Alexander’s invasion of Persia in 333BC.
Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution the play depicts the moment when fledging Iranian democracy was strangled at birth in favour of British oil interests and US cold war strategy. This is one of the biggest skeletons in the western closet and the root cause of the so-called ‘war on terror’, a defining event that lies at the heart of western fear of the Islamic world.
Intimate in its design and execution, but epic in reach, Fall of the Peacock Throne tackles issues of conscience, empire, freedom, and power. This is a story everyone should know, whose timeless echoes thunder in our ears, demanding to be heard.
Wildbird are a new contemporary performance and multi arts company from Moray in the north east of Scotland. The artistic team was originally brought together to work on National Theatre of Scotland’s Crucible and Macbeth projects and formed Wildbird in 2006. Wildbird set out to make work that is epic, political and truly theatrical, tackling difficult and important subjects. Fall of the Peacock Throne is their second full length theatre production.

We walk into a hazy disorientating space cut through with laser beams. A projection says Tehran 1953 and when this simple sign is multiplied around the walls and the great vaulted brick ceiling we feel like we are not just getting information but inhabiting Tehran 1953. After this the film & lighting effects are more cosmetic diversions than integrated into the performance.

Athena arrives as the chorus - supplying narration, commentary and with us witness to the dual stories of opposing powers - FBI man Kermit Roosevelt vs. Mossadeq and Alexander vs. Darius in a much earlier coup. Athena is given power to apparently manipulate too - both by incitement to violent domination and in her apparent arrangements of battles. A pity then that the only female character has to be such a stereotypical sex symbol.

The play is mostly words and there are a lot of them. It seems amateur in the old fashioned sense of people doing it because they cared altho unfortunately the acting has too much of an amateurish quality and needed a much stronger performance style - more in the Brechtian mould and less or much better focused naturalism. But you sense great integrity in the writing- we trusted the material and the ethics that come with it. And it is most certainly a story that wants telling.

Playing it traverse does not harm it at all, but it didn’t add anything either: the adversarial tension of the two opposing forces wasn't revealed any more sharply in this stand-off spatial arrangement in the ways it was used so effectively in scotland thing and russian one.
The show remains Earthbound by perhaps too much stuff and too many words and probably too little distance by its writer to fully make the performance soar. But the material is good enough to easily imagine another director or company with greater objective distance giving it fuller flight.

Post Show Talk with Chris Lee
Script a combination of real stuff and stuff I've written
Also cf. 'Counter Coup' by Kermit Roosevelt

This coup was the first prototype american coup -there have been 36 since then

Iran was riddled with MI6 at this time, the British had only recently been kicked out

One of the things I wanted to explore living is Aberdeenshire where most families are employed by BP The most important thing I wanted you to get was that Mossadeq stayed true to his principles

For the last decade most plays seem to be about two people or stage talking about their feelings but I don’t get out to theatre much

I wanted to look at the idea of power - power as a moral force. But also about leadership. But also it’s about empire as well. And also to address the issue that our politicians stand up and say one thing but do another and lie about it.

Meant to make it feel like a film noi with Athena as femme fatale
The battle scene film from Cecil B de Mille's ‘Ten Commandments’

Inspiration was wanting to say something about the Iraq war. And I’ve known Ali since I was born and l wanted to honour that. Wrote the first bits in 2000. and its the 3Oth anniversary of the revolution this year. If you didn't know this story you could be fooled into fighting a war thinking it was ‘a just war’.

For these things to be done and then swept under the carpet isn't right so we need to tell stories about it.

Churchill’s memo to Eisenhower: ‘After we've got rid of Mossadeq I won't touch your oil in Saudi Arabia if you don't touch mine in Iraq’.
Mossadeq’s last speech 'They will say about me...’ are all things they did say about him in the commons.