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Review On Tour: Beautiful Burnout

Posted on 23 October 2012 by Ryan Ahern

Beautiful Burnout is a visually stunning play, with an energy and beat that are simply electric. Exploring the psychology and physicality of boxing, the piece is full of well-crafted and intelligent ideas. However, at times a glossy, polished effect left me unable to identify with the characters and emotions of the piece. The end of the play, where the audience is finally granted full access to the feelings and themes explored, is utterly heartbreaking – but I felt even this would have been more effective had I grown connected to the characters earlier on.

Bryony Lavery’s script, much like boxing itself, is sharp and energetic. Lavery has created strong and likeable characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies and subtleties. Lavery’s script works very well with Frantic Assembly’s famously brave physical choices, not allowing these to distract from the drama.

The more physical moments were particularly interesting; the boxing moves were echoed brilliantly with short sharp bursts of energetic movement (to say that the actors have unbelievable stamina would be an understatement). Although the cast worked well together, creating a lovely sense of ensemble and understanding, I found myself distracted in the movement sections as at least one cast member was often out of time. Although a more minor point, this did pull my focus out of the moment and onto that individual, as I willed them to speed up or slow down.

The performances were strong but sometimes presentational. Frantic Assembly’s productions are often sensual and whilst Beautiful Burnout was no exception, its tendency to lack accessible emotion and depth added further to the rather glossy feeling of the production. However, I was struck by Margaret Ann Bain’s portrayal of strong and feisty Dina, Julie Wilson Nimmo’s engaging and emotive Carlotta Burns and Stuart Ryan’s tough and ambitious Cameron Burns.

Beautiful Burnout is an enjoyable show and has some incredible use of video, movement and music. The cast work exceptionally hard throughout this piece and there is astonishing physical work evident in each performance. There are ways that this show could be improved but there are also many strengths that far outweigh the flaws. Beautiful Burnout grips and excites.

Beautiful Burnout is on tour nationally until 1 December. This review was from the artsdepot run. For more information on tour dates, venues and to book tickets see the Frantic Assembly website

Ryan Ahern

Ryan Ahern

Ryan trained as an actor at Central School of Speech and Drama and writes for AYT and The Stage. Although mainly an actor, Ryan also works as a director and in musical theatre and dance. He writes about politics, young people in the arts and has recently turned his hand to fiction.

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Review: Dickens’ Women

Posted on 25 June 2012 by Annabel Baldwin

“Dickens never got over anything,” says Miriam Margolyes, who made clear her incredible enthusiasm and passion for his work. What was astonishing about this performance was the combination of Margolyes’s talent in depicting the spirit of the female characters with the added commentary exposing his characters to almost always be inspired by an acquaintance of his own in reality. It was truly enlightening and compelling.

The night delivered some exceptional performances and the audience responded with expressive “here heres” and delighted in her ability to bring life into the characters of Little Nell, Mrs Pipchin, Miss Havisham, Flora Finching, Mrs Corney and so on. My particular favourite characterisation was that of Miss Wade from Little Dorrit, which Margolyes admitted to be her favourite novel, also commenting that the original film version was “infinitely superior” to any other – having starred in it. It was a deeply moving speech which comprised of complete stillness and expressive sensitivity towards the uncomfortable feelings of the character. A solitary spotlight and an emotive melody played by Benjamin Lee on the piano enhanced the piece further, suggesting a darker psychological side to Dickens’s work.

Margolyes concluded that if Dickens was not making us laugh, he’d be making us angry, notably referencing a description of an “incomparable housewife” in the character of Mrs Chirrup, from Sketches of young couples - “Mrs. Chirrup is the prettiest of all little women, and has the prettiest little figure conceivable”. Margolyes followed this description with a look of subdued frustration, an example of how well she seamlessly moved from character, to narrator, to herself. In the post show Q&A, a lady asked whether Dickens could be seen as a political satirist, to which Margolyes replied: “he was much more than that, he was a moralist”. Yet his life and works contradict each other, in terms of his regard for morals and compassion; in fact in the latter stages of their marriage, Dickens confined his wife Catherine to the upstairs rooms of their London home, and then instructed her to leave, never to see him or their ten children again. Margolyes eloquently said that his works were a “signpost to a better world”, yet he chose not to take that road himself.

There was information from the evening that I feel might be useful in a pub quiz one day, for example Dickens’s occupation with the tender age of 17. Margolyes extracted short descriptions of up to five of Dickens’s female characters, all aged 17. It was because of the death of his sister, who died in his arms at 17, that these characters were created. He was said to respect her enormously and through his characters, achieved a prolonged tribute to her perfection, toying with what she might have been. Margolyes confessed that she found all of these characters fairly “icky”, yet it served as a perfect example of how “Dickens never got over anything”. Differently, in one rare instance, Dickens’s passion is said to have overcome his genius in the dwarf character of Mrs Moucher in his early serialisations. Seymour Hill, on whom the character was based, was outraged at Dickens’s employment of slang language for the character, and in the next newspaper entry, Mrs Moucher appeared quite transformed. Margolyes exclaimed “she became saintly and boring… so I shan’t do her”. Margolyes told these stories and performed these scenes with such vigour and intoxicating excitement that the audience encouraged her to produce further audio books to complement the already completed version of Oliver Twist.

Dickens’ Women has a subtly brilliant production team behind it, including producer Richard Jordan, musical arranger Michael Haslam, pianist Benjamin Lee and co-writer Sonia Fraser, who channel their skills through Margoyles’s ability to entertain. The writing was sharp-witted, comical and intricate, with succinctness often illuminating the tangentential style of Dickens’s writing. Margolyes’s exuberance in the face of his genius overrode any hostility towards the author. A looming portrait of the author was gestured to during Margolyes’s standing ovation and while the audience appreciated his works, the evening’s performance was a celebration of Margolyes; a gifted woman and an extraordinary artist in her own right.

Dickens’ Women played at Artsdepot Theatre, North Finchley until 24 of June before heading out on tour. Next stop: Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol


Annabel Baldwin

Annabel Baldwin

I am currently doing an acting degree at Arts Educational, after doing German, English and Drama at A – level. I have a particular interest in physical theatre and have trained with Rambert Youth Dance Contemporary Company since last September. I spend the rest of my time reading philosophy and frequenting the London Theatres as much as possible.

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Ticket Offer: £5 tickets to Compagnie Rasoterra’s Dirty Laundry at artsdepot

Posted on 17 April 2012 by A Younger Theatre

We have another offer from our friends at artsdepot, this time with a bit of circus. Did you know that circus is definitely on our ‘getting hot’ list for things in theatre at the moment? Well, it is. So get yourself a £5 ticket to see Dirty Laundry… find out more below:
Compagnie Rasoterra: Dirty Laundry (Linge Sale)
Thursday 19 April, 7.30pm

A man. A woman. And a bike.

Exploring the playful, sensual and moving relationship between a man and a woman, Dirty Laundry delves into the private lives of a couple using breathtaking partner acrobatics and trick bike.

Dirty Laundry is directed by celebrated circus director Firenza Guidi, who has previously created hit shows with NoFit State Circus. Here she has created a seamless narrative of body language, at times funny, at times violent, and always gripping.

Compagnie Rasoterra are a young Belgium-based company, who have been working on their production of Dirty Laundry for the last two years, premiering it at the Festival Piste de Lancement (Launch Pad) in Brussels, before their UK debut at artsdepot as part of CircusFest2012.

More info on the artsdepot website.


Claim £5 tickets:
A Younger Theatre readers just need to quote ‘A Younger Theatre’ when they call the Box Office on 020 8369 5454 or book in person and they’ll pay £5. Simple!

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Ticket Offer: £5 tickets for The Pirate Project

Posted on 13 April 2012 by A Younger Theatre

Our friends at artsdepot have given us a fantastic ticket offer for us to share with. You can see Lucy Foster and Improbable in association with Ovalhouse’s The Pirate Project for just £5. That’s a pirate of a fun deal for you. Read the marketing blurb below or skip to the end to find out how to claim your discounted ticket.

PiratesLucy Foster in co-production with Improbable, in association with Ovalhouse presents:

The Pirate Project
Friday 13 & Saturday 14 April 2012, 8pm

Ha Harrrr! artsdepot is proud to have supported The Pirate Project, alongside Arts Council England, and presents preview performances of this new production on Friday 13 & Saturday 14 April. An Improbable Associate Artist Project, this show questions what swashbuckling female pirates of the past would make of the aspirations of 21st century women.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, pirates like Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Ching Shih passed themselves off as men, disguised pregnancy at sea and even endured spells in Jamaican prisons to cut throats and steal booty for a living.  Here, three 21st century women set out on a quest to see if they can still out-think, out-sail and out-fight every man on the high seas. What would the code of conduct for a modern day pirate be? And do women want to become more gung-ho anyway?

Escapades of famous female pirates of the past are staged alongside intimate stories of personal bravery and derring-do from the performers’ own lives as The Pirate Project considers female identity and ambition today asking “do we just need to be more like pirates to succeed?”

As part of their research, the company filmed interviews with women whom they see as contemporary female “pirates”. Moments from these films will appear in the show.

The Pirate Project is performed by Lucinka Eisler, Chloé Déchery and Simone Kenyon, and directed by Lucy Foster. It is a co-production with Improbable with support from Ovalhouse, artsdepot and Arts Council England.

In the weeks prior to the performance, Lucy Foster, the cast and crew will be at artsdepot for a final period of rehearsals ahead of the preview performances.

The Pirate Project features an innovative set design by Philip Eddolls, who has previously created set designs for the Science Museum Live show and Treasure Island for Bristol Old Vic. The seemingly simple design will transform throughout the show into a pirate ship on the high seas.

For more information about the design of The Pirate Project, and other behind the scenes information, visit Improbable’s rehearsal blog  -


Want £5 tickets? (Usually £12/10)
Call artsdepot Box Office on 020 8369 5454 or visit in person and quote ‘A Younger Theatre’ – it’s that simple!

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

More Posts - Website

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