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A Younger Theatre’s Top Shows of 2013

Posted on 20 December 2013 by A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre’s Managing Editor and Artistic Director share our Top Shows of 2013. We’ve scratched our heads and pored over our diaries, and here are the AYT Top 20 shows of 2013. Do you agree?

Metamorphosis at the Lyric

Eleanor Turney, Managing Editor:
Do you agree? Tweet @EleanorTurney

This year, I have seen 122 shows, mainly in Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh and London. Since I saw my last show of the year last night, I thought I’d do a small round-up of my favourites – do add comments with what I’ve missed! I’ve limited myself to 10 shows, but these are ones that have really stayed with me. In roughly chronological order:

Metamorphosis at the Lyric, Hammersmith. Profoundly disturbing and melancholy.

The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, Jackson’s Lane. Darkly hilarious, this adaptation of Tom Baker’s novel still makes me giggle/cringe thinking about it.

Proof, Menier Chocolate Factory. Further proof that Mariah Gale is a stunning actress.

Kate Tempest Brand New Ancients

Kate Tempest Brand New Ancients

Brand New Ancients, Bristol Old Vic and the  Traverse. Yes, I saw this twice. Yes, it was worth it.  Yes, Kate Tempest is amazing.

 Trash Cuisine, Tobacco Factory Theatre. Visceral  and upsetting and clever, Belarus Free Theatre’s  show was the highlight of Mayfest, for me.

 Chimerica, Almeida. Well-written, well-acted, well-  directed and well-designed. A triumph.

Fleabag, Underbelly. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s solo, self-penned show marked her out as one to watch.

 

David Tennant as Richard II

David Tennant as Richard II


Hag
, Underbelly. My only 5-star show of the Fringe. I bloody loved it.

Antarctica, Bristol Old Vic. Hands-down winner of “most adorable show”. Just magical.

Richard II, Barbican. My favourite Shakespeare  play performed by one of my favourite actors. Happy sigh.

 

Fraulein Julie, Katie Mitchell

Katie Mitchell’s Fraulein Julie

Jake Orr, Artistic Director:
Do you agree? Tweet @Jakeyoh

Who knew that creating a list of 10 shows of the year could be so difficult? Thank heavens for my diary. Drawing up this list I was slightly surprised by the lack of fringe theatre that made me jiggle with excitement. Those smaller power-houses just weren’t making shows that stuck for me this year.

Fräulein Julie, Barbican. Directed by Katie Mitchell, this take on Strindberg’s Miss Julie used multiple cameras to create a live film crossed the possibilities of theatre and film. Mesmerising.

Brand New Ancients, Battersea Arts Centre. Kate Tempest. There really are no words to describe the elation you feel about her poetry and performance in Brand New Ancients.

Mission Drift

The TEAM’s Mission Drift

Mission Drift, National Theatre. I didn’t think a play with songs could give me such a thrill, oh how I was wrong. Every month I whip out The TEAM’s soundtrack and dance. So, so good.

The Drowned Man, Punchdrunk. It’s not the immersive experience or the story that gets me excited about Punchdrunk’s newest piece, it’s the imagination and set designers. Like going down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

Where The White Stops, Underbelly / New Diorama. Antler Theatre showed me the potential of emerging work. I’ve seen this piece three times and everytime I find something new to enjoy. Fun, powerful and energised.

Solfatara, Summerhall. The Spanish theatre company Atresbandes knew what it was doing in subverting surtitles, creating a hilarious comedy at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Jo Bannon Exposure

Jo Bannon’s Exposure

Exposure, The Drill Hall / Forest Fringe. Jo Bannon’s Exposure lasts 10 minutes, but it is the most perfect 10 minutes in near-darkness you’ll experience in theatre.

Chimerica, Harold Pinter Theatre. Brilliant, brilliant play. Playwriting is a craft, and it was shown with such beauty in Chimerica.

Secret Theatre, Lyric Theatre. It’s not perfect, but Sean Holme’s radicalisation of what theatre can be through his Secret Theatre has to be in my Top 10.

American Psycho, Almeida Theatre. Right at the last minute, Headlong Theatre and Almeida Theatre give us this sexy, seductive and slick production. I practically orgasmed whilst watching it.

Do you agree with Eleanor and Jake’s Top 20 Shows of 2013? Leave us a comment below.

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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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Beeston Rifles

Posted on 19 August 2013 by Liam Harrison

Beeston Rifles

Star Rating:
(1/5 Stars)

Like the characters in this show, I feel as if I’ve been taken hostage and mentally brutalised by Beeston Rifles. And not in a good way. Seeking retribution for her family, Stacey returns to her hometown of Beeston with bloody revenge on her mind.

A young woman appears onstage brandishing a firearm, mistaking volume for nuance she valiantly attempts to engage the audiences’ attention. As many movie villains would do well to remember, the fact that you are holding a gun does not make your monologue interesting in any way. Neither does it mean that your audience or captives won’t try and make a swift escape while you’re pontificating. Yelling does note denote tension. Repetition does not automatically achieve emphasis. And a challenging topic does not a successful dark drama make.

But the biggest fly in this already contaminated ointment is the deeply offensive character of Stacey’s mentally disabled brother. A shrieking stereotype who lollops around the stage clothed in an angel costume with socks and sandals – the obvious signpost for insanity. This demented, dribbling caricature is painfully performed in a very literal sense, the audience find themselves cringing and clutching at themselves in time with this politically incorrect horror show. It is an unconscionable portrayal of the mentally disabled with no redeeming features to speak of.

Not content with essentially ridiculing the world of disability, the show begins to take an unco-ordinated stab at topic of sexual abuse. You know, may as well, just to round off the whole tortured ordeal. To the cast’s credit they do at least attempt to draw some meaning from this incomprehensible play. However, getting blood from a boulder would be an easier task than trying piece together some purpose from this irredeemable and impenetrable script. Profoundly offensive and tiresome beyond measure Beeston Rifles‘ ill-advised shot in the dark goes agonisingly awry.

Beeston Rifles is playing at Underbelly Cowgate as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 25 August. For more information and tickets, please see the Edinburgh Fringe Website.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Below the Belt

Posted on 17 August 2013 by Eleanor Turney

belowthebelt250

Star Rating:
(4/5 stars) Richard Dresser’s script is a beautiful thing, given hilarious life by a cracking cast of actors under Hamish MacDougall’s direction. Full of black humour, Below the Belt is a treat. Our hapless characters are employees in a faceless corporation, posted overseas somewhere, living in “the compound” day in, day out. They are “the Checkers”, two underlings and a senior Checker, there to make sure that that the mysterious factory is following procedure and turning out enough units every day to hit its quotas.

Graham Dickson’s Hanrahan has carved out a wondefully passive-aggressive niche for himself, alone in his two-person office-come-bedroom, having apparently driven his previous colleague mad. Tom Golding’s sweet-natured Dobbitt is thrown into his company, and the interactions between the two are just brilliant. Dresser’s script is great, but under MacDougall’s direction, the deadpan delivery and slightest of pauses draw big laughes from the audience. It’s bleak, yes, but very funny.

Their boss, Merkin (Mike Wozniak) is consistently undermining, sowing seeds of discontent and trying to play them off against each other. As the plot grows ever-more absurd and surreal, the three have to learn how to work with or around each other to make their lives bearable. The mind games, machinations and double-dealings get more ridiculous and hilarious as the play progresses, until it’s difficult to see how they can extricate themselves. Dresser’s script has a neat twist, which gives us a satisfactory ending.

The design, by Holly Pigott, makes excellent use of office equipment – scones appear from boxes, pairs of lamps become the menacing eyes of animals outside the compound. The script throws in just enough knowing or poignant moments to balance its absurdism and keep us caring about the characters. It’s clever stuff, and Ham on Why theatre has produced a brilliantly funny black comedy with it.

Below the Belt is at Underbelly until 26 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website. 

Eleanor Turney

Eleanor Turney

Eleanor Turney is the Managing Editor of A Younger Theatre, as well as a freelance journalist, writer and editor. She has written for The Guardian, The Stage, The FT and Ideas Tap, and worked for the Poetry Society and the British Council.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: The Bread and the Beer

Posted on 14 August 2013 by Dan Hutton

The Bread and the Beer

Star Rating:
(4/5)

I haven’t seen anything on the publicity for Tristan Bernays’s The Bread and the Beer that suggests this is a piece attempting to understand English identity, but in the context of other shows considering the act of the Union, it comes across as a lone voice considering England specifically. A raging, passionate poem-come-ballad, it creates and subverts mythologies, placing them in the modern world like a one-man Jerusalem.

This tale is of John Barleycorn, a legendary figure in this throbbing, romanticised version of London. He lives underground, is the centre of any party, and can drink others out of house and home. In this story, two clueless men find him in his home before he takes them out and creates a throng of people marching down the streets of London partying. They reclaim the city, taking it back from the police.

The writing mimics lore of old, lilting at times and aggressive at others, relentlessly driving forward to the rhymes at the end of each line. A poetic, lofty style mingles with vulgarities and modern idioms to create a jarring, unique tone which feels particularly English. Occasionally, it slips out of storytelling mode to clarify a point or replay a scene.

Bernays recounts the tale to us, insistent that he is not John Barleycorn but allowing glimmers of this powerful figure to shine through the whites of his eyes. He begins casually enough, but as the party on the streets grows, a violence creeps in as Tim McQuillen-Wright’s simple set gets thrown around, a pool cue hurtling in one direction while a bar stool crashes to the ground in another. Like his subjects he becomes inebriated, but his tipple is words, not lager.

The Bread and the Beer is a seductive, earthy myth for modern times told with eloquence and passion. Sophie Larsmon’s direction brings out some of the darker aspects of English masculinity but at the same time acknowledges its uniqueness, putting myth and storytelling back into a communal experience. By letting loose and relinquishing “British politeness”, John Barleycorn reminds us what it’s like to have a properly good time. Now, someone get me a beer.

The Bread and the Beer is at Underbelly until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Dan Hutton

Dan Hutton

Dan recently graduated with a degree in English and Theatre Studies from the University of Warwick. He is a theatre-maker, freelance theatre critic and a company director of Barrel Organ Theatre.

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