Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Thursday, 16 July 2015
Written by Joshua Val Martin, the 40-minute monologue is from the perspective of a working-from-home prostitute, and is part of this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe.
Monologues can be a minefield for actors. On viewing the challenge in front of you, one can be fooled into thinking it is quite straightforward, ignorant of the lurking danger. Confidently you venture on stage, too far to turn back and then BOOM: you trip on some tricky poetry, narrowly missing a joke, leaving you detached and disengaged from the piece. You sound like you are remembering words rather than talking, and although you’re alone you have forgotten to use the audience.
Luckily, this isn’t a trap Jo Dakin fell into. Instead, she dominates the piece, breezing through the lines and ticking all the boxes. She is terrifying and menacingly dark, yet likeable enough to stay with on the journey.
This versatility is a cornerstone for a Val Martin piece; the writing style is a hybrid of comedy, politics and a David Bowie album. He is one of the most promising emerging writers around.
Despite reassurance that “it’s not real” when I’ve refused to watch horror films, my response has always been that the film may not be real, but the ideas are; and no cheesy special effects can stop me from feeling terrified. The same can be said for Val Martin. He creates characters and stories so vivid they become a living and breathing reality.
Director Esther Dix has done an excellent job of controlling the parameters of the narrative; she has allowed the realism to come through and be believable, with neither the writing nor the acting rule over the other.
Looking back on my review, it may seem that I haven’t really commented on the piece and the truth is I haven’t even began to touch the surface. To comment on any part of the story would be telling too much. Instead, all I can advise is next time you have the chance to see a Val Martin piece do so: you will not be disappointed.
Words: Kate Morris
Image: Courtesy of Cobbled Haze Club
Monday, 13 July 2015
The production is hugely self-indulgent, with Gordon listed in the programme for concept, direction, design and performance. None of which met par. That’s not completely fair, the concept is very interesting and I think there is something there. As for everything else, I felt it was very safe and riddled with clichés. There’s talk about blood, wolves and snow, so you can bet there was red lighting, fake snow and a fluffy shag pile with a wolf head.
Regrettably this piece hasn’t met the standard set by other MIF productions, the responsibility for which falls on Douglas as he struggles to harness the hot ball of talent he had at his disposal and utilise it effectively. Instead, he rides on the coattails of other people’s talent and uses it for his own gratification. Douglas is indeed the wolf, and a house of straw or sticks has more solidity than this piece.
Friday, 10 July 2015
Throw in four sets of musicians to perform from early afternoon to evening and it all added to the relaxed atmosphere that people savour. The downside for a musician is that an open-air arena, with young children freely running around and taking advantage of the kid friendly area, is not the best location to demonstrate the quality of your works. Mix that with the background chatter and the performers are relegated to the level of sideshows.
Monday, 6 July 2015
While suffering severe writer’s block I set myself a challenge: to write one thing a day, using a quirky book of writing prompts. For example, I was challenged to ‘write about a place you love’. That pesky barricade was no problem for me: I wrote about theatre. Theatre for me is not a mere place but an experience, one I believe makes me understand more of the human condition and the world. Where else do you actually experience someone else’s existence, stepping into their shoes and seeing through their eyes? However, that only extends to seeing and hearing...so what would it be like if we actually got to physically experience another person's reality? Re:Con - the young production team from Contact, have explored this idea with Sensored.
Friday, 5 June 2015
Being a Scouser in Manchester I have on occasion come into contact with the Liverpool v Manchester ideology. It is a rivalry that has been fought for years, and I’m not entirely sure of how it started. Now and again I’m asked “what’s a Scouser doing in Manchester?” followed by the predictable and over phlegmy impressions of “kaarm down”, “Steevie G!”, or “oor’right mate”. All silly feuding aside, these two North West titans have more in common than they care to admit – cosmopolitan cities filled with passionate inhabitants and a shared spectrum of epic music. There’s no denying the two have great music heritage and I for one don’t mind crossing the boundary to relish in Manchester’s. A particular favorite is Joy Division, and combining a passion for music and theatre I jumped at the chance to see New Dawn Fades, a play that recounts the days of the band’s ascension to success and their tragic demise. This one off performance corresponds with the 35th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death and honors him beautifully.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Those who know me know what kind of theatre I like, and they know what I’m looking for when I take my seat, programme in hand, waiting for lights up. You could say the qualities I like in theatre are the same I appreciate in my family and friends: passion, tenacity and having something to say. Fortunately Vertigo productions has these three virtues in spades, and have proven as much with its most recent production Last Dance. The piece is a true labor of love as writer Craig Hepworth started work on it four years ago. Upon viewing at The King’s Arms, it’s evident how much commitment and hard work has gone into the play.