The Resurrectionist by Robert Pope and Ian Dixon Potter at Etcetera Theatre

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We were once again the guests of the Golden Age Theatre Company to see their latest work, the story that inspired Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Resurrectionist, at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden.

The story unfolds with Lord Byron going in desperation to the elusive scientist, Victor Darvell, to bring back his beloved and recently deceased manservant Blaize. Through his ingenious use of science, Victor is successful in bringing Blaize back from the dead. The reanimated Blaize, however, attracts the attention of the local townsfolk and the local cleric and judge Pastor Cornelius, eventually bringing danger upon himself and his ‘father’, Victor, through his perceived diabolical threat.

This we are to believe is the basis of Mary Shelley’s story about Frankenstein.  The character of Mary, however, seemed very much like a bit part in this story, which might have been intended, but on reflection seemed a but strange. Maybe she could have held more of a narrative position in this piece?

The play itself was hampered by some slightly lengthy scenes, that at times felt overly wordy. It must be problematic to write in a literary style belonging to the end of the 18th century and it no doubt takes a very effective writer to get it right. There were some very good insights into human nature within this piece, however because of the literary style, they came about in a very convoluted and roundabout way. Despite this there was some very good acting on show from the entire cast, and particularly, Peter Dewhurst as the enigmatic Victor Darvell. He was brilliantly supported by Mike Anfield, Tom Everatt, Mark Shaer, Tristan Rogers and Samantha Kamran as Mary Shelley.

Overall this was an entertaining piece of theatre, that could probably have been shorter. There were humorous moments throughout and some lovely moments within it. Check it out for yourself tonight or tomorrow at 7pm at the Etcetera Theatre.

Highlight of the show – Blaize being reanimated. A brilliant use of lighting and contact lenses.

WIGS 3/5

Dreamplay by BAZ Productions at The Vaults

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BAZ Productions have reinvented August Strindberg’s ‘The Dream Play’ at the Vaults. Taking the audience in through the back and around the space, they have created different dream-like scenes to varying effect.

Based on the story of the daughter of a god who descends to earth to witness the plight of humankind, we are first confronted with her as she appears from within the waiting audience, speaking an unintelligible language. We are led through various scenarios involving firstly a woman locked in bathroom calling for her mother, then a strange dinner scene that evolves into a wedding proposal between two couples, followed by the breakdown of the marriages. These were followed by a school scene with teachers who humiliated us, the pupils, and this led to a finale in which life and death were questioned.

Moments of this production flashed with brilliance and real feeling but often it seemed to focus too narrowly on a certain kind of human pain rather than the broader spectrum of human suffering. Too often we felt disconnected from the formless scenes which unfolded before us. The final scene became a simplistic discussion of life and death with references to Jesus, Buddha and resurrection. It was completely without poetic insight or gravitas.

Real moments of humour came out of the scene involving the couple whose marriage has broken down, which although formulaic, was engaging. However when a chained man (as in ball and chain) in his undies suddenly and unaccountably breaks into the scene there was a real moment of hilarity. The school scene was the first time we truly felt like we were in a dream, but sadly this experience did not recur.

Laura Moody was a constant shining light in this production. The alternative cellist and vocalist, brought her ethereal sounds to the whole piece, adding significantly to the mood of the piece. She has a phenomenal vocal range that goes well beyond conventional sounds. It is a shame the rest of the piece did not match up to her performance. This piece needed more attention in its development. Flashes of brilliance and hilarity were encumbered by a lack of direction and purpose.

Highlight of the piece – the lights snapping out in the school room and what followed – truly dreamlike.

WIGS 2/5

Tickets Under £15

With theatre prices on the west end touching the £200 mark, we have scoured through everything that is available to find you the hottest tickets you can get your hands on for £15 or less!

In theatres now…

Torn Apart – Theatre N16 – £14/10 – Until 30 Sept

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Torn Apart (Dissolution) puts women centre stage and deals with issues such as feminism, immigration, male repression, fate, homosexuality, but above all it explores the most painful aspects of human conditioning. Read our review of Torn Apart at the Brighton Fringe.

Sid – Arts Theatre – £14/12 – Until 8 Oct

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He’s not having a good day. People don’t understand him, his musical tastes are derided, his best mate is a punkrocker who died in the seventies.

Coming soon…

The Resurrectionist – Etcetera Theatre – £12/10 – 27 Sep – 9 Oct

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A brilliant scientist strives to protect his creation in the face of universal revulsion and hostility. Set in Switzerland during the stormy summer of 1816, ‘The Resurrectionist’ reveals for the first time, the extraordinary ‘true’ events which inspired Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The Rules of Inflation – Drayton Arms Theatre – £14/10 – 4 Oct – 8 Oct

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Want to come and play? You are invited to our party. We live in a world of power, rules and leaders. But really, it’s just one big game. Read our review of The Rules of Inflation at Theatre N16.

On the horizon…

The House of Usher – Hope Theatre – £15/12 – 18 Oct – 5 Nov (Tues to Sat)

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Secrets surface, friendships are tested and a dark secret threatens to bring the House of Usher crashing down. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic masterpiece “The Fall of The House of Usher” with a brand new score and a small cast of exceptional actor-musicians this gothic musical thriller promises to be the Halloween show not to miss.

We Are Ian – New Diorama Theatre – £12.50/10.50 – 11/12 Nov, 1/2 Dec

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1989. Manchester. A frenzy of drugs, beats and bucket hats. Illegal raves. Acid parties. Just jumping up and down in a field and throwing two fingers to Thatcher… Remember it? Winners of the Brighton Fringe award for excellence.

[Title of Show] by Bowen & Bell at the Waterloo East Theatre

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With blatant self-awareness, declamatory statements, and seemingly stagnant plot, one might put on a sombrero rather than seeing a musical like [Title of Show]. I insist, keep those sombreros in the attic, because this production at Waterloo East is fantastically witty, with major character conflicts emerging in the second act.

The opening number is clearly in D major. Why? Because Jeff the Composer is naming the notes he writes as the song develops into a duo between himself and Hunter the Writer. We continue on as they joke about masterbation, say f*** too many times, and order turkey burger takeouts in their hilarious pursuit of writing a show about writing a show.

A moderate cast of four, the production stands tall and all members do an amazing job of staying focused and keeping the energy throughout the 100-minute show. Lacking scene changes and costume changes, the production visually stimulates with props and staging, plus a few dance numbers a la Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse. Standout performance from Louie Westwood as Hunter, who blew us away with his talent for humour and outstanding voice.

There are plenty of struggles modern composers, writers and performers face; this one highlights those struggles but still leaves us uplifted, as the best the artists can do is laugh at their tribulations and keep moving forward.

WIGS 3/5

By Ranga Liliu