Wednesday 15th July

Advertise | Login  RSS  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

Marriage
Photograph by Tim Stubbs Hughes

Marriage @ Jack Studio Theatre

Rating:

Another capacity crowd at the Jack Studio Theatre welcomed a new run of Gogol’s ‘Marriage’. Loaded with wisecracks from the start, the story, such as it is (translator Howard Colyer compares it to ‘Waiting for Godot’) is a grower. Sunny Jeon’s graphic-y design, de-constructed, Surreal, opens-up the space. You almost feel inside the setting whilst simultaneously looking-on. Is the same dichotomy shared by the players?

Continue reading »

Category: Comedy
Darren Beaumont
Darren Beaumont // Photo credit: Tim Stubbs Hughes

Pool @ Jack Studio Theatre

Rating:

Showing until June 7, 2014 // The Write Now Festival

As always, setting the scene is a vital aspect of a visit to The Jack. This time, literally stepping into a Hockney-esque painted ‘pool’ can feel quite disconcerting. The attractive and effective set by David Shields makes full use of Amy Mae Smith’s transcendent lighting; birthing those lovely rippling reflections of sunlight-on-water. Kate Bannister comments that “the designers have done a cracking job…” and likewise the director. The sound-scaping by Mark Webber is exemplary.

Continue reading »

Category: Culture
Flight
David Bromley and Michael Edwards each deep in conversation. Photograph by Jonathan Bradshaw.

The Jack Studio Theatre: Flight

Rating:

Showing until February 1, 2014 // Ballast Theatre

It’s trademark setting-the-scene at the Jack as we part our way through dense smoke that actually smells smoky. A Rodchenko-style motif spills across the floor, the one constant element in this evening of clashing-coercing characters. The “dream-like quality of some of the passages” proves simultaneously startling and intoxicating, autumnal layers unpeeling like onion-skins, the dimly-lit stage remaining mostly dim. No dream but a nightmare fallow by shared truths of ‘humanity’ and serial metaphors of war. ‘Flight’ does, I imagine, accurately present the muddle and mess of conflict and its effect on communities and communal infrastructure. Howard Colyer as translator and adaptor together with director Scott le Crass succeed in sustaining its message.

Continue reading »

Category: Culture
Howard Colyer photographed by Martin Slidel
Howard Colyer photographed by Martin Slidel

Howard Colyer: Taking Flight

Howard Colyer is a South London based playwright who has enjoyed many stagings of his works on the London fringe and notably at the Jack Studio Theatre in Brockley. I caught up with him in advance of his series of Russian translations to be produced throughout the year.

First on the books is the current production of Bulgakov’s ‘Flight’ which as Howard explains benefits from “a fascinating range of characters… fleeing the Red Army… trying to survive; each scene in a different setting and, as described, a dream-like quality of some of the passages.” Does Colyer identify with the cohort? “Khludov’s marvellous: the mad general with the ghost to talk to. Khludov and his ghost I think make the play. The National did it with an actor… I think it’s better with the ghost conjured by the mind of the audience.” Indeed. To allow the audience to ‘play their part’ is an art in itself. Meanwhile, Howard is more than pleased with his long-running association with the Jack. “Kate Bannister and Karl Swinyard have done a very good job to produce a very good theatre.”

Continue reading »

Category: Culture
Irma Vep
Lord and Lady of the Manor. Photo by Tony Nandi.

The Jack Studio Theatre: The Mystery of Irma Vep

Rating:

Showing until January 4, 2014 at The Jack Studio Theatre

I welcomed the traditional yet cordially open stage as we entered a spacious studio to the strains of Beethoven Seven. The set by Karl Swinyard tended to the naive but lent to an already-established atmosphere attested by a strike of lightning behind frosty French windows. Get the picture?

Hilarious and stupid, ‘Irma Vep’ doesn’t pretend to be great literature though makes much pretence to it. Written by Charles Ludlam in the style of a ‘Penny Dreadful’ its sole purpose seems to be dreadful in every sense; a love-child of ‘Carry On Screaming’ and ‘The Uninvited’ (a dash of ‘Cleo’ and Karloff come later). Miraculously, middle-aged men dressing as stiff Victorian ladies still does the trick: the sight of Lady Enid in a pink frilly nightie fartingly funny. The ultimate two hander, it overdoes every feminine affectation in excruciating detail. And in the two-way-mirror the butch-drag is just as over-accommodated. Jonathan Kemp and William Kempsell delight in outdoing the other although both emerge victorious.

Continue reading »

Category: Comedy
Someday My Prince Will Go
Someday My Prince Will Go: Alexander Shenton and Rosemary Lippard.

The Jack Studio Theatre: The Merchant of Venice

Rating:

Taking a scalpel to The Bard; re-staging ‘The Merchant’ as an ensemble piece in a fifty-seat studio theatre? Good idea? Or a worry? With my comfy points-of-reference severed, I confess I’m a little lost. The final scenes removed affect the pagination of the court-room although the literary recapitulation at close is, concededly, clever. The Duke (Tracey Pickup) seems to have undergone gender-realignment if remaining in complete control as do, admirably, the rest of the cast. The classic Shakespearian trick of disguise is re-represented by the macabre clown-mask (a scorching image unfathomably unavailable for publication) or replaced by the confusion of the same actor portraying both the Prince and Bassanio. Initially an inept swarthy heir to a Mafia dynasty, he’s reborn as slightly over-earnest but it suits. Golden boy Alexander Shenton radiates a commendable confidence.

Continue reading »

Category: Culture
Katherine Rodden as Ruth
Katherine Rodden as Ruth. Photo credit: David Monteith-Hodge/Photographise

The Jack Studio Theatre: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Rating:

Showing until October 19, 2013

OutFox

I’m waiting to be disappointed by Brockley Jack but it hasn’t happened. Maybe with the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Paul Zindel, and directed by Amy Gunn who previously steered the astonishing ‘Measure for Measure’ you can’t go wrong – and here we have yet another solid gold production. For anyone who has seen and been touched by Alvin Sargent’s screenplay, Zindel’s original stage play is as intriguing as a reflection in a two-way mirror. It commences pacier and racier, and the daughters enjoy fleshier roles; most ably accommodated by Katherine Rodden as Ruth. I now appreciate both scripts, and it’s tricky to imagine one without the other.

Continue reading »

Category: Hidden London