Review: Blue Door

USTINOV STUDIO, BATH, til 9 March 2019

I was lucky enough to catch this show on Monday – and will be there again on Thursday to chair the after-show discussion (yes, very lucky me!). Here’s an excerpt – with a link to the full review in Bristol 24/7 underneath:

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Blue Door is a remarkable production. Script, performers, music, setting, lights – all combined by the director – to absorb you whole. It is one of those theatre moments where you utterly vanish as yourself, and enter without question into the world you are offered.

The story – the stories – are of badness. And of good. And of confusion. Centuries of jaw-clenching racism, hatred, fear, abuse and deep, deep pain – of all of these, you will hear. But you will also hear of love. Compassion. Wit. Wisdom. Kindness. And determination.

[…] Ray Fearon plays Lewis, a philosophy of mathematics professor who’s especially interested in the idea of time. He is black. He questions his black identity regularly. He sees his own blackness through white eyes again and again. He is married to a white woman, who berates him – then leaves him – because he did not do what she told him he must: attend the Million Man March (where black men were asked to show commitment to family and community). I told you there was wit.

Read more…

Ray Fearon as Lewis in Tanya Barfield’s ‘Blue Door’ at the Ustinov Studio, Bath – 
photo: Simon Annand

Review: The Whale

I was lucky enough to see and review this incredible piece of theatre back in May. Apologies for missing the boat on re-posting my review for Bristol 24/7, but here it is:

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Shuler Hensley as Charlie. Pic: Simon Annand

As an adult, it is genuinely rare to sit in a theatre and utterly believe. But Shuler Hensley’s performance in The Whale is perhaps the most visceral, convincing, immersive depiction I have ever seen, on any stage. This is one powerful piece of theatre, with award-winning performances from a cast giving their all, in a completely engaging world.

Charlie (Hensley) is not just obese, but morbidly so. The kind of  “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape“ “big” that involves hoists, or windows being taken out. But Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale is not a play about a man being fat. It’s a play about despair, grief and regret; about self-loathing and a suicidal lack of self-worth. It is one of the saddest and most eloquent plays I have ever come across. It’s a play about love….

Read more…

The Stuff I Do (yippee)

Wonderful week last week, with lots of goodies coming at once.

On Tuesday, I reviewed Michael Boyd (former RSC Artistic Director)’s new show, The Open House, for Bristol 24/7. You can read the review here.

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The Open House, Theatre Royal Bath – photo by Simon Annand

Then I popped on a train, feeling all intercontinentally high-flyin’, wrote my review on the tracks & when I woke up (some sleep happened somewhere), I was in King’s Cross on  my way to the C21/Script Angel WritersRoom, which ran as part of the International Drama Summit at Content London 2017.

Very merrily, my latest TV pilot spec script – written in a 10-day deadline frenzy in September – was highly placed in the C21/Script Angel Drama Series Script Competition. And this is how I won a place on this full and excellent day.  In three groups, we developed a new show from concept to pitch. Each worked closely with an experienced show-runner: Versailles’ David Wolstencraft; Follow The Money’s Jeppe Gjervig Gram; False Flag’s Maria Feldman and Shades of Blue’s Adi Hasak.

The 9-6 day seemed like it was eaten whole in one big bite: Have we finished? Where did it all go?! 

That’s in no small measure due to a cracking task-led structure, but also a bally marvellous working group. So often,  writers work in holy isolation but here we had to listen, respond, respect and hit a deadline with a goodie. (What do you mean, “did we?” Of course we did!).

Anyway, it was yet another of those weeks where I stand, grin and kalloo-kallay my lucky stars to be able to do the stuff I do. I saw and reviewed great & thought-provoking theatre (heading to London in the new year, I believe) and worked with a great international group of merry writers and producers. And we all learnt from our group’s ace showrunners, Jeppe Gjervig Gram & Adi Hasak, with the sharp and steady Hayley MacKenzie of Script Angel’s hand on the tiller.

What a cracking week.

 

Other people’s work: review of John Mighton’s Half Life, Bath

I used to do a lot of theatre reviewing – when wed to a person I didn’t need to pay to look after our child! – and always wondered whether I should share them here. So, in a new departure, I thought I’d start. Last night I reviewed Nancy Meckler’s production (at Bath’s Ustinov Studio) of Half Life for Bristol 247. Here’s the article – happy reading (runs til 5 Nov- go!)

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Glittering Audiences: day 2

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Lucinda Holloway, star of Glitter Knickers at the Rondo Theatre

Glitter Knickers is proving (on the evidence of two nights) to be something people like! We had another smashing audience, with a very large “on the door” queue. I hope you’ll indulge my sharing some feedback – and if it inspires you to come, that would be wonderful – just tonight & Saturday (4/5 March) left! Book here.

“Bloody amazing”

“Hilarious, beautifully observed, artfully written. Go.”

“Go and see Glitter Knickers: it’s brilliant!!”

“Great night out. Very, very funny show.”

“Blown away! Funny real clever moving.”

“A tour de force in writing & performance -catch it.”

“Hugely enjoyed Glitter Knickers:  great script, perfect casting and laugh out loud funny.”

“It really is fantastic and will resonate with women everywhere. Made me laugh continuously.”

“You are a consummate storyteller Gill and this play is a romp through the imagination and Lucinda created such visual imagery. It was a joy! Huge congratulations to all involved. Thank you for a great night at the theatre.”