Hannah Goslin

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Review Mixed Grill?, Beyond Face, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, by Hannah Goslin

 

2 Stars2 / 5

 

My first time at the Barbican, this little theatre tucked away in an alley opposite Plymouth Aquarium is a little gem in itself.

For my first trip here, I came to see Mixed Grill? by Beyond Face. The production uses many elements of music, video, real life story telling and picking up on history and present day topics related to race, with some physical theatre/dance fusions thrown in. One could say this is for sure a multi-media production.

The premise of the show is to highlight and explore race, from two mixed raced performers where they share their personal stories and feelings but also make comments on well-known worldly stories. They support this with mixture of music that represents the Caribbean and Britain and combine this with a narrative of making a traditional Caribbean curry for their British friends. Not only does the smell of real life cooking add to the senses and bring you into the room, but the naturalism of the performances invites you to the discussion.

A simple set, we see a bookcase with blank frames, adding to the tales of not feeling placed or at home with who you are and where you are. Other than that, it is set like a standard kitchen and with all the appliances and ingredients for the performers to make this curry, it is very lifelike and relatable. This puts us in the room and makes us feel affiliated with the performers, giving us the option to side with their ideals and opinions on race.

The performers themselves pick up on very good points – showing physically with black and white liquid the ‘one drop system’ in America which was originally unknown to me; transpiring their uneasiness with their own difficulties when it has come to race and their stories and, for example, the male performer and the 50/50 life he had growing up in London where he was accepted but other times not, through dance and physicality. They were lovely additions but it did feel as if a lot of the other points they made could have been presented this way.

While you can tell they have theatrical backgrounds and a want to show important points through this, the script was lengthy and, at times, were just chatting but without conviction. Such a huge amount of facts and points must have been hard to recite and therefore lost a little personalisation and theatricality – unfortunately it felt over rehearsed and scripted. As previously said, the physicality, while it  was good but seemingly also felt in production still,  perhaps throwing more of this into the performance to compliment the speeches would have made this feel less like a lecture and more of a performance. With this also comes projection – at times their voices did not quite fill the room or music drowned them out and this was a real shame as I really wanted to hear what they were saying from the important points to the comedy they were also trying to bring.

Saying all of this, Mixed Grill is a great concept, comical and a joy to watch but it still felt in a scratch stage and could become something really interesting and amazing – physicality, energy and more theatrical projection is needed just to push it that little bit further! And there is something about this pair and their approach to comedy and vast knowledge and research into an obviously personal subject that makes you really root for their success.

 

 

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    Review Running Wild, Theatre Royal Plymouth by Hannah Goslin

    Image result for running wild tour

    5 Stars5 / 5

    Let’s start with a bold but true statement – Michael Morpurgo is one of our country’s literary geniuses. From World hits such as War Horse, from book to stage and film, Running Wild seemingly is following suit with such success and ingenious theatrical approach.

    Running Wild sees the modern day tale of a young girl, on a trip with her mother to Indonesia after the death of her father, who finds herself lost in the jungle after a natural disaster and help of a beach elephant; along the way meeting new animal friends and facing terrifying situations. This tale sees the growth of her and her developing relationship with her family, both those alive and passed away as well as making bold and blunt points about human destruction of nature.

    The narrative itself is well formed, in a way relatable in the sense of love and loss and pulls at your heartstrings constantly – whether this is with relation to her passing father or the bond she makes with her new animal friends. A tale that, like War Horse, has taken a lot of perfecting and trust in theatrical ability from actors to puppeteers, stage and lighting technicians to designers – the collaboration from all involved syncs this production well and seems perfect for the stage – as if Morpurgo wrote it for theatre.

    Like War Horse, which coined the large puppeteering techniques used, the animals are to size and travel the stage in a very lifelike manner – the puppeteers making sounds and at times many controlling different parts of an animal, made this all seem very lifelike and by getting lost in this, you forget that the puppeteers are even there. As someone who has been up close to a real elephant, the detail and natural/lifelike nature of the animal was on point and extremely real. Obvious time and investment in the research and performance is abundant and really makes the difference for the experience.

    To agree with the modern day story, Running Wild is modernised and at times takes on a ambiguous and alternative lighting, staging which creates another difference in the two productions – Running Wild is not just a carbon copy of War Horse and its techniques, but its own incredible production. The set itself gathers understanding and sense – a stage covered in random objects then compliments the natural disaster and the destruction from this that occurs. The puppeteers bringing out rectangular harsh lighting to represent the unusual environment while the girl and elephant run through the jungle and a big favourite of mine, moveable trees with fruit represented by shower luffas to add to the nature vs human element.

    And finally the performers – from actors to puppeteers. Some puppeteers doubled up as actors, and some took on several characters and puppetry. To invest the performers in all elements adds to the great understanding they have with the storyline and at no point was concentration, energy or enthusiasm lost in either/all performances.

    Running Wild is by far a triumph. Following in War Horse’s footsteps in some theatrical elements, there is, however, no competition; both performances are perfected and in their own right, theatrical perfection. Running Wild not only makes you well up in happiness and sadness, create shock and fear, comfort and protect you, and make severe points of modern human impressions on nature, but it manages to get you lost in the jungle with all your new animals friends.

     

    https://openairtheatre.com/production/running-wild

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      Review Tell Me Anything, On The Run, The Bike Shed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

      Image result for on the run theatre tell me anything

       

      4 Stars4 / 5

       

      A simplistic staging – we are greeted with a blank space, the floor filled with cylindrical tubes and in the corner, a dolphin.

      Immediately this is comical and  theme of comedy runs through this clever piece to counteract the raw topic. Tell Me Anything is the theatrical adaptation of David’s teenage years with his first love, who happens to have an eating disorder. This takes over their love and their relationship, as we see his side of the story. This is a new take on such a topic, seeing it through the eyes of a loved one, without the character whose disorder it is. David makes it very clear that his development of the piece isn’t without his former girlfriend, and now friend, Kate’s input and knowledge of the piece.

      With mostly a true narrative, excerpts from his diary, emails and memories, it’s hard not to feel warmth in the piece and the love he had at the age of 15. Unfortunately the only thing with this is that is feels a little fairy tale; the ‘true love’ tales of conversations, feelings and interactions seem so blissful that at times it’s hard to really believe such things; the performance then feeling a little fantasy like – or maybe that is just the cynic in me talking?

      David interacts with us constantly – his narration directed to us, involving us by asking us questions and also asking us to close our eyes and put ourselves in his shoes – this feels intimate and struck a chord with myself as being asked to envisage someone we love just as he describes his love for Kate, bringing up personal feelings of loss, love and all the in between.

      The lovey dovey nature, soon takes comical turns when he creates satires through his energy and vocal inflections to show the silly nature of 15 year olds. And then it gets dark – his anger, his hopelessness and his pain shines through, even 14 years later it is evident on his face and in his performance. A theme throughout is that it isn’t about him, it’s about her, but this shows exactly how invested he is in his story to show both sides, without the other participant.

      The lighting is simple, and it changes to flicker when anxiety and anger rises. The tubes are like a minefield, or like ‘treading on egg shells’ as he manoeuvres himself through them– the more the story deteriorates and their relationship does, the tubes and their movement by David as less controlled and begin to fall. An interesting representation of control and descent of happiness. And of course, the dolphin. The representation of being the dolphin who gently helps and nudges those in need, is brought in as support, strapped to David’s back, and later, is let out of air and crumbles as David does.

      Tell Me Anything is full of theatrical symbolism, heartfelt emotion and a real life and raw story. A piece of theatre that resonates with anyone who has tried, hopelessly, to help someone they love.

      https://www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk/shows/tell-me-anything/

       

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        Review Give Me Your Love, Ridiculusmus, The Bikeshed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

        Image result for ridiculusmus give me your love

         

        4 Stars4 / 5

         

        Back into the underground bunker of The Bikeshed Theatre, this week sees the company Ridiculusmus who have been bringing funny yet thought provoking theatre to venues such as Battersea Arts Centre, Soho Theatre, Barbican, National Theatre, Royal Court and The Arts House, Melbourne for around 20 years.

        Artistic directors and performers of this piece Give Me Your Love, Jon Haynes and David Woods take a look at PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) within a former soldier of the most recent of wars in Iraq, basing this in West Wales. They take a humorous look at this condition but filling it with strong metaphors which in balance work well to really make us think about the disorder.

        The majority of the 1 hour show is mostly purely a conversation between Zach who is in a cardboard box, for his own safety (or so he believes) and his friend, Ieuan, and occasionally his wife Karen. With all of these characters, we never see their faces. Karen is in a different room shouting through the wall; Ieuan Is trying to get into the room through the chained door, his only presence represented by his speech and his hands/arms peeking through and of course our main character, Zach, is always in the box. This interesting take on theatre is brilliant and simplistic. It takes a lot within creation, writing and the skills of the performers to be able to bring such comedy, the issues and pure emotion to an audience without much physicality or facial expressions.

        The narration is great; it is as if the characters are having a simple chat, going back to the issue at hand but occasionally having a moment of off topic interaction. Somehow this makes the unordinary visuals seem very naturalistic – with Welsh accents as well, are perfect and I guess with the sing song nature of the Welsh accent, adds to the humour.

        Taking my parents, we later discussed how clever and important this piece of theatre is, and whether the performers themselves were Welsh as they seemed to be on point with Welsh humour. I do wonder whether some humour was lost a little on the audience as it did touch upon things that we agreed may be more comical to the Welsh or those familiar with Welsh culture and humour. Despite this, there was plenty of comedy and strong emotional moments that visibly effected the audience in obvious ways.

        Give Me Your Love is such an important production to see – Zach is seen to say that he has put himself in the box – and while this is represented physically, it also has huge representation to how we see PTSD ourselves. How society coaxes suffers into this one box and not taking in that each person is human and different. If you do not get a chance to see this production, so many emotions and thoughts will be starved of its theatrical influence.

        http://www.ridiculusmus.com

         

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          Review The North! The North! The Bike Shed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

          Image result for the north! the north! bike shed

          3 Stars3 / 5

           

          Entering into the underbelly of The Bike Shed Theatre, we are greeted by a solo man dancing vigorously to unidentifiable music. The North! The North! Sees the story of one man in a post-apocalyptic / alternative universe to our world as we know it. The story features a narrative that is wildly imaginative and creative, and extremely unusual. People have deformities, the world has had shortages and events during the 1970’s/1980’s that never happened in our world – essentially anything and everything is possible.

          This one man show is full of energy, changes in characters which still always feel like that have a sense of the main character, adding to the strangeness of the story and is impressive with the detail from speech to action to stage and how It is all memorised.

          Speaking of stage – while small, the stage is full of technological surprises. Projection is used heavily with a Mighty Boosh-esque cartoons to give place, to show props and add to the storyline. This involves being precise and well-rehearsed which he is. Each time, it brings a new joy and intrigue.

          The performer himself is endearing and speaks to us like we understand this world – something so extraordinary, he does not dumb down his tale and we feel engaged and interested.

          A strange but interesting production – my mother who attended said she felt as if she had ‘been involved in his own personal acid trip’ – which easily sums up this adventure.

          https://www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk/shows/the-north-the-north/

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            Review, Rob Auton The Sleep Show, Exeter Phoenix by Hannah Goslin

            Related image

            4 Stars4 / 5

            Rob Auton’s The Sleep Show is like something I have never experienced before. This sounds negative but it is meant in every positive way.

            The premise of the show is looking at sleep through comedy and spoken word. Beginning with a ‘support act’ which is Auton himself, we are eased into his unusual sense of humour and warmth as he engages with us personally. The support act is against the show’s title, but more giving us an introduction, a literal warm up to pumping music, and made us feel as if Auton was our friend, not just a performing stranger.

            The Sleep Show itself was a roller coaster of emotions. Moments are of elation with comedy, ad libbing and times of going off topic. Auton is not afraid to come away from structure and script to find different paths, always returning back somehow but this shows skill and a comfortability in his performance style.

            Other parts see a real deep and meaningful look into sleep, into the way we live, metaphorically and literally and brought new perspectives, poetic and theatrical approaches to the subject and was a beauty to listen to and watch how invested he is in his skill.

            We found during the show the unfortunate events that come with such performances – hecklers. A woman who openly shunned the performance and Auton to his face, showed little respect and perhaps a naivety/lack of understanding of the performance type. Auton does well to change this into humour, taking my tweet to him earlier in the day and assigning the reviewer status to her. Without owning up, it was interesting to see how he used life events not only in my contact with him but in the relationship building with this woman and how he is able to think on his toes to come back in control.

            Auton reminds me a lot of a mixture of James Acaster, The Mighty Boosh and Rick and Morty. A certain cup of tea, I really enjoyed the new and interesting approach he brought to the stage and encourage everyone to try him at least once.

            http://www.robauton.co.uk/sleep-show

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              Review La Strada, Exeter Northcott Theatre by Hannah Goslin

               

              4 Stars4 / 5

              Set in a timeless existence, La Strada sees the story of a group of misfits,  a young girl  is sold to a Strongman performer and meets and develops friendships, experiences with and learns from.

              The proscenium arch set is the usual theatrical setting, however the company set up a changeable area with the use of props and staging to give the impression of different places and different venues. This works well with the idea that the story is set anywhere, at any time, with the bohemian costumes and dirty travelling circus attire.

              One thing that I am a huge fan of and which was implemented well in this production is all the performers being involved at all times. A strange and different group of people, whether a prop, part of the stage, a character or providing the music/soundscapes, they were always involved, drawing our attention to the main action. This shows a great interest and investment in the production and an energy that was constant.

              Each character was haunting, had their own comedic moments, but added to the atmosphere of fear, of confusion and oddness that the main character of the little girl experiences. A naive girl, the performer did well to transform her simple, youth to someone more profound and strong by the end. Her physicality and facial expressions were simple but well completed for the character, and her ability to admit humour from the script with what seemed like complete ease made this bohemian alternative world seem realistic.

              The performers all used their physicality to represent parts of the stage and the story – from the motorcycle the Strongman drives to the metaphorical waves representing the young girl’s emotions. Again, this was well invested in and made the production feel a little more out of the world and again, place able on any time line.

              And finally, the use of live music, taking the performer’s skills an adding it to the production made this feel more cosy, as if we were joining in a small community and provided an unusual but catchy background.

              La Strada is comical, haunting and just a little bit clever – well worth the watch!

              https://exeternorthcott.co.uk/calendar/la-strada/

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                Review Caitlin, Light, Ladd & Emberton, Theatr Brycheiniog by Hannah Goslin

                5 Stars5 / 5

                 

                As a huge fan of Eddie Ladd, Deborah Light and Gwyn Emberton, I have been excited to see Caitlin for a long time – missing the chance when it came to London, my visit to Brecon happily coincided with their Welsh tour.

                Directed by Light and choreographed and performed by Emberton and Ladd, the story of the piece is based upon the poet Dylan Thomas’s wife, Caitlin, her turbulent life with the Swansea celebrity and her alcoholism beginning before and continuing after his death.

                Set out in a circle of chairs, the story unfolds before us as an AA meeting but the words are simple sentences and the rest purely physical.  The chairs soon became metaphors and symbolism for lovers, baby chairs and Thomas’s gradual success until his death where he  (literally) falls from grace.

                I do feel slightly biased in the fact that these three dancers are such huge inspirations to me, but I couldn’t express how fluid and creative the movement were.  Times where you could only imagine pain and impact of the body seemed so gentle and as if they did not hurt the performers was astounding.  And they used every bit of space and every chair.  It was a wonderful take on Caitlin’s life.

                My only argument would be that I wanted more of the physicality and less of the chairs. While I completely understood the reasons behind the chairs, as a fan I just wanted more – perhaps that’s just me being greedy!

                To accompany, the music was interesting, with no social/cultural significance but only to heighten the movement. And no particular theatrical lighting, giving the room a naturalistic feel rather than something created for theatrical purpose.

                Caitlin, as all of Light, Ladd and Embertons work as a group and as individuals is a triumph. A beautiful representation of love, addiction and pain.

                Directed by Deborah Light
                Devised with and performed by Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton
                Sound by Siôn Orgon
                Costumes by Neil Davies
                Images by Warren Orchard

                http://www.gwynembertondance.com/caitlin/

                Caitlin – spring tour 2017
                27-28 March // Aberystwyth
                http://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/

                2 April // Laugharne
                https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/caitlin-by-light-ladd-emberton-laugharne-shows-tickets-31967232854

                5 April // Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
                http://www.brycheiniog.co.uk

                8 April // Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech
                http://www.theatrardudwy.cymru/

                11-15 April // Chapter, Caerdydd/ Cardiff
                http://www.chapter.org/caitlin-0

                21 April // Ffwrnes, Llanelli
                http://www.theatrausirgar.co.uk/en/

                23 April // Llandrindod Wells
                http://dawnspowysdance.org/events/

                25 April // Barry Memo

                CAITLIN

                28-29 April // Galeri, Caernarfon
                http://www.galericaernarfon.com

                4 May // Taliesin, Swansea/ Abertawe
                http://www.taliesinartscentre.co.uk/

                 

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                  Review Wild Card, Dan Daw, Sadlers Wells by Hannah Goslin

                  4 Stars4 / 5

                  Over at Sadler’s Wells we were taken into a smaller studio to the side of the usual theatre. This venue was very welcoming and intimate which I thought was ideal for the dance come performance arts pieces.

                  Both pieces were conceived by Graham Adel noted for his work challenging the social norm  and focussing on people.

                  First half of the show was a piece called Gender F**k (er). Featuring one woman, Keren Rosenberg, the 50mins performance aimed to cross the barriers of gender. A relatively slow piece, Rosenberg transforms her body from masculine to famine throughout with astonishing movement and physical change. There are times where clothing or props are used to help create these different ideas but the transformations are fluid and at times mixed showing stereotyped differences but also highlighting realistic opinions of little difference .

                  Very adult in its content, it is quite raw and almost hypnotic as Rosenberg manages to fill the space with her movement.

                  The second half saw Dan Daw in On One Condition.  The set was a like a above view / blueprint version of his family home giving it anonymity but also taking away any emotional ties.  The piece shows his life in a snapshot with short spoken tales and movement to catchy music.

                   Daw has a disability that affects his movement but uses this to create beautiful images and movement highlighting a key message in the piece about not letting things stop you in your dream and the ability for everyone to do anything.  It isn’t a hindrance but actually inspiration and used to its advantage.

                  He’s also very comical, not only poking fun at himself and at his disability but wider humour in satire of dance themes and genres.  What I loved so much about this piece was the sheer intelligence in the concept and creation but also the honesty.

                  Two very different pieces, it was interesting to have a mixture of concepts and the clever ways both Graham and Dan Daw create a narrative; sending out vital messages about today’s society.

                  http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2017/wild-card-dan-daw/

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                    Review Custody, Ovalhouse by Hannah Goslin

                    5 Stars5 / 5

                    It is hard to ignore a storyline such as Custody.

                    Based in Brixton, Custody, created by Urban Wolf and written by Tom Wainwright tells the fictional tale of a young black man’s death in police hands.  As we have seen over the years of news reports with the similar headline but we only see the headline as voyeurs. This production takes the heart and soul behind these and gives them a face in a 2 year play by play of how the family of this fictional yet very real character process through this tragic event.

                    There’s moments of comedy for light relief, a little of black humour and satire of stereotypes but also such fantastic theatricality.

                    While there is music, the performers create soundscapes through sound and words. They build this into themselves physically and while it would seem a low physical production, you can tell it takes much hard work and perfection to get all of the timing and embodiment just right.

                    And the set is fantastic.  Move able, dark and deep to bright, white and clinical.  We never meet Brian he is spoken to as if he was there but we essentially feel his presence in the performers emotions.  And these emotions are natural and relatable.

                    Attention to detail is key – the weight of Brian’s memory is represented by bags that each performer wears, very little are these let go until they let go of him.

                    Custody is everything you want in a production, it has heart, theatricality and sends a message.

                    http://www.ovalhouse.com/whatson/detail/custody-by-urban-wolf

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