Tag Archives: Paule Constable(Lighting Designer)

Review: Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet, Wales Millenium Centre

Reviewed by Luke Seidel-Haas

ROMEO AND JULIET by Bourne , Director and Choreographer – Matthew Bourne, Designer – Lez Brotherston, Lighting – Paule Constable, Rehearsal Images, Three Mills, London, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson/

Two household’s, both alike in dignity. In fair Verona where we lay our scene”. So begins Shakespeare’s 1597 tragic love story of star crossed lovers. Intended as a radical reinterpretation of the classic tale, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company does away with the feuding families, the setting and indeed many of the characters. Instead the tragedy is set within the confines of the “Verona Institute” – some form of psychiatric ward in the not too distant future. And rather than being from rival Montagues and Capulets, the eponymous lovers are two patients being treated in the institute.

Stripping back the characters and removing the text forces you to concentrate on the connection between the characters, and in that aspect Bourne’s production is excellent. the chemistry between Romeo (Andy Monaghan) and Juliet (Seren Williams) is beautiful; their moment of meeting at the party and subsequent coming together crackles and fizzes with excitement. As they weave around each other and intertwine you feel their passion, all sound tracked brilliantly to Prokofiev’s score. Their romance is the highlight of the piece, with it’s devastating ending heartrendingly performed by the pair.

Similarly impressive is the ensemble cast. As part of New Adventure‘s endeavour to nurture the next generation of dancing talent in the UK, the whole show was cast from open auditions nationwide, and at each venue on the tour six local dancers take up place in the ensemble. It is testament to their talent and the hard work of Bourne’s creative team that they blend seamlessly in with the ‘permanent’ cast.

Less convincing is the overall concept for Bourne’s piece. Romeo and Juliet has been reinterpreted in different ways ever since it’s creation. Each interpretation can reveal fresh or different perspectives, from Baz Luhrman’s film with guns set on Venice Beach to the 1957 film West Side Story highlighting the violence between rival gangs. Yet here the interpretation falls flat. Rather than rival gangs or families, the Verona Institute is divided into girls and boys. Each are generally kept apart by officious looking guards and officers, yet are allowed to interact. The two sides don’t appear to hate each other and the only obvious tension between them is sexual tension. As a result the drama has to come from a prison guard, playing the equivalent to the Tybalt role. This change in dynamic removes much of the fuel which creates the drama in Shakespeare’s script.

The other issue with Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet is the choice of location. Set in a mental institution, the cast are subjected to medication, examination and strict exercise regimes. Their movements vary from uptight and restricted in the presence of authority to wild and passionate when let loose. Yet the subject of mental health isn’t really tackled or explored. Why have these young people been institutionalised? What help are they receiving while inside? A cynic might think that the setting was chosen to tie in with the increasing awareness of mental health, and to tap in to the surrounding zeitgeist. However, in doing so did they consider how it looks to then show people with mental health problems rocking backwards and forwards before ultimately killing each other or themselves?

As a piece of modern dance, Bourne’s production is a triumph. The choreography is dazzling, the music and score have been adapted from the original with a pared down orchestra by Terry Davies to great effect and the ensemble work from the cast is excellent. Yet sadly as an overall piece of work it doesn’t feel fully thought through with regards to how the reinterpretation changes the dynamics of the piece or intent behind it. Excellent choreography and performances, hampered by issues with the interpretation.

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet is running at the Wales Millenium Centre until the 22nd June 2019.

Review National Theatre Live: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika by Danielle O’Shea


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

You can read Danielle’ s review of part one at the link below

Review National Theatre Live: Angels in America by Danielle O’Shea


Extending on the theme of survival, the second part of Angels in America questions progress as a way for religion, society and humanity to survive.  Moving further from the domesticity seen in Part 1, hallucinations and prophetic visions become all the more common and fantasies, whether they be of Heaven or Antarctica. But despite this change in tone, emotions still run high due to discussions of more minor themes still relevant today such as healthcare and the justice system.


Overall, Perestroika is a deeper exploration of the themes of Millennium Approaches and it reveals that what is beneath the message of survival is one of hope even in the bleakest of times.
In its entirety, Angels in America is a magical, modern questioning of identity and change that takes the entire audience on a journey through dark and light times before leaving them with a message of overwhelming hope.

27th July 2017
Gwyn Hall, Neath
Running time: 4 hours 20 minutes with two 15-minute intervals
Author: Tony Kushner
Director: Marianne Elliott
Design: Ian MacNeil (Set Designer), Nicky Gillibrand (Costume Designer), Paule Constable(Lighting Designer), Robby Graham (Choreographer and Movement), Adrian Sutton (Music), Ian Dickinson (Sound Designer), Finn Caldwell (Puppetry Director and Movement), Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes (Puppet Designers), Chris Fisher (Illusions), Gwen Hales (Aerial Director), Harry Mackrill (Associate Director), Miranda Cromwell (Staff Director)
Cast: Susan Brown, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Nathan Lane, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Russell Tovey, Stuart Angell, Laura Caldow, Claire Lambert, Becky Namgauds, Stan West, Lewis Wilkins

Review National Theatre Live: Angels in America by Danielle O’Shea

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

Survival is central to the first part of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America”. This can be seen in the consideration of the fight to survive illness and addiction but also by asking how far you would go to make a relationship survive or to survive oppression. As well as survival, themes of morality, religion and politics remain essential to the play and are used as tools for character development.
As mentioned in the pre-show interview with its director, Marianne Elliott, the play moves from domesticity to magical realism due to the hallucinations experienced by several of the characters which become more overwhelming as the play progresses.


Rooted in 1985 New York during the AIDS epidemic, the harsh reality of each character’s situation is evident and is kept in mind through the use of three side-by-side mini sets so even as the play moves from one character to another, their set remains darkened but still visible. The neon lights bordering each set give an almost magical aura but initially act as barriers between characters before falling away and allowing characters to cross them.
The entire cast give incredible performances that portray characters vividly and in a way so that no matter their moral or political stance the audience still builds a connection with them. However two actors in particular captivate the audience, Denise Gough as Harper Pitt, a Valium addicted Mormon housewife, and Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter, a charismatic AIDS sufferer. Both characters act as bridges between fantasy and reality and their one scene together was charming and captured the attention and imagination of the entire audience.
As a whole, Angels in America is a stunning political portrait that remains extremely relevant today due to its discussions of American politics and the changing identity of America. It is an emotional roller-coaster that will keep you on the edge of your seat and I will definitely be seeing the second part.

National Theatre Live: Angels in America
Part 1:Millennium Approaches

20th July 2017
Gwyn Hall, Neath
Running time: 3 hours 40 minutes with two 15-minute intervals
Author: Tony Kushner
Director: Marianne Elliott
Design: Ian MacNeil (Set Designer), Nicky Gillibrand (Costume Designer), Paule Constable(Lighting Designer), Robby Graham (Choreographer and Movement), Adrian Sutton (Music), Ian Dickinson (Sound Designer), Finn Caldwell (Puppetry Director and Movement), Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes (Puppet Designers), Chris Fisher (Illusions), Gwen Hales (Aerial Director), Harry Mackrill (Associate Director), Miranda Cromwell (Staff Director)
Cast: Susan Brown, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Nathan Lane, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Russell Tovey, Stuart Angell, Laura Caldow, Claire Lambert, Becky Namgauds, Stan West, Lewis Wilkins