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Review: Bang Bang! @ Exeter Northcott

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bang Bang!, John Cleese’s stage debut, gives us everything we could expect of a farce: dropped and misplaced trousers, slammed doors and hiding in wardrobes. While it’s undeniable that the audience enjoys this, there’s a lingering feeling of nostalgia for a genre which has certainly passed its heyday.

Adapted from Georges Feydeau’s French farce Monsieur Chasse!, Bang Bang! centres on a story of marital deceit with the wronged Leontine (Tessa Peake-Jones) taking revenge on her philandering husband, Duchotel (Tony Gardner), by setting up her own affair with Doctor Moricet (Richard Earl). The two couples end up conducting their affairs in opposite apartments which the fallen Countess Latour (Wendi Peters) manages. Leontine and Duchotel’s desperate attempts to conceal their affairs from the other result in tremendous laughter from the audience. Continue reading Review: Bang Bang! @ Exeter Northcott

Review: Richard Alston Dance Company @ Exeter Northcott

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Emotional, contemporarily balletic and deeply European.

Richard Alston has been at the forefront of contemporary ballet for decades and this, his final tour, serves as a reminder of the choreographer’s opus and reach. His training with Merce Cunningham and subsequent work as director of world-renowned Ballet Rambert has had an immeasurable effect on the contemporary dance scene and environment. The evening’s programme presented four competent, moving, complex and beautiful pieces.

We were treated first to Voices and Light Footsteps, which finds images of flowing line and courtship in Monteverdi’s madrigals. The emulation of Italian renaissance dances brings the music to life, though the focus on moves which ground the dancers, with only a few lifts and leaps, makes for a slow and heavy feeling start to the proceedings. Continue reading Review: Richard Alston Dance Company @ Exeter Northcott

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Interview: Wendi Peters, Actor in Bang Bang!

Adapted by John Cleese from a late 19th century comedy by Georges Feydeau, Bang Bang! begins its UK tour at the Exeter Northcott Theatre, performing from 6-15 February. It’s a farce about extra-marital affairs, deception, revenge, traps and chaos!

I interviewed Wendi Peters, who plays Countess Latour, prior to the show’s opening and was intrigued to hear how she’d describe the play in her own words. “Bang Bang! is a fast, funny farce. It’s absolute mayhem. But it’s brilliant mayhem.” Audiences can expect things to go “horribly wrong,” the unusual breaking of the fourth wall, for doors and wardrobes to come in, and a pair of trousers to play a role in the comedy (as is typical of farce). She affirms, “it is just brilliant, and it will definitely keep your attention and keep you laughing for a full two hours.” Continue reading Interview: Wendi Peters, Actor in Bang Bang!

Review: The Silver Lake @ Exeter Northcott

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Moving, theatrical and passionate. A treat from start to finish!

The English Touring Opera treated us to Kurt Weill’s Der Silbersee, The Silver Lake. The songspiel (play with music) is mostly known for being banned by the Nazis as soon as it was created. In the current political climate, ETO argues, it is imperative that art makes a political comment and the narrative seems to ring true today. Continue reading Review: The Silver Lake @ Exeter Northcott

Review: The Lady Vanishes @ Exeter Northcott

Producing giant Bill Kenwright, through the aptly named Thriller Theatre Company, brings us a tour of the stage version of this 1938 classic film by Hitchcock. Roy Marsden directs this cast of big names (lots of people from telly, apparently) who navigate a grey and textured stage designed by Morgan Large.

The story concerns the socialite Iris, a sweet and wide-eyed woman travelling back to England to get married, who befriends Ms Froy, a former governess and music teacher. Ms Froy is the lady who vanishes during the journey and the other passengers all seem to be conspiring against Iris, claiming that the woman was never there. All but Max, a charmer who chooses to believe Iris and helps her uncover the mystery. There is the touch of the international and the historical: Charters and Caldicott discuss the cricket in a quintessentially British manner, Sinor Doppo is an Italian magician, and Nazi soldiers patrol the train. With promises of thriller, espionage, coded messages through song, and a train filled with characters and mystery, I was excited to be taken on this journey. Unfortunately, almost everything fell flat. Continue reading Review: The Lady Vanishes @ Exeter Northcott

Review: Bleak House@Exeter Northcott

Atmospheric, theatrical, dirty and playful. Artaud and Brecht as a way to explore this episodic novel.

A dark and challenging night of theatre. If that’s what you like, you will be a fan of David Glass Ensemble’s production of Bleak House. What they do, they do very well.

The company of actors in white face paint with exaggerated facial features emerge around the audience, inciting gentle participation and thrusting the story right in our faces. It is expressionistic, visceral and self-aware. Scenes gel into one another, actors transform into different characters in front of our eyes, and the set of two-story scaffolding with removable wooden slabs and vertical steps literally frames the narrative. The whole stage is placed onto a layer of dirt and the costumes indicate the worn-out feel so vividly presented in Charles Dickens’ novel. Continue reading Review: Bleak House@Exeter Northcott