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Review: Exeter University Shakespeare Company’s King Lear

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

King Lear is fundamentally a play about intragenerational power struggles, and Exeter University Shakespeare Company’s powerful performance, directed by Megan Shepherd and Matt Smith, explores the intricacies of jealousy, love and madness in a remarkably insightful way. The close environment of the cathedral setting allows the audience to take on the role of Lear’s court, almost becoming part of the painful deterioration of the kingdom. Continue reading Review: Exeter University Shakespeare Company’s King Lear

Review: The Taming of the Shrew @ The Barbican

Until recently, all that I knew about the plot of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew was what I had seen in 10 Things I Hate About You: the frosty, hostile Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) softens when she accidentally falls for the slightly intimidating Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger). On my way to London, to see this production I felt reasonably excited by the prospect of watching the original play. The idea of going to see a performance at the Barbican over the Christmas period sounds enticing – especially when it is to watch something as cultured as a Shakespeare play. Little did I know that I would not be so pleased afterwards. Continue reading Review: The Taming of the Shrew @ The Barbican

Review: Substance and Shadow Theatre’s ‘Walking with God’

Substance and Shadow Theatre are an Exeter-based theatre company with a propensity for horror and history, shown in their most recent production, Walking with God. An immersive and creepy original play, the show demonstrates the company’s inventive and unique nature, which perfectly suits the darker side of Exeter’s past.  

Performed in St Nicholas Priory, the eerie ex-monastery gave a ghostly edge to their dark piece on Jack the Ripper, and with a large portion of the action set in Exeter Digby Mental Asylum, Substance and Shadow convincingly brought the London murders to its Devon audience. Even upon entering the building through Exeter’s darker alleyways, it felt as though we were transported to the labyrinth of 19th Century Whitechapel. Their choice of venue and aptly decorated, candle-lit scene perfectly combined with the immersive nature of their theatre, culminating in a time-travel experience to Victorian London/Exeter. 
Continue reading Review: Substance and Shadow Theatre’s ‘Walking with God’

Romeo A Juliet @ Exeter Northcott

Ballet Cymru, led by artistic director Darius James (OBE), claims to do things a bit differently. If we are to judge by this revival tour of their 2013 ballet Romeo a Juliet, choreographed by him and assistant artistic director Amy Doughty, that statement is indeed true. I applaud the moves towards inclusivity, which feel genuine and never tokenistic. To have a female dancer portraying Benvolio and Friar Lawrence, as well as a wheelchair-using dancer (Joe Powell-Main) in ballet are mention-worthy. It would have been wonderful to see Powell-Main featured even more prominently, but this inclusion is definitely the move in the right direction for ballet and dance in general. Continue reading Romeo A Juliet @ 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

Review: Thunder Road @ Exeter Phoenix

Two Friends. Voluntary First Aid service. A desire to be of use which has come about from a dissatisfaction with the real world. Stand-up comedy, narrative storytelling, influence from both real life and a road trip tragic comedy. This show has all of these elements, often joining together ideas which would initially seem difficult to connect. It is a testament to the skills and experience of its creative team. Continue reading Review: Thunder Road @ Exeter Phoenix