Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Natasha Chivers’

It takes a lot of bravery to make your stage debut in a 105 minute one-person play on a West End stage, but Jodie Comer manages to exceed expectations. It’s a very good play and an excellent production too, so its not just a star vehicle.

Tessa is a young criminal law barrister who specialises in defence, in particular sexual harassment cases. In the first part she shows us her craft, developing strategies and arguments, grilling witnesses, doing her job. Important flashbacks to her law studies at Cambridge and visits home to Liverpool gives us her background; a bright Liverpudlian working class girl who’s excelling in a world of posh boys.

Then the tables turn and she’s a victim. We follow her experience from police investigation through an extraordinary wait for trial to the trial itself, where roles are reversed and she’s on the witness stand. Then playwright Suzie Miller takes a big risk and ends in campaigning mode, but by now we’re heavily invested in both the character and the inadequacies of the justice system, so it proves to be an impassioned ending.

Miriam Buether’s giant set, shelves full of legal tomes rising out of sight, doesn’t dwarf the actress, it gives her the space she needs to animate the story. Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s music, Ben & Max Ringham’s sound design and Natasha Chivers lighting invest the show with atmosphere, increasing the tension. I much admired how director Justin Martin combined these components to provide a truly riveting experience which held you throughout.

In more than forty years of theatre-going, i have never seen a more impressive stage debut. Jodie Comer’s fast delivery, piercing audience contact and physical prowess take your breathe away. Her transitions from predatory lawyer to injured victim to passionate campaigner are extraordinary. She is so mesmerising you can’t take your eyes off her.

A great night in the theatre.

Read Full Post »

I leave director Yael Farber’s productions emotionally drained. Her work has a visceral, even mystical quality, and this adaptation of Lorca’s 1933 play about tribal and family feuds and loyalties is no exception.

Marina Carr’s adaptation is set in rural Ireland, though it doesn’t really change the play; family feuds are universal. The groom is about to marry the bride (we don’t know their names) and the play opens with his widowed mother and her widowed father agreeing the match. The bride has a past with Leonardo of the ‘gypsy’ Felix family, arch enemies of the groom’s family, but he has subsequently married and has a child, with another due. Despite this, he returns and there is a clear sexual frisson between him and the bride.

The bride disappears after the ceremony whilst the party is in progress, and it transpires that she has run away with him. When they are eventually tracked down, the two men fight and the play is propelled to its tragic conclusion. The weaver, the moon and two woodcutters provide a commentary rather than participation, much like a Greek chorus, giving the play much of its spiritual, mystical quality.

It’s a gripping account, with Isobel Waller-Bridge’s music and Natasha Chivers’ lighting combining with Susan Hilferty’s design to give the production an earthiness and brooding, sensual quality. It’s staged in-the-round, with one side containing a wall that lowers to provide a dramatic entrance. Imogen Knight’s suspenseful movement incorporates some rather hypnotic low ariel work. It’s a wonderful cast, including Olwen Fouere as the bitter, defiant mother of the bride and a mesmerising performance from Brid Brennan as the Weaver.

Lorca wrote this play in a divided country, shortly before the Spanish Civil War, and it struck me that he might have been writing about the society in which he lived. The play can be a metaphor for divisions of all sorts – tribes, neighbours, societies, factions – which in many ways makes it resonate eighty-five years on in our very divided world.

Another triumph for the Young Vic.

Read Full Post »