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Posts Tagged ‘Pit Theatre’

You might not believe this. It’s certainly one of the most surreal evenings I’ve spent in a theatre. A celebration of Japanese pop culture as a rave.

You are advised to check your coats and bags, wear a rain poncho and use (multi-coloured) ear plugs (both supplied). The seats in The Pit theatre have been covered in plastic. There’s an MC / warm-up man explaining what’s going to happen. You can take as many photos, videos or audio recordings as you like .The walls of the theatre are giant screens with continuous projections.

Twenty-five people, mostly women, rush in and start dancing, shouting and jumping around to very loud music. They walk amongst the audience, throw water, confetti and food, engaging with you close up. Glitter falls from the ceiling. There are well choreographed dance routines and ‘scenes’, one of which was a kitsch Les Mis pastiche that had me in hysterics, but some of the time it also appears to be entirely spontaneous.

In what seems like a few minutes, but was actually forty minutes, the whole audience are on the stage and the performers are in the audience. Then they disappear, the music stops and the lights go up. As you walk through the corridor back to the foyer, they are smiling at you, greeting, thanking, hi-fiving, hugging….. In the foyer, you wonder if that really happened, but you can’t stop smiling.

It was mayhem and pandemonium and I thought it was great fun – and the perfect pick-me-up after the referendum shock.

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As you walk into The Pit Theatre in the Barbican Centre, the cast of 19 and 2 musicians begin a 20-minute medley of Coward songs as a curtain raiser to this 3-play evening; what a lovely way to start.

I don’t often go to the Guildhall School plays (though I regularly go to their operas and musicals) but the opportunity to see these rarely performed pieces was too good to miss.

Coward originally wrote 10 short plays, which were performed in a rolling programme of threesomes (though one was only performed once). One of these three – Still Life – went on to become the film Brief Encounter.

The first shown here was Hands Across the Sea, a drawing-room high comedy that sends up socialites of the time (Lord Mountbatten allegedly believed it was based on him and his wife). It was beautifully staged with some fine performances from young people acting old believably.

The Astonished Heart was a much darker tragedy / melodrama with a very believable jump from the apartment balcony! I found this more difficult to get into.

Still Life is a bittersweet romance with added comedy from the station staff who often seem to be in a different play. The passing trains were created by sound and smoke, including highly effective offstage crockery rattling!

These plays show Coward’s range – much more than comedy, music and musical comedy. The last Coward I saw at GSMD – Peace in Our Time – was also fascinating, showing an occupied Britain after the second world war had turned out differently. Why are these so neglected whilst we’re subjected to endless revivals of the safer Hay Fever and Private Lives?

The production values are beyond fringe and the company is extremely strong; a treat for less than the price of a cinema ticket!

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