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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Ridgeway’

Who’d have thought you could say so much in a 15 minute play. Multiply that by five and you’ve got a theatrical feast. Put them in normally unseen spaces all around the building for groups of less than ten and it adds another layer of fascination and a great deal of intimacy. This was a genuine treat.

You split into five groups and each group sees the plays in a different sequence. The first play my group saw took place in a dressing room with a balcony (now we know where the actors go for a fag!). Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Anhedonia is an intense story of a woman who has experienced sexual abuse and the actions she takes to hide it. The unusual union is a builder where she works, whose intuitively knows anyway. Rona Morison was compelling as Girl.

The Golden Hours by Frances Ya-Chu Cowing was set in a meeting room with extraordinary views of London’s rooftops, now a room where Shinger & June’s mother is laid to rest before her funeral, which was the subject of the brother & sister’s exchanges. Sarah Lam’s real tears at close quarter made this a deeply moving experience.

To a stairwell for Rachel De-Lehay’s My Twin, a captivating monologue by Sarah Ridgeway telling us her experiences of being the slightly younger twin. This was funny and touching in equal measure and felt like a one-to-one conversation.

Down underneath the stage in a workshop Phil, brilliantly performed by Alan Williams, tells us about his project to build a rocket in the garage where he works while the boss is away and his unusual union with the off-stage Helen who he meets at a slimming club and allows to rehearse in the garage for her Bowie tribute performance. Tom Wells’ Phil in Space is a quirky little comic gem which I didn’t want to end.

We ended with fighting and tension beneath the stage as two brothers, one in the army and the other in CND, discuss the evolution and history of their relationship. Appropriately called Bruises, Keiran Hurley’s play was superbly performed with great tension by Richard Rankin and Brian Ferguson.

I found it astonishing that you could get five very different plays of such quality, and such committed performances, that are only going to be seen by less than 150 people. Should it return, you should be queuing for tickets. Wonderful.

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The Royal Court main house has been turned into a boxing club, complete with ring, which later becomes a  boxing venue. Designer Miriam Buether is no stranger to such transformations (Relocated, My Child & Cock also here at the Royal Court) and this is just as impressive. It completely transports you to this (for me at least) alien world and in this case, back in time 20 – 25 years.

Roy Williams is just about the best playwright working in the UK today because he writes unpretentious plays which tell personal stories that illuminate and help us understand complex aspects of our society. This particular play shows us what it’s like to grow up black in 80’s Britain through the story of two boys whose lives diverge and later re-connect. Setting it in Thatcher’s Britain allows us to revisit a period of war (the Falklands), industrial strife and racism and wonder if anything has really changed. We’re still fighting wars, we seem to be heading for a new period of  strife and the spectre of racism has hardly gone away, just buried.

It was a captivating 90 minutes sitting front row ringside with more testosterone in the room than all the other London theatres added together. Sacha Wares’ staging, including amazingly real fight sequences, makes it all so totally believable that you wince at the racist comments and jump when a punch lands.

There isn’t a fault in the casting. Nigel Lindsay brings out all of the contradictions that inhabit trainer Charlie. Trevor Laird as Leon’s dad and Gary Beadle as Troy’s American give great cameos. Sarah Ridgeway really makes us feel for Becky, caught between her dad and Leon. Above all it’s the three boxing boys – Jason Maza, Anthony Welsh and Daniel Kaluuya – who bring the play alive with extraordinary presence and energy; they are mesmerizing.

Yet another triumph for Roy Williams and the Royal Court.

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