The tiny London Theatre in New Cross consistently punches above its weight – and never more so than in its most recent production, director Harry Denford’s intimate staging of this great George Bernard Shaw bittersweet comedy. GBS’s dazzling litany of one-liners were gleefully delivered by an excellent cast, among whom there were three standout performances: Maggie Mullarkey as Mrs Higgins, Jonny Emmett as Doolittle the dustman and, best of all, Lizzie Stanton as his daughter Eliza, the object of a bizarre phonetics experiment to turn her from Cockney flowergirl into a duchess. Her tears at the end as she realises how much she has been exploited brought a depth of pathos to the play which I’ve rarely seen before. If you’ve never been to this little theatre I urge you to give it a try.
I’ve never seen – in any medium – a better investigation of gender politics than in this Constantinou double bill at Laban theatre. He danced the first piece, ReDoing GENDER 1.5, himself and, alone and naked on the stage, questioned the notion of manhood in a patriarchal society by combining movement, masks (the baby in particular was deeply unsettling) and a haunting theme from Vivaldi. The second work, The WOMANhouse, purported to show four macho, hirsute young men sparring, preening, playing and bonding – but the gender stereotype was overturned when they stripped off to reveal their hidden femininity. Stunning dancing and emotional courage by Hilde I Sandvold, Sofia Karlsson, Sarah Armstrong and Miryam Mariblanca. A magnificent evening.
Four brilliant young guitarists and a flautist left the audience at St Alfege spellbound in a programme covering the 17th to 20th century. Highlights included Nedelina Zheleva and Jim Parbury playing a Scarlatti sonata, a solo Zheleva interpreting six Legnani caprices, of which the final one was an example of her dazzling virtuosity, Georgie Combe and flautist Jessamy breaking our hearts with Jan Freidlin’s gorgeous Mist Over The Lake and Harold Gordon-Smith’s fabulous rendition of Sor’s Grand Sonata in C Major. These free Thursday lunchtime concerts at Greenwich’s lovely parish church really are unmissable.
This is the second in a trilogy of works by the Belgian choreographer Tara D’Arquian and, like In Situ, is a fabulous mix of dance, film, drama, words and music exploring the twilight world between reality and magic, creativity and despair. The audience at for the world premiere at Greenwich’s Borough Hall was led through the auditoria, corridors and back-rooms of the art deco building in a magnificent production that at times became a show within a show within a show. Great performances by D’Arquian, Anne-Gaelle Thiriot, Typhaine Delaup, Bruno Humberto, Ottillie Parfitt, Marc Stevenson, Philippe Lenzini and the chorus. But the real scene-stealers for me were the deliciously unsettling trio of faceless demi-goddesses who may have been Fates or Furies, Graces or Gorgons – or possibly all four. I can’t wait for the final instalment of this trilogy.
If you haven’t seen it yet, hie thee to the Barbican to see this fascinating exhibition – which closes on Sunday – charting the work of two of the greatest designers of modern times who were also, respectively, a talented architect and a fine artist. One look at their iconic chairs reminds you that in design terms this American couple have been the soundtrack of all our lives. Brilliant stuff.
This Human Zoo Company production, a sensation at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and currently touring Britain, is a magical, moving, mirthful and even mystical look at humanity’s obsession with the heavens. I caught it at Greenwich Theatre where a small but noisily appreciative audience was transfixed by the multiple talents of its cast – Florence O’Mahony, Nick Gilbert, Fleur Rooth, Freddie Crossley and Rosalind Hoy – as they told a series of stories ending in terrifically funny cartoonish violence but finishing off with a tale that racked our emotions. And there were some great gags, not least the conceit that we, the audience, were not there. I recommend this unreservedly.
Trinity Laban composer Alexander Ling unveiled a new work, Mandala, in a concert of pieces by Wagner, Webern and Bruckner played by the conservatoire’s symphony orchestra at Blackheath Halls. Mandala, inspired by the oriental life-symbol, is a minimalist joy and was given added potency by being juxtaposed with the soaring orchestrations of Ling’s three musical forebears. A brilliant debut by a man I expect to hear much more about in the future.
Yusra Warsama was nothing less than sensational in Hassan Mahamdallie’s important new play The Crows Plucked Your Sinews at the Albany, Deptford. With a brilliant combination of warm humanity, ice-cold fury, laugh-out-loud humour and heartbreaking emotion, she brought to life this unsettling comparison of a Somali immigrant family living in post-9/11 Woolwich with her great-grandmother’s life as a warrior fighting British imperial occupiers in Africa a century earlier. A magnificent achievement by all concerned
Choreographer Rahel Vonmoos’s latest work – to find a place – won a deserved ovation when it was premiered at Borough Hall in Greenwich. The combination of Vonmoos’s vision, four talented dancers, an array of diaphanous silicone screens carrying projected images of moving crowds and wintry trees, a soundtrack that included clips from John Cassavetes’ 1977 movie Opening Night and clever lighting that meant each dancer had at least two shadows created a swirling, freewheeling yet intense study of every facet of displacement – physical, geographical, sexual, personal, religious, political and emotional. Another exceptional commission by the Greenwich Dance/Trinity Laban Partnership.