PREVIEW: Camden Fringe – Theatre

The Camden Fringe has been playing for a week with plenty of theatre, comedy and more popping up all over the borough. You can find out more about the festival here, and catch up on the comedy highlights here, but below is a run-down of some of the theatre programme continuing throughout August:

Sonder – The Cockpit | 6-8 August

This piece of physical theatre focuses on the concept of ‘sonder’ – the realisation that each stranger and passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Centrality theatre company are presenting the piece in conjunction with Birmingham charity St Basil’s to raise awareness of homelessness in Britain. Performers Grace Bussey and Rosanna Stanton told me “it’s about opening your mind to the people around you on the street. You can see the same people everyday and you never talk to them and don’t register what’s going on with them.” It’s a striking concept to bring to London, notoriously the city where no-one speaks to each other on the tube, and it will be interesting to see how the show link this idea with the aim raising awareness for the homeless.  The company is made up of recent graduates from the Birmingham School of Acting, and Sonder is their debut production. Catch them at The Cockpit tomorrow night for their final show. More information here.

Garden of Eden – Hen and Chickens | 8-9 August

Garden of Eden - Hen and ChickensThis contemporary adaptation of the Adam and Eve story is all centred on power struggles within a relationship and had a rehearsed reading at the Rag Factory a couple of years ago. Read More »

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THEATRE REVIEW: Hamlet, Cockpit Theatre

English Repertory Theatre runs until 15 March

Nina Bright as Ophelia and Rachel Waring as Hamlet
Nina Bright as Ophelia and Rachel Waring as Hamlet (Photo: Gary Dovell Photography)

The works of the Bard have been so frequently adapted, reworked and reinvented that there’s no point in having any preconceptions about what works and what doesn’t. This particular interpretation of Hamlet transports the action, at least in the early scenes, to the schoolroom: Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelia and Rosencrantz study history under schoolmaster Horatio. With modern references and hefty cuts, the production promises to be a “fast-paced black comedy” while also working in the tragic ending.

The fundamental flaw with this is that there is no comic base to start from, so very little to build this interpretation around. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, for example, which is pretty much a ‘comedy’ up until the death of Mercutio, the original text of Hamlet launches straight into death, spirits, revenge, feigned madness and angst. Read More »

THEATRE DIARY: February

So here we are already: the second instalment of my theatre diary for this year. My resolution to restrain my theatregoing is going terribly, as you can see, but this month’s diary so far offers some intriguing work. Don’t forget to return to my blog throughout the month for all the reviews!

Oh, What A Lovely War! (Mon 2nd), Theatre Royal Stratford East

As events continue to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, Oh, What A Lovely War returns once again to the theatre where it was first premièred in 1963, before embarking on a national tour. At its time a controversial revisionist view of the Great War, it now stands as a fascinating insight into both the war, and into the 1960s view of recent history. With a cast led by Wendi Peters, I’m hoping for something special from my first visit to Stratford East.

Made In Dagenham (Weds 4th), Adelphi TheatreRead More »

Hamlet’s Fool and the Cockpit Theatre

For those of you who aren’t subject to my spamming of Facebook and Twitter every time I review something (you know you love it really…), on Friday night I headed down to the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone to check out Hamlet’s Fool on behalf of A Younger Theatre. The production was for the most part entertaining, with engaging and infectious storytelling from sole actor Peter Cutts; it had its weak points, no doubt, but his versatility and sheer enjoyment shone through and managed to create both laughter and poignancy in his rapid switching of roles, even though the script was a bit of a let-down in the final section. My full review can be found here if you fancy a spot of light reading on a Sunday afternoon: http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/review-hamlets-fool-cock-pit/

The Cockpit Theatre is a great little find, too. On my first visit there I was struck by its relaxed atmosphere, created for the most part by the open and easy friendliness of the the staff. The front of house team were warm and welcoming, and a mixture of old and young theatregoers created a happy buzz in the bar before the show.

Jazz in the Round
Image credit: Cockpit Theatre
As well as visiting theatre companies, the theatre also plays host to a range of musical acts, from the “gypsy jazz” of Elements of the Hot Club, who provided post-show entertainment after Hamlet’s Fool, to the ‘Jazz in the Round’ which takes place every last Monday of the month. Described as a “barrier-busting jazz/ contemporary music binge”, it presents an array of soloists and bands and looks to be a great way to spend an evening without breaking the bank!