Theatre company ‘09 Lives’ production of ‘The Changeling’ is as mysterious and gripping as it is dark and brooding. A Jacobean tragedy written by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley in 1622, all the actors seemed to relish the roles they played, embracing the seventeenth century language, and beautiful poetry of the play. Telling a tale of love and revenge, Beatrice, performed by Sarah J Warren, desiring an escape from an unwanted marriage with Ryan Brannon’s Alonzo de Piracquo, finds herself tangled in a poisonous relationship with sinister Deflores, embroiled in a plot of murder and deceit. The acting is confident and convincing from all the characters, from cheeky and cheerful Ashleigh Taylor’s Diaphanta, to cockney king Vermandero, performed by Billy Colvill, to Angus Chisolm’s unwitting and trusting Alsermero. Warren’s Beatrice is both manipulated by the men around her, and manipulative, scheming, intelligent and clever, and the transformation of the character is brilliantly depicted. Giorgio Galassi’s performance as villain Deflores is superb. He is perfectly sinister and repulsive, yet strangely pleasing to watch, in his attempts to gain Beatrice as his own.
The production is a promenade play, with the audience following the action of the characters through the eerie yet beautiful pathways of Abney Park. Through performing outdoors (brave considering the September weather!) in Abney cemetery we find ourselves in an enchanting setting and we are transported by the fantastic acting, poetry, and plot, into the world of the play.
Runs until 24 September (Weds-Suns)
Tickets available https://thechangelingabney.eventbrite.co.uk
I saw this exciting yet deeply moving play (tour details below) at a pop up arts space in Forest Gate, East London. The perfect place for it. Bare room with some experimental art on the wall and rows of chairs facing the set, which had the same dimensions as a cell – only 12×8. Barred shows us a mostly secret and hidden world behind bang-up.
Any that make decisions about the fate of prisoners should experience just a day in a room as small as this. It is suffocating. This, for me, was a powerful, powerful choice by Dean Stalham (who also directed) to use of the lack of physical space prisoners endure and the constant need to lift water-filled weights contributed to the intensity of the insightful and authentic exploration of a pair of cell mates’ relationship and how they survive their stretch.
Barred is a play that explores the true complexities of life inside. Two men in a box forced to struggle with their demons and the system that holds them captive. Set in Strangeways in 1994 cell mates, Salford born Danny (Nigel Travis) and Liverpool born Ali (Thomas Jan Johnston) go head to head, fighting for survival. Danny believing that he can find salvation and redemption through art and education, Ali believing the only way to do a prison sentence is by doing it the hard way.
I cannot begin to describe the brilliance of this piece. Dean Stalham, himself a former prisoner, writes with brutal elegance but also there are nonsensical flourishes “crazy nights – fantastical days – end up doing time – in Strangeways…”
In Barred he has, with the skill and total commitment from his actors produced a work that leaves you stunned and yet enlightened. Nigel Travis shows a heart breaking sensitivity as Danny, especially concerning the loss of his relationship with his daughter. Thomas Jan Johnston’s hilarious turn as Ali can switch from all northern bonhomie and warmth to a cold, dead eyed snake loathing his cell mate, the system and himself. Whatever his mood, Ali rages against the world.
Having had some experience with the system myself I cannot recommend Barred highly enough. For its searing honesty, understanding of the human condition and the redemptive possibilities of artistic endeavours. Oh and by the way, it is VERY funny. Theatre doing its job for a change and doing it extremely well.
I would like to leave with a quote from Dean Stalham as I cannot say it better.
“But once art’s in your life the world’s a better place. With art you can communicate, and if you communicate you share and the whole world opens up to you. I know that it does work because I’m living proof of it.”
Review by Oscar Ciros
Barred is produced by the charity Stretch STRETCH CHARITY who promote change through cultural education and are always looking for creative ways to reach those marginalised by society.
Next showing at The Baltic Social 25-29 Parliament Street, L8 5RN Liverpool. email@example.com
The play has received Arts Council funding to tour England and deliver FREE events.
The outside of the Museum had a well cared for garden, good for picnics. It was nicely kept as was the beautiful herb garden. As you walk into the herb garden many of the plants were clearly labelled and carried a short description.
As you walk into the building you are immediately greeted by friendly and helpful staff at the Reception.
The Exhibition is housed in a long corridor with different rooms of houses from different eras and different parts of the world. The information displayed was clear, simple and would be easy for children to understand.
Throughout these rooms there were displays for people of all ages to interact with. There is a guessing game for children where children can guess the country of origin which is revealed by removing the flap.
The café was visited and as soon as you walk in there are brownies and other cakes on display. The staff seemed friendly and welcoming although it did seem they were understaffed which made the service slow, but still a nice environment.
The facilities for the men were clean and tidy whereas the women’s facility were not so good.
The stock in the shop catered for all ages.
Leon W.G – 13 Years
Marlborough Theatre, Princes Street, Brighton June 2017
McLuckie’s outstanding talent shines brightly at the Brighton Fringe. This big Scot is a difficult man to pigeon hole. A sharp, biting wit with a surgical ear and eye to the vagaries of speech patterns from characters that stay in the Glasgow high flats to the Hollywood Hills. (Personal favourite was the malevolent assassin of Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas).
At times absurd and very camp yet a split the room ditty about incest may not be every one’s cup of tea. As I said he is hard to pin down and describe. He is a poet, singer, political observer and an extraordinary performer. Wrapping his long, tall person round clearly observed and defined characters with so much energy you yearn for him to have a larger space so that us in the audience can sit further away to really appreciate the detailed depth of his writing and performance. I laughed so hard at his story about being gay in Paisley and going with a straight guy in the Littlewoods toilet that I gave myself whiplash.
Do fasten your seatbelts for the story about how Judy Garland was able to reach those notes with the added bonus of a delicious Bette Davis impersonation.
Both entertaining and searing work makes for a bumpy night but you are in the hands of an exceptional artist, so enjoy the ride.
Reviewed by Oscar Ciros