Arts

‘Little Eden’: A Review

In a world where reptilians rule and demand daily doses of blood from all of the earth’s citizens, Little Eden tells the story of Jim, an office worker happy to comply with the rules, but who slowly becomes aware that all he has been told about how the world works may be untrue. As secrets unravel, Jim’s safety and life as he knows it hang in the balance.

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The debut production from Neon Peach Theatre is full of slick performances and big characters that make for an enjoyable romp through this world. Although the world could do with being a bit more solidified, and the set up a bit clearer, the fact that there’s a yearning to know more about the world demonstrates that it’s an interesting one. But with a slightly off version of reality, without clarification of what exactly is going on, it can become hard to follow and properly appreciate when the rules of the world start to come undone.

13320957_10154059108736233_6691409396024720195_o[1]An ode to 50’s sci-fi B-movies, Little Eden’s set, sound, and lighting design perfectly encapsulate this little pocket of cinematic history. Although this is a genre rife with joke possibilities, there was definitely the opportunity for more of this within the piece; the set-up is so rich, I was desperate for more gags and over-the-top self-awareness.

Liam Farmer gives a lovely performance as ‘The Vicar’, who narrates the entire show and is bombastic and incredibly fun to watch. Having a narrator on stage continuously can be a difficult thing to balance with the action of a show, but Neon Peach manage it perfectly. A special mention should also go out to Sophie Miller De Vega whose performance as the local nurse never becomes too ‘bimbo’, or dull, but continues to be funny despite her high-heel, pinned-up-hair, white-coat stock character.13316950_10154059108191233_8984799620704698462_o[1]In a small studio space like Camden People’s Theatre, it can be hard to visually engineer a whole world, but the transitions between different spaces and the way that the narrator interplays between it all is one of the strongest facets of the piece.

A work in progress that needs just needs a bit more of everything, Little Eden has potential, strong performances, and most of all, it’s proper good fun.

 

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Words by Sian Brett
Images by Jon Lee
 

 

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‘Colder Water’: A Review

Sunday afternoons for me are usually spent aimlessly engaging with whatever cheap dialogue is available on Netflix. Yet I was lucky enough to be invited by Antonym Theatre to watch their latest piece Colder Water, directed by Celine Fortenbacher-Poplawska, and 2016 Edinburgh Fringe success ‘TWIX’, directed by Cara Withers and Molly Evans.

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Out of the New Cross bubble, and with a £4.65 Voddy and Cranberry, I was ready to absorb the works of Antonym Theatre’s Double Decker: ‘Colder Water’ and ‘TWIX’. Ogden’s writing makes you walk in the characters shoes; no matter if those shoes are pinchy, floppy, or relatively comfortable, I was tying the laces of empathy as I went. Since finishing my second year of studying Theatre Arts, I turn to one of my favourite quotes to best describe pieces such as Colder Water and Twix.

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Laurie Ogden’s work may not focus on the lives of 19th century Russians, but it does focus on employing subtlety. Supported by lyrical monologues and passive-aggressive characters which allows her pieces to act as broken glass to present a unique glint into ordinary lives.  The premier of Colder Water was essentially an extract of an awkward, yet needed conversation between four individuals dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.

Colder Water’s subtly allows the audience to uncover that there is more to the situation than the conversation currently offers. Ogden explores our society’s extremely problematic values when it comes to dealing with sexual assault; “What were you wearing?”, “How much did you drink?”, “You were asking for it”, “You’re making it up”. All while sexual predators such as Brock Turner and Andrew Picard have the justice system wrapped around their privileged fingers. There is no point denying that the justice system prioritises their voice and the future of the attacker over the victim’s.

Colder Water’s depth of field focuses on Ally (Alice Brittain), Louise (Jess Reed), and Ellie’s (Laurie Ogden) internal perspectives of female connection, layering these women with intense humanity and interest. Ogdens depth of field allows Colder Water to artistically show a ‘social template’ wherein the attacker’s dialogue and privilege is removed. This template is something our society and justice system should be employing.

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In addition to Ogden’s use of subtlety, she liberates and showcases a lesbian dialogue between Ally and Ellie. Other than the series Orange is the New Black or the video game Life Is Strange, I’ve found that most theatre, art, or television I’ve engaged with is (mostly) heterosexual, or includes a gay-male character. Colder Water introduced me to a lesbian dialogue on stage. It was heart-warming to watch as the piece didn’t focus on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, but rather the everyday lives of a couple, which I found enlightening to watch. Especially Knowing that artists such as Ogden are composing work about homosexual experience without a political drive – in regards to their rights. Again, Colder Water serves as a template for showing that we’re in the 21st century. Lesbian relationships are more than acceptable and shouldn’t be excluded from art and theatre.

Overall, I think Colder Water is pretty neat and has potential to rock the feminisms world! A massive well done to Laurie Ogden and Celine Fortenbacher-Poplawska and the cast/crew of Antonym Theatre! I give you five stars! (literally)

Peace, Love and Cacti

Courtney McMahon

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p.s. not all dialogue on Netflix is cheap

 

 

Words by Courtney McMahon
Images courtesy of quotefancy, Antonym Theatre, Theatre N16 and Courtney McMahon

‘Heroes’: A Review

Picture this: you’re sitting inside your University exam hall, your clothing style has changed, your hair is longer (or shorter!), and you’ve already planned your “We made it through our degree!!!” house party. But then suddenly, it hits you. The past three years have flown past quicker than you imagined.

You, sitting there, paused mid-sentence. The sudden fear of having to enter adulthood strikes: getting a job, paying off your debt, potentially get married or having children, then watching your children continue the ongoing circle we call life. Your future flashes before your eyes quicker than you can finish that sentence you paused on. As you ponder your existence during a quarter-life crisis, you could say you’d like to become a superhero.

“Student Finance cannot cover a Superhero, let alone a degree!”

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Heroes is a play written & directed by Sian Brett, co-directed by Frankie Jolly, and is a part of Box Room Theatre Company and Goldsmiths Drama Society, 2016.

Every university student would relate to those first paragraphs. I know I’ve most definitely had similar thoughts on numerous occasions. University is not just about improving our fields of study, but our development as a person! So the idea of leaving this stressful-Utopian establishment, is quite frankly, frightening.

Heroes is a play which presents the contrasting pessimistic and optimistic anxieties of two third year English students sitting their final exam. Sian Brett, a name you’d be familiar with if you’re an Anthem regular, has voiced common, yet silent concerns among students such as:

  1. Am I spending more time at the pub than completing my University bucket list?
  2. Are our degrees even worth getting a part time job just to pay disgustingly overpriced rent? Then, having to scrape together the little time we have between lectures, societies, and reading to actually live our lives.
  3. Should I study a Masters Degree to continue my “University” experience? Or in reality, am I just delaying my entrance into adulthood??
  4. Am I going to be as extraordinary as I originally planned to be? Will even I make a significant change in the world? Because at the moment, we’re all uncooked potatoes.

“You’re a vile creature, you’re a student

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One of my biggest fears in life is not being remembered. I want to be extraordinary, and these exact thoughts are expressed in Heroes. As an audience member I was able to tag along with the characters’ search for an understanding of our life and how we contribute to social progression. Heroes welcomed me to the idea that anybody could change the world. No matter how big or small the situation is, you don’t need powers to be a hero.

You can’t talk about Heroes without mentioning the fabulous cast members Niamh O’Brien and Jazmin Qunta. The relationship between the two characters is organic; I didn’t see a performance, I saw life. I saw me and my home-dawg (hi Nicole) back in Loring Hall, eating Thai food while discussing our future….or watching High School Musical 2. The point I’m making here is that Heroes’ self deprecating nature allows the audience to chuckle their tits off whilst still projecting themselves onto the characters. It’s theatre which holds your hand and says to you: ‘Hey man! You’re not alone with this… I love you and everything, but your palm is really sweaty right now’.

Heroes It’s probably the most heartwarming downer I’ve ever experienced in theatre! The sooner we realise that all art is about death, the happier we’ll be in life.

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Because I loved Heroes so much I’m giving it 5 Stars! (My dog is called Star and she is great)

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Words by Courtney McMahon
Images courtesy of Courtney McMahon and Box Room Theatre