Tag theatre

Now that’s what I call UBU!

Pics of the last production – haven’t got the production page on the main website up yet, but hopefully that’ll be done later in the week. Or when I get round to it.


Our latest Castaway production is Jim Cartwright’s ”Road”, set in a deprived Lancashire town in the bad old days of Thatcherism. It’s turning out to be awesome, and runs from Wednesday to Friday. Here’s the blurb:

Castaway celebrate eighteen years of producing cutting edge theatre at the Arts Centre with Cartwright’s classic play from 1986 – probably the most important play to emerge from the decade. Set in a tiny pocket of derelict Lancashire, Road is an uncompromising depiction of working class life in Thatcher’s Britain. Your host is the drunken Scullery. During one booze fuelled evening he introduces us to a veritable pot-pourri of characters -beer flows, music plays, dreams are shattered and one record helps four young people tomake a startling discovery. Castaway’s large and talented cast embrace Cartwright’s raw poetry with vigour and energy… and (of course) a stunning soundtrack compliments the action!

Tickets are available from the Arts Centre if you’re quick.

Incidentally, the Wikipedia page above mentions that it was done in New York at one point. With Kevin Bacon (as the Soldier, Brink and Joey). Apparently it didn’t entirely work.

UPDATE: damn, really should have posted this before today! All tickets gone. Actually, that’s pretty gratifying – but it does you people no good at all!

Alas, poor Andre

Apparently, the skull used in the Tennant Hamlet we saw last month was a real one. It belonged to a concert pianist and composer – a chap by the name of Andre Tchaikowsky – who died in 1982 and left his body to science, and his skull "to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance." No actor until Tennant has had the nerve to use it on stage.

"It was sort of a little shock tactic. Though, of course, to some extent that wears off and it’s just Andre, in his box," [Director] Doran told the Daily Telegraph.

Here’s a website about him. No relation to the famous Peter, though – Tchaikowsky was the name on the false papers he was given when he was smuggled out of the ghetto in Warsaw in ’42. There are links to him playing some of his own compositions here. And more on the skull bequest here – apparently the funeral directors initially refused, claiming it was illegal. There was a phone call to the Home Office to sort this out (it is illegal now – Human Tissue Act 2004)

David Tennant says:

‘When I heard he had done this,’ he says, ‘I thought, that’s brilliant, that’s what I’m going to do, but apparently you can’t any more, the law’s been changed.’

And a quote from a friend, Michael Menaugh, showing the sort of mixed feeling that close associates must have with this kind of thing:

"Unfortunately, the fact of the skull will not go away for any of us. It is something that ultimately we have all to come to terms with, to reconcile with the Andre we knew and loved. I don’t think Andre realized the effect such a bequest would have, both on his friends and on his own reputation. Andre didn’t always understand that the world of ideas and the world of real people, real reactions and real events just did not coincide.

He had spoken to me of leaving his skull for the RSC to use in Hamlet back in 1966 when he wrote the music for my Oxford Hamlet. In my undergraduate way, I thought the idea wonderfully entertaining. When a great actor may hold the skull of a real man, a real man who ‘set the table on a roar,’ a wonderful man who had his ‘gibes and gambols and songs,’ when that great actor says, ‘A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy,’ might not that electrifying flash of truth (transmitted by the actor) light up the play? Andre would have liked that idea, I think.

Lenny Henry? Othello?

This might interest some – Lenny Henry, if dates can be arranged, may take on the role of Othello in a Northern Broadsides production directed by Barry Rutter. Good grief. Given that NB is a very, very good company I can’t make up my mind whether this is a good or bad thing…

celebrity death cluster continues

They’re dropping like flies, aren’t they? Earlier this week it was Arthur Clarke and Anthony Minghella, now Brian Wilde (Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine and Mr. Barraclough in Porridge) has passed away, suddenly, in his sleep at the age of 86. May be all be so lucky. He followed hot on the heels of the great Shakespearian actor Paul Scofield. As the comment at at the side of the BBC’s news page says, "Paul Scofield was a towering genius of a performer who had everything a theatrical elder statesman should have." So says Paddy of Aberystwyth. Hm. I wonder who that could be? Richard Burton also said at one point, "of the ten greatest moments in the theatre, eight are Scofield’s."

Macbeth by Tarantino?

Saw a thing called ”Macbeth/Kill Bill Shakespeare” last night. I was hoping for a rather more subtle blend, not just some Tarantino scenes transposed crudely into an otherwise rather bland Macbeth. Some of it worked well; the Jules/Vincent speech about hash bars and the Royale with Cheese was translated into pretty good Elizabethan iambic pentameter and was genuinely very funny. But after that, it rapidly became gratuitous, and the effect was similar to trying to watch either Macbeth or Tarantino on TV with an itchy remote control finger. Oh well.

post 4588

I keep forgetting to post this, because I’m an idiot. Our Day Out went very well, sold out (in fact oversold) on both nights, and a lot of fun was had by all. There are pictures and a review on the web site. Here’s a bit from the review:

Jim Finnis putting his wealth of talent in good-humoured roles to great use and proving, in the role of Colin, a reluctant heart-throb for schoolgirls Linda and Jackie, played by Sarah Mair Gates and Norma Izon respectively, both of whom played their parts with voluptuous flair and northern sharpness. Matt Fullwood played the bad-tempered headmistress’ lackey Mr. Briggs with a great variation of texture, humour and tone, while Lauren Hodgkins showed similar depth of characterisation as Susan, particularly in a riotous mock-seduction scene with schoolboy Reilly, played with handsome cockiness by Dan Frost. All of the above, as well as other characters, were given a beautifully laconic support by Stephanie Gunner and Catrin Fflûr Huws’ Bored Girls, whose downbeat attitudes were hilarious from start to end.

So that’s good notices for just about everyone. He goes on:

Special mention should be made of Lindsay Blumfield, who as Carol – the backstreet girl with longings and dreams – gave the most heart-wrenching, beautifully nuanced performance, particularly in her latter scenes, helping to capture the shifts in mood that make this laugh-out-loud comedy much more than just that.

which is spot-on, it’s one of the best things I’ve seen Lindsay do. For some reason, though, there’s no mention of Lizzie’s Mrs Kay, which is criminal.

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