EIF 16 The Destroyed Room

THE DESTROYED ROOM by Matthew Lenton and Vanishing Point is a much less comfortable evening in the theatre. Three folk left from seats around us when the male character, played by Barnaby Power, described the video showing the death of the Jordanian pilot at the hands of ISIS, frame by frame. Those who conscientiously avoid such graphic material on the web have every right to feel cheated.

The play’s point at that moment was to show how clever such manipulation is.

The script is naturalistic, the behaviours of three folk coming together and falling into one of those conversations – this one started “If you had to destroy one thing in your house, what would it be? – and led on, as scripts must, into deeper and darker territory than might have been expected.

THE DESTROYED ROOM is a play for our times full of the big questions and its performance by three talented actors – Elicia Daly and Pauline Goldsmith joined Power – is incomparable.

Also on stage are two cameras and their operatives sending close-ups of the performers onto big screens. Does it remind us how everything we do today is recorded – or do they just get between the audience and the play? I began to watch for the close-up when any of the three performers held sway, my companion was simple irritated. He’s not on FB and has only ever appeared in one selfie.

I was able to open the sweeties for our neighbour.

Run continues and tickets are here


And we have lift-off…

In-flight entertainment was provided by ‘Wee Hughie”s antics trying to get to Edinburgh for the Preview of Matthew Lenton’s Interiors presented by Vanishing Point.

He’d messed up, ‘Wee Hughie’ had  and the lady  whose telephone conversation with his mum/girlfriend/sister was broadcast on speaker phone to the whole Grand Circle was not pleased. The rest of us were much entertained, although very happy that it was all switched off in response to the authoritative voice from the outer darkness, ‘Switch it off now, Love, switch it off.

So following this, Lenton and Vanishing Point had ground to recover. And recover it they did with a warm, affectionate look at the frailties of both the human condition and a community living on the edge. The polar bears, the narrator informs us, are very hungry at this time of year. Where society is small, the individuals making it up have to get on, compromise and respect one another.

They might also entertain one another and there is a dance routine you should try not to miss.

Interiors is in rep with Vanishing Point’s The Destroyed Room at the Royal Lyceum theatre till Monday 8th August. Tickets from the EIF Ticketing Hub

Do you have my historical romance on your e-reader? Buy for kindle here

Royal Lyceum’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has to be one of life’s most enriching theatrical experiences. Even when the Director, Matthew Lenton, sets it in mid-winter, Shakespeare’s language still has the power to charm, excite, soothe – when one can hear it. A few folk in the bar at the interval were expressing difficulty catching the words of the female actors. Something of a contrast to the over-loud Guid Sisters.

The counter-indicative weather did nothing for me. I really want my Midsummer Night to be warm and filled with the buzz of wings, whether of fairies or bees. I found it just too incredible that everyone would go off into the woods in swirling snow. However, what the cast then did with the physical theatre of being out in the cold was at times very funny. Miles Yekinni and Kevin Mains as Midsummer Night’s Demetrius and Lysander were hilariously intertwined in a hopeless wrestling match that threatened to stop the performance.

Ifan Meredith gave a somewhat emasculated performance as Oberon/Theseus. I wanted more – more authority, more gravitas and, as Oberon, more sinister. Jordan Young, on the other hand, was having a ball playing Bottom and we enjoyed that. Maybe Pyramus and Thisbe slid over into excess, but Barnaby Power was a splendid Peter Quince and the Mechanicals were a deserved highlight.

I’ve seen many, many productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This wasn’t the best, but a good night out and great to see the members of the Young Lyceum getting a chance on stage.

Johnny McKnight’s Cinderella is up next at the Royal Lyceum. Starts 29th November.


Wonderland – Shakespearian experience?

Wonderland, presented by Vanishing Point and conceived and directed by Matthew Lenton was a challenging watch for most of us. Those of us who try to write plays maybe found it more challenging than others.

I want a writer. The absence of a central voice grates. My expectations now change when I see that ominous phrase ‘in the rehearsal room’ or the other improvised by the company. There’s nothing wrong with being a writer/director. It has a respectable track record. As companies like Vanishing Point demonstrate there’s lots to be gained by listening to the cast and designers, but I think the end result doesn’t represent the truth of the vision if everyone has had a hand in diluting it.

The subject matter – on-line pornography, the lure of fame, sexual bullying, difficult teen parent relations – didn’t make comfortable viewing and on Thursday night when I saw Wonderland, several people walked out. The young man next to me hung on after his party had left (drama in the aisles as well as on the stage), until the heroine died. “I can go now,” he said. Writing a thesis? Defying his hosts? Proving a point? Who knows. Whatever, it wasn’t the end.

I do think the audience needs to stick with a play through the ending and Vanishing Point’s Wonderland is a good example of that.

Some of the text was brilliant. I loved the line delivered by Flavia Gusmao to her on-line punter: “So – sue me!” Some lacked clarity. I thought the home background was undeveloped and couldn’t understand why a mother was cutting off her clearly distressed child. In places the set got in the way. Yes, it was a window. Did it have to be a window with a line down the middle?

It had only the most tenuous link to Alice in Wonderland which I found disappointing. Was that simply a device to provide a suitable blurb for the Festival brochure? I am pleased I didn’t let early reviews put me off, though. Wonderland was thought provoking. The young cast were extremely brave. I found the level of violence portrayed about equivalent to a Shakespeare play, but the level of violence and coercion hinted at in the hidden worlds of pornography, terrifying to contemplate.

Viewing on-line pornography is a vile addiction because, unlike alcohol for example, it’s not likely to be the addicted person who is destroyed. It’s likely to be the vulnerable lured into participation who bear the scars – if they survive.