You’re more than spoilt for choice with theatre performances this month.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Tues 1 – Sat 5 Nov
Theatre Royal Brighton
Dickens himself considered his novel, A Tale Of Two Cities the best story he’d ever written. It interweaves one family’s intensely personal drama, in an epic story of love, sacrifice and redemption amidst horrific violence and world-changing events. In an era of regime changes and citizen protest around the world, this bold new dramatic adaptation by Mike Poulton (Fortune’s Fool, Wolf Hall) set to rousing original music by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman (The Cider House Rules, Beloved) seems more relevant than ever. Social inequality is rife throughout both England and France, amidst this a member of the ruling class attempts to escape his heritage and a daughter tries to reconnect with her father at the dawn of the French Revolution
This interactive performance-game combines the simplicity of bare-bones storytelling with the limitless possibilities of contemporary open-world computer games. Two performers stand on a bare stage and describe an imaginary place. By giving instructions like ‘go north’ or ‘pick up the lamp’, the audience works together to navigate through the described space, overcoming obstacles and exploring this other world without leaving their seats. Occasionally breaking into lyrical passages describing places from myth and memory, the performers invite participants to build a new world they can explore together. Imagination and memory collide to reveal that the everyday world is not as solid as it might seem. What’s created is a fascinating and interactive world, in a show which redefines the rules of interactive theatre. So come in, sit down and explore.
Dreamlike and poetic, yet acerbic and very funny, Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House blends comedy, death, opera, surgery, apple picking and knickers in a cocktail of magic realism. Amongst its off-beat humour lurks heart packed with wisdom and romance. In a ‘metaphysical Sussex’, doctors Lane and Charles have hired Brazilian Matilde to clean their house, but she’s more interested in jokes. Happily, Lane’s sister Victoria loves to clean! Meanwhile, Charles has a confession about the charismatic Ana. The discordant views of each of these wildly contradictory characters keep clashing, leaving a rich vein of imagery and insight in their wake. It’s a beautiful play about love, death, laughter and the messiness of life. Directed by Sam Chittenden, this is New Venture Theatre’s entry for the Drama Awards.
Performed and written by Jules Craig, and directed by Sian Webber, this is a perceptive and warm evolution of the one-woman show genre. It tells the rich and eccentric story of Juliet who attempts to put on a play about her heroines. She’s been inspired by the life of modernist poet and eccentric socialite Edith Sitwell, but discovers telling other people’s stories has its pitfalls. Especially when the subjects themselves turn up, and force her to face some home truths. In this sincere and touching work we see Craig take on three characters, each of them vying for the role of leading lady. It’s funny, fast-paced and honest, and reassess how we look at identity and inspiration.
After their debut show Nothing, multi-award-winning young company Barrel Organ present an astute, searching, honest look at society. It’s a world of globalisation and greed, of zero-hour contracts and The Big Bang Theory, violence worms its way into every aspect of our lives. Expect people, or just ideas, in mindless frustration, on the edge of some kind of revolt. We follow a family as they struggle with these hidden violences in a modern age full of vapid TV sitcoms and ultra-efficient microwaves. Barrel Organ bring their irreverent and self-aware performance style to an everyday domestic scene while its audience strives to unpack some of the hidden mechanisms that run our lives.
DH Lawrence’s controversial novel, banned from publication in the UK until 1960, tells a story about freedom of the mind and body in a society bound by class and tradition. This world premiere production, adapted and directed by Phillip Breen, is brought to the stage by English Touring Theatre and Sheffield Theatres following ETT’s acclaimed recent visits to Brighton with The Herbal Bed. Lady Constance Chatterley is trapped in a loveless marriage. Feeling emotionally and physically neglected by her husband, Clifford, who was paralysed in the Great War, she flees to the arms of their handsome gamekeeper Mellors. As their passionate affair escalates, Constance begins to realise that she can no longer live in a world of the mind alone.
Science and humanism collide with the world of religious absolutism in this one-man show. ‘Proof denies faith, and without faith we are nothing!’ Within this reprimand from Pope Urban is contained Galileo’s tragedy – a mistaken belief that if he supplied the church with proof, he could enlighten the world and escape persecution. He understood the science better than any man alive, but never grasped the politics… until it was too late. After a successful tour of the US, a sold-out run at the Brighton Fringe and Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, RSC actor Tim Hardy follows a highly successful transfer to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and multiple four-star reviews by playing to a more extensive audience as part of touring.
Nominated in the Best LGBT+ show category at Brighton Fringe 2016, Behind The Lines return with a heart-rending and touching story about love. 30 years on from Shirley Valentine, Janet takes a holiday to Greece. She meets the girl of her dreams in a suit and tie singing Frank Sinatra songs. To a backdrop of Sinatra’s greatest hits, All or Nothing at All and I’ve Got You Under My Skin their romance unfolds and Janet realises this holiday was a departure in more ways than one. Witty, occasionally heart-breaking and totally endearing, the play’s narrative is helped along out by some of the Rat Pack’s greatest hits. It asks, can we escape expectations and embrace a freer and more truthful existence?
This new play by Normal People Productions focuses on the life and works of internationally renowned Doreen Valiente. Considered to be the mother of modern witchcraft, when it ceased to be illegal in 1951, she was one of the first people to speak openly about the practice. Co-written by Gavin ‘Archie’ Caine and Roman Withers, it brings to life Valiente’s stories and recollections. Brighton was her last hometown, and her flat on Tyson Place provides the play’s setting. Here we get to meet a fictional postulant and, through her tasks and conversations with Doreen, we will deepen our understanding of one of the city’s most interesting residents.
Brighton People’s Theatre is a brand new theatre company for the city. Assembled from a diverse group of non-professional performers, they’ve created this original show in collaboration with professional theatre-makers. Now we get to see a preview performance, before the production goes on tour in 2017. Everyone is invited to watch the show, and then pay what you decide it’s worth. It examines the cost of austerity for people living and working in the city of Brighton & Hove. Very much a product of its time, it’s a brave and compassionate look at a generation trying to survive. You can expect singing, dancing and characters so real you could be sat next to them on the bus to Churchill Square. What does austerity mean to you?
Few shows have received such international acclaim as the multi-award-winning Blood Brothers. Bill Kenwright’s production surpassed 10,000 performances in London’s West End, one of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone. Written by Willy Russell, this production recounts the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. Lyn Paul returns to the iconic role she has played many times in the West End, in fact she was the show’s final Mrs Johnstone when it closed at The Phoenix Theatre in 2012. But amongst the immaculate staging and big set-pieces, there is a sincerely political edge – asking can upbringing effects success in life?
Jonathan Larson’s exuberant Rent, the East Village rock version of Puccini’s opera La Bohème, won both a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize. Marking the 20th anniversary of its debut, this new tour features a hugely talented young cast, directed, staged and supervised by many of the creative faces that led the original West End production. Larson’s stirring and life-affirming score captures the heart and spirit of a generation of struggling artists, addicts, and impoverished young people living in the shadow of AIDS, all battling the coming wave of gentrification. It’s a time capsule of a world where hope crawls out of dark despair. These bohemians find the salvation of love within each other and prove there can be a better world where art thrives, and everything good is free.