Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Julian Bleach. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Julian Bleach. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, 13 November 2017

Saint George and the Dragon, National Theatre | Review

Saint George and the Dragon
Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 10th November 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

The National Theatre's current production of Saint George and the Dragon is a modern and ambitious twist on the traditional folk tale of Saint George the dragon-slayer. Described as "a folk tale for an uneasy nation" this production time travels from the medieval times all the way to the current day and questions whether England is losing it's traditional values and whether change is always positive.

Rory Mullarkey's play has faults and drags a little but its interesting and humourous throughout and works extremely well in the space of the Olivier theatre. 

As George himself, John Heffernan is Shakespearean, larger than life, witty and charming- perfect for the role. A particularly funny moment is when he disguises himself as 'Ian' in the 2017 world, raising the question of how much we're willing to change to fit in. The character is interesting because as those around him change, he stays the same and becomes somewhat innocent in nature. This transition from the bold hero, to almost childlike is an interesting watch and the idea that distant 'heros' aren't always what the world needs is especially relevant now when it's being revealed that many Hollywood idol's are not the people we should be looking up to at all.

Julian Bleach is the perfect contrast as the sinister but witty Dragon; his portrayal is fantastically strong and gave me major child-catcher vibes in the second act. As the feisty, voice of reason heroine, Elsa, Amaka Okafor is brilliantly cast.

This show wouldn't be what it is without Rae Smith's outstanding set design which transitions along with the characters seamlessly and adds a simple but strong dimension to the play. From the green fields of medieval England to the factory filled London during the industrial revolution, each set is instantly recognisable. Whilst extremely fitting for the time period, the sets also have a humourous aspect such as the way smoke puffs out of the factories. Accompanied by the great, atmospheric lighting by Bruno Poet we are transported through the history of England.

Overall I don't think this play will be to everyone's taste and it could certainly be trimmed down for a smoother flow but it's definitely interesting and I enjoy how it raises some important and relevant questions whilst still remaining humourous. Its genuinely funny and entertaining and Rory Mullarkey has done a great job of reinventing a traditional tale.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Grinning Man, Trafalgar Studios | Review

The Grinning Man
Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th December 2017 by Shaun Dicks

Trafalgar Studios, in the heart of the West End. We find ourselves in Studio 1, welcomed by a carnival aesthetic. The stage is set like the title, grinning. From corner to corner a grim, dark eternal smile. As we take our seats, there is a feeling of eeriness and darkness, setting the tone for the rest of the show. A demonic gong sounds, and the show begins. 

The Grinning Man - originally written by Victor Hugo - and adapted into a movie but now a musical, is a story of a young man who as a boy was given a permanent smile by metal. The story follows him as he becomes an orphan, and a series of events leads us through his childhood. His aim to find the people who gave him a permanent smile. 

Like Hugo’s other West End adaptation this show is a success; it is tight, slick and seamless. The show is littered with dark humour throughout but is also hauntingly uplifting and optimistic in places. The use of puppetry was absolutely magical throughout, the skill of the puppeteers plain to see for all. The narrative of the show is a strong one, backed up with beautiful music, sadly the book and lyrics seemed a little basic. Within the show you can spot the many Musical Theatre influences that influenced the writers. 

The cast of the show was a strong one, there wasn’t a weak link within the bunch. The harmonies, puppetry and movement was tight, obviously well-rehearsed. The characterisation was spot on with everyone as they all smashed down the fourth wall of the stage. A particular highlight was Julie Atherton as Queen Angelica, whose comedic timing was on point as always. Julian Bleach as Barkilphedro really drove home the element of dark comedy but also presented a well-rounded and multi-dimensional character that really thrilled until the very last second. Amanda Wilkin as Josiana was also a highlight. The standout however was Louis Maskell as Grinpayne, his skill set fully on display in this show, his versatility within the show shone as his voice soared. 

If you’re looking for a glamorous West End show this isn’t for you. The Grinning Man is a dark and alternative show. It’s different. Its differences are what makes this show so great. This show is something fresh and new in a world full of revivals. The show is  a must see. You’ll be gutted if you miss it. 

The Grinning Man runs at the Trafalgar Studios until February 17th 2018.

photo credit: Helen Maybank