Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Rae Smith. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Rae Smith. 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 15 March 2023

Girl From The North Country (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Girl From The North Country (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre

Set to Bob Dylan’s poetic and politically charged back catalogue, Girl from the North Country introduces us to a rabble of lost souls at Nick Laine’s destitute guesthouse in 1930s Minnesota. Laine’s wife Elizabeth, adopted daughter Marianne and son Gene live alongside a host of wayward drifters, all with their own secrets and stories to share. Connor McPherson’s book is simple yet elegant; tragic anecdotes unravel across the next two and half hours, each punctuated by a song from Dylan’s discography. The musical numbers do not necessarily move the plot forward but are instead perfectly used to capture microcosmic moments in time.

Girl from the North Country is a real character piece, allowing a talented ensemble cast to individually shine. Frances McNamee gives a heartbreaking turn as Nick’s sick wife Elizabeth, masterfully shifting between moments of lucidity and child-like tantrums. Her performances of ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘Forever Young’ are particularly spellbinding. Justina Kehinde shines as the spirited and effervescent Marianne, whilst Eve Norris (Katherine Draper) and Gregor Milne (Gene Laine) deliver an easy, understated version of ‘I Want You’ in Act one.
Dylan’s best known songs have been transformed tremendously by Simon Hale. Many take on an almost choral quality, including a stunning acapella section which closes the show and numbers lead by the soulful Maria Omakinwa as long-term resident and Nick’s lover, Mrs Nielsen. Other numbers are jaunty and percussive, creating a wonderfully varied musical landscape.

Rae Smith’s set and costume design are austere and efficient but entirely period appropriate, whilst Mark Henderson’s clever use of recurring spotlights against a backdrop of haunting silhouettes give several numbers an almost confessional feel. Time appears to stop still as interior monologues are shared under a stark beam of light. A twenty-strong ensemble fills an otherwise sparse stage; they execute Lucy Hind’s choreography with gumption, convulsing in sync as if we’re witnessing an evangelical awakening.

This production feels prophetic, visceral and cathartic all at once. Like an open wound, it pours with the voices of the lonely and disenfranchised during one of America’s darkest decades. However, there are several revelatory, uplifting moments and welcome flashes of caustic humour. Girl from the North Country is a moving testament to the tenacity of the human condition and a truly class act.

Reviewed on Tuesday 14th March 2023 by Hope Priddle

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Thursday 8 February 2024

War House to Embark on New UK Tour

The acclaimed War Horse production, adapted from Michael Morpurgo's beloved novel and originally directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, is set to embark on an extensive 18-month UK Tour starting from September 5, 2024, and continuing until 2026.
Opening at the New Wimbledon Theatre from September 5 to 14, the tour will then move to various venues including The Lowry in Salford (September 18 to 28), Mayflower Theatre in Southampton (October 8 to 19), The Marlowe in Canterbury (October 22 to November 2), Sunderland Empire (November 5 to 16), Theatre Royal Plymouth (November 26 to December 7), and New Theatre Oxford (December 10, 2024, to January 4, 2025), with additional dates and locations to be announced.

This captivating story follows young Albert and his horse Joey against the backdrop of World War I. War Horse, celebrated for its innovative puppetry by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, has garnered more than 25 major awards and has been witnessed by over 8.3 million people globally. Co-produced by Michael Harrison, Fiery Angel, and Playing Field, this new tour promises to deliver the same awe-inspiring experience.

Led by Tom Morris and revival director Katie Henry, with redesigned sets by Rae Smith and additional music by Adrian Sutton, the production features puppetry by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, lighting design by Rob Casey, and movement choreography by Toby Sedgwick. Animation and projection design are by Nicol Scott, while John Tams provides musical contributions and Christopher Shutt manages sound design. Casting details are yet to be announced.

Having premiered at the National Theatre in 2007, War Horse has since captivated audiences worldwide, with productions spanning across continents. For more information and ticket bookings, visit The tour will also include visits to Theatre Nation Partner venues, such as The Lowry in Salford and Sunderland Empire, with assisted performances available throughout the run at each venue.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Macbeth, National Theatre | Review

Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 6th March 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I've seen and studied a fair few Shakespeare plays but I wouldn't say I'm an expert in any form. I do however, know what I like when going to the theatre and recognise brilliant acting when I see it. The National Theatre's current production of Macbeth does have brilliant acting but overall it just didn't do it for me.

Walking into the wonderful Olivier theatre we are greeted with an almost bare stage, there are four poles with ragged, witchy fabric attached to the top; in the centre there is a sloped wooden platform decorated with severed limbs from plastic baby toys. Rae Smith's minimalistic set works well with the sparse life of the characters within the show; with them all (including Duncan and Macbeth) looking as though they're on the poverty line in muddy, battered clothes.

Rory Kinnear is thoughtful and suitably plagued as Macbeth; his small comedic moments are particularly enjoyable and he proves why he's such an esteemed actor.  

The choice to make Alana Ramsey's Murderer a fishnet tights-clad alcoholic is a great one and she works very well to show the extents which people will go to when they feel they have nothing, just to get their fix or some quick cash.

Trevor Fox's alcoholic Porter is like a ghost moving around, silently hearing all the secrets he shouldn't know. It's refreshing to see him as a more serious, important character rather than mainly being onstage for comedic relief. This darker side emphasises him as the metaphor for the gates of hell, something which I feel is often missed in productions of Macbeth.

It's Anne-Marie Duff who steals the show as Lady Macbeth. Every movement is clearly well thought out and her transition from the headstrong wife who lacks humanity to the crumbling woman plagued by ghosts is striking. 

I didn't find anything specifically wrong with this production, I just didn't really feel, well, anything. It's not scary, it's not particularly gory, it's not emotional and it's not funny, it's just a bit uninspiring. There are elements which have brought Shakespeare's play into the modern world but the emotions didn't translate for a modern audience... at least for me.

If you're a Shakespeare fan then there's no reason why you shouldn't go and judge Rufus Norris' Macbeth for yourself but if not then I wouldn't rush along, as I don't think this is the production to make you a fan.

Macbeth runs at the National Theatre until June 23rd and will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on May 10th as part of NT Live.

photo credit: Brinkhoff Mögenburg