Directed by Kerren Garner
Technical support Katy Matthews
Music Tom Dussek
Violin Seth Morgan
Sussex Playwrights Reviews
Brighton Horrorfest 2019
Written and performed by Emily Carding
Directed by Dominique Gerrard
Winner of the Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award (Brighton Fringe 2019).
‘one of the UK’s leading Shakespearian actors’ – The Stage
Earth, the far future – and humanity has finally succeeded in wiping itself out. Its successors, the android Guardians, are at work. Humanity 2.0 is under construction, and we’re the evidence it’s going quite well.
Emily Carding as Guardian Ariel, a poised, precise figure in turquoise plus ethereal makeup, eyes black pinpoints in blue-shadowed white, welcomes us to our lessons.
This artificial intelligence, a creature charged with the care of precious if problematic young life, is programmed with the entire works of Shakespeare as its guidebook to the human soul.
With crystal clear delivery, all measured oddness and beatific white gaze, every second, every move is choreographed and precisely executed.
Assured technical support delivers a complete and subtle soundtrack of nature, computer sounds and voice fragments. As the light changes colour and quality, Ariel shifts and rearranges body components and voice samples, into young Juliet, blokey Henry and extreme Richard, all fluidly accessed moment by moment.
Like all experiments, some don’t go according to plan. There are moments of humour in the eeriness; the AIs can’t have been paying attention to Romeo and Juliet, as they completely fail to get adolescence. And shocks too, achieved by swiftly flipping lighting and performance. We’re left with our own ‘cry God for England’ moment, a call to action in our own fight for survival.
The piece is versatile; it could be performed in a huge venue with projections on screens, headmic and video closeups – or in the tiniest most claustrophobic venue, even one to one. Up close, Carding’s favoured mode, it’s captivating, an intensely personal and mesmerising experience.
Keep an eye on the Page for news of when and where Quintessence is on next.
Sussex Playwrights Reviews
2 Dumb the Musical
Roedean Theatre, Brighton
This is the first ever performance of this show. Roedean Theatre hosts a five performance weekend of this new rock musical by Tim Newman and Stuart Brayson, featuring an assured and accomplished lead cast, great voices and songwriting and superb support from the live band and the Brighton Academy’s 120-strong chorus.
Denver James is both a rock star, and a charismatic leader of the young. He’s come to the PM’s attention – and as he gathers his people, a great conspiracy unfolds.
Laced with glimpses of characters’ private life and the past, with strong echoes of Jesus Christ Superstar, this tale of a silenced youth movement that’s found its voice feels so now, with Extinction Rebellion and climate change school strikes front page news.
For a show of this quality and scale with rightly ambitious plans to transfer and tour, this intensive weekend tryout is a great opportunity to polish a gem.
It’s wordy, the writing at times resembles a lecture, with characters rapidly declaiming manifestos and political opinions, and as a result is long (there is an interval, and a bar) and would benefit from an edit.
The technical element is terrific, using the venue’s resources to the max. This is no school hall; Roedean’s fully equipped theatre has the wow factor, with huge scope for very big shows. Brighton fringe must surely envy the Roedean students for this terrific asset.
The few first night technical glitches can be addressed – the sound mix on the night lost some of the lyrics and occasionally dancers and spot lights didn’t quite meet.
But we’re left with a lasting impression of a show with fantastic energy, the quality of lead performers’ singing, fabulous exhilarating ensemble singing, dancing and sheer exuberant presence are a joy. The enormous almost entirely female supporting cast often surround the audience, using every inch of the stage, aisles and upper tiers. We felt completely part of the whole experience, the finale enclosing us in a wall of sound and firefly-like torchlight.
Highly recommended, and it will be fascinating to see where 2 Dumb the Musical goes next.
The show contains strobe light and audience floodlighting effects.
Carparking on site and it’s the Roedean School stop on the 27 bus route.
October 25/26/27 3.00 pm & 7.30pm
Sussex Playwrights Reviews
by David Wells
Atomic Force Productions
Brighton Horrorfest 2019
There have always been stories of hauntings, curses and demonic possession.
Sam and Ali have been charged with disposing of their late neighbour Eric’s papers – without looking at them. So of course, they can’t resist a peek, and are drawn into a strange tale of horror, murder and devotion.
Wells’ script is an intricate and loving exploration of the link between music and mystery, taking in the notion of the musician who sells his soul to the devil, cursed songs and the urban legend of the 27 Club – the roll call of rock stars who met their end at the age of 27. There’s an engrossing murder mystery here too, unfolded through a discovered journal.
Mobiles are used as torches, sources of information and jokes about social media, so we’re firmly in the here and now, as the story delves into the past. Sweetwerks’ simple black box space is well used by directors Mill Goble and Wells, although some action on the floor might be difficult for anyone beyond the front row to see. Projection of social media posts and newspaper cuttings has great scope for more – in contrast, the ‘gore’ of one image sat uneasily with the literary exploration of the mystery’s gradual reveal.
As Sam, Tabitha Wild’s sparky performance is assured and entertaining, with Jack West’s Ali her petulantly funny foil. Gordon Foggo delivers great contrast with strange and otherworldly intensity as Eric, trapped in the terrible truth of his wife’s death, spinning his tale through journal extracts.
It’s an engrossing exploration, and left me with the urge to delve deeper into the weird tales touched on throughout the play.
October 23/24 20.00
Details and tickets: https://m.facebook.com/events/525900304887313
Mercury Theatre Productions
Oxford University National Tour Production
Written and directed by Alex Blanc
Jack: Henry Waddon
Michael: Joe Woodman
Brianna: Abi Harindra
Rialto Theatre, Brighton (Edinburgh preview)
‘… a lighthearted, honest look at male mental health in the 21st century, and we’re really proud to be working in association with the UK’s leading mental health charity SANE on the production. It aims to show that recovery is possible; in the midst of a crisis in mental health, Numbers’ core message is one of hope.’ (producers)
We think we’ve seen this before – three young actors, three chairs, an Edinburgh-focussed hour on a black box stage. But this goes above and beyond expectations. Writer/director Alex Blanc’s tale of three troubled young people is sharply observed and written in a fluent, natural voice.
A therapy group’s a classic storytelling setting. We’re the other members of the circle, hearing Jack and Michael sharing their stories of who they are and what’s happening to them, with the message that boys too suffer emotional distress and tortured self image.
The writing slips between monologues and conversations, with Jack sometimes commenting on the story and moving the scenes along. On a directorial note, it’s sometimes a little on the nose – characters saying how they feel in an appropriate tone of voice – and a more contradictory reading of the lines might add intrigue and deeper layers, while at times, rapid speaking meant words and meaning were difficult to catch. That great performance energy and a very simple pared down staging kept the pace zipping along, while the few issues with the lighting can be easily polished ready for Edinburgh.
As Brianna, Abi Harindra’s sincere, giving performance is the initially ‘all about me’ girlfriend who gradually comes to a deeper understanding of what’s happening and matures into her new more adult self.
There’s ambiguity too in Michael’s story, Joe Woodman’s tightly-wound portrayal of the all too familiar tale of a gay teen rejected by his parents and seen as a problem to be solved by their church. Is he telling the truth, though?
In the lead role, Henry Waddon’s Jack is a young man struggling to deal with life. Little setbacks, a lost football match, trigger a spiral into depression, anxiety and bulimia. Waddon delivers a physically relaxed and vocally assured exploration of explosive emotional depths engagingly flavoured with a sweet sense of humour. One to watch.
The Numbers tour continues:
Edinburgh Fringe, C Aquila Temple: 1-26th Aug
Oxford, Old Fire Station: 4-6th September