The DCH Blog
A Strange Wild Song by Rhum and Clay - a review - Friday 24th April 2015
The Rhum and Clay Theatre Company use their considerable skills in physical theatre to tell the touching story of an American soldier, lost in a ruined French village, who befriends three children amongst the rubble.
Loosely based on the work of Belgian photographer Leon Giepel, the pathos of images left to us by history is wrought through a dual timescale, with each member of the company playing two roles. Peter Wiedmann does an excellent job of anchoring the production as grandfather and grandson, while the other members of the company skilfully switch from clowning to caricature. Cleverly mirroring the relationship between children and adults, the same actors are both playful young boys, and detached modern day historians. With haunting musical accompaniment from Leila Woozeer and really imaginative staging, the company manages to evoke two completely different worlds bound together by mute images.
Although some of the choreographed set pieces outstay their welcome – one can’t help thinking the original one hour version was sharper and more focused – the play is nonetheless consistently engaging. Without lapsing into tired cliché, Rhum and Clay tell a simple, intimate story that reverberates way beyond the confines of its narrative.
By David Vass
Hamlet screening (starring Maxine Peake) - a review - Thursday 23rd April 2015
Sarah Frankcom’s full throttle reimagining of Hamlet not only throws in some gender realignment, it presents a protagonist so unhinged that you actually start to sympathize with his poor, long-suffering parents.
The much vaunted re-sexing of some key roles is actually the least remarkable aspect of this production. Maxine Peake is like a shrill, adolescent Peter Pan, but in context that works fine, while the ingratiating Polonius arguably makes more sense as a woman. What is more challenging is the notion that Hamlet is so quickly and genuinely disturbed. Peake’s performance is studied and intense but it might have been wise if she’d given herself somewhere to go. John Shrapnel is excellent, though, almost making you believe in the good faith of Claudius, while Barbara Marten does a fine job of conveying a woman trapped between the two men she loves.
The company ultimately struggles to shoehorn its interpretation into the inconvenient practicalities of the play’s resolution, but for the most part this was a creditable attempt to ring the changes with a play that can easily dissolve into an episodic catalogue of Shakespeare’s greatest hits.
There is another chance to see this screening tomorrow at 2pm.
By David Vass
Leviathan - a pre-screening review - Monday 20th April 2015
In the opening moments of Leviathan, we see a slate grey sea touched by a brooding sky. And then as the camera sweeps along the unremittingly bleak north Russian coast, we hear Philip Glass’s emphatic score. All in all, it’s fairly clear that something rather grim is going to unfold.
The clue is in the title, as something close to the parable of Job plays out for Kolya, a vodka soaked world weary man, played with superb understatement by Alexey Serebryakov. His nemesis, the corrupt town mayor wants his land and has the power to get it. Roman Mayyanov is outstanding as this odious toad of a man, full of bile and petulant arrogance. To say the film is a story of their battle would be to wrongly imply a fair fight – rather this is an essay on raging impotence in the face of crushing power. As the story rattles along, the horror of watching Kolya and his gauche lawyer pal sleepwalk into ever deepening jeopardy is nigh on unbearable.
While director Andrei Zvyagintsev has been careful to focus on a movingly intimate story, the wider parallels with Russian society are explicitly evoked throughout. Pussy Riot are glimpsed on the telly, Putin is on the wall of the Mayor’s office, while the chilling climax affirms everything Thomas Hobbes had to say about the unholy alliance of church and state. It’s frankly astonishing to learn that the film was financed by the Russian Ministry of Culture – one can only imagine they didn’t read the script.
By David Vass