Blurred Lines at the National Theatre

Blurred lines: video and song, women in contemporary society, actresses, breaking the fourth wall, prostitution, rape, misogyny, with character face.

Necessarily the play skirts over big issues of women in society and equality by trying to tackle all of them. The emotional journey is intense. An exclusively female cast of seven this devised play is a series of sketches of contemporary society from the woman’s point of view. The scenes are interspersed with music that too comments on women’s place referencing, indirectly the song that is the title of the play.

The form consciously plays with the notion of a play. There are scenes played behind the fourth wall and others that break it. The play opens with the actresses reciting typecasts, ‘Northern, bubbly’, ‘divorced’, ‘older, with character face’. This is interrupted by one of the black actresses pleading for work, that she’s prepared to do anything to get more work. For me there were three memorable scenes. The first a discussion between husband and wife where the husband justifies his use of prostitutes as an honest transaction. The second an intense journey following a teenagers coming of age and unfortunate rape made more powerful through a scene where the rapist and victim’s mothers’ try to persuade each other of their point of view. The last an exquisite parody of a theatre Q&A where the male director is challenged to justify clothing his female actress in only lingerie for a particular scene and the actress sits mute – merely a decoration on the platform.

I liked that the play tackled the themes it did. I thought the scenes were incredible in their emotional intensity. I wondered whether the sketch style form was right for the play. Any one of the the scenes presented could have been a play in its own right. I would probably have preferred a longer play to give the space to explore more fully. Having said that perhaps this is the warm up – preparing audiences for the female point of view.

I hope that we continue to see diversity of voices in the theatre so the male director with his lingerie clad actress will be just what they are here – a sad joke.

Advertisements

The Pass

I wouldn’t have gone to see this play by John Donnelly at the Royal Court as it’s about football. Except it really isn’t.

It’s set around football and follows Jason and Ade. They are 17 year olds on the cusp of their football career and we see them again at the start of their middle age. In between we follow Jason becomes a successful and fabulously famous footballer who at 29 and with dodgy knees realises that nothing that happened in the preceding 12 years was meaningful.

It’s set in three hotel rooms that are each better appointed than the last to reflect Jason’s increasing success.

Russell Tovey as Jason was tremendous – he appeared to visibly age through the evening.

The play was a game of two halves. The first tramped along; dynamic, challenging, funny and tight. The second half less so – I don’t mean to diminish the second half. I simply wanted it to sparkle as much as the first.

What I liked was the way that during the course of the the play my sympathies moved from Jason to, the largely absent, Ade. In the end was left with the feeling that whilst Ade had not succeeded in the big league he had succeeded at life.

Wolf of Wall Street

I couldn’t believe the time. I thought I’d be tucked up in bed by 11:00pm. Instead I was walking through the rainy streets of Leeds wondering why none of the girls out partying was wearing a coat. In January.

The party on the streets of Leeds probably could have made it into the film… The low rent, version with poor wintry weather.

The film itself was excellent. For me it told Jordan’s story without glamorising or moralising. Some said otherwise but I thought it worked. It runs for three hours but the time doesn’t drag. I it’s dark, funny and tragic in turn. The scenes flow nicely and you see Leonardo do Caprio skilfully play the role of young hopeful become a master of the universe to losing everything before a modest redemption.

What I liked was the dark comedy, the ‘ludes’ scene was hilarious. The bacchanal scenes got a bit repetitive after a while – they made the point that the Wolf likes to party but really, did we have to see so much tits and arse?

The Guardian

The Independent