Tag Archives: Amelda Brown

“Trap Street” at the New Diorama

This new work from Kandinsky Theatre is about homes, communities and the housing crisis in London. Issues such as the poor planning of estates, and the inaccessible pricing of new buildings in London, are all addressed with a sensibly even hand so that the debate is comprehensive and intelligent.

Unlike the homes we see on stage, the architecture of this theatrical piece is sound. Focusing on one estate, and one family who moved in when it felt like a utopia, is a good idea. The play goes back and forth in time effortlessly, as we come up to date to see the family’s daughter holding out for a better price from the land’s new developers – a topical scenario with plenty of emotive power. But as a devised piece the play’s construction runs into problems: too many plot lines are raised and left unexplored. The show could easily be expanded beyond its 80 minutes and should have been edited with a stricter hand by its co-writers James Yeatman and Lauren Mooney.

As for the delivery of the show, a trio of performers does very well indeed. Amelda Brown effortlessly portrays both mother and daughter as the play moves around in time. As the former, she shows a steely determination and wins sympathy trying to build a community, then, as the daughter she is excluded from the area due to gentrification. Danusia Samal and Hamish MacDougall take on a wider variety of roles and there’s some snagging – pretending to be a dog is an idea that should have been abandoned in the rehearsal room – but both acquit themselves admirably and again manage the change in attitudes over time superbly. What Kandinsky has built here is something to be proud of.

Until 31 March 2018


Photo by Richard Davenport

“Adler & Gibb” at the Royal Court

Tim Crouch’s new play, Adler & Gibb, which opened at the Royal Court last night, is an intricately layered exploration of reality and art. It’s experimental, obstinately so, and more than a little mind blowing – I confess that metaphysics always gets me a little muddled.

The framework is an art student delivering a lecture in order to secure a scholarship, where the ‘slides’ are performances from the lives of (fictional) female artists and lovers, Adler & Gibb. Actually, the actors are a film star and her coach preparing a biopic, with an eye on subsequent auction sales of the conceptual artists’ work (stay with me, here). Then comes a trip to the rural retreat of the artists, culminating in the surviving Gibb forced to rehearse a scene from the forthcoming movie… and a ‘real’ film of said artists now ruined home. Enough meta-texts for you?

As for the delivery, Crouch elaborates his fictions – this is his theme. Children take on the roles of stage managers, introducing surreal props and pretending to be animals. And to show how willfully he ignores advice about who not to work with, a real dog appears in case we haven’t quite got the point. Much of the action is performed standing still, including a sex scene. Playing with theatrical form and pushing the audience to engage makes this a demanding show. But stick with it.

Adler & Gibb is ambitious. With all the big ‘arty’ themes, opacity seems sadly predictable. But there’s a playfulness to all the pretention that is surely another irony. And it’s never boring. Full of surprises, the play builds into something lingering. A bad smell you might say – there’s certainly plenty of unpleasantness. Theorists call this the abject, the rest of us bad taste. But the point to the grotesque and absurd is clear: the slide of the megalomaniacal film crew becoming repulsive, suitably theatrical, desecrators.

Although Crouch, who also co-directs the show, is the star, it’s impossible not to admire the performances. Rachel Redford is superb as the student, Denise Gough riveting as the obsessive actress and Amelda Brown wonderful as Gibb. It is Brown’s performance as Gibb that works best – the truth about her relationship with Adler is a moving, humbling revelation. There’s much that’s puzzling about this play but one thing to be sure of, and admire, is its lack of compromise.

Until 5 July 2014


Photo by Johan Persson

Written 20 June 2014 for The London Magazine