Tag Archives: Geraldine Alexander

“Holy Warriors” at Shakespeare’s Globe

It’s set to be an exciting year for new writing at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, with premieres from Howard Brenton and Richard Bean. But first comes Holy Warriors by David Eldridge, which looks at religious conflict in the Middle East by focusing on the crusades. Sadly, it could barely be more topical.

Shakespeare and the Globe appropriately shape the play. With a nod to the History Plays, the play begins with the conflict between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. It’s fascinating stuff, but note that you really have to concentrate: history, politics and religion don’t make for an easy mix.
Next we see Richard in a fantastical after life, as he is brought up to date with the West’s subsequent adventures in the East by an all singing and dancing pageant that includes Napoleon and George Bush. Eldridge’s allegorical touches give the piece the air of a Jacobean masque. It’s a shame that Elena Langer’s music is distractingly close to clichéd.
This central scene shows the strength of James Dacre’s direction, yet despite their numbers, the cast still have too much to do. Geraldine Alexander as Eleanor of Aquitaine delivers the play’s most rousing speech in style, and credit has to go to Philip Correia for his turn as Tony Blair. But it’s all a little too close to a game in which you have to work out who’s who or, if you are cleverer than I, which period of history is being picked out.

Richard has to “look, listen and decide” as he is given the chance to reenact his actions and learn from history. John Hopkins, who plays Richard, impresses. Of course, there’s no danger of a plot spoiler – we know he’ll make the same mistakes – so updating the scenes, after a fashion, and having lots of gunshots just seems rather depressing.

Alexander Siddig

How could a play about politics and religious fanaticism be anything but grim? Presenting “800 years as one” really brings that home, and attempts at humour ring hollow. The play is sure to divide opinion, not least with its mix of styles. I preferred the history to the fantasy – Alexander Siddig’s Saladin is a fascinating character, but you might disagree. It’s seems impossible not to be controversial about this topic but Holy Warriors seems intelligently impartial – that at least is an achievement.

Until 24 August 2014


Photos by Marc Brenner

Written 24 July 2014 for The London Magazine

“Fabrication” at The Print Room

The Print Room is a new theatre for London – and that, in itself, deserves applause. Artistic directors Anda Winters and Lucy Bailey, and BBB Marketing, which owns the building, should get a standing ovation for what they have achieved.

The Print Room’s first production, Fabrication by Pier Paolo Pasolini, is directed by Bailey. She is a bold director, intelligent and inventive. Indeed, Bailey’s only shortcoming seems to be her misplaced passion for Pasolini.

A caveat – I have never enjoyed Pasolini’s work. The Print Room has the coup of premièring his plas in this country, but it is hard not to resist the flippant response that we can see now why nobody else has beaten them to it. It turns out that Pasolini has a lot to say about theatre. But then he has a lot to say about everything. Trouble is, he doesn’t say any of it very well.

Despite Jamie McKendrick’s poetic translation being frank and direct, it cannot get past Pasolini’s perversely Baroque approach, which forces so many ideas on the audience they become opaque. There is no doubt an argument in the text for this. Pasolini toys with irony and the idea of a meaningless tragedy, just as he plays with plenty of other notions. The problem is that none of his arguments is satisfactorily developed.

What makes the evening all the more frustrating is how good the acting is. Jasper Britton gives a stunning performance as a Milanese industrialist who falls in love with his son, who is played with great passion by Max Bennett. Geraldine Alexander and Letty Butler are both wonderful as the mother and girlfriend who attempt to engage with this twisted Oedipal story. Martin Turner plays Sophocles in appropriately ghostly fashion and remarkably transforms himself into a beggar for the play’s final scene. Janet Fullerlove also has a great turn as a fortune teller, giving a highly nuanced performance that manages to add genuine drama.

All perform within designer Mike Britton’s clever set – a rectangular pen in the centre of the theatre that the audience peers into. And yet we return to the problem of what they are asked to perform: Fabrication is wilfully obtuse. But everything else about this production bodes well for the future of The Print Room, and supporting the venue cannot be endorsed enough. I just can’t wait for a different play.


Until 4 December 2011

Written 19 November 2010 for The London Magazine