Tag Archives: Graeme Rose

“Grimm Tales for Fragile Times And Broken People” from Creation Theatre

It’s always good to remember how grim the Brothers Grimm tales are. Hosted on Zoom, Creation Theatre’s production highlights how much abuse, trauma (and cannibalism) the stories contain. The result is a mature affair, spooky and scary, that provides a much-needed hour away from mundane life. Strong story-telling and impressive imaginative touches take us to a distinct world with crazed characters “living in exile”. It’s worth a trip.

Several tales – The Juniper Tree, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Godfather Death and The Moon – are interwoven; the technique has pros and cons. Mixing up the stories is engaging (you have to concentrate) but can be confusing at times. A lot is packed into an hour. The advantage is to bring out common themes that provide plenty to think about: families, mortality…and a lot of stealing.

The adaptations, devised with the cast, are full of contemporary touches and colloquialisms; plenty make it clear the show is aimed at grown-ups. Graeme Rose takes the lead, his telling of The Juniper Tree exemplifies the show’s tone. And there are touches of macabre humour that lead to a stand-out performance from Natasha Rickman.

The show is driven by the attempt to create atmosphere and it is successfully creepy. The music, make-up, camera work and costumes are all good. The style becomes something of an obsession. Gari Jones’ direction is extremely determined. If performances suffer as a result – giving us little sense of individuals – escapism is achieved.

Whatever reservations you might have about the format, Creation Theatre make a good claim for becoming experts in our new normal of Digital Theatre. It isn’t fancy technology they can be proud of. While the planning behind the show must be daunting, effectiveness comes from simple camera work and lighting – not special effects. A model town and the use of a tiny origami bird stand out. And the idea of watching the show by candlelight: a nice touch, and it works too.

Until 13 March 2021



“The Time Machine” at The London Library

Inspired by the HG Wells novel, this immersive show has the huge benefit of being staged in The London Library. Playwright Jonathan Holloway’s new story unfolds in the gorgeous reading rooms and wonderful bookstacks. Admittedly, it’s a slight on the show that its main attraction is a bibliophile’s dream locale, but director Natasha Rickman and her team at Creation Theatre really do showcase the building magnificently.

Small groups are led around by an individual time traveller and mine – performed by Paul (PK) Taylor – was excellent, being good at engaging those who wanted interaction and leaving alone those who did not. Injecting a sense of urgency, even spookiness, he even managed to cover up a technical hitch for a good while. Joined for a couple of scenes by Graeme Rose as a computer who reminded me of a Gilbert and George artwork, the two did well with an anarchic streak that is the best of Holloway’s script.

The Time Machine at The London Library
Graeme Rose

There’s a cheeky humour to the show that I felt growing on me. With the idea that things are being changed constantly – including our socks – by illegal time travellers, there are plenty of smart lines. Playing with the past, especially with famous authors, should appeal to the audience, while claiming that the first instance of time travel was in New York nightclub Studio 54 (and playing Donna Summer in the library) is a great idea. It’s a shame it all gets more serious.

The Time Machine has a lot of important things to say. Wells would no doubt approve. But doom and gloom about the future mean this machine stalls. A “torrent of information” we’re exposed to is delivered well and bite-sized gobbets of science and philosophy are digestible enough. But too many scenarios of Armageddon arrive – each a cliché and fuelled, you guessed it, by conspiracies. Maybe we just don’t need more talk of epidemics right now but, rather than feeling topical, the show feels tired.

The Time Machine at The London Library
Funlola Olufunwa

Taylor keeps up the energy (joined by Sarah Edwardson and Funlola Olufunwa with two underwritten roles that they try hard with), and there’s a real effort to introduce passion and urgency. But a lot of what’s said becomes silly and the show’s originality evaporates. When it comes to imagining the future, this feels like old news. The only safe prediction should be an increase in membership for The London Library.

Until 5 April 2020

Photos by Richard Budd