Tag Archives: Vik Sivalingam

“The Drunken City” at the Tabard Theatre

For a chance to check out the work of acclaimed Canadian playwright Adam Bock, head to Turnham Green’s pub theatre. The Drunken City is a comedy love story, set around a hen night that goes wrong. It’s a twisty romance about the power of the metropolis, which almost becomes a character in its own right, changing lives with the help of some nifty projected artwork that sets visiting revellers quite literally off balance.

Meticulously directed by Vik Sivalingam, a gaggle of girlfriends are depicted by Kristina Epenetos and Tanya Lattul, with Sarah Roy as bride-to-be Marnie. The giggling is great and fittingly infectious. They hit the spot less surely when it comes to quieter moments, brief, tantalising soliloquies aren’t delivered with the same confidence. Still, it works well as a comedy and the trio sensibly steers clear of parody.

For the boys, Josh Hayes appeals, despite his flatly written Frank, the source of Melissa’s cold feet when they meet and kiss on the streets. The role is a puzzling slip in the script’s standard. The focus instead is on another couple, Bob and Eddie, engagingly drawn by Max Wilson and Michael Walters respectively. More world weary, if not worldly wise, their romance blossoms as the girls gain their independence and grow up a little.

Too much feelgood all round? Perhaps. But Bock has an impressive ear for dialogue that Sivalingam makes the most of, with perfectly timed exchanges. Looking at how you might “learn” to fall in love, alongside the importance of being honest, may give rise to clichés and predictability but, let’s admit it, we all like something a little sickly sweet now and again. The writing’s skilled observational humour and quirky, probing sense of purpose are enough to bring out the romantic in anyone.

Until 5 December 2015


“Twelfth Night” at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden

Now in its seventh year at ‘The Actors Church’, Iris Theatre has struck gold with Vik Sivalingam’s Twelfth Night. Using the gardens, making the church itself look divine and including the audience in a good-natured fashion, this show is promenade performance at its best. Crammed with comedy, the play’s contrivances, of separated twins and cross-dressed courtship, are funnier than ever.

Sivalingam’s aim is to entertain – such clarity imbues the cast with purpose. Pepter Lunkuse is a believable Viola – it’s easy to predict she’s an actress with a bright future. Nick Howard-Brown’s Feste and Julian Moore-Cook’s Orsino are commanding presences. Tony Bell and Robert Maskell, both experienced performers, play a dour Malvolio and carousing Sir Toby with vigour. Act two, scene five, with the fantasising Malvolio duped by Anne-Marie Piazza’s delicious Maria, is the best I’ve seen performed.

A wonderful sense of intimacy is created in the flower-filled gardens. Entreated to follow the actors to different scenes becomes a playful treat – it’s a great game to go wooing Olivia with Viola. And Olivia’s pursuit, when she falls for the twin dressed as a man, is full of complicit cheekiness, embodied by Olivia Onyehara. A duel between characters is conducted with an umbrella and a mop. Even the shrubbery is used as a prop.

The production’s small cast impresses, performing Harry Blake’s music, which subtly infuses the show, as well as by taking on multiple roles. None more so than Henry Wyrley-Birch, whose Sebastian is heroic, while his Andrew Aguecheek elevates a sometimes tiresome role into a central figure – seldom has so much comedy come from a cape. The brief moment when Sebastian and Aguecheek meet is something to look forward to – it’s handled with an endearing humour that’s indicative of how light, lithe and easy to love this show is.

Until 24 July 2015


Photo by Hannah Barton