Tag Archives: James Farncombe

People, Places & Things

reviewed at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on 21 November

The concept of a box set takes on a new definition in this collaborative project from Headlong, the National Theatre, Manchester’s HOME and Exeter’s Northcott Theatre. The proscenium arch is framed with a white rectangle, like the lip of a box. Like any such container, it can hold a variety of things.

Duncan Macmillan’s play is a no-holds-barred almost clinically forensic examination of addiction and some of the therapies which seek to address the multitude of forms which it takes. The central character is an actress called Sarah (stage name Emma), given a magnificent three-dimensional portrait by Lisa Dwyer Hogg.

She’s onstage and at the centre of the action throughout as we watch her descent into a hell of her own making and her struggles to clamber out of it. Emma/Sarah is not a sympathetic person and Dwyer Hogg’s achievement lies partly in the way in which she makes this plain.

Directors Jeremy Herrin and Holly Race Roughan surround her with a shoal of would-be helpers, some of whom – like her parents – are completely out of their depth. Matilda Ziegler plays the doctor, therapist and mother showing that even tough love may not be enough to break the cycle.

Ekow Quartey is the nurse who has seen it all before many times, but retains his humanity and desire to help. There’s an interesting double of alcoholic Paul and Sarah’s father by Trevor Fox.  Mark draws another rounded portrait of an addict who has learned to accept his weaknesses and so guards against them from Andrew Sheridan.

That white set is by Bunny Christie, lit by James Farncombe and pierced by the soundscapes of Tom Gibbons and Matthew Herbert. I suppose that these days most of us know someone who appears to be about to if not actually tripped into the addiction spectrum. That makes this drama hard-hitting; it remains a gripping piece of theatre on any level.

Four and a half-star rating.

People, Places & Things runs at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until 25 November with matinées on 23 and 25 November.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Plays, Reviews 2017

Jeeves & Wooster: Perfect Nonsense

reviewed at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds on 2 September

The title sums up this confection to perfection – it’s a piece of fluff as light as any soufflé whipped up by Anatol, master chef of Bertie Wooster’s battleship of an aunt, but there’s been a great deal of hard work and skill in its making. David Goodale is the tour director for this post-West End promenade through the regions with the design team of Alice Power (set and costumes), James Farncombe (lighting) and Ben and Max Ringham (music and sound) working their own particular blend of magic.

Matthew Carter is ou hero – if you can call him that. Much of the fun of the evening comes from Joseph Chance’s imperturbable and erudite Jeeves and Robert Goodale’s doddering Seppings. Both actors take on a bewilderingly hilarious variety of roles, both male and female, as Bertie tries to help a fellow Drones member to revive his faltering engagement and retrieve a Georgian silver cow-creamer coveted by both his uncle and an irascible JP.

The fiancée in question just happens to be the JP’s daughter; one of those apparently delicate flapper flowers who knows just what she wants and how to get it – as does her cousin Stephanie.Those multitudinous costume and set changes whisk along in a clever faux-naïf fashion, as though Bertie and his chums were indulging in a spurt of country house or varsity am dram. it’s just what you need to take your mind off the weather.

Jeeves & Wooster: Perfect Nonsense
runs at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds until 5 September and also plays at the New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich from 13 to 17 October and the Mercury Theatre, Colchester between 30 October and 1 November.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Plays, Reviews 2015