Tag Archives: Stash Kirkbride

King Lear in New York

(reviewed at the Hostry Festival, Norwich on 25 October)

Performance can be a cruel goddess, demanding sacrifices of a high order. That’s the premise beyond Melvyn Bragg’s play, which he has compressed from its original two-act format into something altogether tauter for Stash Kirkbride’s production.

A famous actor, renowned for both stage and screen performances, is in New York to attempt what to the mature actor is the equivilent of Hamlet for a younger one. It is, however, in a multi-times-off-Broadway theatre with a cast not completely familiar with Shakespeare or his stylistic demands.

We are in the brother’s flat, not 24 hours before the first public performance. Robert (Louis Hilyer) has stage-fright (something which attacks seasoned actos more often than their doting public imagines). Alec (Peter Barrow) has to keep his brother from the bottle while coping with the demands of Jackie, a brash and bitchy television presenter (Rebecca Chapman).

Then there’s Louis’ estranged second wife Bett (Rebecca Aldred), who is also his agent. Not o mention Juliet (Nina Taylor), his daughter with a wagon-load of chips on her shoulder and a gang of drug-dealers uncomfortably close to her back. As Louis comes diasterously “off the wagon”, the likely drama of the first night is subsumed in the domestic ones.

Kirkbridge keeps the tension high, with Hilyer giving a finely controlled portrait of a man terrified by his own vulnerabilities – which include professional as well as personal ones. All three wmen are also good – Chapman with all claws on full display, Taylor offering a study in teenage confusions which rings very true and Aldred combining the hard-headed business realism with supressed desires and affections.

The setting by Matt Reeve allows for action withn the flat to take place on a platform backed by a photographic panorama and scenes otside it to be on the audience’s own level, ths drawing us into the action. Projections indicate each change of location. The still centre of all this is Barrow; Alec is a man who knows very well that he always has been in his brother’s shadow.

King Lear in New York runs at the Hostry, Norwich Cathdral until 29 October.

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Filed under Plays, Reviews 2016

The 2015 Norfolk Arts Awards

In its fifth year, the Norfolk Arts Awards attracts both sponsorship and public interest, demonstrated by over 6,500 votes being cast in the three categories of the Eastern Daily Press People’s Choice Awards. The gala presentation event at the Maddermarket Theatre on 19 September marks the start of this year’s Hostry Festival (19 to 31 October), the fruitful brainchild of Peter Barrow and Stash Kirkbride, which is based around Norwich Cathedral.

For each award, three individuals or organisations are short-listed and have their chance to explain their operations through a short film. This year the Theatre Award goes to Sewell Barn Theatre, a new community arts venue on the northern outskirts of the city. The runners-up are the RSC production of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, which had visited the Theatre Royal last autumn and the Cromer Pier shows at the Pavilion Theatre, a seaside tradition going back to the beginning of the 20th century.

The Dr Frank Bates Musical Theatre and Dance Award, commemorating a long-serving cathedral organist, goes to the Norwich Arts Centre which was a category winner in 2014 and also picks up the People’s Choice Award for smaller scale venues, organisations and projects in competition with Frozen Light Theatre and the Diss Corn Hall. Break Charity’s GoGo project (dragons were the 2015 theme) is the winner, with the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and the Norwich Theatre Royal the runners-up. GoGoDragons also scoops the Lifetime Contribution to the Arts Award.

Individual artists receiving due recognition are Matt Reeve, one of the GoGoDragons designers, in the Eastern Daily Press People’s Choice, Grace Leeder who wins the Peter Barrow bursary to facilitate her ambition to attend drama college and Caroline Flack for her work outside as well as within the county; she wins the new Norfolk Icon Award. Brewery Adnams, which sponsor and supports festivals and theatre in Suffolk and Norfolk wins the Business and the Arts Award; the 20-year old Norwich Print Fair gains the Hy Kurzner Arts Entrepreneur Award.

The Music Award goes to the Norwich Philharmonic Society and the Broadcast and Press Award to BBC Voices, a media workshop and production unit based in the city’s BBC studios. The Fashion and Costume Design is won by theatre designer and costume designer Kirsteen Wythe for, among other work, that for the Theatre Royal and the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The Visual Arts Award goes to Toni Lawon and Sweet Arts with its projects for vulnerable women.

Education and community work is also recognised with Marcus Patteson of Sistema in competition with The Garage in Norwich, run by Darren Grace, and the two Access to Music centres catering for over 300 young people under the aegis of Ian Johnson. Mascot Media – husband and wife team of Alan and Marion Marshall – wins the Jarrold New Writing Award with the multi-artist The Artful Hare. Norwich City Council’s Team Norwich and Rebecca Chapman’s Total Ensemble theatre company win the Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Norfolk Awards.

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Filed under Reviews 2015