THEATRE / Meltdown in Battersea

APART from its imperfect sightlines and death-trap foyer, I have nothing against Battersea's Bridge Lane Theatre. But what an address for a high- powered international venture] Launched by Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, with a company including John McEnery and Jennifer Hilary, and with future participation from two stars of the former Yugoslavia and the Berliner Ensemble's Ekkehard Schall, Moving Theatre arrives in a side-street fringe house 20 minutes' walk from the nearest railway station. So much for the age of sponsorship. At least the company can be sure of serious interest from the audiences they do attract.

As you would expect from the Redgraves, this is an outfit with a social viewpoint, but it seems to have come together through a network of past friendships and alliances; not least in the case of its opening show. The Flag is adapted from the novel of Robert Shaw, whose play Cato Street Vanessa Redgrave championed in 1971. Shaw was a heroic actor and a penetrating novelist who never succeeded in bringing the two sides of his talent together as a playwright. In The Flag he told the factually based story of a Socialist vicar who tried to put the levelling doctrine of the gospels into practice at the time of the General Strike. Shaw's adapter, Alex Ferguson, in researching the period, has focused on the destitute army of demobbed Flanders veterans who could find no place in the country they had fought to save. The result is a play that raises the unappeased hunger for social justice through the twin images of an epic march of the dispossessed and revolutionary fireworks from a village pulpit.

A right-on leftist tract? Not at all. The piece shows the war's corrosive effect on the frozen lake of British custom. When it cracks, it is not along the expected class lines. The red-hot priest gets appointed by a lady of the manor. Other gentlefolk are keen Labour supporters; and among their children, you find an Eton boy struggling to throw off his indoctrinated superiority. A General, seared by memory of the trenches, becomes the vicar's closest ally. And the main conflict takes place among the wandering outcasts - between a conscientious objector, Rockingham (the flag- carrying McEnery), and a vengefully crazed squaddie (Stewart Howson) who lost his dearest friend on the Somme.

The play reaches a savage climax when its two lines of action converge; but, in Corin Redgrave and Gillian Hambleton's production, it does not seek to deliver a linear narrative. Rather it proceeds in impressionistic bursts, switching between wartime nightmare, Orwellian realism, juvenile sexual experiment, hilarious trivia of parish life, and impassioned exhortation from the clerical hero. But is he a hero? Redgrave has the revolutionist's ability to drop verbal bombshells as if talking simple common sense, and to shrug off his enemies without a flicker of personal hostility. Beyond that, he allows you simultaneously to look at the character as an indomitable man of faith and as a quixotic figure of fun. It is an amazing performance, and an apt centre for a show that puts England in the melting pot.

Linear theatre gets into another twist in Kenneth McLeish's Omma, a conflation of several ancient texts and a conflagration of living actors. Tim Supple's new company at the Young Vic show themselves well able to encompass the impersonal style against which his first cast rebelled. But not to much sustained effect. The aim of this production is theoretically unarguable. Given the huge distance between ourselves and the Greeks, the only way of approaching them is to stand further away. For that reason Stravinsky set Oedipus Rex to a Latin text, and Michel Saint-Denis directed it in costumes 10ft high. From which it is a far cry to the sight of four actors in business suits, intoning the text into microphones and slowly revolving to give

everyone a fair view of their expressionless faces.

The bulk of the show consists of extracts from Antigone and Seven Against Thebes sandwiched between two chunks of Oedipus the King. This yields some ironic echoes, such as separate addresses to the Thebans from a succession of doomed rulers. But the mythological substratum remains untapped. What you do feel is repeated frustration as one fatal machine after another embarks on its course, only to be halted to make way for another. The effect of turning Choruses into solos is to give them a schoolmasterly ring, by no means offset by the continuous background of percussive doodling.

Linear or not, drama takes place in time, as proved here in the urgent duologues between Antigone, Ismene, and Creon (Josie Ayers, Conrad Nelson, and Paul Meston) when living rhythms momentarily possess the stage, to electrifying effect. The lighting, by Paule Constable, is beautiful.

Alice, the medical officer heroine of Neal Bell's Elsewhere returns from the Vietnam war with a mission to tell her patients the truth about death and to find out what lies on the other side. This involves her in flouting the conventions of her profession, and her creator in reversing every dramatic cliche that crosses his path. This, alas, has not saved him from succumbing to the current American craze for guardian angels. But he is manifestly an original voice, and Louise Jameson is stunning as his death-fixated healer.

'The Flag', Bridge End, 071-228 8828. 'Omma', Young Vic, 071- 928 6363. 'Elsewhere', King's Head, 071-226 1916.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home