Double Feature, Paintframe: National Theatre, London
Thursday 11 August 2011
This is the first time I have heard a version of "The Girl from Ipanema" in which the percussionist sports goggles and paint-spattered white overalls and provides a beat by sawing at a plank of wood. But then this is the first time the National has opened its Paintframe, a hangar of a workshop next to the Cottesloe, for a sort of mini-Fringe comprised of two double bills of hour-long plays by young dramatists.
Double Feature is the NT's answer to pop-up theatre, with a viewing platform that allows you to survey the skill with which the designer Soutra Gilmour has reconfigured this industrial space. For Sam Holcroft's sharp-witted Edgar and Annabel, the audience is confronted, end-on, with a spotlessly bland fitted kitchen and a couple (the excellent Trystan Gravelle and Kirsty Bushell) who read out banal marital conversations from typed-up scripts. The absurdism of Ionesco merges with Orwellian satire as we realise that these are resistance fighters in a house bugged for sound by the authorities. Hilariously strained karaoke evenings cover the making of Molotov cocktails and the couple's attempts to depart from the soap-opera plot of their life result in a brutal crackdown.
The director Lyndsey Turner also accentuates the surreal comic fizz and underlying sadness of There Is a War, by Tom Basden, in the second double bill. This is Brechtian epic rewritten with droll bite as a string of (slightly repetitive) Kafkaesque TV comedy sketches. The author plays an Evelyn Waugh innocent who winds up, through bureaucratic idiocy, revered as the key general in a civil conflict whose only point is to keep the war machine in business.
If the admirable DC Moore is below par with the EastEnders-like The Swan (set just before the wake of a philanderer), the newcomer Prasanna Puwanarajah finds a marvellously incisive metaphor for the strains in second-generation identity in Nightwatchman. Stephanie Street's mettlesome yet insecure Abirami prepares to play for England at Lord's by practising with a bowling machine that seems to have been taken over by the spirit of her father, who failed to stand against Tamil Tiger terrorism.
In rep to 9 September (020 7452 3000)
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sainsbury's '50p challenge' poster telling staff to encourage customers to spend more placed in shop window instead of staff room
- 2 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
- 4 Yes, the iPhone 6 is a miracle, but it's Apple's tax affairs that deserve a double take
- 5 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Before They Pass Away: In pictures
Kylie Minogue, Kiss Me Once tour, London O2 - review: Pop princess still reigns supreme
Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican lead female comedy breakthrough
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
The Simpsons death: Character killed off - but not the one you thought
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >