Culture Bound – September

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Theatre

Until The Flood by Dael Orlandersmith (Arcola, Hackney) A near relative of verbatim theatre this piece was based on interviews following the shooting of a young black man by a young white policeman in St. Louis. It examined the effects and the underlying racial tension on a community trying to come to terms with what had happened. Performed as a series of carefully orchestrated monologues in a sparse setting it was hauntingly effective. Orlandersmith morphed from young to old, from male to female and from black to white. Her characterisations and her delivery were assured and powerful. At the end she became herself reciting a poem which moved many to tears. ****

The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Lil Warren and performed by 09 Lives Theatre Company (Abney Park Cemetery) A promenade performance played out among graves in North London. See full review here ***

The Open by Florence Bell (The Space, Docklands) A promising concept became muddled and was ultimately disappointing. See full review here **

80 Years Young by Alan Ayckbourn (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough) Extracts from l4 of the family plays of the writer linked by the great man himself. Not as good as experiencing the whole plays but a pleasant way to spend an evening ***

BEST OF THE BUNCH

Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present by Alan Ayckbourn (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough) The writer’s best work for some time shines a light on how reputation can be built on circumstance and misinterpretation. See full review here****

Cinema

Downton Abbey directed by Michael Engler. While this is a suitable conclusion to the TV franchise it really doesn’t extend matters much further. The multi-strand plot line which would once have sustained six hours on the small screen seems indecently rushed in the film and too many scenes are of bite sized proportions which fail to satisfy. Several characters are seriously underused and seem to be dialling in their performances. It looks appropriately sumptuous and that is, perhaps, the real point but the plot – oh dear! Maggie Smith was the best thing in the TV series; her position remains unassailed ***

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