Author Archives: Carole Woddis

The Author

London: The Author: to Oct 24, 2009
Posted by : Carole Woddis, Sept 30, 2009 – 15.30pm London

The Author

Royal Court Theatre, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs,
Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS
Mon-Sat 7.45, Mats Sats, 4pm
Post-show talk Oct 22
Age guidance 18+

Runs 1hr 20mins without an interval
TICKETS 020 7565 -5000
In person: Mon–Sat, 10am-start of perf or 6pm if no show
On-line: www.royalcourttheatre.co.uk
Sign Interpreted Performances: email boxoffice@royalcourttheatre.com;
Audio-Described Performances: tel: 020 7565 5100;
Captioned Performances: email boxoffice@royalcourttheatre.com

Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen Sept 29, 2009

Tim Crouch certainly likes to put himself in the hot seat. In a good cause. Continue reading

total immediate collective imminent terrestrial salvation

Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London ****
Runs: 1hr 10 mins without interval
TICKETS 020 7565 -5000
In person: Mon–Sat, 10am-start of perf or 6pm if no show
On-line: www.royalcourttheatre.co.uk

© Eoin Carey, Susan Vidler and Shyvonne Ahmmad, surrounded by audience members. A young girl awakes, and an older woman tries to engage in a narrative that neither can agree on...

© Eoin Carey, Susan Vidler and Shyvonne Ahmmad, surrounded by audience members. A young girl awakes, and an older woman tries to engage in a narrative that neither can agree on…

Review of perf seen Sept 13, 2019:

Total immediate collective imminent terrestrial salvation. 

Quite a handful of a title to get hold of. But unlike much printed on the front of the bottle these days, it is what it says. It is a total immediate collective imminent terrestrial salvation – of sorts. Continue reading

Tim Crouch – interview – an oak tree 2005

an oak tree – Edinburgh Fringe, Traverse, 2005

Tim Crouch – mind-games – Carole Woddis

Talking to Tim Crouch is like trying to skirt a minefield. You’re aware there are all kinds of pitfalls. You tip-toe gently and hope neither of you will blunder into the trap of theatrical pretension.

It’s lunchtime on one of the hottest days of summer, a week since July 7. We’re sitting in a pub in Barnes.

The Thames beside us is still as a mill-pond. In the stifling upstairs `ballroom’ I have just witnessed an extraordinary event, a preview of Tim’s latest Edinburgh excursion, an oak tree, opening at the Traverse in August.

Several times I have been near to tears. Several times, I have felt distinctly uneasy. I have also been aware of a growing hostility towards him as the central, leading figure whose persona as part-hypnotist, part-director has seemed to me the ultimate in manipulation.

I am deeply suspicious. Yet when I come to talk to Tim afterwards, I am beguiled by his openness, his honesty. It’s a conundrum, as is an oak tree.

Two year’s ago, Crouch’s fictional autobiography, my arm, took the Edinburgh fringe by storm. Although a performer for ten years, it was Crouch’s first exploration with the notion of theatre as the art of suggestion.

An oak tree, however, takes things much further. Inspired by British artist Michael Craig-Martin’s 1973 conceptual art-work in which a glass of water was `transformed’ into an oak tree – best not to ask how exactly; we’ll get into all sorts of quagmires about conceptualisation, life, death and theatre (of which more later) – what you most need to know is that Crouch has taken Craig-Martin’s initial notion and embroidered it.

That’s to say, he’s theatricalised and humanised it. If I tell you that Crouch’s an oak tree is like being at a seance, that wouldn’t be strictly true.  If I tell you, however, that it involves a certain degree of improvisation and casts a strange spell, that most certainly is the case.

And when I tell you that it’s all harnessed to a story of loss and bereavement – a father has lost his young daughter in a car accident – you will see its potential for stirring up a whirlpool of emotions. Add to that a highly theatrical, some might say, sensationalist or at least publicity-conscious conceit, and you have the ingredients for, I can tell you, something unnervingly close to the bone.

Each night, you see, a fresh actor is introduced as a `volunteer’ to play Andy, the father and to accompany Crouch who like John Osborne’s Archie Rice in The Entertainer, is definitely losing it. Crouch-hypnotist also emerges as the man who killed `Andy’s daughter, Clare.

Many stories, many different levels, you will now be appreciating, are intertwined. If you attend, you will find yourself hurtled into this disorientating world of intermingling realities and illusions, where you know you’re being manipulated (aren’t we always in theatre?) and where Crouch to all intents and purposes appears to be controlling events. Yet I, for one – sceptical, hostile, troubled as I was – was sucked in and deeply moved.

Would you buy a second hand car, never mind your psyche, from this man? No, you wouldn’t. Crouch’s stage persona is creepily attentive, devious – a showman shaman-cum therapist.

All of which, when I confronted him at the end, Crouch defends with splendid rationality and patience. No, he’s not exploiting the current fashion for theatrical mind-bending. And yes, he’s delighted at my brickbat responses. He’s fed up with `psychological realism’. He would much rather audiences at least feel something rather than nothing.

`Unease is not an emotion I get often in the theatre and I like it’, he says placing extra emphasis on `like’. `I’d rather have that visceral response to something than just sit through a piece of theatre that’s been made by people who are making theatre’.

To that extent, an oak tree is a piece made in his own image. Indeed, he even describes himself in it as `a 41 year old, balding, with a red face and slouched shoulders’.

And he totally rejects my accusation of an oak tree being a display of the ultimate in egotistical control. `I really am opening it out to it all going horribly wrong’, he counters.

Somehow, I don’t think it will. Crouch is far to expert and the concept crafted (with poet-artist a Smith and co-director Karl James) with micro attention to detail.

Admitting to the striking parallels between hypnosis and theatre – `good theatre can place an audience into a low level trance’ – what is going on here is suggestion and theatricality working in powerful waves to almost induce catharsis in connection with grief, death and bereavement.

Given the fragile collective unconscious at the moment, it’s anyone’s guess what response Crouch’s clever, getting-under-the-skin approach may engender. I suggest it’s going to be lively. Crouch positively beams.

Ends

an oak tree previews at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from Aug 4 and runs to Aug 28

This interview first appeared in the Glasgow Herald, 2005.

 

 

Amsterdam

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond ***
Runs: 1hr 20mins without an interval
TICKETS: Box Office: 020 8940 3633
On-line: www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk

© Helen Murray, Michal Horowicz - the young violinist

© Helen Murray, Michal Horowicz – the young violinist

Review of perf seen Sept 11, 2019:

Maya Arad Yasur’s Amsterdam had already had an illustrious reception before it hit Paul Miller’s pocket dynamo Orange Tree, Richmond this week. Continue reading

Hedda Tesman

Minerva Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre ****
Runs 2hrs 30 mins with one interval

Review of perf seen Sept 5, 2019:

© Johan Persson, Haydn Gwynne as the unhappy, self-hating Hedda Tesman...

© Johan Persson, Haydn Gwynne as the unhappy, self-hating Hedda Tesman…

Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler – along with Nora Helmer – are two of the most haunting characters in the classical theatre repertoire.  Continue reading

Appropriate

Donmar Warehouse, London ***
Box office:   020 3282 3808 (No booking fees, £1 postage fee may apply)                    Telephone Mon-Sat 10am-6pm In person Mon-Sat, 10am-curtain up (with some exceptions, see website) 

© Marc Brenner, Monica Dolan as an angry older sister, Toni, Steven Mackintosh as wry, wheeler-dealer brother Bo and Edward Hogg amidst the rubbish of their family home...

© Marc Brenner, Monica Dolan as an angry older sister, Toni, Steven Mackintosh as wry, wheeler-dealer brother Bo and Edward Hogg as the unkempt and repentant Franz amidst the rubbish of their family home…

Runs: 2hrs 30 mins incl 15 min interval Review of perf seen Aug 23, 2019: Where would American theatre be without the family drama? It seems we have been watching them forever, from Arthur Miller to good old Tennessee, to latter day versions such as Bruce Norris and Tracey Letts. And not forgetting Lorraine Hansberry whose Raisin in the Sun begat August Wilson’s African-American decology of plays, all of them centred around a family. Continue reading