Skip to main content

Review of Flash Festival 2016: Forever Looking Up by Illicit Theatre at Castle Hill URC

For the first ten minutes of Forever Looking Up from Illicit Theatre, I have to admit I wasn't really enjoying it. It was admittedly bold and clever to have us enter in near darkness and the truly superb set did create a wonderful atmosphere. However much of the early part of the story of these fives journey to Mars One to colonise was attempted to be told through physical theatre. Now anyone who has read my reviews in the past will know absolutely that I love it, these are the moments in theatre where the hairs on my neck truly stand up. For me though, a lot of the early part of this in Forever Looking Up feels unnecessary and added simply because they can do it (and this group sure can). I would never have suggested that it be gone altogether though, just toned down a bit.

However when the story is allowed to evolve a little more relaxed in movement, this play for me becomes something really very special. It helps that this cast features a few of the best from the year group. We have in charge of the group Harvey Arlington (Charlie Clee) and Jessica Bromstein (Sharni Topako-Brown), both controlling yet also subtly weak in this alien world they are so unfamiliar with.

I have long been a fan of Charlie's work and he was one of a few that even twenty five months ago in that first year performance who was very noticeable. Here he is more quiet a character than those recently seen, here there is little comedy or viciousness that we have seen him do so well before and while I prefer his performance in that area more. He does still manage to carry off this role quite impressively.

Sharni however for me in this is a revelation once again and is quite simply superb. Until Welcome to Thebes, I personally had not noticed her work that much in the shows, but if Thebes was for me, and maybe Sharni, the breakthrough point, Forever Looking Up pushes that break even further. She commands this show and those moments of tense and emotional significance were outstanding.

Sophie Guiver also brings a greater depth as well to her cold and manipulative role of Zoe Blackwell, very much the story initiator and a character of many layers, mostly sinister, that Sophie brilliantly leaks out. Those repeating scenes as they look out at Earth far away are quite creepy and so, so coldly played.

Last but not least are Lily Haywood (Yolanda Lake) and Kaseem X (Vandreas Marc), also holding characters of depth, both victims of false accusations from Zoe, with Kaseem in particular victim of an evil suggestion. They are, as are all the cast great.

So this is very much a show that grew considerably on me once it had got over its slightly obsessive movement based ideas and got deep into the characters and the story. It is a very strong story with clever ideas and rounded characters. It is from conversation a little ambiguous over its story resolution if you happen to miss something vital at the end. However I don't believe I missed anything myself and am very glad that I didn't miss the magnificent Forever Looking Up.


The Flash Festival 2016 runs between Monday 16th and Saturday 21st May, 2016 at four venues across the town. Details can be found at http://ftfevents.wix.com/flashtheatre2016

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of A Passage to India at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Creating the world of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India for the stage and into a little over two hours running time offers many challenges, not least creating the visual world of India. However, this co-production between Royal & Derngate and simple8 throw away any need for complex sets, and bring the world of India, including some of its wildlife to life via boxes and bamboo canes. The success of this is really quite amazing as perhaps the crowning moment of the elephant brings home the most. Simple8 is an award-winning ensemble group and the way they work together to get their characters travelling through the world of India explains why they have received the awards.

A Passage to India is a 1924 novel telling of Britain's generally unpleasant rule in India and takes as its story an encounter between the elderly Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther), Adela (Phoebe Pryce), who is keen to see the real India, and Dr Aziz (Asif Khan). While their meetings seem pleasant, to begin with, e…

Review of The Flint Street Nativity, performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Maidwell Hall (Avenue Campus), Northampton

The Flint Street Nativity was presented by the BA Actors as part of a double bill with The Night Before Christmas, and you could hardly imagine such a difference in style. Tim Firth's genuinely, quite endearing play was quite the opposite to the rough and vicious Christmas spirit of the previous show.

Flint Street offers the intriguing situation of adult performers acting as children as they present to their audience (and always watched by the unseen, but a creepy red lighted teacher, Mrs Horrocks), their production of the nativity. It forms quite a delight of totally recognisable characters from your school days if you are able to remember that far back.

Among my favourite performances from this are Gemma Fensham as the total brat Gabriel, never seeming to have an expression other than sucking a lemon, as she breezily switches her best friend back and forth with abandon. She rather stylishly perfected the sulking strutting off routine as well, fabulous! Playing up to his size with…

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…