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Simon James Collier and Fallen Angel Theatre
In Association with Brockley Jack Studio Theatre present

 

Blavatsky’s Tower

 


 
by Moira Buffini

 

Directed by Chris Loveless

 

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

 

16 Mar – 3 April 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couzens

A review by Alexandra Carey for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

This is a tricky play. It’s central premise – that of a family who have lived for an unspecified length of time (at least the lifetime of the youngest child) in the top floor apartment of a huge and rather undervalued tower block designed by the father with only the very minimum of outside contact – is clearly an overblown and odd dramatic conceit. And yet in creating these extreme conditions it becomes incredibly clear how the preoccupations, beliefs and fears of a father can be cast onto his offspring, affecting them deeply. His three children are so clearly ‘f***** up’ (as Roland puts it), but more than that each seems to reflect a different aspect of the patriarch, Hector’s, bizarre and disturbing mental state.

So the play is really quite simple, I think, in that respect. In this production each of the children is given a strong and thoughtful performance by their respective actors and all shine in moments of the play, particularly Annabel Bates and Anthony Hoskyns when telling large chunks of story in individual sequences.

However, the nature of Hector Blavatsky means that the play is full of fantastical imaginings and (possibly epilepsy related) visions, bleak and confused philosophy, aggression and dominance. This makes it pretty hard to watch at times and verging on confusing – though I suspect that may be the point. If you can stick with it there are some arrestingly beautiful moments in all of this intense theorizing and dreaming, but the danger is that it is very easy to gloss over all of it losing the human aspect of the story. I did feel that Bates’ ‘Ingrid’ dealt with this danger particularly well, making her commitment to her father’s ideals and hopes genuinely convincing, but that may have been aided by a more familiar and human outlook within the traits of this character. 

Buffini is a very strong comic writer and Blavatsky’s Tower is no exception – it’s full of little comic motifs, asides, and dark, hilarious moments. Unfortunately the heavy overtones and strange-ness of the play seemed to penetrate these comic moments too deeply and the audience seemed afraid to laugh or unsure where the comedy was. Although Loveless’ production did bring out some lovely comic moments (such as the ornamental gooseberry tree, or when Audrey threatened Ingrid with the rolling pin and limp looking potato masher) it seemed a little confused over when it was aiming at comically strange and when at disturbingly so.

Blavatsk’y Tower is powerful and it does make a point but unfortunately it doesn’t hold its own for two hours. It is a unique and interesting play with a lot going on, some strong, bold performances and certainly it implants itself in the mind after the show is over.

 

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

 

7.45pm Tues - Sat

Tickets: £12/£9

Box Office: 08448472454

www.ticketweb.co.uk

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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