A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Littlewit presents

LINES

by James Fritz

Directed by Thomas Martin

Designed by Katie Bellman

 

AND

 

Fineprint Theatre presents

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE

Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie

Edited by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner

Directed by Scarlett Plouviez Comnas

Designed by George Moustakas

Starring Sophie Angelson as Rachel Corrie

 

Rosemary Branch Theatre

5 – 30 April 2011

 

 

A promising actor, Michael Kinney, was murdered by a policeman that he was portraying in a play about the death of newspaper vendor, Ian Tomlinson, at the G20 protests in London in 2009. This play is about the decisions and processes behind the creation of Ian and Bill, the piece of verbatim theatre that Michael Kinney had performed, and policeman Terence Stein had watched, on the night of the murder. Lines is gripping and intriguing from the outset - it opens with the five actors on the starkly bare stage performing warm up exercises. This rhythmic chaos creates an atmosphere akin to that of a protest while also asking the audience to consider the mechanics of theatre, a task that the play itself insists upon.

Lines conveys the tragedy of a terrible circumstantial death while also painting a compassionate picture of a fragile man driven to murder.  All five characters remain onstage throughout the play, reinforcing a sense of shared responsibility and importance to the story.

Jeryl Burgess and David Vale are compelling as Michael Kinney’s parents, riddled by confused grief and central to the portrayal of him as a blameless pawn in a game gone wrong. Ian Mairs plays the headstrong Robin, writer of Ian and Bill and target for the anger felt by Michael’s father. The Director (Tom Berish) provides most of the light relief, through his tactlessness and humorous pokes at every aspect of the Theatre industry. The Sergeant’s (John Canmore) opinion of Ian and Bill is fundamental since he too felt misrepresented and manipulated by the play for which he was interviewed. His gripes with his own portrayal are much more lighthearted than those of Terence Stein, but the search for truth that the Writer and Director insist was central to Ian and Bill is undermined by his account.

Lines is a self-aware play, and the meaning is often layered to encompass the broader plot, for example when the circumstances surrounding Michael’s death are described; “wrong time, wrong place, wrong policeman” the circumstances around the death of Ian Tomlinson are brought to mind. Essentially though, Lines is a brilliant play about another play and it leaves the audience with ample food for thought and an insight into the complex power of verbatim Theatre.

 

My Name is Rachel Corrie is a one-person show about the American activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while taking part in protests against the demolition of Palestinian homes in 2003, when she was 23. The play was composed by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, solely using her own writings, and conveys her reaction to a political situation she was fervent about and the vulnerable position she found herself in as a result.

The play opens in a messy bedroom and the audience is introduced to a vivacious and idealistic character who is “given to making important lists” and is enlightened by a trip to Russia because it is a “broken, dirty and gorgeous” place. Rachel Corrie undoubtedly had an eloquent way with words, and thus the script has moments of splendor.

The play continues to explore Rachel Corrie’s character and her relationships, most notably those with her parents. Tension and anxiety build as she wonders “how to survive in a non-existent place”.  The set changes to reflect the stark reality of the alien surroundings Corrie chose to relocate to. The idealism of the early scenes is replaced by the reality of diary entries depicting frequently terrible events.

Sophie Angelson conveys Rachel Corrie’s passion but is perhaps, a little unconvincing as “scattered, deviant and too loud”. There is something polished in the performance that does not always sit with the subject matter especially well. For example, in a one-person play with a script that is so vivid and expressive in places, minor fluffed lines need not be impulsively corrected. The play closes with a moving video of Corrie as a young girl speaking at school about hope and solidarity, bringing the play full circle back to the idealism Corrie’s activism was borne from.

 

Tickets: £12 /£10 per play

or

Performed as part of a double bill
£15 for both shows on the same night.
The Rosemary Branch Theatre
2 Shepperton Road, London N1 3DT
Box Office: 020 7704 6665

http://www.rosemarybranch.co.uk/
Lines - 7pm Tues. – Sat.
My Name is Rachel Corrie – 8:30pm Tues. – Sat.
 


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