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Lone Wolf presents

RECLINING NUDE WITH BLACK STOCKINGS

Writer: Snoo Wilson

Director: Alexander Gilmour

Composer: James Jones

Arcola Theatre

 

7 September – 2 October 2010

 

 

 

 

A review by Jafar Iqbal for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Snoo Wilson is a man seemingly on the edge of achieving great success. Extensive theatre-writing experience has led to productions at the likes of The Royal Court, The Bush and the National Theatre. Add to that a plethora of originally written musical, TV and film scripts, and you’ve got someone that should probably be paid attention to. And Wilson will now have the privilege of working alongside the legendary Martin Scorsese, who will be executive producer of Wilson’s new film, Sabina.

Don’t worry, this isn’t false advertising – this is neither a preview of Wilson’s new screenplay, nor a testimonial of the bushy-browed film director. This is still, I assure you, a review of Reclining Nude With Black Stockings, the new production from Lone Wolf Theatre Company, and everything I’ve said so far has complete relevance to the play. In fact, I would argue that the events in Snoo Wilson’s life seem to run parallel with that of the play’s lead character, Egon Schiele.

Schiele was an enigmatic artist prominent in the Expressionist movement in Vienna. Like Wilson, Schiele was able to work under guidance of the influential Gustav Klimt, and, like Wilson, Schiele was touted as someone destined for success. But while revered for the powerful subject matter of his art, this particular production deals specifically with the works of Schiele that were scrutinised and scandalised. One of his most ambitious and powerful pieces of work, a nude painting of a minor, led to Schiele getting sent to prison as a rapist, paedophile and pornographer. The play attempts to explore the events surrounding that incident, and Schiele’s validity as an artist and voyeur.

As Schiele, Simon Harrison is great to watch. From his physical appearance to almost effortless displays of emotion, he brings out the awkwardness, insecurity and vanity of Schiele very well. Johannes Flaschberger, as Klimt, is also good in parts; but the production, I feel, belongs to the women. In her very first professional production, Naomi Sheldon is quite possibly the standout. As the thirteen-year old Tatiana who causes the scandal in Schiele’s life, she is sensuous, erotic and innocent all at the same time. And on the other side is Katie McGuinness, playing Schiele’s muse and eventual lover, Walli, with great conviction and an emotion that surpasses Harrison’s. Both women have extremely difficult roles to play, and both carry out their roles with great strength.

But while the strength of the performance lies in it’s acting, it’s the direction that lets the performance down at points. It needs to be said first, though, that Alexander Gilmour’s direction is strong for the most part. His use of sound and lighting in trying to capture the essence of early twentieth century Vienna is beautifully constructed, as is his use of the space to create that world. Where he falters, however, is at certain crucial points. Namely, the climactic scene where young Tatiana strips for Schiele and asks him to paint her should have been a very powerful and impactful moment. When it happens, though, and as we see Tatiana completely naked, the moment seems underwhelming and without the punch it needed.

This is not a bad production, by any means, and there is much to commend about the piece. There are times in the production where it is plain to see why Wilson has achieved the success he has; but others, when the dragging script reminds you that his development will never stop.

Reclining Nude… is the kind of production that will divide audiences – some will love Snoo Wilson’s script for bringing Expressionist Vienna to life, and others will criticise it for its’ inevitable flaws. Again, you could argue, just like with Schiele’s art. You can’t argue one thing though – they both made you want to come and see.

 

 

7 September – 2 October: 8.15pm

Price: £14 / £10 concessions

Arcola Studio 2, 23-27 Arcola Street, London E8 2DJ

http://www.arcolatheatre.com

Box Office: 020 7503 1646

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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