With the excavation and resurrection of a Shakespearean playhouse taking place in our very own Shoreditch as we speak, it’s time to uncover what theatrical productions already exist above ground level in and around the area.
The Curtain Theatre circle was a premier venue for The Bard’s company and is purportedly where Romeo and Juliet was first performed. It is soon to be reinstated to its former Elizabethan glory, but until then, here’s a list of the onstage chemistry happening right here right now.
SUN @ St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch
SUN’s plot sees a group of people, including a set of conjoined twins and an unfaithful woman, sat around a table eating together as they await the end of mankind upon its entry into a state of extinction. It sounds depressing, but it’s not.
The apocalyptic setting proves in fact to be a liberating factor for writer, Alan Fieldman, as he plays around with absurdist realities and hyper worlds, blending serious drama beautifully with a sense of humour in a way that makes us ponder how we would behave in our darkest hour.
An experiential play that explores how the dimensions of relationships change under grave pressure and challenges the audience to scrutinise human nature, this thought-provoking piece is brought to the inspired location – inside the steeple of Shoreditch’s landmark church – by the genreless and processless collective, the National Arts Service, who developed the production especially for the sanctified location.
Playing from the 05 February – 02 March 2014, get tickets here.
Daisy Pulls It Off @ The Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton
Secret passages! Midnight feasts! Hot water bottle fights! This is the all-time high school play that’s bound to speak to our inner teenager, except its set in the grand Elizabethan mansion of Grangewood School for Girls.
The play’s venue, a King's Cross fringe theatre, hosts an actor training syndicate, emerging playwrights, local music festivals and fantastic small scale productions much like this rip-roarer, written by Denisse Deegan in the 1980s for its first run.
Reimagined by ARLA company, the award-winning comedy now sees the majestic interior of The Courtyard Theatre transformed into a 1920s English boarding school, housing corridor-heroine Daisy Merdith. A girl from poor beginnings, she gains a scholarship to attend this school for ‘young ladies’ and has to overcome the snobbishness of wealthy arch-classmates in a chuckle-filled script.
Of course it’s never that simple - along the way Daisy overcomes false accusations, saves the lives of her enemies, finds treasure that could save the school, and discovers a deep dark secret about a mysterious stranger seen around the grounds. It might seem childish, but the Laurence Olivier Award that a previous run received, and the fact that The Lord Lloyd-Webber once produced a previous take on the script, surely proves there’s a big kid to be found in all of us.
Playing from the 05 March – 06 March 2014, get tickets here.
The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland @ Town Hall, Shoreditch
A think-outside-the-box type of production with a dark yet comic take on mental health, this unusual work architects two completely separate worlds of delusion and hope, disorganising the reality of the audience in much the same way as a schizophrenia patient’s. Amidst a dizzying concoction of memory, hallucination and corporeality, only a dialogue between the three can transform the protagonist’s life. The Times described it as brilliant, innovative and bonkers. That pretty much sums it up.
Less of a theatrical production and more of a social experiment, this split-play, written by David Woods and Jon Haynes (who also acts in it), is inspired by a treatment method for psychosis that has almost completely wiped out schizophrenia from Western Lapland.
In 2013 t was aired at the Dialogic Conference in Finland, where the soul of the script had great impact on medical professionals in the therapeutic field out there, provoking discussion on how realities are not always shared, and how our own non-experiencing of a reality in no way means it is not perceived by others.
Comissioned by Brighton’s Sick! Festival and funded by the Wellcome Trust, alternative theatrical company Ridiculusmus now brings its eye opener to Shoreditch Town Hall for all of East London to see, hear and talk about.
Playing from the 12 March – 15 March 2014, get tickets here.
Visitors @ Arcola Theatre, Dalston
Linda Basset (previously Ella, the English wife of George in East is East, as well as actress in Calender Girls and Grandma’s House) graces Dalston’s stage at fringe theatre, Arcola. That should be enough to sell it to you, but we’ll go on.
The story follows a family that lives in a farmhouse on the edge of Salisbury Plain. While the grounds around them cultivate, the dimensions of their household deteriorate as Stephen can’t afford to put his mother into care, and Arthur can’t afford to stop working so he can look after his wife.
Shackled by the everyday financial stresses of modern working life, this latest collaboration between playwright Barney Norris and director Alice Hamilton is a beautifully put, comedic take on the haunting truth of the developed world: as we try to grasp what’s expected of us, we let slip what’s most important to us. It’ll make you smile, and your heart ache.
Playing from the 06 March – 29 March 2014, get tickets here.