Pros: A chance to see what up-and-comers had to offer.
Cons: Unfortunately there were a lot of latecomers to each show that proved rather distracting.
For the past week, Stonecrabs – a theatre company affiliated with the Albany Theatre in Deptford – has been hosting a festival for young directors. Stonecrabs’ ethos is to train the next generation of talent from diverse backgrounds. This being the case, it has been showcasing three different plays a night, the latest offerings from their alumni.
The first play, The Man Who (directed by Eleanor Chadwick) began with three people marching around the stage in a robotic fashion, accompanied by electronic noises, offstage dialogue and the ticking of a clock. This reminded me of Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck, with its initial emphasis on physical movement and the fragmentary scenes. However it soon dawned on me that the vignettes were each meant to represent a particular neurological disorder and that the preoccupation with clocks/ticking alluded to the means test for insanity – not being able to perceive the passage of time.
The performers (Suzie Grimsdick, Danny Solomon and Elliot Young) took it in turns to play doctors/patients in the medical case vignettes, which all had different qualities. Some mirrored the hard-to-understand vocabulary in A Clockwork Orange, others were very amusing, but all were fascinating in their own way and were food for thought regarding our perception of things that we take for granted.
The second play Two Lost Souls in a Dirty Night (directed by Mariana Pereira) centred on Tonho and Paco (Stefano Reali and George Rowe). Reflecting the urban Brazilian roots of its author, the characters try to make ends meet at a street market. Paco wears a pair of nice shoes, while Tonho possesses modest footwear. This becomes a source of tension, as Tonho feels that by wearing Paco’s shoes even temporarily, they would aid his upwardly mobile aspirations and he could obtain a white-collar job with ease. The banter between Paco and Tonho was very funny, which also stemmed from their polarised viewpoints about how to deal with trouble on the streets. However at the play’s core was a gloomy notion: there is no escape from strife for the social underclass and vigilance is always necessary.
The final play This Wide Night (directed by Lynette Linton) was written by Chole Moss whose play I Do is at present playing in the Docklands. It focused on Lorraine and Marie, two women who have recently been released from jail and trying to pick up the pieces of the lives. Marie (Jennifer Daley) the younger of the two ekes out an existence working at nights, while Lorraine (Fiona Whitelaw) has trouble sleeping and becomes alienated from almost everyone. Being the nearest thing to a daughter that she has, Lorraine makes regular visits to Marie, whom we see over time is less than pleased with the incessant visits. Day-to-day life is all too bleak for both of them. This play was easily the most accessible play of the evening, as well as the most moving. From a dramatic point of view it was very satisfying, highlighting an issue that’s seldom explored, especially for women.
All in all, the evening was very enjoyable. Each of the plays was only £5 and as triple bill £12 – a bargain for three hours of entertainment. The only criticism I have of the evening was the seemingly constant flow of latecomers during the first 15-20 minutes of each performance. Each time the door opened, it would be ajar for some time, letting in a lot of light and noise pollution from outside which was very distracting and frankly annoying.
Asides from this mishap, the rest of the evening was well-run and if you didn’t know beforehand, you would never guess from the quality of performances that they were directed by practitioners at the beginning of their professional careers.
Authors: Peter Brook, Plinio Marcos and Chloe Moss.
Directors: Eleanor Chadwick, Mariana Pereira and Lynette Linton.
Producer: Stonecrabs Theatre Company.
Box Office: 020 8692 4446020.
Booking Link: http://canadawaterculturespace.org.uk/
Booking Until: The performances at the Albany Theatre have now finished. However some of the plays from this festival will be at the Canada Water Culture Space at Canada Water Library on 20-21 March.