Review and Pictures by Mark Russell @ The Open Eye
‘1616: The Secrets and Passions of William Shakespeare’, written and performed by Gareth Somers, Directed by Lucyna Hunter last night at The Kings Arms, Salford.
I had expected the ubiquitous ‘One Man Show’; I really must have my ‘Level of Expectation’ tuned.
Kyd, Marlowe, Jonson, Burbage all graced us with their presence as did many and varied members of Will Shakespeare’s Family, the odd Serving Wench, Whore and Lover. Elizabeth 1 popped along at one point. Gareth did perform solo but I can, hand on heart, swear that all the others did ‘appear’.
If I may plagiarise from other reviewers – a not uncommon practice in Elizabethan times it is suggested – read on:
“Excellent production,captivating and a real theatrical experience.”
“Excellent in its range, detailed and magnificently performed.”
“Engaging, totally absorbing and poignant.”
“An astounding performance”
1616: Kings Arms Salford. Friday 18th September. 7:30pm
1616 Transatlantyk2 Review
Tuesday 5 August 2014 | By Andy Leask
ED2014 Theatre Review: Woyzeck! (Time Zone Theatre)
It was an excellent decision to present this interpretation of Georg Büchner’s play through the eponymous character’s eyes; actor Gareth Somers shifts between the broken soldier and the officers and doctor who taunted, manipulated and humiliated him. A tremendously physical performance sees him clambering amongst the audience, adding a frisson of unease that perfectly complements the brooding tension of the play. It’s a warm, often humorous performance, too, humanising a character that can easily be too abstract, too detached. As Woyzeck narrates the story of his life unravelling, his mind wanders, fittingly reflecting the damaged psyche of a man haunted by paranoid delusions. There is no outside truth, only the shattered fragments of a broken man. Outstanding.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Leask]
Shakespeare locks himself in his room where, burdened with secrets and memories, he draws together the lost and broken threads of his enigmatic life. Reflecting on his deepest loves, erotic adventures, dear friends, sworn enemies and greatest works, he wonders now where true value really lies.
At times controversial and always thoroughly researched, this sparse and physical show propels us through grimy underworlds, court subterfuges and romantic adventures.
1616 unpicks Shakespeare’s place in the theatre, his sometime questionable business dealings and the inspirations behind his works. It is an intelligent, fast paced, moving and humorous tribute to the life and work of the greatest playwright of all time.
Following five star reviews of Gareth Somers’ one man Woyzeck at Edinburgh 2014 and previous acclaim as playwright Christopher Marlowe, he revisits the one man format to play Shakespeare’s, old friends and adversaries in what promises to be a mesmerising performance of this lyrical and enlightening new play .
Sensuous Manifold presents Anthony Nielson’s ‘Normal’ at the Camden People’s Theatre Review *****
“An exploration of the relationship between reality and fiction.
Intense. Brutal. Humorous.”
Neilson’s production opens the case of the Dusseldorf Ripper, Peter Kurten, and the relationship between himself and defence lawyer, Justus Wehner. Revealing details and gruesome events from Kurten’s past is only part of the tale. Neilson’s presents glimpses of Kurten’s marriage to a former prostitute and murderer.
We are forced to question the play ominous title…’Normal’?
Gareth Somers played mass murderer Peter Kurten in a beautifully menacing way. You can somehow empathize with his character at particular points throughout the play , as details from his past are pulled apart and scrutinised. Do these instances perhaps have an ill-effect on the way he behaved throughout his life, creating the disturbingly unremorseful Dusseldorf Ripper?
Although Peter Kurten was a mass murderer, he also managed to have a seemingly ‘normal’ lifestyle, in the form of his marriage to an ex-prostitute, played by Catherine Somers. She interweaved herself seamlessly throughout the play, providing a vast contrast to her husband Peter Kurten.
Elliott Brennan played defence lawyer Justus Wehner, providing an overall narration and balance the menacing Kurten couple. However, we are yet to wonder if he is indeed ‘Normal’ towards the end of the production.
All in all, the actors worked exceedingly well with one another, all playing their parts well without overshadowing each other.
Lack of props
The design elements within ‘Normal’ were also interesting, not lavish or outlandish at all. At most they could be described as simple, but they were very effective. The use of several wooden crates conveyed the bareness of the prison and perhaps reflected the personality of Peter Kurten. Accordingly, they were also used to create different levels to echo hierarchy among the characters. Although the actors physically changed the set throughout the play, it created meaning instead of getting in the way. It perhaps goes to show that tons of stylistic elements and props do not need to be in place in order to deem a play a success. It was more about stripping things back to basics and relying on the projection of the actors and the audience’s imaginations.
The lighting created an eerie, moody atmosphere. Perhaps a reflection of the German Expressionist era? It was much how you would imagine a prison cell to be in Dusseldorf in the early 20th century. There was one particular scene within the play in which there was a supposed power cut within the prison. This was executed beautifully, with the actors using their voices to a great extent. If this were to be done in a larger scale theatre, it may not work as well, due to the intimacy of the scene.
Overall, ‘Normal’ is exactly how it is described. Intense. Brutal. Humorous. It is not for those with a light sense of humour, as the descriptions of the gruesome murders are difficult to stomach. It was exceptionally casted with the actors playing flawed individuals battling their pasts. Thoroughly entertaining and with no interval, the play had you hooked from beginning to end, prompting you to think about specific aspects of human nature.
A few audience members posted responses to Woyzeck at Edinburgh this year..
Amazing, captivating one man show. I sat gripped throughout the whole performance. Fantastic. This is one of two productions this year, each different from the other in the way it is adapted. Well worth seeing.
I was utterly captivated by this adaptation of Woyzeck!. The dialogue is stripped back so that, unlike other one man plays, you don’t get lost in prose, and each word and movement has a specific purpose for the retelling of Woyzeck’s story. Funny in parts and tragic in others, a wonderful portrayal of manipulation and mental illness. How clever to use newspaper as a prop which seamlessly embodies both a baby and a woman, and which also beautifully reflects the disarray and confusion in Woyzeck’s mind. Can’t recommend this highly enough – definitely one for lovers of real theatre.
Absolutely blown away by this production. Highly engaging piece of work with a captivating performance from the actor Gareth Somers who took the audience on a very personal journey. The subtle writing and adaptation of the original script leant itself well to the purpose and Mijailovic’s stripped back honest style of directing allowed the tale to be told with no frills. Thank you! I highly recommend it!
Beautiful one man production. The actor’s interpretation of the reduced script (nice adaptation for a solo performer) was so moving as he physicalized (is that a word?) different characters. Here was a man exorcising himself of the elements that led to his demise. I would have preferred to be left in silence instead of the music which swelled up at the end, for it is the actor’s last hard earned words delivered so beautifully I wanted to hear ringing in my ears.
Honest, direct and inventive, using only the simplest staging, Somers and Mijailovic give new life to a theatre classic, without the need for tiresome gimmicks. Scary and sweet by turns, Somers reaches out to us, taking the audience right to the heart of the action. Loved it.