It’s not often that I go to the theatre to review a production and feel so drawn in to the piece that I put down my pen and notepad and forget to take notes, Bash Latterday Plays was however one of those occasions. The term latterday, arguably refers to the Latterday Saints, Headquartered in Utah, of which these plays’ author Neil Le Bute was a member; he was espoused for his defamatory work.
The Latterday Saints, or Mormons as they are more widely known, spend their life conducting humanitarian services adhering to their many religious beliefs, including sexual purity and living the word of God.
In contrast to this, All 4 characters within Le Bute’s trio of plays are arguably inhumane, egotistical and unkind; some of the most heinous, evil and calculated anti-heroes on God’s earth. Of course this shouldn’t come as a surprise to the audience, “Iphigenia in Orum” – a reference to the Strong-Born of Orum in Utha? “A gaggle of Saints” perhaps a mis-grouping of the collective noun implying some sort of animalistic, militarily form? And finally “Medea Redux” – a re-telling and contemporary re-working of Euripides’ Greek tragedy Medea, Media Brought Back?
The staging for all 3 plays is simple, black box theatre, wooden door frame and a scattering of chairs, some broken and unfit for purpose, maybe this is symbolic of the broken characters we go on to witness.
There are little to no props for the actors to hide behind in this production, it is a very raw and open production where the 4 protagonists have nowhere to hide. The direction is heavily dependent on all four talented cast members delivering their confessions to a willing audience, no holds barred though voice and expression. I must say at this point all actors had great American accents that didn’t slip at any point within the production.
The 3 plays: 2 monologues and 1 duologue are heavily dependent on language – both what is said and what isn’t said. This is never more apparent than in the 2nd play, the duologue “A Gaggle of Saints”. Here the emotions that Dani Harrison (Sue) conveys whilst her long-term college boyfriend , Tom Vallen (John), regales his triumphant and sadistic activities of the night the couple spent in New York are heartbreaking. Her facial expressions and posture were enough to make me cringe and almost bring a tear to my eye.
I feel that Jonathan O’Boyle’s interpretation and direction of these dark pieces that touch on filicide, gender politics, organised religion and homophobia is very skilful and harrowing to watch. I would assume he has worked with his actors to draw out the darkness that lays dormant, hidden and unprovoked in most of the population. By using the confessional style as a dramatic vehicle to illustrate some of mankind’s most evil and horrifying acts (possibly for self-preservation purposes) the audience becomes implicated in their actions. Being a voyeur, a silent witness rather than an admiring audience.
The only negative thing I can say about this production is that there was a very small audience and I genuinely fear that not enough people will get to see these 3 spectacular pieces.
5*s from me.
Review by Faye Stockley
Bash Latterday plays
Iiphegenia in Orem: Philip Scott-Wallace (ITV’s Downton Abbey)
A gaggle of Saints: Dani Harrison (Spite & Malice), Tom Vallen (Professional Debut)
Medea Redux: Rebecca Hickey (ITV’s My Good Samaritan)
Creatives: Direction: Jonathan O’Boyle (The Scottsboro Boys, Young Vic) design: Sarah McCann (Penny Dreadful, Showtime)
The Old Red Lion Theatre
418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ
Dates: 18th March to 12th April 2014
Times: Tues-Sat 7:30pm / Sat 3pm / Sun 2pm
Ticket Prices: £15.00/£13.00 | £10.00 (Sundays)
Phone Box Office: 0844 412 4307
Twitter: @Bash_London / @31Productions
BASH LATTER PLAYS TRANSFERS to TRAFALGAR STUDIOS
Thursday 27th March 2014