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Review of Asking Rembrandt at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Asking Rembrandt
Asking Rembrandt
Image Credit Chris Gardner

The Old Red Lion pub is a pleasure to wait in, friendly staff and a great atmosphere. On to Asking Rembrandt.

All the actors performed impeccably with all having great timing with the comedy parts. Liam McKenna as Rembrandt though did steal the show. There was an artist with a touch of madness who tries to convey the lack of importance money means to him. When in truth his finances are so poor it is everything and the recipients of his art don’t appreciate the breakthroughs Rembrandt is having in the field. McKenna gives a memorable performance giving the audience confidence in what he is doing and portraying the strain Rembrandt’s situation is having on his longest and closest friend.

The set is an artist’s studio and depicts such with realism. Enough clutter to copy Rembrandt’s mind but not overdone so as to distract from the acting. The costumes were what someone with very limited knowledge of the era would imagine Rembrandt and his companions would wear. They were high-waist, billowing arms with flowing cloaks and large hats, which fitted my image of the time perfectly. The language however reflected listening to a conversation in the pub downstairs. Copious amounts of swearing, which would befit a public house, however not the Old Red Lion, and not what I would have expected from Rembrandt. So, great period costumes, but the style of language not matching the costumes did confuse things. This is likely intentional and what the writer intended but I would have either liked a little more recognition to the style of language from over 400 years ago or the costume to reflect a somewhat more modern view. This is of course ignoring that it would have all been in Dutch if the language had too much authenticity!

There are stark contrasts in the lighting going from black out to an eye squinting brilliance. There is a well-used variety between the two as well, which flowed nicely. I never thought ‘I wish I could see the actors faces better’ and the lighting complemented what was happening on stage throughout.

I should have really enjoyed the play but for me it was lacking something. I can’t quite put my finger on what is actually missing. It was well written delivering the story with jokes and emotion. Maybe it just wasn’t for me “as a whole.” I laughed in places and was entertained but got left wanting a little more.

3 Star Review

Review by Lee Cogger

Scéalta Móra is proud to present the World Premiere of Asking Rembrandt by internationally acclaimed playwright Steve Gooch whose Female Transport continues to be produced a dozen times throughout the world each year.

Rembrandt – Liam McKenna
Jan Six  – John Gorick
Henni – Esme Patey-Ford
Titus – Loz Keystone

Director Jonathan Kemp
Writer Steve Gooch
Producer Damien Tracey
Designer Alex Marker
Lighting Designer Philip Jones
Casting Director Benjamin Newsome
Stage Manager Maahin Akhlaque
PR Chris Hislop
Casting Benjamin Newsome
Graphics Ian Coles

23rd June – 18th July 2015
Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Tickets £14.50 (£12.50 Concessions)

Thursday 25th June 2015


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