Lucie Loves… Theatre // Push & Citizen Puppet double-bill at New Diorama Theatre, London
JMG and I were kindly given press tickets to a pretty brilliant double-bill, showing an adaptation of Sapphire’s novel Push and Blind Summit’s Citizen Puppet at London’s New Diorama theatre.
I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t seasoned theatre-goers, merely two twenty-something’s making the most of the vast amount of arts and culture London has to offer. We’re fairly new to the theatre scene but can definitely say that we’re thoroughly enjoying all of the new weird and wonderful experiences that having a ticket in your hand opens up.
Many of you will have watched the film Precious - if you haven’t you should do - and be familiar with her characters harrowing tale of growing up illiterate in Harlem with an abusive family and a desire to make a life for herself that will take her away from the grim reality that her future holds. Shanice Sewell plays Claireece Precious Jones to perfection.
I loved how the young actors introduced themselves at the beginning and explained which characters they would be portraying. They began with the caveat that they might be playing someone of a different race, age or sex but for the audience to stick with it and watch as their story unfolds.
Having already watched the film Precious a few years back, my gut was already wrenching in anticipation of the misfortune that was about to play out before us. Haraldur Stefansson plays Precious’ creepy father Carl Kenwood Jones in such a way that your skin crawls at his monstrous nature and gyrating, sex-crazed depravity.
Push was fantastic and featured a cast of young BA (Hons) Acting Collaborative & Devised Theatre students - follow @actingCDT, from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, at the University of London,
Jack Randall takes on three completely different characters with such ease that you forget that he’s a young redheaded theatre student and instead are led to believe that he’s Mr Wicher - school teacher, Consuelo - a troubled young woman from Latin-America, and a kindly doctor who hears about the sexual abuse that Precious has suffered at the hands of her father.
During the interval JMG noticed that young actor Emilio Iannucci - son of Armando Ianucci an Oscar and Emmy-nominated Scottish satirist and one of JMG’s all-time favourite people - was also performing in Push.
The cast gelled very well on-stage. There were no elaborate set changes, but the careful rearrangement of chairs and the way that Precious’ neglectful mother is shown with her back to the audience for the majority of the play really packs a punch. We were particularly impressed with the use of digital media, projections and soundscape which helped emphasise powerful emotions and passing of time, and also added a freshness to the performance.
Push was shortly followed by Citizen Puppet - a work-in-progress show created by puppetry innovators Blind Summit. It’s basically a political documentary that uses recognisable puppet characters to tell a tale of dubiously acquired wealth.
Again the cast are BA (Hons) Acting CDT students who cleverly embody the personalities narrating the events that have taken place. There are parts of the performance that echo Daily Mail headlines, that bring to the fore political hot potatoes such as taxes and fear of strangers, and mimic scenes from hit tv show Broadchurch - check out the clouds. It was a work of genius, and well-worth checking out when it’s finished.
Photography © Lucie Kerley