Features

assassins
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Preview: Assassins

Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins is set to arrive at the O’Reilly with a bang in 7th week. First performed off-Broadway in 1990, the revue-style musical presents nine would-be assassins in murderous attempts (only three of which are successful) spanning two centuries of American history.

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monkey bars
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Preview: Monkey Bars

I’m not a great fan of kids, I must admit – I much prefer dogs (I’ve been told this isn’t a normal human response.) So, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach a preview of Monkey Bars, a production of Chris Goode’s award-winning work which took a series of interviews with children aged between 7 and 10, and gave the lines to adults.

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prison theatre alice
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Setting the bar: should we be investing in theatre in prisons?

Just under two years ago, an Italian film called Caesar Must Die snuck into UK theatres with barely any marketing, and soon disappeared again. It was a simple tale about a group of inmates in a high-security prison, staging a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

The film was not exceptionally good, but it did do a fine job at showing how the play’s themes – loyalty between friends, loyalty to the state, honour, criminality, the legitimacy of civil disobedience – might resonate enormously with men whose lives had been deeply and cruelly twisted by their collisions with the law. Simply bringing in actors to perform the play for such men might well have done them some good on its own. But allowing them to stage it themselves – to inhabit the roles, to explore the drama on their own terms – opens to these prisoners the unparalleled power of the theatre, for actors, to confront the basic problems of human motivation and human decision-making. And if they can learn how to act these roles, might it not help them to better understand themselves? Can there be many people in the world more in need of an aid to self-knowledge than serious criminals?

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jerusalem 2
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Jerusalem promises darker fun

Will Felton has a vision. In the Wiltshire countryside youths in pagan masks dance around the shadow of a caravan, intoxicated by the heady combination of music, drugs and isolation. Add to this a live folk band, punchy dialogue, flares, strobe lights and chickens and you have a play: Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem to be precise.

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