A Mad World My Masters | English Touring Theatre and RSC

May 2015 | Barbican

The original play written by Thomas Middleton was a satire on London life back when society was very bawdy and at the same time puritan. Creators Sean Foley and Phil Porter re-stage it in 1950s Soho with the notion that this historically unconventional, culturally subversive and morally notorious area was a suitable and not ironically unimaginative setting (and to view the audience with as much dimness as many of the gags in this piece.)

There are two plots to this story, one in which Richard Follywit tries to swindle his uncle’s great wealth and another where Penitent Brothel tries to win sexual access to a married woman with the help of a crafty prostitute. The text has been adapted to apply to a contemporary audience, changing names to sound more familiar and clean up the obscurities of the historical context, although often unnecessarily. For example, Bounteous Progress, the rich snob who wants to gain favour and privilege amongst the political class is renamed ‘Peersucker’ – fair enough, Richard Desmond, (with whom the similarity is obvious) is the owner of numerous Red Top newspapers and a pornography channel and has been funding both Conservatives and UKIP in order to be selected for Peerage. But ‘Shortrod Harebrain’ didn’t need to be renamed ‘Littledick.’ It’s the start of many superfluous changes that underestimate the intelligence of the audience.

Betrayal: A Polyphonic Crime Drama | I Fagiolini

May 2015 | Village Underground

The queue starts outside the location; a dank, former victorian warehouse on a side-street away from the noise of the Hackney nightlife. With access permits in hand, the audience are eventually bustled through the closely gated ‘crime-scene’ led by surly officers giving out torches and rapping out access rules. The space is littered with junk and odd pieces of old furniture. It’s the kind of area a murder would take place in, or at least a place a body would be dumped. Chalk outlines decorate the concrete floor, exposed by the type of flood light you see on police-dramas, alongside boards with photos and post-it notes of details about victims or suspects. In the gloom, somewhere in the tightly gathered crowd, song rises through the dense space.