Tag Archives: Oliver Ryan

Doctor Faustus or the enemy within

Stratford-upon-Avon, RSC, Swan Theatre, 4th February – 4th August 2016

Faustus and man’s eternal temptation to sell his soul. Marlowe and Goethe take their title character from the same source, but Marlowe’s Faustus is, like Marlowe himself, an enfant terrible, a hectic, restless, indomitable and intellectually insatiable genius.

Oliver Ryan and Sandy Grierson

Oliver Ryan and Sandy Grierson

In this production, directed by Maria Aberg, one aspect is clear from the very beginning: Mephistopheles and Faustus are one, evil does not lurk outside or in other people. It is the result of human free choice and ponderation of interests – be it for the sake of knowledge or be it to satisfy the traditional addictive habits that Marlowe presents in their categorisation as seven deadly sins, a term used since the times of early Christianity: pride, covetousness, envy, wrath, lechery, gluttony and sloth.

Doctor FaustusOliver Ryan and Sandy Grierson appear on stage, dressed alike, and they each light a match. He, whose flame goes out first, plays Faustus.
His past life is standing around him as books in boxes, unsettled, and he is cursing the limitations of available knowledge. Magic, and therefore in the logic the late 16th century, hell, is supposed to satisfy his need for insight and repute.
The end is predetermined.

Director Maria Aberg draws Faustus’s inner odyssey like a Dance of Death, a downward spiral, with breathtaking dynamics of expression and movement.Doctor Faustus
The inner and outer world of the lost character, wandering about on the edge, appear in a series of grotesque and fascinating figures that seem to have sprung from intoxicated nightmares: Satan, the Seven Deadly Sins, Faustus’s ghost army that sometimes takes zombie-like features, the faceless Imperial Guard and others create, in conjunction with Orlando Gough’s space setting music, stirring eddies of pictures.

An incredible climax is reached at Faustus’s encounter with the woman of his dreams, Helen of Troy, “the face that launched a thousand ships”.
“Give me my soul again,” he pleads with her and their dance, their unlived lives, Helen’s (Jade Croot) and Faustus’s (Sandy Grierson or Oliver Ryan) attempt to connect, is one of those theatre moments with a heartbeat of their own, in which the world comes to a standstill.
A production that is disquieting. And that’s a good thing.

A deep bow to this ensemble, the director, the music and especially Ayse Tashkiran’s choreography and movement.

Design: Naomi Dawson
Lighting: Lee Curran
Sound: Tom Gibbons

Photos: Helen Maybanks ©

Hamlet, my Hamlet

“How shall I hold back my soul that it doesn’t touch yours?” This question from Rilke‘s Love Song arises in a worried tone, here. Hamlet is the emotional highlight this year’s RSC productions. This production by David Farr hits the audience’s nerve where it is raw.

Jonathan Slinger (Hamlet)

Jonathan Slinger (Hamlet)

Elsinore in the paltry and dismal atmosphere of an old gym, soulless courtiers, phrases and masks as default mode…  Hamlet, the son of a murdered father can’t make up his mind to perform the promised revenge, and by his not-acting destroys the lives of practically everybody involved. Traditionally, he is a hesitator-too-much-thinker, maybe weak of character, overly cautious.
Jonathan Slinger opens up an abyss of depression, the symptoms of which have an effect that is as much self-destructive as family-destructive. Slinger’s Hamlet hits deep, and he does so over 3.5 hours.

Pippa Nixon (Ophelia)

Pippa Nixon (Ophelia)

Ophelia (Pippa Nixon) has no chance to distance herself. She invests her entire, innocent love and burns herself, body and soul, on her feelings. Pippa’s state of being lost, when her reason is bowled over, and her saved solitude in her grave, that remains visible through to the end, are truly breathtaking.

Greg Hicks (Claudius)

Greg Hicks (Claudius)

Father’s ghost and Uncle Claudius are taken to new dimensions. Claudius comes over as one of these self-justifying offenders who keep convincing themselves that all their evil deeds happened for the common good. Hick’s body language enriches Shakespeare’s Hamlet by a full chapter of cues for spectators.

Hamlet’s friend Horatio is a further highlight. Alex Waldmann brings warmth to a world without a perspective.

Alex Waldmann (Horatio)

Alex Waldmann (Horatio)

A brilliant scene of distance from emotional horror and a relaxed view is due to David Fielder as the gravedigger.

It’s an ensemble in which each individual would deserve a mention, not least Robin Soans as Polonius, Charlotte Cornwell as Gertrude …
the all surpassing impression, however, that’s Jonathan Slinger’s masterpiece – Hamlet, my Hamlet.

Jonathan Slinger (Hamlet)

Jonathan Slinger (Hamlet)

Hamlet will be on stage in the Theatre Royal, Newcastle Fri 18 October to Sat 26 October 2013.
Video clip

Photos by Keith Pattison

This post was first published in German on 13/08/2013 here

Shakespearean Folk in the Forest of Arden

As You Like It production
of the Royal Shakespeare TheatreAYLI-6382, at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle

Wanderer between worlds, fugitives as beacons of hope, metamorphosis to a more heartfelt existence under the influence of nature… Country lad William Shakespeare, living in London’s big city hustle and bustle, certainly knew the longing he was writing about.

This production by Swedish director Maria Aberg bathes the affectionate Shakespeare comedy in an ambiance of festival, midsummer and heavenly lightness. Its atmosphere floats on dreamlike music written by composer and folk-pop singer Laura Marling.

Rosalind, the surpassing Pippa Nixon, flees, together with her cousin (Joanna Horton), from her reckless uncle’s court, shortly before also her heartthrob Orlando (Alex Waldmann) seeks refuge in the Forest of Arden, due to his brother’s murderous plans.
This is where already Rosalind’s banished father is hiding with his entourage. Rosalind, disguised as a man, comes across Orlando, who doesn’t recognize her, and teaches him the art of charming a woman.

Pippa Nixon does not only conquer Orlando – with her incredible diversity of expression, she juggles with the audience’s emotions and expectations, flying them high, letting them drop, catching them in such swing and momentum and spinning them up again, that just watching the play feels like dancing.
Alex Waldmann is a current day Orlando, hoodie wearer, misunderstood, exuberantly young and intoxicatingly physical. He displays his emotional worlds, their development and their variety in ways so touching that you’d wish you had individual scene photos for each single one of them.
Celia, Rosalind’s cousin and soulmate, is played by a fabulous Joanna Horton who credits this often neglected part with the fascination and warmth of a funny very best friend.
Touchstone the jester ensures, portrayed by Nicholas Tennant, continuous tears of laughter, and Jaques, his alter ego, in Oliver Ryan’s interpretation, comes over as a lovable drop-out comedian.

Alex Waldman (Orlando) and Pippa Nixon (Rosalind) In background David Fielder (Adam)

Alex Waldman (Orlando) and Pippa Nixon (Rosalind)
In background David Fielder (Adam)

As You Like It is going to be on stage in the Theatre Royal in Newcastle from Tue 29 October – Sat 2 November 2013.
A treat not to be missed.
(First published in German on 26/04/2013 under http://artyviews.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/shakespeare-woodstock-im-wald-von-arden/)

Alex Waldman (Orlando)

Alex Waldman (Orlando)

Pippa Nixon (Rosalind)

Pippa Nixon (Rosalind)

Nicholas Tennant (Touchstone)

Nicholas Tennant (Touchstone)

Oliver Ryan (Jaques)

Oliver Ryan (Jaques)

 

 

Photographer:  Keith Pattison

 

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