Tag Archives: Rose Reynolds

Candide – Optimism is Cruelty

Matthew Needham as Candide

Matthew Needham as Candide

“Candide“ (A play inspired by Voltaire’s satirical novel from 1759) RSC production at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Leaps in time, clips of scenes, zapping through the human realm of experience – this Candide is, with a deep bow to Voltaire, a brand new play by Mark Ravenhill, fitting the 21st century.
Starting in a somewhat classicistic ambiente:

Dwane Walcott as Candide

Dwane Walcott as Candide

Candide the stranded hero, after his odysseys from one world failing to meet the ideal, to the next, he is giving up, however, incited through the presentation of his voltairian experiences, he takes up his search for the beloved Cunegonde again.

Before the audience can utter a sigh, the script zaps on and displays painful pictures of a monstruous birthday party that ends in an ecologically correct killing spree.

– New picture, even more macabre than the one before:

Sarah Ridgeway as Sophie

Sarah Ridgeway as Sophie

Mother trying to go creatively through the psychological process of coping with the extermination of her family. – A gentler picture following, Eldorado. The hero is on the road again, apparently in paradise, but again in the wrong movie.

Richard Goulding as Screenwriter and Rose Reynolds as The Girl

Richard Goulding as Screenwriter and Rose Reynolds as The Girl

He ends up in the laboratory of Panglosss Institue, a Biotech firm that has isolated the happiness genome and wants to create sustainable happiness for mankind. Candide was deep-frozen until his freedom was paid for by Sarah, his female alter ego. And – at last he meets Cunegonde again. Be careful what you wish for, Candide.

Susan Engel as Cunegonde

Susan Engel as Cunegonde

Ravenhill doesn’t provoke thought, he whips his audience on this way and barrs everybody’s Not-Me exit with their own laughter.

The ensemble play. Pleasurably, masochistically, and perhaps even oblivious to the world, they fathom the facettes of the unlucky search for happiness. You feel a bit like a voyeur and still can’t look away.

Lyndsey Turner’s direction is fabulous, and she is working with a fantastic team.

Magnificent: Matthew Needham and Dwane Walcott as Candide – Voltaire would have wept with joy.
Rose Reynolds as young Cunegonde is ravishing, and together with Ian Redford as Pangloss, they hold comedy at fever pitch.
Absolutely great: Katy Stephens as Sarah, she gets under your skin, every single moment.
Cunegonde the mature, gorgeous, Susan Engel, she has the longest monologue of the play, and she delivers it breathtakingly. A treat.
And the according text: Print out and hang up, please.

Voltaire was a harsh critic of Shakespeare, thought him to be lacking ‚bon gout‘. Ravenhill, on the other hand, in his new take, comes over with exquisite allusions to some of the Master’s quotations that stick so firmly on everybody’s consciousness.

One of these to close: All the world is an XBox. The men and women – players. We have our avatars and our levels, and our points to score.

Katy Stephens as Sarah and Matthew Needham as Candide

Katy Stephens as Sarah and Matthew Needham
as Candide

Photos by Manuel Harlan (©RSC)

This post was first published in German on 09/07/2013 here


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Titus Andronicus – breathtaking stage horror

“Titus Andronicus“ RSC production at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Stephen Boxer (Titus Andronicus) and Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

Stephen Boxer (Titus Andronicus) and Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

War, revenge, bloody hatred, mutilations, rape, murder – Shakespeare dug deep into the trickbox of human chasms. General Titus Andronicus returns home to Rome from his war against the Goths, bringing with him, as prisoners: Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her black lover Aaron and her three sons. According to tradition, Tamora‘s eldest son is sacrificed to the Gods, despite her pleas. She vows to take revenge…

Katy Stephens (Tamora)

Katy Stephens (Tamora)

Titus Andronicus, played by Stephen Boxer in the full depth of male disorientation between rigour and doubt, supports Saturninus (droll, John Hopkins) in his candidacy to be the next Emperor, also promising him his daughter Lavinia for wife. Lavinia (Rose Reynolds), however, is already secretly engaged to Bassianus (Richard Goulding), the new Emperor’s brother, whom she runs off with. Saturninus now makes Tamora his Empress. Katy Stephens, as Tamora, plays with the audience’s perception as seductively as with the Emperor’s. She instigates her two sons Chiron and Demetrius (Jonny Weldon and Perry Millward as nasty Beavis and Butt-Head characters) to murder Bassianus and to rape and mutilate Lavinia. All of that happens off-stage, but it leads to the scene that is the most difficult to bear, when Lavinia reappears, abused, without hands, without tongue. Rose Reynolds turns her body into a documentation that perhaps hits even deeper than images on the news, those from real-life atrocities.

Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

Aaron (very subtle, Kevin Harvey, seen all the verbal abuse he is constantly subjected to, you nearly want to forgive his evil-mindedness) accuses two of Titus Andronicus’s sons of having murdered Bassianus, and he offers Titus the Emperor’s lenience in return for him hacking off his arm. From here onwards, the atmosphere turns from startled horror to expeditions into the world of splatter movies, accompanied by fits of nervous laughter from the audience. The hacked-off arm doesn’t help; Titus has a delivery of his son’s heads. There is one son remaining, he sends him to the Goths, to raise an army against Rome. The circle of revenge finds its last climax at a banquet, when Titus Andronicus serves Tamora her killed and minced sons in a pasty. A cartoon-like bloodlust finale only leaves Titus‘s son Lucius and grandson Lucius junior alive. As one member of the audience said after the show: “If it teaches you nothing else, revenge is probably not such a good idea.” Clip

Matthew Needham (Lucius),Kevin Harvey (Aaron)

Matthew Needham (Lucius),Kevin Harvey (Aaron)

It is one of Shakespeare’s very early plays, and it is not put on stage very often. For our modern minds, all that bloodshed is more difficult to bear than for audiences in the 16th century. Very nasty indeed, it would be, if the elements of comedy were overlooked in all that horror. Director Michael Fentiman, in his RSC debut, created a clever and breathtaking arc between things that we should take in and those that we can take in. Together with his fantastic cast, he puts the audience in a roller coaster atmosphere in which, admittedly, it can happen that someone gets rather pale.

Titus Andronicus will be on stage in Stratford up to 26th October, 2013

Photos by Simon Annand

also published in German on http://artyviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/titus-andronicus-atemberaubender-buhnenhorror/