iamhyperlexic

Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Review: Glory by Red Ladder Theatre at Cluntergate Community Centre 22 March 2019

The set is a wrestling ring, some litter, and some lockers.  The play deals with the subject of wrestling.  It is not about wrestling. 

This masterpiece, which I’m guessing may have been produced on a limited budget, has, in my opinion, two very minor technical defects.  The first is that some of the monologues were backed by electronic samples that sounded like wind blowing.  These were in keeping with the tone of the monologues, but the monologues could have stood for themselves, and didn’t need the backing track.  The second is that one of the actors plays two parts.  The two parts he plays are dramatically at odds.  It is obvious how this works, but it would have been neater if a fifth actor could have been employed.  This is a message to Arts Council England as much as to Red Ladder.    

Apart from that nit-picking, this is the tightest dramatic script I have ever witnessed.  The drama includes anger, hate, frenzy, regret, despair, triumph, and many things, besides.  Every line depicts character, ramps up dramatic tension,  or resolves it.  I mean, every line.  One of the ways I measure live performance is by how many times I check the time while it is going on.  The time check score for ‘Glory’ is zero.

An even more extreme nit-picker might say that the plot line about the financial difficulties of the owner might have been recapitulated.  I am not saying that. 

The play makes you think there are three characters, but then a fourth turns up, and not as an afterthought. 

There are several fight scenes, but the play is not about fighting.  The fight scenes are masterfully handled, and, I cannot deny, homo-erotic. 

The character of Jim Glory occasionally resorts to meta-drama, and speaks directly to the audience.  This is also well handled and adds to the engagement.  The explicit comparison in the dialogue of Shakespeare’s “Wooden O” with a wrestling ring underpins the parallel between this piece and Elizabethan drama.  It is a play that intends to give the audience back themselves.  It is a play that intends to make the audience want to be better people, without any trace of preaching.  Was this play intended to educate, or to entertain?  We will never know, because it did both. 

If you are very short of time, then see this production before all others, because not a single second of it is wasted. 

I have deliberately not listed the characters, or the actors, or given you my opinion of their performances.  You will have to go and see it, and decide all that, for yourself. 

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Review: Attrib. by Eley Williams

ISBN 978-1-9103121-6-2

@Influxpress

There is never going to be a good time to say this, and so it might as well be now.

Attrib. by Eley Williams is the most original short fiction collection by a British writer I have ever read. 

The recurring theme in Attrib. is narrators who have to filter their view of reality through some kind of cognitive thing.  For this reason, if no other, I felt immediately empathetic to the narrators in the stories. 

There are 17 stories.  I have finished reading 13 of them.  The reason I am writing this review, now, is in case I get run over by a bus, or something.  I am mostly full of regard for buses, and suchlike, but you never know.  Anyway, I want you to know about it, before something bad might happen.  Call it an insurance policy, if you like.  You don’t have to call it, that.  I am just saying.

I want it to be understood that there is nothing wrong with the 14th story, which is the one I am reading, now.  As to the fact that I have not finished it yet: I don’t want you to go getting any ideas.  I read the collection while I am on my way to work, or my way home from work.  On the way to work, I have to look up when the bus does that turn round the bit just after The Redoubt, because if I don’t look up, then, I might miss my stop, even though it is a while before my stop.  I read ‘This Sporting Life’ like that and it seemed to work.  I am finishing Attrib. quite quickly, when you think about it.  Sometimes I have to read it on the train to Leeds when everybody in the aisle is standing up and I have to send a message of complaint to the train company but I want to keep reading. 

I am not going to tell you what happens in any of the stories, because then you might just read what I had put and not read the stories. 

Some of the stories are strange, and that is a big deal coming from me.  But most of them are both strange, and satisfying. 

If you only like boring stories, told by boring people, don’t buy this book. 

If you like stories which make you want to know what happens next, then buy this book. 

If you like stories told from the point of view of a white man in a Pringle sweater, don’t buy this book. If you like stories told from a new point of view, then buy this book.

I borrowed it from the library, because I am poor. But I commend it to you, Those Who Command The Riches Of The Earth.