Isabel Lloyd

  • PUTTING THE INTERNET ON STAGE

    Short Read: making theatre out of the digital world can be difficult. Isabel Lloyd recommends one play, "The Nether", that pulls it off

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  • WOLF HALL'S GRAND MASTER

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, January 22nd 2015

    Mark Rylance has a lot to carry. There’s a weight of history on his shoulders, and also one of expectation: as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s six-part adaptation of “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies”, which began last night, every Hilary Mantel fan in the land will have been watching his performance with rabid attention.

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  • MIKE BARTLETT'S KILLER INSTINCT

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, January 19th 2015

    Sometimes it’s easier to admire a play than to like it. That was the case with “Bull”, a one-act four-hander by Mike Bartlett (“Cock”, “King Charles III”) that premiered at the Sheffield Crucible Studio in 2013 and opened, with the same excellent cast, at the Young Vic in London last Thursday. The premise is simple—a team of three “Apprentice”-style office workers, head to toe in grim grey businesswear, wait to meet their boss, who is due to “downsize” one of them. None know who it will be, but two of them have a pretty good idea, and will play any sort of destructive psychological game to make sure things go their way. On Soutra Gilmour’s spare, pull-no-punches set, the metaphor is made clear: the three will do verbal battle in a wrestling ring, floored with office carpeting, lit by a harsh square of fluorescent lighting, with a recalcitrant watercooler in one corner. Half the audience stands around the ring; the other half sits in raked seats above, peering claustrophobically down on the three combatants. The game is on: a 55-minute nightmare.

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  • HOLD THAT THOUGHT

    Thirteen leading designers get to grips with an object that they find inspiring. Isabel Lloyd listens in

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  • GOOD EGG GONE BAD

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, December 12th 2014

    In 2012 a young British chef called Oliver Dabbous opened his first, eponymous restaurant on an unremarkable corner in the West End of London. Within months it was the hottest ticket in town, with a waiting list as long as the restaurant was small. The dish at the eye of the Dabbous storm was his version of coddled egg, which he cooked with cream, smoked butter and mushrooms, and served in a nest of hay. I was lucky enough to try it, and it was an entirely memorable experience: “like,” I said in this piece for Intelligent Life, “being punched by fungi while sitting next to a smoky fire.”

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  • A MUSICAL LIKE A FORD CORTINA

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, November 6th 2014

    Two musicals currently playing in the West End both finish with an unspeaking female character alone on the stage, standing for something important. One is the middle-aged black woman who hovers mutely on the fringes of much of the action in “The Scottsboro Boys”, a witness to the decades-long persecution of nine black teenagers in Alabama. At the end, in a moment of gut-punching power, we see her refuse to give up her seat to a man on a bus and the civil rights movement find its touchpaper. The other is a young white cleaner in a headscarf and pinny, who quietly pours tea and helps with scene changes during “Made in Dagenham”, a brash, upbeat new musical about the 1968 Ford machinists’ strike that opened at the Adelphi last night (above). Her sign-off is a solo, rather self-consciously silly dance, celebrating—well, what exactly?

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  • MR NORRIS CHANGES JOBS

    Short Read: before taking over the National Theatre in 2015, he's bringing the Mumbai slums to life on stage. For Isabel Lloyd, it's a good omen

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  • FROM ELECTRA TO TIGGER

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, October 10th 2014

    On Thursday night, on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London, Kristin Scott Thomas jumped for joy. She was taking her bow after a shattering 90-minute performance as the lead in Ian Rickson’s production of “Electra”, in front of an audience almost entirely on its feet. Just a minute earlier, as the lights faded, she’d lain herself with numb precision along the body of her murdered mother, Clytemnestra, a devastating vision of a woman sunk in a grief that has not been assuaged, only redirected. When the lights came up, for the first few moments she was still sunk, shoulders bowed, face drawn. And then, snap—she was out, grinning at the audience, eyes shining, bouncing Tigger-like on her toes, delighted by its delight. My playwright friend leant over and said, “All the great tragedians do that—they’re in it, and then they just throw it off.”

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  • BRITS OVER BROADWAY

    Short Read: this autumn, several London shows are hopping the pond to America. Isabel Lloyd chooses the highlights

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  • WE SHOULD BE IN IT TOGETHER

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, September 9th 2014

    Alecky Blythe’s “Little Revolution” at the Almeida in London last week never quite caught fire, unlike the post-Duggan riots in Hackney that it took as its subject matter. Verbatim theatre, the process Blythe favours, asks actors to mimic, as closely as possible, the recorded words of real people piped to them via an earpiece. For an audience, so much of live theatre’s magic lies in an unspoken deal with the actors: we respond with a wave of emotion, they surf it. But this style straitjackets the cast into following the exact rhythms and timings of the original dialogue, so they can’t respond to our reactions—with a longer pause, say, or extra emphasis—but have to plough straight on.

    The comedian Ronni Ancona played a Pembury estate mother with a wayward son and a nice line in put-downs. “Can you imagine?” she said to me afterwards. “Someone who came up through the clubs, not being able to play the laugh?”

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