Method In Madness

Fri 7th – Sat 22nd August 2015

reviews

Benjie Beer

at 10:57 on 16th Aug 2015

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At just 4 years old, the Canterbury-based Entita Theatre are still emerging onto the physical theatre scene; but their newest show, Method in Madness, shows all the genius, skill and confidence of theatre-makers ten times as established. Their fusing of Shakespearean themes, characters and verse with the tale of a young American actress in the London of World War Two is incredibly tight, fabulously well paced and spectacularly moving.

We are introduced to the unnamed heroine as she arrives in London in January 1941. Homesick and insecure, she struggles to connect with the character of Ophelia in a production inhabited by judgemental, egotistical characters who continuously quote from Shakespeare plays she has never heard of (‘As You Like It.’ ‘As you like what?’) and tell each other that ‘there are no small roles, only small actors’. Beautifully constructed physical sequences, however, allow us to see in motion the inner tensions of the arrogant Hamlet, the deep yearning between the heroine and her mother in America, and the haunting trauma of loved ones lost in the First World War.

The line between physical poetry and dialogue-driven prose is traced perfectly. Entita never over-indulge in physical sequences, making them all the more absorbing when they do occur, and they create a terrific sense of space and movement with the use of just three wheeled, translucent flats. Actors mirror each other through the flats to show their connection, disconnection and pain; air raid sirens are created with the use of ensemble voices; bodies are used to create the rubble of a bombed theatre. The private torment of the actors and the journey the heroine makes to realise herself as Ophelia is presented to us in the physical, while their public tensions are shown in clean dialogue. There is rarely a moment when we are not absorbed either by the conversations or the stylised movements, whether it be a bustling street, an air raid, or a metaphysical exploration of becoming a method actor.

Undoubtedly Entita will make a big name for themselves if they continue to produce theatre of this quality. This show is well deserving of five stars. Method in Madness is gorgeous, poignant and breathtaking, and needs to be seen.

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Polly Jacobs

at 12:01 on 16th Aug 2015

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'Live it, live her.' These are the ominous words of advice that reverberate chillingly in the mind after the performance. Wittily titled, this is a play that transcends the boundaries between the world onstage,

and the 'real' world of our lives. This play merges the unlikely subjects of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', and in particular the character of Ophelia, with World War Two London. The result is something close to the marriage of peanut butter and jam: harmonious. Acting was accompanied by hauntingly

beautiful displays of dance and physical theatre and it was these elements that elevated the performance from 'very good' to 'excellent'.

The unnamed screeching and hilariously terrible American actress with her southern drawl played by Katherine Hardman really did initially butcher Shakespeare (though is not to put people off - it is a part of the plot and she later performs it beautifully). A tale of method acting going terrifyingly awry the plot has more than the odd echo of Aronofsky's 'Black Swan.

Ophelia is conceptually portrayed as a malignant sprite-like apparition, that is initially portrayed as a reflection, safely behind the glass of a mirror. She slowly takes hold, a dangerous siren, controlling and pushing the Ophelia-actress into a crazed mania of puppet-like manipulation until boundaries between the actress and her role are indistinguishable the crown of Ophelia is adopted irreversibly and the play came to its terrifying and frantic crescendo.

Certain elements of the physical theatre had an almost surrealist Tim-Burton Quality. With shattered masks and whirling mirrors this was a play that never failed to excite. The gentle start gave way to a performance rife with action and activity. A truly immersive performance that leaves you emerging afterwards blinking in the sunlight, shocked to be again confronted with the real world.

This performance pays a satisfying tribute to 'Hamlet', incorporating many subtle and interesting elements of its father text. Accompanied by the beautiful vocals of Laura Marling throughout, this was an accomplishment in meta-theatre. An innovative and highly captivating idea this made for a very well-executed and thrillingly engrossing performance. A must-see play with a wide appeal this is not to be missed.

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