Sunday, 3 October 2010

Soggy Saturday at the Theatre.

A rainy day ducking in and out of the theatre. Firstly back to Richmond with Eleanor, Jennie and Patsy to see the touring production of Lucy Prebble's Enron and then onwards in the evening to Bethnal Green to catch Frantic's and The National Theatre of Scotland's Edinburgh festival hit Beautiful Burnout in the atmospheric York Hall.

Enron, now in its third incarnation was smashing. Fast moving and constantly engaging the production uses stories, visual metaphors, snatches of music and choreographed set pieces to reassert the role of the theatre as a forum which we go to to make sense of confusing times. It's a modern morality play, accessible in style and culminating in a suitably prophetic ending. The marvel of the work is that it tackles the most contemporary of issues by borrowing on the earliest forms of theatrical structure. It turns the banking crisis into a brilliant and unambiguously clear pageant.

Beautiful Burnout was equally impressive. Charting the progress of the young hopefuls in a Glaswegian boxing gym the piece mixes Frantic's irresistible physical style with a banging Underworld sound track and a neat story scripted by Bryony Lavery. The actors all spent six months in full time training to enable them to box convincingly and their captivating high octane performances absolutely capture the commitment and adrenalin of the ring. There's even a rather wonderful sequence in which the snake like moves of the all seeing referees are celebrated. For the most part the slick moves are supported by an intelligent script and although the central metaphor of 'seeing stars' feels clunky there's enough in the writing to follow with interest the highs and lows of each boxers as they head for professional contracts, disappointments and the potential escape of a large pay day. It's a cracking hour an a half of exhilarating work.

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