Blancheblanche marvin's london theatreviews

recommended by Peter Brook
**** = stand if necessary
*** = sit in front stalls
** = sit in back stalls
* = have a drink!
producers SIMON JAMES COLLIER/CHRYSALIS/STEPPING OUT THEATRE director CHRIS LOVELESS décor ANN STIDDARD lights TIM BARTLETT costumes REBECCA SELLORS with CHRIS BIANCHI Dr Orange in Venus at Broadmoor/Richard Dadd in The Demon Box/Ronald True in The Murder Club/George Merretti in Wilderness CHRIS COURTENAY Dr Beard in Venus at Broadmoor/William Chester Minor in The Demon Box/Richard Price in The Murder Club/Minor in Wilderness VIOLET RYDER Christiana Edmunds in Venus at Broadmoor/Ariel in The Demon Box/Olive Young in The Murder Club/Eliza Merrett in Wilderness CHRIS DONNELLY attendant John Coleman in all 4 plays
The concept of a quartet of plays centred on actual case histories of the insane at Broadmoor is fascinating not only because of the inmates but also in the causes of madness and the actual conditions at Broadmoor in the late 19th-century. The poor were kept under dire circumstances, the rich in private cells with the poor inmates serving them. They had a theatre, entertainment and expensive liquor. We are confronted with five notorious murderers and five victims, some repentant others unaware of their crime. These are Gothic plays of murder, love, obsession, responsibility, and redemption directed with delicacy and sensitivity to the crimes committed while recreating an atmosphere of both period and place. Carefully designed to transfer from one inmate’s cell to another yet it maintains an overall feeling of Broadmoor while the lighting effects, soundscape, and movement are kept to its specific style. It is beautifully performed by the four actors changing from role to role without being theatrical. One is deeply moved by the countless relaying of pain and anguish suffered by both murderer and victim. The actual period becomes relevant to the crime as the victims reproduce their cruel memory of suffering whether alive or as ghosts. It is a distressing but at the same time a compelling concept where the production itself serves to evoke the deeper feelings within the torment of people. The four actors evolve from each character with honesty in their portrayal and bring an overall continuity to the production. It is one of those rare moments in theatre where it all jells into a complete whole. Import import and export for radio, foreign festivals, or Off Broadway. VENUS at BROADMOOR with Chris Bianchi as Dr Orange, Chris Courtenay as Dr Beard, Violet Ryder as Christiana Edmunds, Chris Donnelly as John Coleman is the story of the chocolate cream poisoner, Christiana Edmunds, who tried giving the chocolates to Dr Beard’s wife Emily in order to rid herself of the woman and take on her husband as permanent lover. She then gave out the chocolates as a love potion to young men and continued her flirtatious femininity even at Broadmoor with her attendant doctor. Despite her inability to know right from wrong, Coleman, the guard, fell for this romantic creature who danced and dressed as if for a ball at every occasion. The DEMON BOX with Chris Bianchi as Richard Dadd, Chris Courtenay as William Chester Minor, Violet Ryder as Ariel, Chris Donnelly as John Coleman centres on the mad but complex dementia of Richard Dadd an artist who eventually painted the theatre at Broadmoor. He needed mythical ghosts as company using Ariel as his muse. He refused to help the inmate Dr William Chester Minor who in his boredom needed to be distracted by painting. Dadd at first accepted Minor’s gift of a huge wooden case filled with paints and then in fear of Minor rejected him with the excuse of not being gifted enough to help. It caused Minor such a mental disturbance so as to paint himself instead. Coleman took pity on Minor from thereon. The MURDER CLUB with Chris Bianchi as Ronald True, Chris Courtenay as Richard Price, Violet Ryder as Olive Young, Chris Donnelly as John Coleman is the most gory of the stories where the failed actor Richard Prince murdered the great actor William Terriss because of his obsession that Treviss was sabotaging him in getting work. Ronald True was a conartist with a morphine addiction who despite his affable way brutally murdered the prostitute Olive Young for calling him Ronnie. Her ghost returns to haunt True and in the end to explain her desire for death. Her dying word was mother…her mother who failed to protect her from her abusive father which drove her into prostitution. True almost succeeds in inducing Richard Prince into murder at Broadmoor through his conning of the Murder Club. At this point Coleman becomes so disillusioned he begins drinking again. WILDERNESS with Chris Bianchi as George Merrett, Chris Courtenay as William Chester Minor, Violet Ryder as Eliza Merrett, Chris Donnelly as John Coleman is the saddest of all the stories describing the case history of the brave American surgeon Dr William Chester Minor who after doing great work in saving soldiers during the USA Civil War came to England to escape his nightmares only to end up killing a stranger… an innocent brewery stoker George Merrett… a father of six children. Minor thought Merrett was the enemy looking to murder him. During his main stay at Broadmoor, Minor helped to write the Oxford Dictionary with widow Eliza Merrett as a visitor who brought him books for research. Minor insured Eliza was given an income for life but the loneliness of losing the husband she loved eventually caused her death. The companionship was a loss to Minor who in repentance cut off his genitals. Coleman as attendant gave time to Minor and abstained from drinking.
August 30-October 1/11 in rep first performed at T