Dick Whittington and his Pussy

14  - 16 December 2011
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

The Theatre Arts Society makes a raucous return with its annual original pantomime Dick Whittington and His Pussy.

Full of glitz and glamour, brilliantly re-imagined characters and the type of festive rudeness you d hope for at this time of year the TAS panto is not to be missed! (photo: Aladdin, 2010)

Tickets: £10, £7, £5


Kentridge in Context

07 December 2011
Time: 18:30
Venue: Art Exchange  

Join curator Jess Kenny for an evening of discussion that places William Kentridge's work in a wider context. A chance to watch other seminal short films by William Kentridge including 'Mine', 'Ubu Tells the Truth' and 'Tide Table'.  Admission free, but please ensure your place arts@essex.ac.uk 


Writers at Essex presents Roger Moss and Phil Terry

06 December 2011
Time: 18:00
Venue: Art Exchange

Following in others' footsteps, walking within cities, the past and present politics of cities - are touched on in this evening of readings. Phil Terry will be reading poems derived from walks, including a poem based on walks from The Cut, a thoroughfare near Waterloo in London, conceived as a protest against the government cuts, and some poems retracing W. G. Sebald's steps. 


Roger Moss will also be reading works that are inspired by the theme of walking between worlds.

Admission free.


Lakeside Writers

Monday 5 December
Time: 7.00pm-9.00pm
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Lakeside Writers is a new initiative aimed at writers and aspiring writers whose work includes an element of performance. Open to all University of Essex students and to any writers living in the east of England and led by Lakeside Theatre's Literary Consultant Andrew Burton, it is a space where writers can network, see excerpts of work-in-progress, and hear about current developments in the wider cultural sector.

Whether you describe your work as drama, audio drama, live literature, documentary, screenplay, storytelling or song lyrics, you are welcome to join us.

For further information, or to book a place email arts@essex.ac.uk


Writers at Essex presents Ian Monk

02 December 2011

Time: 18:00
Venue: Art Exchange
Ian Monk is a translator, writer of poetry and fiction and a member of french writing group OULIPO. His works include Family Archaeology and Other Poems and Writings for the Oulipo and among his translations are works by Pennac, Perec and Roussel. Tonight he will give a reading from his own works.

“Ian Monk is like Perec. When presented with a constraint two things can happen: either the constraint is easy, in which case Ian yawns and goes to sleep. Or else it is difficult. He then wakes up and gets to work. The more the constraint is difficult, the more the work is excellent.” Jacques Roubaud.

Admission free.


Working the Devil

01 December 2011 
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Two sharp and blackly funny takes on the absurd world of work. With The Devil and the Details, less is more, more or less. Set against a live beat box score, it takes minimalism and dance to a darkly comic place. Meanwhile Hinterview channels the grand themes of progress and collapse into solo dance, for your pleasure.

A fresh and understated show, Working The Devil was developed at the Lakeside Theatre and showcased by the British Council at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011.

Tickets: UoE Students £5, UoE Staff & Concessions £7, Full £10


Margins: walking between worlds (Part 3)

01 - 17 December 2011 
Venue: Art Exchange 

Part 3 explores issues of displacement and forced exile in the work of South African artist William Kentridge. We focus on ‘Shadow Procession’, a seminal work that reminds us that mobility is not always a matter of choice, but a by product of war, famine and colonial legacy. Beautifully made and with a disconcertingly celebratory sound track, this film reminds us of the complexities and contradictions bound up in the simple act of walking.


Comedy Central Live!

26 November 2011 
Performance Time: 20:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Watch the finest stand up comedians at Lakeside Theatre's regular comedy club, Comedy Central Live! Tonight's headliner is Ivan Brackenbury. Hapless hospital radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury is a masterful comic creation whose 2010 show ‘Disease Hour’ won rave 4 star reviews in The Guardian/Times/ES/Time Out and Scotsman.

He returns to the Lakeside Theatre after a storming set here last winter. Support from Ria Lina. A regular on the comedy circuit for a decade, Ria Lina makes a big impact with her dry wit, upbeat personality and bawdy ukulele songs.

Tickets: UoE Students: £5, UoE Staff £7, Full £10.


Three Bonzos and a Piano

25 November 2011 
Performance Time: 20:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Three original members of legendary sixties surrealists Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band create musical mayhem and chaos on the chords. Expect subversive fun and musical madness as Roger Ruskin Spear, Rodney Slater and Sam Spoons play classic Bonzo Dog hits and bring you the mad spirit of the ageless band who collaborated with Monty Python and influenced every major UK comedian from Bill Bailey to Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard.

‘the undisputed heavyweights of comedy pop’ Daily Express

Tickets: UoE Students £8, UoE Staff & Concessions £12, Full £15



24 November 2011 
Performance Time: 19:30 
Venue: Lakeside Theatre 

In a country where unnatural deeds are commonplace and where the night is filled with a restless ecstasy, Shakespeare’s tragedy of ambition and guilt unfolds. Characters appear and disappear from the shadows as Platform 4’s nightmarish vision crackles with wild electricity, brought to life by the sonic experiments of pioneering composer and Cardiacs guitarist Bic Hayes. 

“Platform4’s strong visual approach creates theatrical rough magic.” The Guardian 

Tickets: UoE Students £5, UoE Staff & Concessions £7, Full £10


Family Art Day: Friendly Feet

20 November 2011

Time: 14:00 Venue: Art Exchange
Where have your feet been today? Where would they like to go? This workshop will get you thinking on your feet! You will create a foot character and take it on an incredible journey from your imagination!
Suitable for all ages. Admission free, but booking essential. Email arts@essex.ac.uk


Alec Dankworth's Spanish Accents

19 November 2011
Performance Time: 20:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Alec Dankworth’s long-standing love of all things Spanish provided the inspiration for this group. Metheny, Corea, even Rodrigo are reinvented alongside traditional folk songs and originals in flamenco rhythms creating a wonderful and genuinely Spanish world.

A heady mix of top British players - saxophonist Mark Lockheart, Rowland Sutherland on flute and Alec Dankworth on bass all interweave with the Spanish drum work of Demi Garcia, guitar of Phil Robson and mellifluous vocals of Emily Dankworth and make Spanish Accents an unmissable line-up.

“Alec Dankworth is a rock-solid, imaginative jazz bassist” The Guardian
Tickets: UoE Students £8, Concessions £12, Full £15


Walking between worlds: Tacita Dean's footage

Tuesday, November 15 
Time: 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Venue: Art Exchange

A chance to hear Marina Warner talk about her collaboration with Tacita Dean, ‘Footage’, currently on show at Art Exchange. Marina will amplify on themes raised in the exhibition, including her research into the history and culture of shamans who through drumming, dreams, and dancing, access other worlds. Please join us for a drink after the talk. This event is free, but please ensure your place by emailing arts@essex.ac.uk

Paris, Texas

14 November 2011 
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

A man walks out of the desert with no memory of who he is or how he got there; so begins Wender’s compelling and multi award winning Paris, Texas.

Part road movie, part contemporary western, the film wanders through the vast Texan landscape, offering beautiful images of rust and decay and weaving them into a poignant story of alienation, family love and the desperate search for roots.

Tickets: Full £5, UoE & Concessions £3


Comedy Central Live!

12 November 2011 
Performance Time: 20:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Watch the finest stand up comedians at Lakeside Theatre's regular comedy club, Comedy Central Live! Tonight's headliner is Simon Munnery.

Alternative comedy genius Munnery returns to the Lakeside Theatre by popular demand after a triumphant set here last year. A major figure in UK comedy, Munnery has influenced the careers of comedy giants such as Stewart Lee and Steve Coogan. Support from Tom Craine. Tom Craine is a BBC award winning standup comic, MC and writer who’s had commissions from Radio 2, penned laughs for BBC 3 and presented for Radio 1. However he’s still most proud of being named Wales’s 33rd sexiest man, despite hailing from Bath.

Tickets: UoE Students £5, UoE Staff & Concessions £7, Full £10



10 November 2011
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Featuring five outstanding dancers and choreography by Jerwood Award winner Jean Abreu, this gritty and compelling production reveals surprising tenderness within the starkness of captivity, all set against a storming soundtrack by post rock outfit 65daysofstatic.

‘Dance theatre of outstanding quality .... a totally enthralling experience that manages to be a thing of beauty’ Fringe Review

Tickets: UoE Students £5, UoE Staff & Concessions £7, Full £10


Walking between worlds Symposium

Saturday 5 November, 2.00 – 5.00pm

Venue: Firstsite, Colchester

This symposium examines the act of walking as a subversive artistic practice. We will consider the ways in which walking can question the workings of the city, the understanding of territory and the assumptions of the established order. Speakers include art historians Dawn Ades and Anna Dezeuze, writer Iain Sinclair and artist Regina José Galindo.

The symposium will be followed by a newly commissioned performance by Regina Jose Galindo.
Admission free, but please ensure your place ring Firstsite on 01206 577067 or go to www.firstsite.uk.net


Regina Jose Galindo: Lesson Of Dissection

Friday 4 November, 7.30-8.30pm
Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall, Auditorium A

A new performance by internationally renowned artist Regina Jose Galindo. Using her body and skill of a surgeon, Galindo will explore how recent murders in Mexico and Guatemala owe much their ritualistic killing to a history of dissection.

Do come along! Admission free, but booking essential. Email: arts@essex.ac.uk
Commissioned by Art Exchange in partnership with ESCALA and firstsite.

Regina Jose Galindo's website: http://www.reginajosegalindo.com/

Vanessa and Virginia

03 November 2011
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

This innovative new tale, tells the story of the remarkable sisters, novelist Virginia Woolf and artist Vanessa Bell. 

Fusing original music and poetic text, and based on the acclaimed novel by Susan Sellers, Vanessa and Virginia creates a meditative perspective that moves through time and visits the places, events and memories that shaped one of the most significant relationships of 20th Century art.

Tickets: UoE Students £5, UoE Staff & Concessions £7, Full £10


Man On Wire

31 October 2011
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring and illegal high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974.

Part documentary, part drama Marsh’s film is an awe inspiring account of what some consider "the artistic crime of the century," winning a Bafta for Outstanding British film and an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Tickets: Full £5, UoE & Concessions £3


A Clockwork Orange

26 - 27 October 2011 
Performance Time: 19:30 
Venue: Lakeside Theatre 

“What's it going to be then, eh?” 
Volcano takes on Burgess's inventive, disturbing little masterpiece fifty years after it was written. A nasty little shocker, or a profound exploration of state power and free will? 

Beautifully designed, with extraordinary performances, this production stays true to Burgess's original both in its cut-throat inventiveness and in its insistence on the question of whether it is better to be forced to be good or to be free to do evil. 

Tickets: UoE Students £5, UoE Staff & Concessions £7, Full £10

See the video preview below: 


Fish Tank

17 October 2011 
Performance Time: 19:30
Venue: Lakeside Theatre

Set on an Essex estate Fish Tank follows the life of Mia, a fifteen year old girl with a fiery temperament and a love of hip-hop dance, as she struggles to assert herself against a suffocating home life. Featuring an astonishing debut performance from Katie Jarvis and beautiful cinematography that renders Essex urban life in an incredible new light, the film won the Jury Prize at Cannes and a Bafta Award for Best British Film.

Tickets: Full £5, UoE & Concessions £3



20 October 2011 - 22 October 2011
Performance Time: 19:30 
Venue: Lakeside Theatre 

Fresh from a hugely successful run at the Edinburgh Festival, Lakeside Theatre are proud to present Darkness. 

Yann, a young Muslim immigrant, takes work that no one else will do; clearing windblown trees in a remote forest. It’s dangerous, but he needs the job and anyway he’s fallen for the beautiful Caitlin. The family he works for are deeply religious and soon Yann is confronted about his own convictions.

UoE £5, Concs & UoE Staff £7, Full £10 

Phone: 01206 873288 / 573948 
Online: www.essex.ac.uk/artson5 
In Person: Lakeside Theatre 
Box Office Café open 
Mon-Fri 8.30am-4pm, Sat 10-2pm 


Comedy Central Live!

15 October 2011 
Performance Time: 20:00 
Venue: Lakeside Theatre 

Special Guest - Paul Tonkinson A self-confessed professional Northener, Paul Tonkinson is a star of comedy in all it's forms including a set on Michael Macintyre's Comedy Roadshow. In a career spanning more than 20 years, he's routinely had huge crowds in fits of laughter with his easy charm and ingenious stories. Damian Clark After bursting onto the Irish & UK comedy circiut on 2005, Clark has forged his reputation as a popular, brash and charismatic purveyor of laugh out loud material. 

MC Suzi Ruffell Punchy newcomer Ruffell is a bundle of hugely likeable positive energy and has been tipped as "definitely one to watch!" by Time Out London. 

Tickets: To be announced


Margins: walking between worlds (Part 1)

24 September 2011 - 05 November 2011

Venue: Art Exchange 

An exhibition in 3 parts, ‘Margins: walking between worlds’ creates a platform for bringing together work that registers the often complex issues inherent in the simple act of walking. Part 1 investigates how mobility, resistance and power can be explored through the simple act of walking. This exhibition focuses on artists who insert themselves into everyday life on the streets. Some subtly absorb the world around them, while others walk in an overtly political direction. Yet all reference place, all utilise the natural narrative of going on a journey - and all recognise that the absurdity of our situation is never far away. This exhibition brings together the work of internationally renowned artists Francis Alÿs, Regina José Galindo, Emily Jacir, John Smith and Richard Wentworth.


Theatre Reviews for Darkness



Darkness – review 

With so much devised work and puppetry on the fringe, the proper play is beginning to look like an endangered species. But here's a good meaty one, written by Jonathan Lichtenstein whose excellent The Pull of Negative Gravity was seen at the Traverse five years ago. There are structural and narrative reasons why this isn't so strong, but it has plenty going for it: it's gripping, atmospheric and quite superbly acted, and it charts the madness of religious fundamentalism and the terrible cost of that madness. There's also a brilliant riff on prawn cocktail-flavoured crisps.
Lichtenstein and director Gari Jones pile on the atmosphere, cleverly lead us around a few forest false trails, and bring the bubbling violence to a dramatic climax. The actors flesh out the occasionally missing subtext in the script, and while this may not be a great play, it's an urgent one that keeps you right on the edge of your seat.

The Scotsman ★★★
"…a strong work which combines good performances with a compelling scenario”


"Gripping portrait of religious fundamentalism"
by Christopher Adams for remotegoat on 19/08/11
Darkness, a new play by Jonathan Lichtenstein, is a full-bodied, devastating exploration of religious fundamentalism in a tight-knit family. In rural Wales, a family prepares to celebrate Ascension Day, the day Jesus was said to have been taken up into Heaven. The father, Huw (David Tarkenter), who operates a tree-clearing business, believes he is hearing the voice of God. Carol (Barbara Peirson), the mother, is still mourning her missing son Ollie (Nathan Wright), who left the family 'nine months and eight days' ago after a violent 'accident'. One of three sons, Dan (Joshua Hayes), is increasingly disturbed by his hyper-masculine, patriarchal environment. Daughter Caitlyn (Emma Jane Connell) is nervously trying to introduce her Croatia-born boyfriend Yann (Kieran Knowles) to the family. Yann's presence angers brother Tony (Jamie Wallwork), who also hears the voice of God, but whose feelings for his sister are not wholly brotherly.

With such a well-seeded set-up, Lichtenstein splendidly serves up organically-grown conflict. He allows the scenes to play out, slowly building up tension. Character motivations are, for the most part, fully fleshed (though Ollie's strange passivity could use tweaking). What comes across best is the suffocating nature of this hermetically sealed world. Caitlyn's actions are constantly scrutinized by her family; she becomes livid when Yann suggests they have an alcoholic drink--the consequences of her family finding out would be too devastating. Director Gari Jones effectively conveys the closed, brutal world the characters inhabit. Several chainsaws populate the stage, along with a shotgun and flammable liquids. Much-needed comic relief arrives in a family discussion about potato crisps. The scene is a precise, funny look at the family's dynamic.

Though the Welsh accents at times must be taken on faith, the acting is uniformly strong. Tarkenter delivers a gripping performance as the overbearing, troubled Huw. Wallwork's Tony is a forest fire ready to ignite with a single spark; he is wracked with self-hatred over his incestuous feelings for his sister. Hayes's Dan becomes a leading voice of reason against his brothers' and father's decent into fanaticism.

From its antagonistic opening to its heavy conclusion, Darkness is a dramatically satisfying, aggressive story. Strong writing and acting make this a must-see.


The Observer,

Best of the fringe: our alternative awards

From the best double acts to shows that would grace HBO, we pick the highlights of 2011

Most distractingly delicious-smelling stage food

I was captivated by Jonathan Lichtenstein's sombre new play Darkness (Zoo Roxy), about a family of Welsh fundamentalist loggers uneasily awaiting Rapture together in the woods. But, wow, when one of the characters in this lunchtime production whipped out a vacuum flask and started dishing out a steaming stew to the rest of the cast, I'd not yet had anything to eat and half-wished myself one of this unhappy family of extremists just to get a mouthful.


Fringe Review
Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Darkness ★★★

Low Down: Jonathan Lichtenstein's new play delves into the dangers of religious fundamentalism as an immigrant muslim worker disturbs a family of foresters in darkest Wales.
Review: Jonathan Lichtenstein's last play on the Fringe, The Pull of Negative Gravity about the devastating effect on a Welsh family of their son returning home injured from the Iraq War, deservedly won a Fringe First in 2004.  For some reason his 2007 play, Memory, went straight from Clwyd to New York, missing out Edinburgh in between.  His new play, Darkness, played to a modestly sized audience on the day I caught it in the slightly cramped stage of Zoo Roxy's loft space, but it deserves much a bigger house and stage.

In a forest somewhere in Wales, Huw is the rather eccentric uptight head of a family of foresters.  His two sons Dan the sensible and Tony the obvious nutjob both tease him for buying snakeskin boots on eBay which he believes were Cliff Richard's but both sons are obedient to their father's dominating will.  Huw's other son, Ollie, some time ago fled the nest because of him. Huw's wife is concerned that it's starting again. 
Into the madness comes Yann, a Croatian labourer taking the best job he can get.  Yann's advances towards Huw's daughter, Caitlyn, have not been unsuccessful. 
The tension rises rapidly, for both Huw and his son Tony have been hearing the voice of God and believe they have been called to induce the Rapture and the immigrant is somehow involved. And today is Ascension Day.  And to ratchet the tension further, the prodigal son returns with an aura of terrible calm.  He clearly has a plan and you just know this is not going to end well. 

Darkness is a study on a domestic scale of the danger that the absolute certainty born of religious fundamentalism bestows on authority figures.  There is something very American about the play, in the woodland setting, the dramatic web of family ties and in the mindsets of its characters (belief in the Rapture is massive in the U.S. but very much a minority insanity in the U.K.) 
The play rips along to an intense if slightly predictable climax, driven by the stand-out performances of David Tarkenter as Huw and Jamie Wallwork as Tony who are both fully committed to being convincingly demented, Jamie Wallwork in particular carrying off some brilliant over-acting (which I mean as a compliment - it is one of the strongest way-out-on-a-limb performances I have seen this year). 
Darkness makes a strong impression, but somehow doesn't quite hang together completely.  It works a bit too hard at saying something and there are quite a few logical inconsistencies which leave the actors at times rather exposed.  Nevertheless it is a provocative and powerful play and very well worth seeing.

Reviewed by George Dillon 16 August 2011 



The biggest reviewer at the Edinburgh Festival

Darkness ★★★
tw rating 4/5 
Lakeside Theatre / University of Essex / Escalator East To Edinburgh
This intricate, fast-paced piece explores the nature of sacrifice and the boundary between faith and madness, ultimately leaving the audience with a set unanswered questions. Tensions simmer as a family gathers to celebrate Ascension Day on a remote hillside, their motivations and relationships are at times ambiguous and contradictory, as exasperation fuels sexual desire and violence is justified as spiritual guidance. Potential weapons and cringingly provocative comments stack up with improbable speed. Whilst this stoking of suspense feels unsubtle at times, it is certainly effective, and the characters' myriad complexities and alienating unpredictability make any outcome seem possible. As a result, the dénouement leaves a deep sense of unease, more troubling, thought provoking and lingering than any desired catharsis.
Zoo Roxy, 5 – 29 (not 15, 22), 3.30pm (4.55pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp253.
tw rating 4/5

ED FRINGE 2011: Darkness – Zoo Roxy

Reviewer: Melissa Rynn

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½ 

Based on religious fundamentalism, Darkness; a new play by Jonathan Lichtenstein and directed by Gari Jones, is amazingly apt given recent occurrences across the globe. It concentrates on complete belief in rapture by God, and the danger religious extremism of this level can bring. The story concentrates on a deeply religious family who celebrate ascension night in the woods each year. They are joined on this occasion by the return of their prodigal son Ollie, and the immigrant worker Yann who has fallen for the family’s daughter.
Even within the complex issues the play explores, the family is utterly believable with small bickerings over flavours of crisps and purchases bought on eBay, and the entire cast are strong throughout. Nathan Wright as prodigal son Ollie and Jamie Wallwork as Tony are particularly harrowing, while David Tarkenter’s religiously intense Huw is striking. The entire cast shows strong conviction in their work with complete understanding of the issues at hand, presenting a story well thought out and with compassion.
The set, lighting, and sound design work in perfect harmony to create a visually stunning and atmospheric woodland setting for the story. Along with the staging, the design creates an air of tension that remains throughout and builds to a climax as the religious extremism takes wind and the play progresses.
Stories of the religious fundamentalism are bound to be ripe after the widely broadcast Harold Camping incident earlier this year but, as the recent Norway happenings show us, they are always relevant. Darkness is a well-presented piece that investigates dangerous issues in a captivating way. Lichtenstein’s play is a triumph and the production, strong.


Festmag ★★★★

By Jonathan Holmes 

It’s Ascension Day, and a reverent family of Welsh lumberjacks await the apocalypse. Their vigil is interrupted by two arrivals: one, a lost son, the other, an immigrant and atheist. With Darkness, Fringe First winner Jonathan Lichtenstein explores religious fundamentalism, asking why God always seems to demand we sacrifice our family. Lichtenstein intelligently synthesises Bible stories and wrenching family drama. He mostly resists didacticism, keeping the focus on Earthly matters and Earthly consequences. The proclamations and chainsaw-swinging testosterone are undercut by bathetic humour: apocalyptic prophecies interrupted by arguments about crisps and eBay.
The cast are assured. They all have to shout an awful lot, and quote a fair amount of scripture, but you believe they are a family. This authenticity is vital, making you realise this isn’t about religion so much as how people wield it over others. David Tarkenter deserves particular praise as the patriarch and would-be prophet, but each actor brings their own, unspoken stories to their characters.
Indeed, Darkness is at its best when dealing with the unseen and unsaid. Some of its more on-the-nose elements rankle. The returning, bearded son could do with looking less messianic and initially, Yann the Muslim immigrant doesn’t register properly, partly due to an unconvincing accent. The play's programme listing also includes misleading references to George W Bush, an example of mission creep that the play doesn’t need and can’t support.
But these are minor complaints. Overall, this is a disturbing examination of the sins of a father, and how he inflicts them on his sons.


Kieran from The Good Review interviews Joshua Hayes (Dan) during rehearsals.

Joshua Hayes is currently rehearsing the Lakeside Theatre’s new production of Darkness a new play by fringe first winning writer Jonathan Lichtenstein. The production will be performed throughout the Edinburgh festival at the Zoo Roxy’s loft venue and Josh recently took the time out of his rehearsals on Essex University campus to answer a few questions for us about the project.
Alright Josh?
Now then Kieran lad!
What can you tell us about Darkness?
It’s a brilliant new play, by a fantastic writer, brought to the stage by visionary director Gari Jones, and features a superb ensemble cast. If I may say so myself!
High Praise! What’s it about?
Its about a family in Wales, and their relationship with religion and how it affects their relationships with each other. It is quite dark and sinister, as you’d imagine from the title, but has some funny and moving moments which balance it out nicely.
Is it exciting being at the start of a new project?
Absolutely! The source material is brilliant, Jonathan [Lichtenstein] has given us a really strong platform to build on. We were lucky enough to have had a rehearsed reading at Pulse festival a few weeks ago and the positive reaction from the audience has helped fuel the excitement surrounding the project. Also its quite a relevant subject given our ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and things like Harold Camping’s recent predictions about the date of the Rapture.
How are the rehearsals going?
So far very good, we are in the process of getting it up on its feet. I think the cast and I are just enjoying finding the characters and exploring the relationships. We as a cast are getting on great, and the relaxed atmosphere in the room makes the process so much more fulfilling. Whats interesting about the play is that a lot of the fractures in the relationships occur before the start of it and the period in which the piece takes place is when everything comes to a head.
You’ve been to Edinburgh before, how will this trip compare to the last?
It makes me even more excited if I’m honest. Because when I went before I was still a student and I didn’t really know what it was all about, and now I know what to expect I am looking forward to it even more. I managed to see some great things at the Zoo Roxy last time as well and I am now really excited to be performing there myself.



Derek Walcott’s Moon-Child a triumph

Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott hopes to return to the University next year to unveil another show after his new play Moon-Child – Ti Jean in Concert received a standing ovation at its UK premiere at the Lakeside Theatre.

Professor Walcott, who is Professor of Poetry at Essex, oversaw the production during his two-week residency at the University, which also saw him lead workshops with students in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS).

Lakeside Theatre director Pasco Kevlin and his team worked closely with Professor Walcott to stage the show with an international cast of actors and a full-house gave the production a rapturous reception.

Dr Maria Cristina Fumagalli, from LiFTS, said: “Derek was ecstatic and is planning to put on another play next year as he enjoyed this so much. Everyone in the audience thought it was brilliant. It was simply a triumph!”

The international cast included actors Wendell Manwarren, Dean Atta and Lesley-Ann Wells. The performance featured a sound-score by composer Ronald Hinkson and projected images of artwork by Derek Walcott, an accomplished water-colourist and oil painter, and by his artist son Peter Walcott.

Wyvern June 2011


O Painters! My Painters!

09 July 2011 - 23 July 2011 

Venue: Art Exchange

The painters in this exhibition all share an irresistible compulsion to paint. Their desire is obsessive, all-consuming and often intangible. Communicating through paint, brush and canvas, they create their own language to interpret of the world around us. 

James Metsoja finds inspiration from newspapers and magazines and the world of imagery that we are immersed in everyday. Businessmen, soldiers, celebrities and entrepreneurs all find their way into his paintings. Rebecca Roscorla paints scenes of leisure; such as parks where fountains take centre stage, their rococo opulence perhaps relating to the indulgence of painting itself. Robin Webb’s paints swiftly from one canvas to the next, often influenced by the previous painting or events that take place in between. Neil Keith Baker uses devices such as curtains and screens to both hide and reveal his subject matter at the same time.

The title of this exhibition O Painters! My Painters! suggests adoration and lament in equal measure; echoing the role painting in the 21st century.

All artworks are for sale.

An Eastern Pavilions exhibition curated by Kaavous Clayton in partnership with Art Exchange. www.easternpavilions.org



The premise behind Jonathan Lichtenstein’s Darkness initially reads a little uncomfortably. A tale of an immigrant moving to clear windblown trees in the welsh countryside, the program outlining a story about forbidden love and religious extremism; the subject matter is at once controversial and yet wearisomely familiar after ten years of media obsession with the much abused subject of Islamic fundamentalism. One could be forgiven for thinking that one pretty much has the story pinned down in their minds before curtain up, predicting Romeo and Juliet spliced with White Teeth with perhaps the loosest impression of Wuthering Heights hovering somewhere far off in the distance.

Unfortunately this would be doing Lichtenstein’s acute cultural observations a great disservice. Darkness playfully deconstructs our assumptions about faith and the dangers of religious literalism. Only twenty years on from the cooling down of the conflict in Northern Ireland, our perspective of the harsher edge of Western faith has dulled considerably; the idea of violence committed in the name of Christianity seems almost anachronistic in the modern United Kingdom. Lichtenstein uses this context to analyse our perspective of religious extremism; his story of an extremely orthodox Christian family and the atheistic migrant worker who finds that love pulls him into confrontation with violent fundamentalism is one that has awesome potential.

In its current form as a staged reading, Lichtenstein’s play has only minimal dressing. The actors sit on a row of chairs, stepping forward to deliver their lines and loosely acting out the stage direction being read by the play’s narrator. Delineating the edge of the performance area are an axe, a bucket, a knife and a chainsaw, the key props of the performance, which generate a sense of threat to the proceedings, each item carrying an explicit aggression to them and each referring to or coming to be used in an act of violence. It is an incredibly effective set up for such a claustrophobic performance, one that is wonderfully suggestive of the isolation of the Welsh countryside.

David Tarkenter as George makes for incredibly compulsive viewing. He expertly handles the character, navigating the mess of ignorant views, familial bickering and sincere religious devotion with a deftness of touch that never oversteps the mark. His ability to balance George’s brutal demeanour with Lichtenstein’s ironic conversational dressing, easily switching from discussions of religious fervour to his disdain for salt and vinegar crisps, makes his character threatening and yet incredibly believable. Kieran Knowles is perhaps underused as Yan; his delivery of the Croatian’s sexually precocious but affable personality isn’t quite given the stage time it deserves as the contrast between his areligious morality and George and Tony’s blinkered devotion offer the real tension of the piece.

All round the characterisation in Darkness is generally convincing. Emma Jane Connell as Caitlyn and Barbara Peirson as Carol are both pitched perfectly, offering a saner counterbalance to the men of the family. The crow-shooting, slickly sinister Tony, played by Jamie Wallwork, is utterly brutal and the actor nicely handles the dark undertones of the character’s relationship with his sister. Joshua Hayes’s Dan is also nicely executed, his portrayal of the young son alienated by his family’s extreme beliefs working well amongst such extreme characters. It is the character of Ollie where the play is perhaps a little less surefooted; his return admittedly serves to bring a brutal secret to the surface but the fact that he has merely come to be a proxy rather than antithesis of his father’s religious fundamentalism rather weakens George’s strong position. Given the fact that Yan, George and Tony offer such a well defined triumvirate it has to be asked whether Lichtenstein needs Ollie to ramp up the dramatic tension or whether he already has sufficient resources in his incredibly rich male leads.

All in all Lichtenstein’s writing is incredibly well executed. His dialogue rarely places a foot wrong and it is clear that a great deal of work has gone into both the development of his story and characters. However this does not mean that this performance is entirely without failings. For a play so convincingly set up and so beautifully scripted I did find that the ending left me feeling somewhat conflicted; motivations that ring so true throughout the play seem to slip slightly in the last few scenes and the tension that has been boiling up throughout the play is allowed to dissipate slightly. Ultimately George’s messianic delusions are left unchallenged; whilst the bulk of his family step away and refuse to play a part in his immoral actions there is still insufficient confrontation for such a strong character to react off. This feels like a missed opportunity for a truly meaningful conclusion. Lichtenstein has the chance to make some truly powerful statements about the conflict between atheistic liberalism and the hard-edged will of the religious right but unfortunately pulls punches when a couple of timely jabs could truly hit home.

But it really isn’t necessary to end this review on a negative when there is so much positive ground to choose from. Disregarding the politics of the situation for a moment, Lichtenstein has managed to do what many a playwright fails to: creating a world that falls perfectly between the beautiful and the flawed. With some truly poetic language and wonderful set pieces this performance is another milestone on the way toward the creation of an absolutely wonderful piece of theatre.

 Josh Russell


Children of Men

Monday 20 June

Performance Time: 19:30

Venue: Lakeside Theatre 
UK/Cuaron/2006/109 mins/Cert 15

As 2027 London tears itself apart, Clive Owen must help a young refugee with a miraculous secret escape to the south coast in this Oscar nominated dystopian road trip.

Presented by Moving Image.
Tickets: Members: £3.00, Non-Members: £4.00, Membership £5.00 per year.


ROAR Festival

Monday 6 June – Thursday 9 June
Lakeside Theatre

The Theatre Arts Society welcomes you to
ROAR Festival V.
A weeklong festival of original work
created by talented and industrious
students, ROAR has gone from strength to
strength since its birth in 2007.
This year every night is allocated to a
year group to fully display the range of
talent amongst the student body. Expect
everything from comedy sketches to
profound poetry, original theatre, and
much, much more!

1.   Road – By Jim Cartwright
Directed and Performed by Ryan Cowling, Jess Harris, Sophia Wincup and James Jefferies

The play explores the lives of the people in a deprived, working class area of Lancashire during the government of Margaret Thatcher, a time of high unemployment in the north of England. Despite its explicit nature, it was considered extremely effective in portraying the desperation of people’s lives at this time, as well as containing a great deal of humour.

Devised and Performed by Charlie Hay

Ever since she mistook cholera for a country, Charlie has been fascinated by the news and the world beyond Page 3 of her Dad's Sun. But can we know everything that's happening in the world? Every war, murder, child abuse and rape? Charlie's live art piece Overexposure will isolate her for 24 hours and watch, read and inhale nothing but news, good and bad.

3.   The Café, Written and Directed by Gregory Robinson
Performed by Gregory Robinson and Jess Reid

The story discusses a dysfunctional relationship between an engaged couple Michael and Danielle. Their ‘perfect’ existence revolves around ‘the café’ a café where everything significant has happened to them. The play delves into an absurdist discussion into existence, futility, destruction, identity as well as a mysterious mutual friend ‘Chris’ who enters in Act Two of the play and disrupts the peace and attempts to break the fall of fiction. The protagonists’ stubbornness is so strong she leaves, creating an impact into their lives.


4.    Pawn – Written by David Garlick, Rebecca Macleod, Noelia Espinosa and Gemma Smith. Directed by David Garlick
Performed by David Garlick, Rebecca Macleod, Noelia Espinosa and David Burn
Based on real stories…that are on-going. War = innocent victims. 
The next one could be you!

5.    Re/Collection
 Devised and Performed by Luke Eversley and Jess Harris

A contemporary/lyrical short dance that explores the intricate and fragile components that surround the theme of relationships. Love, sorrow and togetherness are all entwined in order to recreate that particular moment when lovers look back at what was, and what can be.

6.   Pinter's Marriage – Written by Harold Pinter
Devised, Re-worded and Performed by Charlie Hay and Ellie Till

Is there a working marriage in Pinter's dramatic work? Charlie Hay's reimagining of Pinter's work collaborates over a dozen of his works to explore the importance of subtext and the key to any successful marriage: communication.



7.   Servant Wanted
Devised and Performed by Alex Bell, Sean Tricker, Luke Standing and Lucy Pender
This Comedy of Manners explores how mistaken identity in an unfulfilled marriage can turn a household upside down. This devised piece from a group of second year comedy students takes inspiration from three highly influential comic pieces and forms a new and original piece of theatre.

8.    Torn - Written and Directed by Hannah Broad and Calum Macleod
Performed by Genine Sumner, Lee Rowland and Elise Golbourn

A tragedy about a pregnant woman whose life is torn apart when she is arrested for the murder of her husband.

9.   Looking Back
Devised and Performed by Alex Bell, Lucy Pender, Calum Macleod and Sophie Flack

Composed and devised by second year theatre students, Looking Back aggressively deals with the question of regret, communication and whether we can really go back and change our mistakes.
When unfolding events cause an ordinary family to bring all they hold dear into question, they head towards divided goals in an attempt to find common understanding in a broken home. In a surreal merging of time and action, this production blurs the dimensions of family and blame to produce a contemporary piece of theatre.


10. Clearing up the Mess - Written by Sophia Wincup and Directed by Peter Coxall
Performed by Sophia Wincup, James Jefferies Greg Robinson (Luke Eversley and Ryan Cowling)

Cleaning Up The Mess is a short, light hearted play about a young woman named Nicole and her experiences in arguably one of the most important aspects of life; how its affected her and those around her, and how there’s always hope that things will work out for the best in the end.
11.   Fractures – Written by Ryan Cowling and Directed by Becca Mallet
Performed by Hannah Bettany, Lauren Haubenschmid, Luke Eversley, Rae Waddon and Claudia Follano
At the end, you see your life' A men's decent to discover his personal history and account for the shocking, often violent and disturbing life he once lead. An honest confession, from a dying man.

12. Long Distance – Filmed and Directed by Chris Tuck
Performed by Jess Harris and Lee Rowland
A short film about two people caught up between their passions and their desires. They love each other but also their lives. As the film develops they have to make a choice between what it is they think they love and what truely drives them in life.

13.  Titus Andronicus – Written and Directed by Dan Shambrook and Lucy Quinton
Performed by Sam Burn, Hannah Broad, Troy Balmayor, Lauren Haubenschmid, Becca Mallett, Nicole Banks, Rachael Johnson, David Burn and Chris Connelly

Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare’s earliest and most gruesome tragedy. We bring you a new and exciting production that retells the events of the original text using famous words and scenes from Macbeth, Romeo & Juliette, King Leer, Othello, Julius Ceaser, Hamlet and Measure for Measure. This original adaptation has the feel of a classic Shakespeare play but gives you the opportunity to see it in its raw and gruesome nature.