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.