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REVIEW: QUILLS – The Stage

By on October 26, 2012 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments

Published Thursday 25 October 2012 at 13:30 by Jonathan Watson

It’s safe to say Andy McQuade now reigns as Stoke Newington’s resident theatrical sadomasochist.

First, the founder of Second Skin Theatre tested a landlord’s nerve with Mario Vargas Llosa’s louche La Chunga on Church Street and was booted out of the venue for doing so. Then, he moved down the road to the rectory of one of the oldest churches in London and challenged us to freakishly erotic adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe. But now, with Doug Wright’s Quills, he goes even further – by stepping in for his lead who is in hospital, by literally baring all for his craft, and for putting another new north London venue on the map with a gruesome slap in the face. And boy, can he act.

The play itself is perfect fodder for McQuade and his delightfully unwholesome cast. The Marquis de Sade (McQuade) is interned at an asylum in Charenton, where he spends his time dreaming up depraved stories about anyone and anything around him, not least the gorgeous laundry maid Madeleine (Nika Khitrova). Meanwhile, the Marquis’ wife Renee (Lauren Kelleger) – a gesticulating social peacock – is at pains to shut him up to improve her standing. To do that, she enlists the asylum’s crafty Dr Ollard (Stephen Connery Brown) who in turn enlists the institution’s priest, the Abbe de Coulmier (Chris Brown). The Abbe urges the Marquis to take a virtuous path, but of course the Marquis has something unwholesome up his sleeve (or in his trousers). And it doesn’t end well.

This is an extraordinary performance – it’s soaked in innuendo, the ensemble plays beautifully to the details of the devil and the atmosphere swells with joy at every lewd gesture.

The Marquis once wrote that “Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes”, and I reckon if he spent an evening with McQuade and co, he wouldn’t be disappointed. In fact, he’d probably join in.

Production information

White Rabbit Cocktail Bar, London, October 17-November 11

Author: Doug Wright
Director: Andy McQuade
Producers: Second Skin Theatre, Jessica Ruano
Cast: Chris Brown, Stephen Connery-Brown, Lauren Kellegher, Nika Khitrova, Dan Shelton, Julia Taylor, Andy McQuade
Running time: 2hrs 10mins
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