Posts Tagged ‘nika khitrova’

REVIEW: QUILLS Write Out Loud

By on October 28, 2012 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments
Review by Alain English on 27th October 2012
After their West End debut with Mario Vargas Llosa’s “La Chunga” last year, Second Skin Theatre raise the bar up another level with this production Doug Wright’s “Quills”.  There will be some in the audience familiar with the movie of the same name starring Kate Winslet and Geoffrey Rush.  Indeed, one suspects that the titular character in the play, the Marquis de Sade who delights in tales of obscenity, sex and violence would have thrived in the modern world.  Hell, he might even be writing for the tabloids covering the Jimmy Saville case, a story that would have suited him perfectly.  So in this respect the production is well-timed.
The play relates the incarceration of the Marquis de Sade in a French lunatic asylum, and the effects his salacious writings and defiantly rebellious attitude have on his supposed reformers.
Bravely standing in for his leading man Peter Glover, director Andy McQuade assumes the role of the Marquis.  He brings a really physical arch humour to the role, embracing the character’s innuendoes with a relish that made me think of the Joker from Batman.  His supporting cast ranging from Nika Khitrova as tragic maid Madeleine and Chris Brown as the doomed Abbe de Coulmier all fit into the macabre grotesque atmosphere of the piece.
Mike Lee’s splendid set, laid out out lengthways on the basement of the White Rabbit Club, gives a perfect stinking sordid backdrop to the actors that really involves the audience – this is as intimate as theatre really gets.
Running to the 11th November, “Quills” is a perfect winter treat. Recommended.

REVIEW: QUILLS – Le Doon

By on October 28, 2012 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , , | No Comments

Review by Laura Muldoon (freelance writer for DIVA Magazine)

Let down at the last minute by my theatre friend, I descended alone into the spooky basement at the White Rabbit in Stoke Newington to take in the brand new production of Quills by the Second Skin Theatre Company under the direction of Andy McQuade. The painted black brickwork glistened as I made my way down the narrow staircase into the dimly lit dungeon venue where the play was to be performed. The atmosphere created by this gothic, prison-like setting was excitingly immersive and perfectly timed with the play opening so close to Halloween. The set was beautifully laced with crucifixes and skulls, an excellent reflection of the plays grisly trajectory. Thoughts ran through my mind of being locked down here alone, a frightening prospect. I looked over to see a fellow reviewer being harangued by obvious Second Skin enthusiast and stealthily let myself be swallowed by the darkness as I fumbled with a delicious glass of merlot which sloshed over my notes.

Quills is set in Charenton, a lunatic asylum and a modern day nightmare, managed by the newly appointed Dr Royer Collard (Stephen Connery Brown), whose main motivation is keeping his highly-sexed wife distracted with a luxurious new mansion. It is here where the Marquis de Sade (Peter Glover) has been imprisoned after one too many masochistic indiscretions much to the embarrassment of his highly strung wife, Renee (Lauren Kelleger). Renee is willing to pay handsomely, through donations to the asylum, to have her husband imprisoned indefinitely in order for her to be free to regain her reputation amongst French high society, so a mutually rewarding agreement is soon met. Kelleger provides a truly comedic performance which provides lots of laughs, but is also unpinned with a deep sadness as she has become resigned to a life where she no longer remembers how it feels to walk down a street without suffering insult, which echoed to me the life of people who have been involuntarily flung into the sycophantic media limelight in Britain today.

Dr Collard’s counterpart at the asylum is the Abbe de Coulmier (Chris Brown) who cuts a staid and sensible figure in the face of the spirited and decadent Collard. The Marquis bursts onto the stage, a man beyond redemption, with a white painted face and a lasciviously, devilish grin pasted onto his face 90% of the time. A camp, larger than life figure, the fluidity of his sexuality was demonstrated by his outward appearance. He constantly made advances at most people but was particularly enthralled by Madeleine (Nika Khitrova) an innocent seamstress, dressed in virginal white who works at the asylum and the sexuality oozes off of everything he touches and says. It made my stomach flip, sometimes with revulsion, when I heard the stories of depravity which he narrates and simultaneously with excitement of the illicit and forbidden. The Marquis is gradually stripped of all that he holds dear, his wine, his home comforts and finally his writing tools. After recently listening to a radio programme about a woman who was compelled to swallow knives for fear that she ironically might die if she did not, I saw that same insane desperation in the Marquis and it was quite obvious that he or others will die if he cannot write. This was acutely apparent through the intensely dark performance from Peter Glover.

The Marquis’s plight raises a lot of thought-provoking questions for the audience which are very current, for instance, is a writer responsible for actions of their readers? The Marquis is eventually quelled from writing forever as the play concludes and I don’t think I would have been the only one feeling like that was a shame despite some of the consequences of his writing were truly horrific. The Abbe, played by Chris Brown is like a rock through the play until he too begins to crumble when his moral compass becomes skewed. At the beginning of the play I felt that Brown was a little wooden and quiet but by the end, his meticulous thinking and quiet sensibility is somewhat soothing. What I thought at the beginning as a negative, was now a positive which is indicative of this whole production. By the end no one is the same as who they thought they were at the start.

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