Posts Tagged ‘pete glover’

REVIEW – QUILLS Hackney Citizen

By on November 9, 2012 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , | Comments Off on REVIEW – QUILLS Hackney Citizen

Second Skin’s rendition of the last days of the Marquis de Sade is a compelling and credible portrayal

Sarah Gill
Friday 9 November 2012

Pressed nose to nape in the hot dark belly of the White Rabbit Cocktail Club, the soft cushions, dark staging and pornographic hangings are a perfect lair for Second Skin’s rendition of Doug Wright’s Quills.

The play re-imagines the last days of the Marquis de Sade from the dungeons of Charenton insane asylum. The only outlet for de Sade’s dark imagination whilst  imprisoned for his wicked behaviour and sinful tastes was in inking violent erotic stories and smuggling them out to the salivating masses.

Framed by the cruel repressions of France’s Reign of Terror, with heads “popping like champagne corks” in Paris, the play is a satirical take on personal freedom, passion and state control.

Grunting and preening, the Marquis should be the villain of the piece and yet he becomes a pathetic kind of hero. He is as much a victim of the greed of Doctor Royer Collard and his own wife, plotting to silence his writing, as the suppressed sadistic desires of the Abbe de Coulmier, which find their resolution in his bloody, but inevitable, end.

“Conversation, like other [portions of the anatomy],[runs more smoothly when] lubricated,” purrs Peter Glover’s brilliant Marquis, puckering a Cupid’s bow mouth and rearranging his bulging silk bathrobe. “Come and sit on my knee, so you don’t miss a word.”

Andy McQuade’s production is eloquent, funny and, ultimately, disturbing. The script is sharp and playful, and the cast deliver it with uniformly well-controlled timing and a lightness of touch that belie the demands of the piece. Glover is excellent – initially flouncing in powdered wig and flirting with maids; and later crawling on the floor, nude, and scrawling the walls with his own excrement.

He is a wonderful storyteller, “chaperoning us through the dark waters of the soul”, with snapshots of his lustful horror stories, while his captors try to stifle him with increasingly barbaric methods. We are often uncertain whether to laugh or shudder; whether we sit in judgement or are ourselves prurient spectators, craning for a glimpse of naked flesh.

Lauren Kellegher as de Sade’s hysterical wife is also a pleasure, bribing the doctor to silence her husband so that she can be received into polite society’s garden parties once more. Her lines swell to fill the recesses of the room without toppling into farce. Initially self-conscious, Chris Brown’s Abbe grows into the role, and his descent from light-hearted liberal churchman to the architect of the Marquis’s torture is as well handled as his anguish when he recognises the hypocrisy of his actions.

“I did not forge the mind of man, filling it with rancour and blood lust,” taunts the Marquis, confronted with the death of the maid Madeleine after a prisoner re-enacted one of his stories. “Don’t hate me because I turned the key.”

Till 11 November 2012, Wednesday to Sunday
White Rabbit Cocktail Club
125 Stoke Newington Church Street
N16 0UH


By on October 28, 2012 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on REVIEW: QUILLS – Le Doon

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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