Monthly Archives: August 2015

“Another Kind of Dreaming”: Utopia at the Roundhouse

UTOPIA A new summer installation in the Main Space at the Roundhouse, by Penny Woolcock with designs by BLOCK9. Tuesday 4th - Sunday 23rd August London Photograph by David Levene 4/8/15

Penny Woolcock’s immersive art installation dares us to move towards, as she calls it, “a different audacity, another kind of dreaming”.

Walking through a desolate landscape in which bricks, rubble, fridges, phone boxes and shopping trollies are strewn about, you activate stories – many of which are concerned with living at the sharp end of life in London. Woolcock explains that these are “stories from unexpected sources, things you wouldn’t normally hear about… People tell stories about themselves but this also becomes part of a bigger truth”. This statement unlocks the most urgent aspect of the exhibition: her intent to give a voice to the marginalised.

It has become more crucial than ever to share the stories of those on the fringes of society as a counter narrative to prevailing, often skewed mainstream narratives. This is ultimately what makes Woolcock’s Utopia so timely and important.

Read my full review on Litro

Carmen review: a brutal, explosive denouement

Image by OperaUpClose

Image by OperaUpClose

Rusty oil barrels, wooden pallets, loose tyres and corrugated iron, with a dilapidated, peeling billboard showing an advert of a carefree woman smoking as the backdrop – this is the “torrid South American landscape of dust and concrete” that OperaUpClose describe as central to their vision of Carmen. Yet it is just this middle-of-nowhere feel that paradoxically makes this version of Carmen stand out – small-town ennui, along with heat, is a vital part of the opera’s landscape.

The exuberance of Carmen is played up well in this production: for example, a scene of drunkenness is played very energetically by the excellent cast.

However, the musicians deserve a special mention – a violinist, cellist, pianist and flutist truly bring the score to life, inexorably building up tension before exploding into a brutal denouement.

Read my full review of Carmen at the Soho Theatre