Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ambition To Live - Short film by One Umbrella Productions

There is an art to the short film and most of it relates to simplicity, in five minutes you don’t have the luxury to be complicated and the strongest are not. With Ambition to Live Jordan Pitt has written, produced and performed a piece that is well suited to the medium. In favour of music and inter-cut visuals we hear next to no dialogue. Here we are with Nathan inside his fight to live, inside the boxing ring, all the while watching his body on the road.

Internalising the story is a clever move, as it reduces what could be a very messy situation back to simply Nathan. Who he is; where he is going? We learn much of his character, strength and determination to live. To balance this, Director Fraster Ayres presents us with the reactions to Nathan’s accident from friends and the emergency services so we do get a very real sense of the outside danger. However, inside Nathan it is as calm and focused as if he was in the ring. To watch this in contrast to the distress of others is very moving. 

The production values of this short are strong. There is clearly vision in the filming and the colour palette is suited to both the ‘real’ accident scene and the more stylised internal world. There is an art to the short film, and with Ambition to Live One Umbrella Productions show that they get it. 

For more information you can find One Umbrella Productions on youtube.

The Bald Prima Donna - The Apocalypse Before Christmas

The Old Red Lion Theatre is all sparkles and tinsel this Christmas but all is not quite as it seems, for upstairs The Bald Prima Donna by Eugene Ionesco receives a sinister festive makeover this December. Presented by Tarquin Productions this is not your usual festive fair but it is a well worthwhile trip into mayhem.

The design for the space is wonderful. Jacob Hughes gives us a very simple but effective (and festive) bunker. Inside here things might be falling apart and disintegrating but outside it is burning. In a world that’s already so crazy, a bunker full of slightly hysterical adults dressed up in fancy dress is perhaps as hyper-naturalistic as an ‘English drawing room’ owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

The Bald Prima Donna is of course an energetic and absurd script and this interpretation doesn't forget the silly among the sinister. It is a clever re-imagining of the world of the original script that doesn't interfere with the original and it gives an edge to the words of the characters as they slip into nonsense. For instance, the ‘extraordinary coincidence’ sequence by Mr. and Mrs. Martin is given a distinctly tragic edge that injects new meaning to the classic text.

This was very much an ensemble performance, and the actors all played off each other’s pain and madness. This is likely to be the last Christmas for everyone and that isn’t far from anyone’s mind in spite of the fairy lights and tinsel. Benji Sperring’s direction never lets us forget that there is something outside this bunker worse than the madness inside.

Certain sequences of the play might seem perhaps at times too frenetic, with the subtlety of the language lost in hysterics, but really, if ever there was a time for hysteria it’s when the horsemen arrive on reindeer. So get booking! The Christmas Apocalypse is here and you’d better watch out!