When Oscar Wilde submitted The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890, his editor quickly decided there were “a number of things which an innocent woman would make an exception to,” and set about purging the novel of any inference of homosexuality. There was a lot to do, but even with the throbbing veins of passion stripped, the novel was still decried as vulgar, unclean, poisonous, and discreditable, and it wasn’t until 2011 that an uncensored version was eventually published, by Harvard University Press. Wilde's moralistic fairytale has a timeless fascination and has been repeatedly adapted for stage and screen, currently in a star-studded co-production which acknowledges the sexual passions saturating the story but steers them vividly into contemporary life.
Donmar Warehouse, like many theatrical organisations, is using initiative and internet to maintain a presence for its supporters - over 1000, many in USA, joined the audience for Assembly on Youtube on Saturday night. The 'assembly' has been gathered to imagine the future, and like many of us fails to grasp the range and dangers of the concept. There's a kind-of childlike simplicity about the storyline, demonstrating how humans can't conceive complete apocalypse so that when the animals' needs and elements's tendencies are involved too the problem of survival becomes acute... maybe this is one for the family to watch together and discuss, though it could be trimmed in duration. This live digital performance is written by Nina Segal, directed by Joseph Hancock, and realised by the Almeida Young Company & the Donmar Local Company.
Mark Thomas, that maverick campaigning comedian who is anti-establishment in an active disruptive way, went on Youtube on Tuesday evening (only) with some 'Vintage Cuts' from his Comedy Product, summarised in his promo as "Stand up, stunts, stories and general transgressive behaviour." Mark, with intermittent comments from his producer, Geoff Atkinson, reminisces on some of his most outrageous escapades as filmed and also as narrated to club audiences over the years - and gives updates on outcomes to some of his social protests. Running for nearly 3 hours and with much topical material requiring explanatory context, this was quite a marathon but Mark has never been deterred by difficulty and the clips he chose, including club performances as well as the stunts, kept the show fascinating throughout.
From setting up a PR stall at an Arms Fair and teaching attending fascist tyrants relaxation techniques (and filming their consequent confessions of use of torture) to chasing up lax regulations around nuclear fuel transportation, Mark has a zany plan to confound any ruthless or incompetent authority. His causes are all issues worth challenging, and they make for good entertainment as Mark doesn't do subtle.He takes a hot-air balloon trip to Menwith Hill to reveal a spy base and a troop of dancing girls - The Showgirls of Truth - to the House of Commons to discuss matters with their MPs, and he taught the Essex Fire Service how to use a referendum to prevent further cuts in their service. It's a pity Mark couldn't have blown in with cutting-edge paperwork and feisty women to prevent last week's rushed-through legislation banning public protest in the UK, as we take another step to line our country up beside the rest of the fascist states.
At least in Frome, the long history of protest against unfair legislation in England is still alive: enjoy this remaking of Money For Nothing by Martin Dimery (Green Party county councillor) with musical arrangement from David Hynds, video by Patrick Dunn. The adaptation (- with a PPE) is bitingly on point and the visuals superb - the final image, of an exhausted medical worker, is genius.
Kilter Theatre which in collaboration with A Word in Your Ear is offering Storyopathy, a unusual contribution to lockdown entertainment conceived by Clare Reddaway. "Doctor" Olli leads a session antipathetical to the usual stress of zoom and, although his character's persona is entertainingly parodic, really did create an ethos of the age-old magic of story-telling with Message in a Bottle by Derek Williams on Thursday. As one who usually reviews projects from an audience perspective only, it's great report that my story The Invisible Granny is on offer next week: bookable here.