Open Court: Surprise Theatre at the Royal Court
Vicky Featherstone opens her first season as Artistic Director of the Royal Court by giving all the reigns to the writers as part of the theatre’s Open Court festival: six weeks of creative presentations and ideas chosen by over 140 contributors.
Surprise Theatre is exactly what it says on the tin. You book and only find out what you’re being subjected to once the curtains go up. Tonight saw a piece entitled The 14th Tale by Inua Ellams, performed by Ellams himself who is also an established poet and playwright. He tells us a story, clearly and intelligently, about the journey of young Inua’s adventures growing up in Nigeria, England and Dublin.
Ellams uses graphic imagery alongside his words to honestly describe his encounters with love, fear, punishment and the pressures of time. He interacts with no other physical being but brings to life the other characters he describes physically and vocally with such grace and power. Ellams is playful and physically commanding, yet gentle and welcoming. He is a highly detailed, impassioned and an enchantingly delicate surprise. This 55-minute monologue is delivered merely twice in one night: once at 7.30pm and once at 9pm. The later showing is streamed live on the Royal Court’s website, then archived so you may watch it at a later date along with earlier performances from the festival. For example Monday 10th June saw playwright Mark Ravenhill host a talk entitled Cakes and Finance.
There’s so much going on at the court that it simply has to be explored. If tonight was anything to go by, Featherstone is attacking the Sloane Square venue with innovation and sheer creativity and reminding us of what the basics of theatre is all about: writing, exploring and story telling.
Open Court festival is at the Royal Court until 20th July 2013 with Surprise Theatre on Monday and Tuesday nights. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.