Playhouse Creatures  
Playhouse Creatures

by April de Angelis

Directed by Zizi Sulkin

October 9th - 13th, 2007

The Tower Theatre performing at Theatro Technis, Camden

Photography by Alexander Knapp
Cast
Doll Common : Celia Reynolds
Nell Gwyn : Lisa Castle
Mrs Farley : Kate Banham
Mrs Betterton : Jill Batty
Mrs Marshall : Kate Panayi
Production Team
Director : Zizi Sulkin
Set Design : Jeff Kelly
Costume Design : Åsa Norling
Lighting Design : Nick Insley
Sound Design : Phillip Ley

Stage Manager : Jane Pallant
Assistant Stage Managers : Nicholas Cannon, Meg Meacher, Åsa Norling
Lighting Operator : Phillip Ley
Sound Operator : Lesley Scarth
Wardrobe : Jill Batty, Celia Reynolds, Lisa Castle
Set Construction : Keith Syrett, Sheila Burbidge, Simon East and members of the cast & crew
Scenic Painting : John Henry

Lifting the curtain on the struggles of actors
Review by Simon Wroe for the Camden New Journal

Young orange seller Nell Gwyn (Lisa Castle) dreams of trading her saleswoman patter for the high-faluting prose of the theatre, while the new darlings of the stage Mrs Farley and Mrs Marshall bask in the adoration of their Predominantly male audience and furtively borrow company costumes to attend dates with their suitors.

Nell will go on to become a celebrated mistress of King Charles II, but tragedy is not far away for the other players. Foolish dalliances with unscrupulous aristocrats spell the end of the two starlets careers, and the ageing matriarch Mrs Betterton does not cope well with the call for younger, firmer models.

Jill Batty is fantastic as the fading, histrionic Betterton, proudly instructing her protégés on the clockface school of acting posture : "despair is at five past 12, death by strangulation at a quarter past nine" and Celia Reynolds po-faced old-maid, Doll Common, steals the lion's share of the laughs.

Angelis's script, like the theatre dressing room set, is a gleeful hodge-podge of styles and influences. Historical fact rides shotgun with excerpts from Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra and works well for the most part. The original writing lays on the demise parable a little thick and has a few epilogues too many, but it regularly elicits humour and pathos in turn.

And the themes - of actors struggling to do what they love in the face of ambivalent, exploitative audiences, of the theatre perpetuating Itself despite adversity and poverty - still resonate strongly today. P