[Assembly/News Section]

[History  - Who is who?]


[Arts Class - Fanart]

[Myths and Legends - Ep Guide]

[Lunchbreak - Message Board]

[Library - Fanfics and Books]

[Chanting - Song Lyrics]


[Sorcery Studies - Guestbook]


[Language Skills]



Besides: Another review of Small Craft Warnings and some news: Kate Duchene has been starring in “ The Inland Sea “ this April (2002)  - click on the title and  you can read several  reviews...

Right oh - here are some very blurry and therefore scary screengrabs I took with my little digicam, focusing on my very little tv screen in a dark living room - and yet this is the best I could do (unless I get my tv card to work).. They´re from an episode in “The Bill” called “On the wagon” and aired sometime during 2000. In this ep, Kate plays Laura, a former alcoholic, who´s now working as tutor for other folks with alcohol problems. She´s tutoring this police officer who tries to convince his colleagues that he´s not a drunkard anymore. The first pic shows her hanging out at some anonymous alks meeting, the others show her cheering up the police guy while they are watching some criminals hidden in Laura´s car or while they chat in some cafe. The mean thing is that the fellow starts to believe that Laura passed on some secret info and thus warned the criminal alcohol smugglers... Another role for Kate Duchene in which she has to look either very sad or serious or very competent and in charge. She´s doing her best and yet no one likes her... now why does that sound familiar? I had some pic of her taking off her coat in the cafe - and guess whether she´s wearing nowt but drab dark grey or black stuff...? yes, exactly. =) well, at least you can´t say I can´t take surrealistic pics...

kate at meeting
kate at the wheel

  Emotional striptease

Small Craft Warnings, Pleasance Theatre, London
Rating: ***

Michael Billington

Wednesday May 26, 1999

I always go to late Tennessee Williams with fingers crossed: I am never quite sure whether the compassion and humour will overcome the inert plotting and maudlin over-writing. But Small Craft Warnings, first seen in 1972, strikes me as one of the better products of Williams's long, melancholy decline. It certainly gives Susannah York the chance to put in a good performance as a wan, restless beautician.

Williams's setting is a bar on the Pacific coast, which relieves him of the need to worry too much about story. Among the transient topers are a struck-off doctor, a gay screenwriter and his young Iowa pick-up, a parasitic Don Juan obsessed with his pecker, and a loopy, unhygienic nympho whose hands are constantly full. What little action there is springs from the roving anger of the smashed beautician who, mourning her brother's death-day, is denied any more booze by the wiseacre bartender.

In vintage Williams characters reveal their desperation through dialogue; here they tend to do it in spotlit arias that act as a form of emotional striptease. Even the symbolism of the setting, Monk's Bar, is spelt out in case we'd missed the point that it's a safe haven for human wreckage.

Yet, for all its faults, the play shows a complex compassion for life's walking wounded - even for the homophobic, gay Hollywood writer who has fatally lost "the capacity for surprise" or for the drifting, permanently hungry nympho with her chipped red-enamel fingernails and literal need to reach out and touch people. There is something saintly about Williams's readiness to embrace characters from whom most of us would instinctively flee: as long as you suffer sufficiently, you qualify for membership of Tennessee's club.

Rufus Norris's production nicely captures the hothouse clamminess of this last-chance saloon. Susannah York as the peripatetic heroine artfully suggests a woman capable of diagnosing everyone else's desolate loneliness without recognising her own. And there is good support from Kate Duchene as a latterday Blanche Dubois who clearly believes the devil makes work for idle hands, from Nathan Osgood as the acidic screenwriter who likes only straight men and from Bill Bailey as the bartender who quietly reads a book while his customers unburden their souls. Wobbly late Williams, perhaps, but its generosity of spirit and inside knowledge of human solitude give it a touching integrity.
  © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002 


Taking a dig at Capability
The Inland Sea
Dir: Dominic Dromgoole.Jo McInnes, James Lance, Alan Williams, Kate Duchene, Michael Gould, Tricia Kelly, Jay Simpson, William Mannering, Rashan Stone, Michael Wilson, Peter Bourke
Where it's playing

by Nicholas de Jongh
Naomi Wallace's ambitious play harks back to an old, almost forgotten battle in the English class war, when 18th century aristocrats were set upon transforming the landscape in and around their estates. Unfortunately The Inland Sea proves a confusing Vortex rather than a purposeful tributary. It swamps us with revelations about the damage done by the likes of Capability Brown, that landscaping gentleman who redesigned the estates of powerful landowners.

In Capability's grand design, as director Dominic Dromgoole's production vividly suggests, romantic parklands with undulating hills, lawns and trees replaced the formal gardens of estates; villages and villagers were relocated and sometimes ruined in the cause of providing views for their lordships. It was a sharp recipe for class conflict. But the narrow, cultural dream of making England look freshly magnificent here proves an ironic nightmare.

You can imagine a dramatist like Edward Bond taking such a scenario and making a savage mockery of landowners who did not give a fig for the social havoc they caused. Miss Wallace, having hit upon such a provocative theme, squanders the fascinating, dramatic potential. In a jerky, often unintelligible jumble of 41 scenes she mixes an indigestible cocktail of villagers, labourers, two ghosts, one artist and a fictitious brother of Capability named Asquith. The text stipulates that the setting, in the grounds of a Yorkshire estate, should be "astonishingly beautiful". Sadly, designer Robert Innes Hopkins provides a mere, crude garden mock-up that soon succumbs to redevelopment.

There's no single plot-line, although by the apocalyptic finale Asquith realises he's no demi-God. Miss Wallace darts off at tangents as she reveals the put-upon lives of those caught up in Asquith's redesign: the concerns of the socially oppressed, the ghosts and two class-defying lovers, Asquith and village girl Hesp send the play meandering in contrary, unintegrated directions. The love affair boasts its masturbatory frissons and the first stage depiction of a rare sexual act, with Hesp taking the masterful, upper hand. But the only point of the affair is to show another humble girl wielding sexual power over her social superior.

Dromgoole deftly supplies the production with pace and vigour. But Miss Wallace's poeticising, by turns demotic, erotic and eloquent, often becomes a verbose, flamboyant end in itself. The acting ranges from the rough to the ready. Vainly you strain to hear Holly Scourfield's Ghost or understand Peter Bourke's mad spectre; Alan Williams's Capability is incapacitated by a ridiculous, bellowing rasp. But Jo McInnes's Hesp makes a cool, commanding lover. Kate Duchene's aristo-artist, opposed to landscaping, achieves a fine, scathing hauteur. And Michael Gould's intense, cruel Asquith interestingly exudes weakness rather than power.

Now Playing
Wilton's Music Hall From Apr 3, Tue-Sat 7.30pm (press night Apr 5), mat Sat 2pm, Sun 4pm, ends Apr 28 £15-£21, concs available

Lyn Gardner
Tuesday April 9, 2002
The Guardian

There is a change going on in theatre writing. The sock-it-to-you, metropolitan, lad and ladette plays that so dominated the mid-1990s are still with us, but there is also a growing trend for plays that are more reflective, socially acute and politically aware.

Peter Gill's The York Realist, premiered at the Royal Court, was one example. Now, courtesy of Oxford Stage Company, Naomi Wallace offers another with this epic, dense and absorbing account of the difficulties faced by Capability Brown and the gardening pioneers of the mid-18th century in transforming the English landscape. Creating lakes and hills where there are none proves easy compared with the difficulties faced when trying to transform the psyche. In its mixture of sinuous poetry and political sharpness, this is a play that, at its best, holds a torch to Edward Bond at his peak.

That doesn't always make it easy to watch. Wallace digs away at her subject with more tenacity than her anti-hero Asquith Brown, the less successful brother of Capability, who fails to realise his brother's vision of a new England because of the mud, the villagers' reluctance to move and his own demons. The strain of being a farmer's son turned gentleman is beginning to show - mostly in his britches, and in his relationship with Hesp, a young village widow who seeks to satisfy the ache in her loins but finds it far better sated by collective action.

There is a lot of sod to be turned here, perhaps too much for a single play, but the tension between the individual and the community is tackled from many angles, and Wallace offers myriad fascinating reflections on class, altruism and selfishness, dreams and realities, the pleasures and limitations of sex.

Wilton's Music Hall provides an atmospheric setting, although it soaks up both sound and energy. This is theatre of scope, imagination and bloody-minded ambition. We should cherish it, or run the risk of losing it altogether.

Until April 28. Box office: 020-7836 9712.

Right story, wrong writer

By Rhoda Koenig

10 April 2002

Strange noises echo throughout The Inland Sea (and echo they do indeed in this bare and narrow theatre, though it might help if the actors didn't boom so much). The ancient oaks groan and sigh as they are felled according to the designs of Capability Brown. Brown's luckless younger brother screams as he is digitally sodomised by a villager who wants to show him true pleasure. The earth buckles and creaks as the spirit of a murdered girl heaves her way out of it. But the loudest motif in Naomi Wallace's play is the sound of an author straining for a message that eludes her grasp.

On a Yorkshire estate in the 1760s, Asquith Brown (a fictional character) has been charged with executing his busy brother's grand scheme of improving nature. But each time Capability visits for a progress check, there is more to worry about. The new landscaping calls for not only sweeping away a precious little garden, which looks like a game board dotted with conifers made of green cheese: it means the creation of a lake, the sculpting of new hills, and the removal of unsightly and irrelevant features, such as peasants. Swept out with digging tools, the villagers return with pitchforks, though one forms a temporary alliance with Asquith, who is socially and sexually insecure. Meanwhile, the work, carried on by soldiers and by labourers from London, disinters crimes and secrets.

In summary The Inland Sea may sound like a clever romantic tragedy with some apt social comment. And so it might have been had it been written by someone else. The play might even have been a successful poetic drama, slipping in and out of reality. But Wallace not only combines these two unlikely partners; she spurns both reality and poetry for preciosity (Come to the replica peasant society! See folk tunes created before your eyes!) and sex obsession.

When Hesp, a randy widow, isn't thrusting her fingers up Asquith's backside, she's ordering him to expose himself to her or bragging to her mother about the quantity of her vaginal secretions. Capability, telling his brother that his problems stem from faulty masturbation, explains the proper technique with the aid of a folding ruler. Peasant wisdom is accounted for by Hesp's mother ("I've said it before: let's wait and see"). Peasant, or working-class, poesy is represented by a laconic black sailor ("The ocean. The winds. The butchering. The tea... The sighs. The exchange. The salt. The flesh") and a garrulous vagrant ("Hurrump, hurrah, hooray. Shhh. Only it wasn't in the month of May").

In this Oxford Stage Company production, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, Michael Gould makes a sympathetic Asquith, Jo McInnes a zestful Hesp. But whether dealing with horticulture or uphill gardening this murky, stagnant play is damned hard work.

To 28 April, 020-7836 9712

Dromgoole's latest drama

The Inland Sea
Dir: Dominic Dromgoole.Jo McInnes, James Lance, Alan Williams, Kate Duchene, Michael Gould, Tricia Kelly, Jay Simpson, William Mannering, Rashan Stone, Michael Wilson, Peter Bourke

by Claire Allfree

No-one remembered Wilton's Music Hall five years ago, or indeed really knew that it existed. Now believed to be the world's oldest surviving music hall, it had stood forgotten by the theatre community for 100 years, a monument to the past glories of popular entertainment, turning to dust.

In 1997 Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw had the bright idea of staging The Waste Land inside its peeling walls. And lo, the venue was reborn. It has since hosted everything from opera to The Mysteries (currently playing in the West End) and has put the formerly ignored Tower Hamlets back on the theatrical map.

Happily, Wilton's Music Hall is not yet the most obvious location. Whatever is staged there is still interesting by definition. And the latest to chase the Wilton magic is Dominic Dromgoole, with his production of Naomi Wallace's new play The Inland Sea. 'I love it because it's old,' he says. 'Conventional theatres can pin audiences down too firmly. I wanted a place that would liberate their imagination.'

The audience will be grateful for that factor when they see The Inland Sea. Based loosely on the landscape designer Capability Brown, it's a highly poeticised exploration of labour relations, sexuality, man's relationship with the landscape and death. Dromgoole likes its strangeness and ambition. 'It's got very few comforting dramatic rhythms. 'There's no "character comes on, introduces himself, tells the audience his story". Instead you are dropped right in the middle of extreme and peculiar situations, which force you to rewire your head in order to receive them. It's also great entertainment. The characters work almost like separate acts: the workman act, the wild sex act etc. I'm hoping the music hall context will help emphasise that sense of performance.'

This is the fourth play Dromgoole has directed by the American he describes as 'a very complete writer'. Certainly, her use of narratives that operate on both dream-like and historical levels breaks with the domestic hang-ups of many British contemporary playwrights. 'Every so often British playwrighting becomes guilty of impoverished ambition,' concedes Dromgoole. 'There's a current stream of single-set plays banging on about the inequities of salesmen or the spiritual emptiness of yuppies. I mean, who gives a shit?'

Dromgoole, of course, knows his onions when it comes to new plays. Artistic director of the Bush Theatre at 25, he transformed it into a powerhouse of new writing between 1991 and 1996. Now with the Oxford Stage Company, he last year published The Full House - An A to Z Of Contemporary Playwrighting, in which he said exactly what he thought of certain playwrights. Only nine profiles were negative, he protests. Yes, but that nine included Tom Stoppard and David Hare.

'Maybe a few people will come after me soon with baseball bats,' he shrugs. 'But, actually, most people agreed with it. They kept taking me into cupboards and whispering "loved the book". Really, it's a celebration of a golden age in British playwriting.'

With perhaps the exception of the Royal Court's Ian Rickson, Dromgoole remains the strongest supporter of contemporary new writing, give or take the odd play about urban ennui. He agrees that no other artform inspires such debate about whether it is any good, but points out that the people conducting that debate are either TV and radio pundits, who never go anyway, or ageing theatre critics nursing a lifelong resentment over the rejection of their first play. 'By rights theatre shouldn't have survived cinema or TV,' he says. 'But somehow it is thriving. We're lucky to live in a culture that's as rich theatrically as it was 100 years ago. Wilton's is a perfect link in that chain.'



[Home] [Assembly/News Section] [History  - Who is who?] [Potionlab] [Arts Class - Fanart] [Myths and Legends - Ep Guide] [Lunchbreak - Message Board] [ Library - Fanfics and Books] [Chanting - Song Lyrics] [Spells] [Sorcery Studies - Guestbook] [Cat-Training] [Language Skills] [Broomstick-Practice]