Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Sub Rosa" - January 2009

Ladies and gentlemen of a theatrical persuasion... can we please have your attention for a moment. It feels only fair to give advance warning for anyone hoping to impress us with a production in 2009 - "Sub Rosa" has just set the bar and it is very, very high. It is, quite simply, magnificent.

Staged in the backstage and unseen areas of the Citizens' Theatre, writer and director David Leddy's promenade production immerses the audience in the tale of Flora McIvor and the tumult that results from her arrival at 'The Winter Palace' theatre. In a series of scenes we spend time with members of the company and others as they tell us of the part they played in Flora's revolution.

The cast performances are as good as I'll see this year. In cramped spaces, this is theatre at its most up-close-and personal. There are no hiding places - every glance and movement will be noticed but here they are crafted to perfection. There is no fourth wall to break - and with a group size limited to fifteen, every audience member will have felt they were being given personal attention, and that it mattered that they were there to listen to the characters' tales.

It would be unfair to single out particular cast members - they were all marvelous - and it would also risk revealing a little too much. So I think well just say 'thank you' and 'well done' to Cora Bissett, Angela Darcy, Louise Ludgate, David Magowan, Alison Peebles and Finlay Welsh.

But don't get the wrong idea - the strength of "Sub Rosa" isn't just about the performances - David Leddy's script and direction are just as finely honed. The tale is part grotesque horror, part puzzle with a good measure of black humour and the visual delights include a fantastically memorable first sight of Vaclav the Strongman. But during a short pause between scenes, although enjoying the show immensely I suddenly suffered a moment of doubt. It was just all too good - it would take some ending to conclude the evening in a satisfactory manner. Well, twenty minutes later I exited the theatre by a fire exit - completely satisfied by the outcome.

This must be a hugely challenging show technically - there can be several groups wandering through the theatre at any given time, and the cast will perform their scenes 8 times an evening! And yet, thanks to careful planning and our effective guides we were almost totally unaware of anyone else in the building. Substantial contributions are also made by the atmospheric soundscape from Graham Sutherland and some stunning lighting from Nich Smith.

But there is one huge failing that the show has. We never get the chance to show our appreciation to those involved - it doesn't seem appropriate to clap at the end of each segment and there is no group finale. So, cast and creative team for "Sub Rosa", please consider this a standing ovation from View From The Stalls.

Sub Rosa is a co-production between Fire Exit Ltd and Citizens Theatre and runs until 31 January with performances commencing every 20 minutes between 7pm and 9.20pm. Book now - tickets are going fast!
Image by Tim Morozzo used with permission

3 Heckles

Anonymous said...

Hello - I work on box office at the Citizens Theatre and just wanted to say how much the box office team enjoy your reviews. Good or bad, we always look forward to hearing what you thought. Glad to hear that you enjoyed Sub Rosa - it's been a wonderful experience having the piece here in the building and a joy to have the upper circle bar opened again for this brief time - surely one of the most beautiful spaces in the theatre.

Statler said...

Delighted to hear we provide some small level of entertainment in return to some of those who have helped give us so much in recent years.

Anonymous said...

I think I have seen my favourite show of the year and it's only January! I agree with all said, I bought the script and am looking forward to the cd rom when they are available.