23 September 2013

AuTheatre Review: "The Lightning Child"

**AuTheatre consists of theatrical reviews by an Autistic individual (me) to let others on the Autistic spectrum be aware of which shows and/or venues are more friendly to those with sensory related difficulties. Each AuTheatre review will come in two parts - the first will be the venue itself (the layout, noise level, etc), the second will be of the show being reviewed.


The Globe Theatre has a lift to access each floor of the space. In the Yard, there is a contraption that is able to fit a wheelchair so then one's view won't be obstructed, since the stage is (I'm guessing, since it was not taller than me) around five feet off the ground. There is a wheelchair accessible toilet close to the gift shop. Unfortunately, the gendered toilets close by have narrow stalls.

The noise level outside of the performance depends on the traffic outside the Globe. Since the space is open air, it isn't unlikely to hear sirens nearby or planes flying overhead, in which case it might be difficult to concentrate.

The noise level for the performances is highly dependant on the voices of the actors. There's no microphone/stereo setup. For Lightning Child, when I was in the Yard, I heard practically every part of the dialogue. The second time, I was in restricted seating, so part of the dialogue and songs were lost on me. If you have any sort of hearing problem, this might be an issue.


Warning: There are some spoilers!

It has taken until 2013 for the Globe to stage a musical for the first time. I had the privilege of seeing The Lightning Child twice, and after each time, I had asked myself why it had taken this long.

The Lightning Child, a musical rendition of Euripides' "The Bacchae", was co-written by Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill. Some might know Darvill as Rory from Doctor Who, but as a composer he truly shines with Walker ("Love is ferocious/love is a virus/love is deep space/and the bottom of the ocean" has been stuck in my head for over a week). The multi-talented performers kept me drawn in, switching from singing to dancing to playing an instrument, especially Jess Murphy's violin piece as Louisa. The choreography flowed nicely; the fact that this was a musical was probably the saving grace of the show.

The first act of Lightning Child has the elements of a successful musical. Camp. Comedic. The interactions between Teireias and Cadmus, and Dionysus with... essentially everyone were memorable - mega kudos to Geoff Aymer, Bette Bourne, and Tommy Coleman (please tell me that Prince was the inspiration) for effortlessly delivering queerness into their characters.

The second act switches more into the Greek drama aspect, and this is where, both times, the show loses me. The weak execution of Agave's character development was a struggle for me to understand. Her appearance as a full fledged character came on too late; it was unclear of her purpose, especially with why Dionysus took revenge on her, until the absolute end. Even if one is unfamiliar with the basis of The Bacchae, it disrupts the plot development. Had she been able to interact earlier in the story, it would have connected more. Because of this, her monologue mourning Pantheus' death made me wish I had a remote to fast forward (mostly because of the continuous, piercing, screaming). Antonia's hilariously dark cooking show segment afterwards saved me from tuning out to the end.

Another, much smaller, thing I have to nitpick about. The very first scene of the show with Janet and Neil Armstrong; the characters are American, the location is set in America - as an American myself, I need to correct a word of the dialogue. Americans say "diaper", not "nappy". It is, in a grander scheme of things, a small cultural difference with language, but the difference is still there. That should have been taken into consideration.

Overall, The Lightning Child is a theatrical wonder. Entertaining, camp, full of lyrical promise, but very much like a rock that needs a good polishing - not because it's terrible, but because it can be more connected (with Agave specifically), and ultimately, better. I sincerely hope that the Globe will stage more musicals in the future, and ideally release a soundtrack to The Lightning Child.


Trigger warnings for the show (from certain characters and/or themes) include: Smoke and fire, extreme violence (could be very triggering for some, I cannot emphasise this enough), domestic abuse, murder (same as for the extreme violence), blood, cissexism, and drug use.

The Lightning Child has performances until 12th Oct. You can find more information and purchase tickets here.

Til next time, lovelies!


P.S. Bless you for using Chelsea Manning's name.

1 comment:

  1. Prince was definitely the inspiration. Big time. (From Dionysus)