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More Brunswick Square reviews
Great job last night! I really enjoyed it!!
Spice up your life!!!
This first full length play for the company managed to be both hilarious and moving... Great ensemble acting... Great characterisation... subtle and at times truly genius writing... Can't wait for the next offering! Well done Daniel and the ProjectB team!!!
Brunswick Square review
Risqué chat, glasses of wine, raucous singalongs…ProjectB’s first ever full-length play begins much like any girls’ night. Brunswick Square tells the stories of four women of different ages and backgrounds...
Risqué chat, glasses of wine, raucous singalongs…ProjectB’s first ever full-length play begins much like any girls’ night. Brunswick Square tells the stories of four women of different ages and backgrounds, brought together by friendship. The play begins with a few laugh-worthy moments as the all-female cast arrive at a dinner party hosted by Rosie (played by Mary Kopecky), the nucleus of the group. While the first half of the play introduces the audience to the cast (the other three actresses involved are Natalie Gommon, Carrie Lillie and Anarosa De Eizaguirre Butler), it isn’t until the second half that the action really kicks off. But Debs’s shocking announcement (no spoilers—not to worry) stops the girls in their tracks. It is in the women’s diverging reactions to the news that their acting credentials really shine through.
"Right off the bat, I’ll say that DEATH is ProjectB’s best show yet. It’s no secret that I’ve always enjoyed the company’s shows – ProjectB are an inventive, creative bunch who clearly love to play with the idea of a concept show – but there was something a bit more polished about DEATH"
Theatre Review: ProjectB’s DEATH
Written by John Lane
So, from le petite mort to the big kahuna itself, ProjectB have followed on from the success of their last show, S.E.X., and given us a brand new thematic production that’s all about the end of it all. DEATH, in keeping with the presentational format now familiar to ProjectB regulars, serves up six tasty little vignettes, all sparkling new and original, and of course all linked by the show’s titular theme.
Right off the bat, I’ll say that DEATH is ProjectB’s best show yet. It’s no secret that I’ve always enjoyed the company’s shows – ProjectB are an inventive, creative bunch who clearly love to play with the idea of a concept show – but there was something a bit more polished about DEATH, in the writing and the performance, than previous shows, which demonstrates happily how the folks behind the group are continuing to hone their skills.
The opening two acts were written and directed by Carrie Lillie, who obviously enjoys a touch of the farcical. The opening act, Life and Death, aims at a little meta fun with Daniel M Jacobs and the unusually named PaultheDoor as two chaps about to watch a play about life and death. There’s nothing deep or meaningful about what’s going on however; this is a simple comedy of misunderstanding and miscomprehension (which I suppose you could say is the way that a lot of us approach death, but which I’m also pretty certain is not the point) and sets the tone of fun that will permeate most of the show.
We’re then presented with Grief Porn, which takes place in the offices of a social media obituary department that is about to be shut down; purveyors of death for public consumption faced with their own demise suddenly realize that it’s always easier to talk about someone else’s death. Luckily, their shallow, social media approach to celebrity bucket-kicking – trending hashtags and benefit concerts – offers them a chance not only to capitalize on their imminent termination but possibly even reverse it. Though I don’t think it fully took advantage of its own premise, it was still a lot of fun to watch, and the cast – Ben Torbush, Sarah Szucs, Adrien Lefort, Elena Sandell and Annie Cripps, each playing a representation of one of the five stages of grief – did a good job keeping the comedy alive and the energy high.
The third act of the evening, Damn You, was the poignant of them all. Written by Mary Kopecky – who in my opinion is going from strength to strength – and directed by Arnau Gol Karsunke, it features Kopecky as a pediatric nurse coping with the recent death of her husband, played by PaultheDoor, who briefly manifests for a last, bittersweet goodbye. Simple, honest and true, it neatly encapsulated the inescapable fact that our relationship with the dead is just as complicated as our relationship with the living.
Next up was One Stop Death Shop, written and directed by Jacobs, showing a surprising flair for creating an off-kilter, semi-Dystopian vision of the not-too-distant future. Jacobs presents us with a society where economic status determines the time and manner of your death (the very rich, by way of an example, can afford a peaceful passing in their sleep), brilliantly captured by the cold-calculating character of the One Stop Death Shop’s pushy, marketing-maniacal sales rep, Silvia, played with an overtly sexual and morbidly breathless glee by Francoise Greenacre, who thrives on physical, larger-than-life and flamboyant characters. The socio-economic injustice of the world Silvia inhabits is expressed through the difficulty two clients – PaultheDoor and Lillie as a couple from two different class backgrounds – are having trying to synch up their respective deaths. It’s definitely an interesting idea (one this particular Dysto-freak just lapped up); it’s all too plausible given the world we already inhabit, where life is monetized, that death too is eventually privatized. So start saving up now!
The penultimate act was a cute little black comedy written by Greenacre with David Castillo. Directed by Greenacre also, No More Kit Kats takes place in a morgue where the local mortician (Elena Sandell, who does an excellent straight-woman) returns from a smoke to find that the corpse on the table (Felix, played with lovely comic aplomb by Ben Torbush) has miraculously come back to life. Turns out Felix is a cat man, waking up to his seventh life. As a Doctor Who fan, I was intrigued by the notion that having many lives to live might result in a particularly cavalier attitude to living those lives. This being ProjectB, of course, Felix falls foul of a particularly cruel comedy of errors when it emerges that some superstitions don’t translate so well overseas. Oh, and Kudos, Ben! Not many guys could pull off a diaper so well, figuratively speaking that is.
The final act of the evening – and probably my favorite, if I were forced to choose – was An Audience With, written and directed by Jacobs (with directorial assistance from Szucs), featuring Jacobs himself as a white-suited Death (because how could you have a show about death and not have an anthropomorphized Death in it?) and Lillie, doing a wonderfully funny turn as his hard-put-upon henchwoman, Minion. The basic premise is that we are in Death’s boardroom, where he is joined by representatives of the nations of the Earth to discuss ways and means, as Dickens would have put it, of decreasing their surplus populations. Thoroughly political, An Audience With presents us with the very blackest of comedies and an unflinching critique of the icy logic with which those in power calculate the worth of human life.
What’s particularly interesting about this play is the choice Jacobs makes in his portrayal of Death. For the most part, I think we are all used to three basic depictions of Death as a character: the Dutiful (like the Death of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels or the final adjudicator of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal); the Romanticized (as in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series); and the Nightmare. What Jacobs presents, rather refreshingly, is Death as a total bastard, Death as Alan-fucking-Sugar! And it totally works. It made me wonder if Jacob’s Death had always been that way, or whether millennia of dealing with human brutality had made him that way (and the first of two nods to Karsunke here, who with a single subtle flicker of his face at the thought of waging war upon a neighbor managed to convey perfectly the sick sadomasochism of that brutality). The message here, perhaps, was that the Death of humanity is nothing more than the death that humanity reflects.
Finally, you cannot talk about a ProjectB show without talking about the way they handle set changes, about how they make them part of the show, and this is where our second nod to Arnau Gol Karsunke comes in. Unless quoting famous sayings about Death, Karsunke was the perfect silent clown, incredibly expressive, totally engaging and very, very funny. It was impossible not to be absorbed by Karsunke, who interacted with both audience and stagehands, and displayed such a beautifully playful physicality. There aren’t many people you could describe as having the ability to make Death enjoyable, but Karsunke is definitely one of them.
I’m happy to say that with DEATH, ProjectB look to be nowhere near their final curtain.
Via Relevant BCN
"Consisting, in the main, of six short plays, the show as a whole was all about having a good time, which worked to give the more poignant moments of the evening a lot more weight."
Theatre Review: ProjectB’s S.E.X
Written by Lane
If you didn’t already know it, the company’s latest production, S.E.X, would have left you in no doubt… ProjectB likes to have fun. From the ‘Audiovisual foreplay’ (a series of well-chosen images put together by PB’s Francoise Greenacre to the sound of Tone Loc’s Wild Thing) that opened the show, to the brilliant conceit that was the final act of the evening (more on that later), S.E.X was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Consisting, in the main, of six short plays, the show as a whole was all about having a good time, which worked to give the more poignant moments of the evening a lot more weight.
The first play up was The Secret Sex-Life of Snails, written by Carrie Lillie and directed by Dan Jacobs and featuring Lillie herself and the always value-for money Shivvy Sheehan as two snails working out the complexities of hermaphroditic love-making in a relationship. With discussions on whose turn it is to be the boy or girl (with all the politics that involves) and the idea of snails removing their shells to get down to a little bit of slug role-play, this short, comic rib-tickler was just right for kicking off the show.
Next up was Sometimes It’s Just That Way, written by Mary Kopecky and directed by Sarah Szucs and featuring Kopecky and Arnau Gol as a couple who appear, I imagine, to spend a lot of their time separated because of the guy’s job, and perhaps are often too tired to have sex because of hers. For me, at its heart, this was a play about longevity, and about sticking together by understanding how sex and intimacy can evolve between two people in a committed relationship. The scene itself is one of simple, mundane quotidian existence, which only serves to make a mid-dream monologue on love and sex – delivered simply and sweetly by Kopecky – more impacting. Food for thought, anyway.
Third up was probably the most significantly serious play of the show, Seven, a lengthy monologue starring Sarah Szucs as the play’s only character Ruby and written and directed by Dan Jacobs. Given the complexities of our modern social make-up and our ever-evolving concepts of physicality, psychology, self and sexuality, it makes perfect sense that a show calling itself S.E.X should include a play that touches upon the issue of being transgender. Szucs gives a nice performance as a woman in her early forties (or mid-thirties depending on your perspective) looking back on the trajectory of her life from childhood to where and, more importantly, who she is now. This is very much a play about identity, about how we define ourselves – and about how much both biology and societal norms and expectations influence those definitions – and the character of Ruby is the perfect conduit for that discussion, a child of the so-called sexual revolution, a revolution which, looked at dispassionately, is such in name only. It turns out that Ruby started off life as a boy, yet whatever the stance on and comprehension of what gender means to those around her, the knowledge of who Ruby is meant to be is there for her from the beginning, and her own understanding of it, and what it means to her, comes most clearly for the first time at the age of seven. A sensitive, though-provoking monologue for a society that really is, at long last, experiencing a sexual revolution.
The fourth play of the evening was F**k & Go, written and directed again by Dan Jacobs (and kudos to Dan for some fine work on this show), and starring David Chevers and Arnau Gol as a pair of guys who have just finished fucking after having met each other that night on a hook-up site and who suddenly find themselves having a weighty discussion about commitment – and the fear of commitment – and the importance of substantiality in human relationships. The discussion comes about when Gol’s character, Kent, freaks out after Hudson (Chevers’ character) brings up the possibility of a date on the strength of a moment of perceived connection. There’s a real frisson between Chevers and Gol on stage, both sexual and antagonistic, which is perfect for what is happening between them; basically, ultimately, an affirmation of the idea that whatever the catalytic circumstances of a given situation, when an opportunity for something arises, one should always slough off the fear and the comfort of the habitual to break free of the preconceptions we use to protect ourselves from imagined harm (but which actually just isolate us from experience) and grab at that opportunity. F**k & Go was a sweet, effective little vignette about the power of the positive.
Next was FedEx Date, a brief little comedy – or perhaps we should really call it a sketch, since the end is very much a punch line - written by Mary Kopecky and directed by Dan Jacobs. It features Kopecky as a narrator telling the story of Julie, played by Carrie Lillie with slinky comic delight as the sort of seemingly highly sexed woman who in days of old would have invited the milkman inside for more than just a pot of yoghurt. Julie is reminiscing about her former lovers Tom, Dick and Harry while apparently awaiting the arrival of William. We all assume that William is the FedEx man, who turns up like a porn-style delivery boy, in tight short shorts and no top, played by Mikel Tamarit. However, it’s what’s in his delivery box that Julie’s after. I’m saying no more.
The final play of the evening was a great way to finish off, an excellently comical story that worked on the premise of turning on its head what we think of as lewd and rude and what we think of as acceptable. Calling Trixi, written and directed by Carrie Lillie, introduces us first to Angie and Bea, played respectively by Shivvy Sheehan and Sarah Szucs as a pair of Eastenders-style cacklers, who appear to be talking quite openly about sex and cocks and fannies in all their physical detail as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, which, in the world of the play, it is. What really scandalizes these two women is what their friend Trixi – played nicely by Elena Sandell – gets up to. She tells men her innermost thoughts. Not only that, she listens to theirs… on an inner-thoughts phone line. And that is both the point and the conceit of the play. As Angie and Bea constantly point out, sex is just biology, the bits that we have that make us all the same. It is, however, our thoughts that make us different, it is our thoughts that are the most personal, intimate things about us, and sharing them out willy-nilly, posting them on Facebook or telling a man on a first date, well, in this world, that’s just loose, immoral behavior. What a brilliant idea. I really wish I’d thought of it. Damn you Lillie! There’s also a nice little joke at the very end of the play when we are finally, briefly introduced to Steve (played by Ben Torbush). We’ve already heard about Steve’s cock from Angie and Bea… but guess what? Trixi recognizes his voice. The filthy beast! A nice gag to end a great night on a high note.
Now, before I finish off, I said above that the show consisted “in the main” of six short plays. However, in between each play, during the set changes, the audience was treated to some wonderful bits of silent(ish), physical comedy courtesy of Francoise Greenacre and Mikel Tamarit. Here we got to see what it was like for a caveman and a cavewoman to navigate the difficult rituals of sexual congregation; we were shown how easy it is to confuse the sounds of love with brutal constipation; there was a futuristic sex doll whose circuit boards appeared to develop their own hard sex drive (geddit?); some cute burlesque-esque cabaret; and a little bit of fun with the audience when a couple of people were brought onto the stage to engage in a bit of naughty Twister. None of that could have worked if Greenacre and Tamarit hadn’t been so brilliantly expressive or, indeed, clearly enjoying what they were doing.
So, to sum it up, I had a really, really good time. S.E.X progressed like… like, well, an enjoyable, successful bout of sex, I suppose. It started with some fun and games to get you all juiced up, and shamelessly rubbed up against your pleasure zones; it dived fully into the nitty-gritty, sweat-soaked sheets of abandon; and it made sure to allow for those serious moments of deep intimacy that make sex more meaningful, before finally reaching its joyous climax. Honestly, if I smoked, I would’ve laid back, Sybaritically sated, and sucked on a ciggie when it was all over.
Thanks, ProjectB, for a great evening… Oh and… call me, yeah?
Via Relevant BCN
""The show consisted of five original one act scenes, one theatrical adaptation, and between sets some very nice audiovisuals showing members of the public being interviewed about what 'Faith' meant to them."
Faith well placed
Written by John
Last weekend I had the great pleasure of heading down to the Mutuo Centre de Arte to catch a show called 'Faith', the latest production of Barcelona-based English-language theatre company Project B. As you might imagine, the show was indeed about the concept of faith; as their own publicity put it: 'Be it faith in a superior being, faith in one's other half or faith in oneself, the common denominator is a journey to wherever your faith will take you!'
The show consisted of five original one act scenes, one theatrical adaptation, and between sets some very nice audiovisuals showing members of the public being interviewed about what 'Faith' meant to them. The show kicked off with a very entertaining version of George Michael's Faith video, featuring Daniel Jacobs in the famous leather jacket, which led very nicely into the first scene of the evening (called Do You Come Here Often?), written and starring Carrie Lillie and directed by Franciose Greenacre. Set in a bar, this was a cute bit of fun featuring Colin Morgan as a particularly cheesey man trying very hard to get Lillie into bed with some of the worst pick-up lines ever. The conversation between the two is cleverly peppered with lines from the George Michael song.
Next up was one of my favourite scenes of the evening, Joe & Maria, written and directed by Daniel Jacobs, featuring Greenacre as Maria and William Truini as Joe. Maria and Joe are a couple visiting a psychiatrist to try and resolve a particularly troubling problem, the arrival of an immaculately conceived baby. It the Mary and Joseph story given a modern twist, focusing on the pressure put on their relationship after such an event. Of course they'd need to see a shrink! Frankly, I think the biblical version of events is lacking in that the couple of yore seem to be prefectly alright with their virgin birth. Mind you, that's Faith for you... and perhaps the message in Maria & Joe is that kind of faith just isn't that easy in today's world. Anyway, it was a brilliant conceit and one I would love to return to... the Bible meets Eastenders. Great.
The religious overtones continued in the next piece, another one of my favourites, House Conversion, written by Rebecca Ronayne and directed by Greenacre. I had a good laugh watching this one. Basically this guy, played by Jacobs, is house-sitting when a stain on the wall, played by Morgan, starts talking to him and reveals itself to be a sort of pathetic, friendless Jesus Christ, there ostensibly to convert the real owner of the apartment, an agnostic who, it turns out, is away - so much for all-knowing! The convesration that ensues between the two characters is very comical, almost farcical at times, but still manages to say a lot about the kinds of concepts and ideas some of us still blindly put our faith into even today. The funniest moment for me was when Jacobs' character manipulates Jesus into manifesting some food and wine.
The following act was an adaptation of Pam Ayres' They Should Have Asked My Husband, directed by Jacobs and featuring Greenacre and Lillie as two neighbours bragging about the faith they have in their men while hanging out the washing. The satire is non-too-subtle here as the women wax lyrical on what, in truth, is the bigotted, narrow-minded, misogynistic, know-it-all idiocy of penis-owners. I enjoyed this piece but, for my own part, I think another original act from Project B themselves would have been better, especially considering how good all of their own stuff actually is.
Happily, the originality returned big-style with the following tale, a beautifully-delivered monologue called Mrs. Pumpkin, written by Mary Kopecky, featuring Kopecky herself in the eponymous role, and directed by Lillie. This was a sometimes sad but beautiful and ulimately positive story from the mouth of an ageing good-time-girl, a woman who you might have expected life to have beaten down yet who remains alive to the potentialities of life and love and the occasional swig of something from her hip-flask.
If it had been up to me, perhaps Mrs. Pumpkin would have been one to end the show with; as it was, the final act of the evening was a piece called Faith-o-matic, written by Lillie and directed by Greenacre. A nice idea, but perhaps just the teensiest tiniest tad confused, Faith-o-matic featured Marius Praniauskas as 'the faith-giver', a glittering character walking the streets mostly disguised as a vagabond, dispensing faith to passers-by (played by the rest of the cast) according to what sort of faith he thinks they need from touching them here and there. All is well until the faith-giver is overwhelmed by a populace desperate for any kind of faith clawing at, smothering and mauling him in their desperation. The message, at least, was clear.
All in all it was an excellent evening. Thought-provoking, entertaining, sweet, sad and pithy... everything Project B had written on the box. I already had faith that this was going to be a good show. That said, if it had turned out that for some reason or another I had lost my faith in original theatre, I can whole-heartedly say that Project B would have fully restored it. This was small, intimate theatre at its best. Nicely done guys.
Via Relevant BCN
Bonkers press article
"ProjectB’s first production, Bonkers, premiers this month at Mutuo Centro de Arte, a cosy, shabby chic artspace just off Via Laeitana. The show is a collection of six short pieces, some self-penned, based around the central themes of mental health."
Nothing crazy about Project B
by Natasha Young
In these troubled times, you’d have to be a bit mental to set up a new English-language theatre company.
Either that or incredibly happy go lucky. Step up to the stage ProjectB. Daniel Jacobs and ProjectB’s other six core members are a passionate and enthusiastic bunch from around the globe. After working together on a variety of amateur theatre shows in the city, they finally felt it was time to do their own thing. Daniel explains: “From a creative point of view, we really bounced off each other. We got on really well and we started to think about what we’d like to do as a group of actors, directors, stage managers and writers.” With a shared love of theatre, a questioning world view and English as a native language, their mission, he says, is to entertain, enrich and educate.
ProjectB’s first production, Bonkers, premiers this month at Mutuo Centro de Arte, a cosy, shabby chic artspace just off Via Laeitana. The show is a collection of six short pieces, some self-penned, based around the central themes of mental health. “It’s an eclectic mix of comedy, singing, poetry and drama, but even when it’s funny, each piece has a serious message behind it about how we as a society respond to issues surrounding mental health” says Daniel. “Mental health problems affect huge amounts of people. How do you know who has them and who doesn’t? A lot of mental health diagnoses are given very quickly, so we look at that and also at obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which many people don’t normally consider to be a mental health issue.”
While not untroubled by spending cuts to the arts, a steep hike in professional theatre ticket prices and the closure of the Raval’s stalwart theatre space, La Riereta, ProjectB’s members are upbeat about the English theatre scene in the city. “It’s great for English theatre at the moment in Barcelona. There’s so much going on, but there’s always room for more and the potential to do something different. There’s a huge audience for it too. Not just native English speakers but people who have English as a second language and people who want to learn.”
Tickets for the show will set you back €10 on the door but here at Metropolitan we have two pairs of tickets to give away for Saturday 17th November. To enter, visit here and follow the instructions: www.barcelona-metropolitan.com/Bonkers. Winners will be drawn on Monday, November 12th.
Venue: Mutuo Centro de Arte, Julià Portet 5 (metro: Urquinaona)
Tel: 93 302 3943 http://mutuocentro.com/
Dates: Saturday the10th, Sunday the11th, Saturday the 17th, Sunday the 18th of November. (Saturday shows 9pm, Sundays 7pm)
Tickets: €10 on the door. €8 advance through ProjectB’s Facebook page.