Ruby Fischer

Arts Reporter

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Book Review | Charlotte Salomon: Leben? oder Theater?Drawing inspiration from a traumatic life

By Ruby Fischer


“SHE was like an overcast day in November,” recalls a school friend. “She lived in her own world of light, air and colours.”

Charlotte Salomon, whose birth centenary was celebrated last year, is one of the most prolific and enigmatic artists of the modern era. Born in Berlin, Salomon was 22 on the morning after Kristallnacht — the 1938 pogrom against Jews in nazi Germany — when her father Dr Albert Salomon was arrested.

She and her grandparents sought refuge in the home of Ottilie Moore, a US heiress who provided safe haven for young Jewish children at her Villa l’Ermitage in the French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

It was here that Salomon fell into a deep existential depression, out of which she saw just two possibilities — either succumb to the thoughts of suicide, whose promise of eternal quietude ultimately claimed all the women in her family, or defy the...

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Theatre Review | Angry: Philip Ridley hatches a curate’s egg of dreams and disasters

By Ruby Fischer
Southwark Playhouse


Charismatic: Tyrone Huntley Photo: Matt Martin

THERE’S an appropriate lack of ceremony as we enter the world of Philip Ridley’s Angry.

Pre-show, its two actors prowl the confines of a sunken square pit as they size each other up, while a galloping drum beat warns us not to get too comfortable.

We are, after all, in the presence of the mind that brought us The Pitchfork Disney, Dark Vanilla Jungle and Mercury Fur so a little horror, a little romance and a little grotesque fantasy are to be expected.

And in the six monologues of Angry, directed by Max Lindsay, we get snapshots of each.

In this two-hander, Georgie Henley and Tyrone Huntley swap roles on alternate nights and perhaps this has as much to do with fairly allocating the better-written pieces alongside the weaker, but it also works as a way to keep the stories outside the realms of...

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Theatre Review | The Believers Are But Brothers: Light on the terrifying darkness of the digital era

By Ruby Fischer


Ambitious: Javaad Alipoor Photo: The Other Richard

PRE-SHOW, a cornucopia of screens, headsets and consoles surround actor Javaad Alipoor at the Bush, as he navigates his way through a game of Call of Duty. The rattle of assault rifles, exploding grenades and the occasional scream of terror indicate that he’s just racked up another kill.

An usher informs us that much of the show will take place on a Whatsapp group. Leave it on, she urges, it will enhance the experience.

So this ambitious solo piece is as as much an immersive digital experience as it is a work of live theatre with Alipoor, who co-directs with Kirsty Housley, presenting a fragmented thesis on political extremism, frustrated masculinity and what happens when they collide over the internet.

From the Tahrir Square “revolution” to Isis on Telegram, the show embraces an entire cosmos of complex...

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Theatre Review | Boudica: Honour, land, country, tribe

By Ruby Fischer
Globe Theatre


Skill and brutality…Gina McKee in Boudica at Shakespeare’s Globe, London. Photograph: Steve Tanne

It is with a defiant beat of a drum that we are flung from our seats into the raging world of a first century Britain bucking against the yolk of Roman occupation. Anna-Maria Nabiyre’s charged opening soliloquy assures us that we are in the hands of master story-tellers, and we surrender to Tristan Bernays’ odyssean work of history, eulogy and myth.

Boudica is a traumatic ode to the eponymous barbarian Queen of the Iceni, and also a moving investigation into the fierce devotion of a mother’s love amidst the age-old struggle over “honour, land, country, tribe and language.” Director Eleanor Rhode brings together a stellar cast who could hardly be more committed or immersed. Joan Iyiola and Natalie Simpson are stunning in their portrayal of the two...

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Theatre Review | Working: Work in capitalism classic re-energised

By Ruby Fischer
Southwark Playhouse

On one level, Working presents a series of poetic musical moments, which reveal the working lives of ordinary men and women in the US. On another level, it is about much larger questions: about identity, ambition, hope and what it means to be a cog in the wheel. It is at once a chilling reflection of our value structures and also a heartwarming homage to human resilience and determination when simply making it through the day becomes a herculean feat.

The 1978 musical is based on Stud Terkel’s revelatory text in which he interviews over a hundred working Americans, from gravediggers to piano tuners, engaging them in conversations which bring to light not only the daily mechanics of life in the workforce, but also broader existential questions about the quest for meaning in the mechanism.

In Schwartz and Faso’s vision, we are presented with such...

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Theatre Review | Home Truths: Cardboard Citizens makes acute drama out of housing crisis

By Ruby Fischer
The Bunker, London

CARDBOARD Citizens’ Home Truths is both an exploration of homelessness and a provocative reminder of the privilege of “homefulness” in a country which uses twice as much land for golf courses as for housing.

It’s an “incomplete history” of nine short plays divided into three cycles, each focusing in their own way on the issue of housing over the past 250 years.

The final cycle begins with a rendition of Gus Elen’s classic music hall number The Houses in Between and goes on to present a world shaped by a limbo-like sense of ambiguity and disorientation.

The first, Henrietta, introduces the eponymous heroine — an enchanting and versatile Caroline Loncq — whose purgatorial reunion with her late husband culminates in the question: “What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?” while Nostalgia takes us to a “little place” where Anna struggles...

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