RotW (4/5): Sherds, Dunebug, Marriage Story, DOCTOR WHO AGAIN

I make no apologies for not posting last week – I did a late Burns Night celebration and was far too full of haggis and whisky to even remember my week, let alone write about it.

Now that my memory has sharpened again, here’s a brief summary of what I watched, read, and listened to over the past fortnight. I’ve tried to keep this one short because tbh I have a spag bol to make tonight.

Image by Reece Straw. I was sat on the front row but I’m just out of frame because Reece was too busy capturing the actual stage for some reason, idek

Sherds: Five Verses on Six Sacks of Earth
What?: A performance piece produced by Nastassja Simensky and Rebecca Lee which was so good it gave me an existential crisis because I now don’t know if I can ever make theatre again

Full disclosure: Nastassja and Rebecca are both friends and colleagues and I supported them with some of the marketing for Sherds.

Fuller disclosure: the performance at Nottingham Contemporary was the first time I’d actually seen any version of the piece, and it blew my tiny mind.

I’m not going to waffle on too long trying to describe Sherds here because it deserves more in-depth writing than I’m aiming to do in these little round-ups. The short version is that it’s a new performance piece based on a residency at an archaeological dig; the slightly longer blurb is here.

I’m a playwright and a reviewer so I see a lot of theatre (although always with a strong sense that I don’t see enough, that I should be seeing more, oh god the guilt about not seeing enough theatre). And a consequence of regular exposure is that you start to get desensitised to the magic of it all.

But Sherds was absolutely a bit of that magic again – rich and detailed and textured. I’m used to spotting the shortcuts of other theatre-makers, and I didn’t see any of them here (possibly because sound is absolutely not my area of understanding, so I think I spent a lot of time with my mouth open wondering how they were doing things – literal magic to me). What I did see was performers working with sound in brilliant, imaginative ways, putting different spins on loop pedals and operatics and harmonies, exploring the different facets of the frustrating and rewarding practice/process/results of archaeology.

Also at one point a trombone had a competition with a rock that was being dragged over an amplified piece of slate. I fucking loved it.

What?: Solo musical project from Manchester-born Chi Limpiroj

This week is clearly the ‘people Emily knows’ edition of Review of the Week. I met Chi a few years ago on a short film shoot; she’s one of those cool people on my Facebook feed who always seems to be doing cool things. Dunebug is one of those cool things. She has a dreamy, zhuzh-y vibe, a sweet-smokey voice, and smartly delicate lyrics. This is my fave of hers at the moment.

Marriage Story
What?: Netflix film and Oscar-bait about a director and an actor whose marriage is falling apart

this scene has been memed to hell and back but my god i don’t think i breathed once during it

I met Adam Driver in 1995 when we worked together on (I’m joking, I don’t actually know everyone this week)

Adam Driver is 36 and I 100% thought he was early-20s at most because Kylo Ren is such an emo teenager, so Marriage Story was a learning experience for me.

I’ve called it Oscar-bait because it has many, many Oscar movie attributes, and I went into it pretty cynically because of that. But it’s genuinely sincere, a lot funnier than I thought it would be, and has a lovely light-touch theatre aesthetic running through it all, particularly in the scenes where the actors get to do long, uninterrupted duologues. Watch it alone so you can weep openly when Adam Driver sings Being Alive.



If I was going to nit-pick, I would have to say that I’m not 100% onboard with Chibnall cribbing from Moffat’s cheat-sheet and slamming the actual plot of the episode to a complete halt in order to literally pull characters out of the story and introduce a different thread that goes nowhere (for now)

But I’m not going to nit-pick, because I also had to slam the episode to a pause so I could scream my feelings out. So. Welcome back to capslock excitement about Doctor Who, self.