Writer_ Maisie Linford
- Maisie Linford takes a trip to the Fringe Theatre in Shoreditch, and frankly explains how appearances can be misleading.
Instead of hiding from St Jude, I found myself getting off at Shoreditch High Street to see Aria Entertainment’s production of Blood Wedding at the Courtyard Theatre. The mumbles of tourists with expectations of “cool, alternative, trendy” filled the air, and what materialised was the corporate tin Boxpark and the over priced members club. Shoreditch House was giving me the sinking feeling that London had not got anything left that wasn’t completely fake and extortionate. My expectations of Interesting Fringe Theatre sagged.
After walking in the rain towards Old Street I barely noticed The Courtyard Theatre, tucked away on Bowling Green Walk, and once inside I wasn’t sure I had the right place. I had been given a hand-drawn green ticket and told to wait in the corridor. The walls gave an authentic history of Hoxton and the building, and there were no adverts.
There were only around twelve other people at the performance, and we were led to our seats through the dressing room. The show began.
The set was simple but effective. Three walls were made from recycled doors by ‘Scenery Salvage’, and each door was totally unique and had a different purpose. One of the flaws with big budget West End productions is that the set too often tries to make you think the ‘theatre’ is as good as a film. This play made clear why Lorca was writing for theatre and not film, and used every aspect of the stage to it’s advantage.
The symbolic, sexually loaded Blood Wedding plays out in the rural town, It is a play just as much about the movement as the language, and anyone wanting to get better acquainted with Lorca beyond the page is well advised at making the most of this production. Miles Yekinni as Death manipulates the characters with relentless ethereal strings and Tamaryn Payne as Moon shapes their outcomes with a mystical fluidity.
Fringe Theatre, contrary to popular belief, is not “amateur theatre” but Theatre that is not performed on a commercial scale. Fringe Theatre tends to be theatre for people that actually like theatre. A report this summer, called ‘Centre Stage’, found one in five Fringe Theatres in London feel ‘very insecure’ about their financial future. It calls on the Mayor to appoint a new ambassador for small theatres to bring the sector together, and implement the recommendations.
In a play where all the walls are doors this marriage opens up so much more than would be expected, as does the evening at The Courtyard Theatre. Anyone hoping to get more from Lorca and more from London is well advised to go.