Category Archive: The Sound Of Heavy Rain

Roundabout LDN: Blog of blogs

Much of the most interesting theatre criticism, and the most informative for us, is found away from the mainstream press on the burgeoning theatre blogs.

Out there on the interweb, numerous passionate punters chart their extensive theatregoing with wide-ranging reviews of their whole experience – from the lighting desing to the loos – generally in much more detail than the critics can squeeze into their word counts.

And having opened our own theatre for The Roundabout Season, it was amongst the blogs that we learnt the most about audience experience. We can get so close to our own work, and in this case to our auditorium, that it proves invaluable to read other people’s first impressions.

The ‘flat-pack’ auditorium is erected in the middle of the hauntingly preserved assembly hall, and the combination of carousel-esque wallpaper and design, exposed bulbs and the imposing lighting rig gives the distinct impression of entering a circus,” writes Rebecca Hazel Roughan in The Oxford Student Online. “The actors serve as clowns, lions and ringmasters and have the ability to heal and break our hearts in a moment.”

Gareth James on Gareth’s Culture and Travel blog writes: “It’s a bigger version of the Royal Court’s set for Cock, like somewhere you’d have held a cock-fight. It reminds me of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre – like a spaceship has landed inside an old building.”

There was a lot of chat about buttons…

It’s unallocated seating,” explains Rev Stan, “But you choose a coloured button before you go in and are directed to a portion of the auditorium that matches your colour. (Tip: Choose yellow if you want to be closest to the exit/loos). A nifty way of getting the audience to spread out but as no one was collecting buttons I’m wondering how long it will be before they run out.”

Don’t worry Rev, we had loads.

Not content with merely allocating seats, your button is the key to your position – it’s all very alternative. This is Shoreditch after all,” notes Oxford Student Rebecca, dispatched from the dreaming spires to EC1.

Judging by the spread of audience members, given that choice of colours, most people will go for blue, and pink is very unpopular,” observes Nick on Partially Obstructed View, before revealing we’d scared his friend: “Vanessa, it turns out, is afraid of buttons (‘What the hell is that?’ she thundered at the three bowls of different-coloured buttons on the box office desk.)

And if it wasn’t the buttons causing consternation, it was the sex:

Positively the most sexual scene I’ve ever seen on a theater,” writes Webcowgirl on Life In The Cheap Seats of the virginal fumble in ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG. “I’m sure the actors both had their underpants on but it was rather a LOT like watching a live sex show and if you were planning on taking a member of the family I would NOT advise it.”

So don’t bring your Granny, is the tip, though she does go on to say: “Otherwise: actually really hot,” so perhaps liberal minded family members might get a kick out of it.

There were thousands of words written about the plays. Insightful, interesting and unashamedly subjective descriptions of people’s responses to the plays, which is exactly what we want to hear.

My favourite piece of the day, especially the second act,” writes ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG fan Poly Gianniba on The Other Bridge Project. “Payne’s writing probes difficult places of loneliness and heartbreak, and the actors, especially Andrew Sheridan (who has the rare ability of drawing you in so effectively and with so little fanfare that takes you by surprise) make the play justice.”

Thanks so much to everyone who came, and saw, and blogged. We’ve loved reading your reviews, and we’ve learnt from hearing about your experiences.

We’ll leave the last word to Webcowgirl, writing about LUNGS:

And at the end, it seemed, the world blew out of the auditorium, the light from the stage expanding out the cupola above me, all of the little sadnesses and disappointments that make up our tiny lives becoming universal, utterly transcending the theater in which we sat on a rainy Sunday night in October in a run down corner of an often unfriendly town. And I walked out into the night and thought about my own sadnesses, and fiddled with my little yellow button. And it was good.”

Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Gabriella

The Roundabout Season came to an end this Saturday with a brilliant three show day and a lovely night of celebrations, and joining the cast and company at drinks afterwards were many of the amazing volunteer ushers who’s dedication and enthusiasm has embodied the spirit of the Roundabout Season.

Last week we heard from Jon and Ariane about their experience of the season and now it’s Gabriella‘s turn …

Name: Gabriella

How are you finding the Roundabout experience? I’m loving it – it’s great to be in a buzzing, creative building again after working in a commercial, business environment for a while.

What’s your favourite part of the Roundabout Auditorium? It is a very intimate space yet can fit a surprising amount of people, and there isn’t a ‘bad’ seat in the house!

Which plays have you seen so far? I’ve been lucky enough to catch all three, more than once in some cases!

Which one would you recommend and why? Lungs – the way Duncan Macmillan has written the dialogue feels revolutionary even though it’s really just an accurate representation of the cadences of everyday speech.

Give us your 140 character review of the play: Breath of fresh air in exploration of contemporary relationships. Characters have believable shades of grey & are beautifully performed by talented cast of two.

Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Jon

Following on from Friday’s blog we asked another of our amazing volunteer ushers to share their experiences of the Roundabout Season and give their personal recommendations of which shows to see in the final week …

Name: Jon Barton

How are you finding the Roundabout experience?

I’m having a really great time. I’m a writer myself so its a useful learning experience for me.

What’s your favourite part of the Roundabout Auditorium?

That it’s in the round. It completely changes the dynamic of the productions and really does justice to the writing. Also we don’t have enough in the round theatres in the UK and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Which plays have you seen so far?

I’ve been lucky enough to see all of them.

Which one would you recommend and why?

One Day When We Were Young is probably my favourite but they’re all unique in their own ways. Lungs is a really affective love story and The Sound of Heavy Rain is great fun.

Give us your 140 character review of the play…

Nick Payne has written a compelling love story that lends itself to the intimacy (and theatricality) of the Roundabout space. In a story that spans six decades we meet Leonard and Violet – wartime lovers looking to enjoy their last night together. Leaping forward to the sixties we see the extent of their estrangement, until events draw them together once more in 2002. Clare Lizzimore’s production excels in its execution, mining the writing for every bit of tenderness and inelegance. Exposing set and costume serve a timeless quality to the story and remind us of the advancing years. What stays with you is the quiet power of the triptych and its ability to quietly break your heart.

Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Ariane

Shoreditch Town Hall has been buzzing in the past 5 weeks with the Roundabout Season in town. And at the heart of the experience are our wonderful volunteer ushers, who have been giving up their time to help create a friendly front of house experience and pass on their passion for theatre and new writing.

So who better to tell us about the ROUNDABOUT experience and what they think of the  shows:

Name: Ariane Barnes

How are you finding the Roundabout experience?

The Roundabout Season has been very rewarding for me, I feel like I am doing something useful with my time on a Friday night and Its always a pleasure to see the other ushers and staff at Shoreditch, its a lovely team.

What’s your favorite part of the Roundabout Auditorium?

I’m very taken by the lighting set up, the guys let me have a go on the lighting board during the introductions evening and I felt like a little kid! When you add the structure of the actual stage ( being in quite a small round) and how intimately it involves audience members, it really does give it all a very unique ambience.

Which plays have you seen so far?

I’ve seen The Sound of Heavy Rain by Penny Skinner and ‘heard’ ( from a different position in the room as an usher) One Day When We Were Young by Nick Payne.

Which one would you recommend and why?

I’d recommend The Sound of Heavy Rain

It’s an experience that melds the unique qualities you would find in a classic American cop caper à la ‘Dick Tracy’ and the gritty reality of modern day London and British actors.  It is presented in a unique and highly entertaining way in this auditorium.

Give us your 140 character review of the play…

Right from the start this play sets out to be very different from the normal theatrical experience. Penny Skinner’s writing and the unique ambience created in the intimate space of the roundabout auditorium, provide for this in droves.

Immersed in smoke and sultry music, the audience is instantly transported into the American film noire genre, and skillfully brought back to our gritty London streets by the charming style of delivery given to us by the cast.

All the actors here are to be highly commended for their ability to weave a very British undercurrent into a play written as an expression of both the American genre and the very real, very pressing issues in modern-day Britain.

Therein lies the genius of the writing. This play contains both an expression of what we as an audience die for; the beauty, the music, the intrigue but also a much needed, good hard slap in the face courtesy of the stinging realism in the second half, put to us in a searing duologue showcasing Kate O’Flynn’s emotive, straight-talking, desperation in the face of an emotionally serious situation.

Yes, there will be singing and dancing and a bloody good laugh or two! But ultimately there is a finely crafted message here… the audiences journey through fantasy towards reality is reflective of the characters needs to explore their own psyche’s. And in some cases have their whole ‘constructed world’ completely fall down around them like a house of cards… How long can people stay lost in a fantasy until reality comes calling?

Entertaining and thought provoking theatre.

View from the Stage: Frizzy Hair in the Rain

It was over a month ago now that the Roundabout Auditorium opened its doors at Shoreditch Town Hall. Since then thousands of people have sat on the colourful cushions and sampled some of the three new plays on offer.

At the heart of the Roundabout Season is the stunning acting ensemble of four – Maia Alexander, Alistair Cope, Kate O’Flynn & Andrew Sheridan – who between them perform all the roles in the three productions.  One of the questions they are most frequently asked is: What is it like playing such a range of roles?

Maia (Violet in One Day When We Were Young & Maggie in The Sound of Heavy Rain) tells us that it’s all about the hair…..

Hair today, gone tomorrowThe Sound of Heavy Rain

“When I think about the range of characters that I play in the Roundabout Season, from the seventeen year old to the seventy-nine year old, from the introverted to the glamorous, then the thing that really seems to set them immediately apart is hair. They all have it, of course, but in wildly different styles, some more natural than others, that distinguish not only personalities, but where and when they come from.

For instance, in the transition between Act One and Two of One Day When We Were Young by Nick Payne, when my character Violet is preparing to see Leonard again after a long war which has seen their once paired lives painfully diverge, a broken hair tie threatened to ruin everything. Why was my middle-aged beehive on the side of my head exactly, spilling youthful salon-fresh, perfectly curled locks out onto my jacket that looked exactly like the pre-war seventeen year old Violet? Because the hair tie was refusing to get with the times, that’s why. Stay in character, hair tie!

With Andrew Sheridan in Nick Payne’s “gripping love story” – The Guardian

In The Sound of Heavy Rain by Penelope Skinner, I play five different characters – which is partly achieved by a juggling act of an ever expanding number of wigs.   There is the curly wig which seemed determined to make me look like the lovechild of Brian May and Deidre Barlow, which the designer and costume department fought tirelessly to tame, hacking away at it to try and make it behave. The wig had ideas of its own, and the more it was chopped, the more fervently it asserted its wildness.   Ultimately, it was decided that the wig’s fame had gone to its head and it had begun to upstage the performers head that it was on – and so . . . it was cut from the show. Luckily, the aloof blonde waitress wig stepped in to fill the synthetic void – versatile and relaxed, the platinum bob will play any number of roles without complaint – at the last count, the blonde wig was being used for five different characters, although there is talk, even at this stage half way through the run, of a brunette appearing on the scene. Watch out you blondes.”

Change to ticketing policy for Roundabout

Thanks to Henry Bell, who pointed it out on Twitter, we’ve realised there was a bit of an oversight in our ticketing policy for The Roundabout Season.

Previously you could only get a discount when buying tickets for all three shows if you saw all three shows in the same day. But with a number of individual performances selling out, some people, like Henry, were unable to book all three shows on one day, and therefore unable to get a discount.

So we’ve changed it. You can now book for all three shows for £45, regardless of when you see the shows.

So see ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG next Wednesday night, THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN on Friday night, and LUNGS on Sunday afternoon (for example), all for £45, saving £15 on booking the shows individually.

But hurry, tickets are selling fast, so book now.

See you in Shoreditch.

Audience response to Roundabout LDN

Here’s a little video we made of some audience responses to our Roundabout Season at Shoreditch Town Hall…

Richard Wilson on BBC Radio London

Here’s LUNGS director Richard Wilson being interviewed by Jeni Barnett about The Roundabout Season, his television career and his next show for our partners Sheffield Theatres, STRAIGHT by DC Moore.

Click on the link below to play the audio file in your default audio player:

Richard Wilson interview with Jeni Barnett on BBC London Radio

Production photos: HEAVY RAIN

Here’s a selection of production photos from THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner, currently playing in rep until 27 October as part of our Roundabout Season.

The photos were shot by the brilliant Elyse Marks, and you can see the whole set over on our Flickr stream.

You can buy tickets for the show here.

Competition: Tweet your review

It’s competition time. Huzzah!

We’ve got three sets of playtexts of our three Roundabout plays to give away – LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan, ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG by Nick Payne and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner – each one signed by the playwright.

Get your mitts on these lovely signed playtexts

All you have to do to get your hands on them, is tweet @painesplough with your 140 character review of one of the plays. The best three between now and next Friday 12 October will win the goodies, and we’ll throw in some extra PP playtexts too.

Hash tag your review with #LungsPlay, #OneDayPlay or #HeavyRainPlay depending on which show you’re reviewing, or #RoundaboutLDN if you’re reviewing the season.

We’ll retweet the best and write you nice @ replies.

Twitter, are you ready… go!