These are your lives: to 04 10 14

These are your lives: Alexander Rennie
The Yard Theatre

Unit 2a, Queen’s Yard,
Hackney Wick, E9 5EN

Tues-Sat 8pm

Runs: 70 mins without interval, to 04 10 14


Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Sept 12, 2014:

Stars’ behaviour deliciously deconstructed.
There’s a worrying trend I’ve noted emerging over the past couple of years which may be due to budgetary constraints. But actors, it seems, are not being considered important enough or their contribution vital enough to warrant decent or indeed any kind of biog in fringe programmes. Space aplenty, however, for the `creatives’!

Actors deserve better. They certainly deserve better here in a little gem of a show that hopefully will find a wider viewing.

The Yard’s nurturing of new talent has already been commended in other quarters. Rightly so. And writer and director, Alexander Rennie (a founder member of The Yard) and his co-collaborator, movement director Tara D’Arquian who have now moved on to creating Geste Records, the producer of These are your lives, have brought forth a delightfully sardonic satire on today’s celebrity cult and the effect they have on us all.

Taking a chat show interview with Tom Cruise as their base line, and using (with his permission) his words, they spin off into a sharp deconstruction of his words and most importantly his gestures, mixing it with a music commentary from two female choirs plus multi-media video excerpts of scenes from his films and a taped interview with a fictional wife.

All of which – certain mystifying choreographic moves apart – adds up to a delicious take-off of stars’ and their `performing’ tics even when trying to be `authentic’: the hand through the hair, the look to camera, the obsession at all times with how they look.

But none of this would even begin to strike home without the actors. And Rennie is fortunate in his cast. As the Tom Cruise-like guest, Jack Johns, slim of build, is wonderful, every nuance pitched to represent faux modesty, with eyes piercing the audience as if to lasso them to his heart. He’s matched by the very accomplished German-British actor Lilian Schiffer who as one of his first on-screen lovers, synching her walk, her embrace, shows the combustible behind-the-scenes egotism of celebrity.

It’s a brilliantly achieved concept – stylish, accomplished and pertinent. We’re all affected by celebrity. But could we, please, have the actors’ contribution properly acknowledged next time?

These are your lives:


One: Brian Gillespie
Two: Jack Johns
Three: Ottillie Parfitt
Four: Lilian Schiffer

Choir members:
Composer: Ellie Rose Rusbridge
Clare Treacey
Esther Dee
Elisa Kiki Adams
Elly Hopkins
Katy Robinson

Writer and director: Alexander Rennie
Movement director: Tara D’Arquian
Composer: Ellie Rose Rusbridge

Set design: Christopher Page & Clementine Keith-Roach
Costume design: Oliver Cronk
Sound design: Mugsy Webb & Josh Grigg
Videographer: Phil Conway
Assistant director: Thomas Bailey

First performance of These are your lives at The Yard, London, Sept 9, 2014, presented by Geste Records.

See also:
Twitter: @YardTheatre

2014-09-14 20:50:13

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