I have never seen anything at The Courtyard Theatre Studio before and my first impressions were positive. Great space, nice atmosphere and not to far from the tube. One thing I will say is that the auditorium was freezing cold which wasn’t great.
Our night kicked off with Doing The Business. A two hander set in one room, revolving around a conversation between a theatrical Producer/Director and a sponsorship agent. The set was simplistic and gave us (as an audience) what we needed to believe in the piece.
To start with the character of Peter, played by Matthew Carter, was hurting my ears but by the time the piece finished I couldn’t keep my eyes off the eccentric character. On the opposite side of the desk we had Mike (Jim Mannering) who was the polar opposite. Mike resembled the average man, the day to day Joe. The mix of the two characters, to my surprise, actually pleasently worked.
The story talks us through how sponsers and big businesses want to put censorship on everything. With the piece being set in the 90’s, we heard plays being censored because they’re Irish and due to a writer being a lesbian.
Doing The Buisness is very cleverly written and has been cast well. Slow out of the gate but picked up pace towards the end.
We recieved our first glimpse of Blind at the beginning of Act 2. The set had now been turned into a rather bare art studio, with the lights coming up on a naked man being painted by a young man. I must add that the character of Mo Dyer (John McKenna) was reading from his script due to recent cast changes. Unfortunately for the piece, this did really things down. Every scene that Mo was in lost momentum and my concentration was shattered.
Blind tells the story about two young artists trying to make their way as professionals. Janna Fox plays the sporadic Maddy Burns brilliantly and in my eyes steals the show. Blind also guides us through the troubles of substance abuse and how money can effect everything.
Alan (Cameron Harle) has the biggest transformation out of everyone. We see the young artist start off as a fresh faced artist and transform into a troubled cocaine addicted mess. The other character in the show was the not so lovable Paul Stone (Daniel Yorke). Paul was the man with money and always knew how to get his own way.
The set was the plays biggest down fall. The scene changes were fine but you could never really tell where you were. Objects from different rooms seemed to blend into one-another (such as the knife art work). The piece was in the gallery and then inside our leads art studio with no reference of how it got there.
Blind has 4 very different characters and has a storyline to match. With a little bit more time spent on this piece it could be a real keeper.
Reviewed by Jamie Chapman Dixon
Blind/Doing The Business runs at The Courtyard Theatre until 23 February 2014. Click here for tickets.