James Collier & Fallen Angel Theatre
in association with
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
By Moira Buffini
Directed by Chris Loveless
On the twenty-fifth floor of a monstrous tower block Hector Blavatsky - visionary,
architect and patriarch - dominates his family with God-like authority. Fearful of being
tainted by the rest of humanity below (the crushed) the Blavatskys are
in full retreat from the world. But Hector is dying. And when an outsider arrives in their
miniature universe the family must finally consider flying the nest and joining the
crushed - but at what cost?
Moira Buffinis black comedy takes a wry look at that most dysfunctional of
establishments: the family.
Tues 16 March Sat 3 April 2010
(No Performances Sun/Mon)
Tues Sat 7.45pm
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH
Box Office: 0844 847 2454 OR
Book online with www.ticketweb.co.uk
Tickets: £12 / £9 (No booking fee)
Rail: Honor Oak Park 15 mins London Bridge
& Crofton Park 10 mins Blackfriars
Bus: 171, 172, 122 & P4 stop in front of theatre
Review of Blavatsky's Tower
"Darkly comic and insightful drama"
by Chris Sims for
remotegoat on 21/03/10
Can mankind aspire to a higher state of being? And if not, what happens to those
whose life-consuming efforts to transcend the mundane world can only end in
disappointment? The philosophical questions at the heart of Moira Buffini's intriguing
play are as high-reaching as the tower of the title, but they unfold through a series of
very human encounters between a damaged and isolated family and a bewildered outsider.
The Blavatsky family see themselves as above the rest of the world, both spiritually and
physically as they eke out their lives in self-imposed quarantine on top of a huge,
dilapidated tower block designed by their dominating father, Hector. In reality, they are
a mess of unspoken resentments and overpowering fears, and the arrival of a doctor from
the outside world to tend to the blind and increasingly deranged Hector precipitates the
collapse of their universe.
Buffini's script begins with comedy in the first act as the doctor is confronted with this
collection of misfits, and grows increasingly dark as the family's world begins to fall
apart and their efforts to control events grow more and more desperate. The full truth of
the situation, and the true nature of the characters, unfolds gradually - the questions
the audience is left with at the end of the first act are answered with great satisfaction
in the second. The strength of the script is its ability to observe fine details and
truths within a strong story arc and tightly defined thematic focus; its one weakness
perhaps a tendency to intersperse realistic dialogue with overtly theatrical moments at
odds with the characters' naivety.
The most challenging work on stage falls to the three Blavatsky siblings, and Annabel
Bates, Emily Bowker and Anthony Hoskyns all rise impressively to the challenge. Bates is
wonderfully natural as idealistic youngest sibling Ingrid, while Hoskyns physically and
vocally inhabits the childlike and petulant Roland admirably. Bowker displays tremendous
comic abilities in the first act, as oldest sibling Audrey tries to deal with the
unprecedented entrance of a newcomer into the Blavatskys' lives, before descending into
desperation and autocracy in the second act with equal dramatic skill. The one weaker
element in the cast is Robert Wilson's doctor Tim Dunn, who seems only vaguely surprised
at the bizarre lifestyles he uncovers and who does not really convince as the saviour
figure he ultimately becomes - though not for all the family.
Ultimately, the perspective of the play seems to be that lofty dreams are dangerous, and
that freedom can come in the most mundane and safe of forms. Not an outlook on life with
which all will identify, but Blavatsky's Tower should certainly provoke reflection on the
best way to live one's life - and any piece of theatre that can do that is worth making
the effort to go and see.
British Theatre Guide
Review by Sandra
Domineering architect Hector Blavatsky housed himself and his family in the top
floor flat of the tower block he designed. But the utopia he had imagined failed to be
realised and, overwhelmed by the ugliness of his own creation, he turned his back on the
world and never set foot outside the flat again.
In the absence of a mother, the three children were raised by a monstrous father who
stayed within the confines of the 25th floor. Now, even from his deathbed, he continues to
tyrannise them and they, for fear of contamination from those who live below, revealingly
called 'the crushed', have adopted a similar seclusion.
Only the eldest Audrey, who has a job, has contact with the outside world which gives her
power over her brother Roland, who remains aloof from society in "a battle to remain
uncorrupted" and sister, Ingrid, who is kept in by her "will".
The status quo of their unconventional living arrangements teeters precariously with the
arrival of a stranger, and the pretence that they are an "ordinary family"
becomes increasingly transparent as it emerges that they are not always sure exactly what
is 'ordinary' themselves.
The writing is packed with well-observed contradictions of family living: the compromise
between duty and personal want, the changes of allegiance, the reigning in of hate and the
calculated giving of affection. Here the perversities are more extreme but no less
believable as Buffini reveals the savage side of this love-to-hate, hate-to-love
Director Chris Loveless has assembled a first class cast for this revival of Moira
Buffini's 1998 play. Emily Bowker has a strong stage presence and gives a powerful
performance as Audrey, frustrated by the dilemma of being in charge of the family without
being the one in control.
Robert Wilson is Tim Dunn, the person who represents 'normality', complete with
questionable motives, in the form of the doctor who goes to the 25th floor flat by a quirk
of fate and becomes embroiled with this most dysfunctional of families. Wilson is adept at
the comic elements of the role and gives the confused and disbelieving doctor a pleasingly
humorous physicality too.
Annabel Bates engenders sympathy for the vulnerable Ingrid in a sensitive portrayal of a
disturbed and fragilely innocent victim whilst still hinting at an ability to manipulate
things to her own advantage. Oliver Hulme by contrast is a raging tortured Hector
Blavatsky but nonetheless moving when he says to his son, "I wanted it to be true,
but nothing ever is".
Roland is played by Anthony Hoskyns, in a thoughtful performance that reveals the
complexities and inconsistencies of a troubled mind.
Blavatsky's Tower is a compelling piece of writing that is both darkly comic and thought
provoking. It covers a lot of issues, may be too many, but Chris Loveless' direction
maintains a tight pace and delivers a gripping evening's entertainment.
Kate Bannister & Karl Swinyard - Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
Kate Bannister (Artistic Director) and Karl Swinyard (Theatre Manager)
have programmed and produced over 100 different productions at the Brockley Jack Studio
Theatre, including the recent new writing season, Write Now, classical revivals,
musical theatre, comedy and community art events. They have also introduced film, Scratch
nights and writing workshops to the venue. Their own in-house productions include: Fighting,
Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Cant
Pay? Wont Pay!, The Importance of Being Earnest, Worlds Apart, Xanthippe,
A Fans Club, Teechers and A Christmas Carol.
As director and designer or as co-designers Kate and Karls
productions also include: Orion (Wiltons Music Hall); Measure for Measure
Malaya (Riverside Studios); Twelfth Night (Courtyard Theatre); Extensions of
Love (Oval House); Firelines, W.C., Fishmonger, Mystery of the
Rose Bouquet (Blue Elephant Theatre); You Don't Kiss (Stratford Circus); Uncle
Ebenezer (BAC); A Bill of Divorcement, The Girls Consent
(Greenwich Playhouse); Amah (Tara Arts); Accidental Death of an Anarchist
(UK Tour); Canterbury Tales (UK Tour); As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet
(Hertfordshire Festival); The Smilin State, A Mother Speaks (Hackney
Empire); The Dorchester, No Shame No Fear, My Matisse, Preacherosity
(Jermyn Street Theatre); Purlie, Notes Across A Small Pond, The Ballad of
Little Jo (Bridewell Theatre); Question Time (Arcola Theatre). Their youth and
community art projects include: Pass the Baton, The Miracle (Lewisham Senior
Youth Theatre) Is it Art? Art in You (multimedia installation); Alice, Six
Men, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and The Bushey Story. Most recently
they have collaborated with Heart and Soul at the Albany Theatre, Deptford and at the
Michael Brydon - Production Photographs
Moira Buffini - Playwright
Moira is currently Writer in Residence at the National Theatre Studio. Her writing for theatre includes Dinner (2002) which was commissioned by the
National Theatre, nominated for an Olivier Award for best new comedy and has recently
enjoyed a revival at the Bay Street Theatre in NY.
Other theatre credits include Loveplay
(2001) for the RSC; Silence (1999) Birmingham
Rep and Plymouth Theatre Royal, winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn prize; Gabriel (1997) for Soho, winner of LWT award and
Whiting award; and Blavatskys Tower
(fringe). More recently Moira wrote Dying For It,
a free adaptation of The Suicide by Nickolai
Erdman, and Marianne Dreams, based on
Catherine Storr's book, both for the Almeida (2007). She also wrote A Vampire Story, for the National Theatre's
Connections Festival (2008). Her latest play Welcome
to Thebes opens on the National Theatre Olivier stage in June.
Moira has also written a screen adaptation of A Vampire Story for Number 9 Films and an
adaptation of Jane Eyre for BBC and Ruby Films,
for theatrical release. Her screen adaptation of Tamara
Drewe for Ruby Films, directed by Stephen Frears, finished shooting in Autumn 2009 and
is awaiting release.
Simon James Collier - Producer
Simon is CEO and
Co-Founder of the noted Okai Collier Company and has produced and been the creative
director on over fifty plays and musicals in London, throughout the United Kingdom and
Europe. These include Oliver Twist and Supernatural (Lion & Unicorn); Love
Horse (White Bear); Collision (also directed Hackney Empire); Normal
(Tobacco Factory, Bristol); Moonshadow (Time Out Critics Choice, White Bear);
In His Hands (Hackney Empire/Oxford House); The Smilin State (Hackney
Empire); Dracula (White Bear); Hedwig & The Angry Inch (K52 Theatre,
Frankfurt); A Mother Speaks (Hackney Empire/New Wolsey, Ipswich/The Drum,
Birmingham); The Dorchester (Jermyn Street); The Last Session (Hackney
Empire); My Matisse (Jermyn Street); Shiny Happy People, with Victoria Wood
(Hornchurch Theatre); Passion (Bridewell); A
My Name Is Alice
(Bridewell); Whole Lotta Shakin (Belgrade, Coventry); Great Balls Of Fire
(Cambridge Theatre, West End); A Wrongful Execution (also directed Hackney
Empire); Spooky Noises (also book & co lyrics Merlin Theatre); Countess
& Cabbages (also book Merlin Theatre); Preacherosity (Jermyn
Street); Purlie (nominated for 4 Whats On Stage Awards Bridewell); Elegies
For Angels, Punks & Raging Queens (also Executive Producer on 2001 Cast Recording
Bridewell, Globe Centre, Three Mills); La Vie En Rose (Kings Head,
Towngate Theatre); Viva O Carnaval (also co book & lyrics Lilian Baylis
Sadlers Wells) and Ruthless (winner of 5 Musical Stages awards
Stratford Circus, London).
He has also written and
published over twenty childrens books and novels including the Mr. Dark
trilogy (optioned for an animated television series), the Towards the Light Fantastic
Trilogy and the Norman series. Simon recently produced Dance With Me,
his first feature film, which will be in cinemas in 2010 and is currently developing two
other features for production in 2010/11. He also directed The Difference We Make,
a documentary for Southern Housing Foundation as well as presenting celebrated events at
St. Martin in the Fields (The Crusaid Requiem), Hackney Empire (Inspiration
Innovation Integration Season) and St. Pauls Cathedral (Service of
Thanksgiving, Remembrance & Hope for World AIDS Day).
Simon has created and
project directed a series of award-nominated social investment projects that encourage
youth creativity and literacy within the community, produced a number of documentaries and
short films, and promoted various exhibitions focusing on the work of up and coming
He has also been the
Executive Director of Londons Bridewell Theatre, Artistic Consultant to Jermyn
Street West End Studio Theatre and Chair, Trustee, Director and Consultant of numerous
Productions for 2010
include: Tapestry (also directing); Gifted (White Bear); More Dead
Black Children; Stairway to Heaven (Blue Elephant), The Remains of the Day
(Union Theatre) and Still Life.
Adam Dechanel - Graphic
Adam Dechanel is a prolific author, illustrator and
graphic designer whose career spans nearly a decade. He has worked in television, film,
books, short stories and graphic novels for many years. Throughout his wide-ranging career
he has had a series of novels published including the high profile Superman: Tempered
Steel. Adam is well known in the illustration field and has worked extensively with
Warner Bros, DC Comics and The Walt Disney Company. He also exhibits his artwork in
galleries around London, including the prestigious Old Truman Brewery. He is the
co-creator of publishing label Okai Collier Kids that pioneered the CDbook entertainment
format. His concept for graphic novel anthologies Vanston Place: The Secret Adventures
& The Timber Wharves Gang were short listed for a SNAC award.
In theatre Adam has worked on productions including Collision,
My Name Is Alice, My Matisse, In His Hands,
The Smilin State, The Sister Wendy Musical, The
Dorchester, A Mother Speaks and Dracula, and also
spearheaded the marketing campaign for the critically acclaimed European premieres of Purlie and Preacherosity. He also wrote A
Wrongful Execution, which featured as a reading for the acclaimed Inspiration,
Innovation and Integration Season.
Fallen Angel Theatre Company - Producer
Fallen Angel was established in 2007 and focuses on new writing and
innovative revivals of provocative and challenging works. Productions to date include Normal
(Tobacco Factory), Moonshadow (White Bear), Ray Collins Dies On Stage
(Alma Theatre, Bristol), Dracula (White Bear) and The Custom of the Country
(White Bear). All have received widespread critical acclaim.
Matt Gardner - Fight Director
Matt Hall - Sound Design
Matt started working in live
music predominantly in the Jazz and Folk scene, working on anything
from big band jazz to solo guitarists and everything in between. He then moved
into the theatre world and was the resident Sound Designer and Deputy Chief
Technician at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick for 3 years. He has recently moved from the
North and now works in the busy Chichester Festival Theatres sound department.
Recent sound design credits include: Collision, A Chorus
of Disapproval, Blackbird, Chris Dugdales Magic
& Mindreading, The Maid of Buttermere, A Christmas
Carol, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Bogus Woman, The Lady in the Van, The Lonesome West, The
Importance of Being Earnest, In Extremis, The
Caretaker, Our Countrys Good, The
Recruiting Officer, The Borrowers, Jordan, Taking
Steps, Days of Wine and Roses, Of Mice and Men, On Golden Pond.
Chris Lince - Lighting Design
As lighting designer, Chris has most recently lit Compression at
the Brockley Jack. He has worked extensively with director Benet Catty on productions of Howie
the Rookie, Edmond, Speed-the-Plow, Popcorn, Sweet Charity
and Sweeney Todd. He has been award-winning comedian Brendon Burns technical
director for five years, as well as designing the lighting for numerous comedy shows in
Edinburgh and London. He is regularly based at the Cockpit Theatre, coordinating their
long-running scratch night, Theatre in the Pound. As a director, Chriss
Edinburgh Fringe production of Emily Junipers Restitution transferred to
Theatre 503, and his more recent Edinburgh production of Brett Goldsteins Success
Story will be revived later in 2010. He is also a writer and graphic designer.
Chris Loveless - Director/Producer
Chris trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (2007). He is Artistic
Director of Fallen Angel Theatre Company and an associate director of the White Bear
Theatre and Stepping Out Theatre Company.
Directing credits include Normal (Tobacco Factory, Bristol), Moonshadow
(Time Out Critics' Choice & Show of the Week, White Bear), Ray Collins Dies On
Stage (Alma Theatre, Bristol), Thursday Coma (Alma), Walter's Monkey
(Alma), Dracula (White Bear) and The Custom of the Country (Time Out
Critics' Choice, White Bear). Assisting credits include Othello (Shakespeare at
the Tobacco Factory) and The Demon Box (Alma).
Producing credits include studio and fringe productions, and an internship with ATG in
their West End production office. Chris has also worked in theatre and TV as an actor and
is a former member of the National Youth Theatre.
Nod 'n' Wink Designs - Graphic Illustration
Nod 'n' Wink Designs are a group of creative graphic
designers who believe in the power of thought and conceptualization. We try not to look
at the world as it is, but imagine the world as it could be. We talk about
projects, not orders. We develop your projects with love and passion, dedication and
sensitivity: ingredients we believe essential in the creative process of an artistic work.
Christina Pomeroy - Costume
Chris has worked as Costume Designer on a
number of Okai Collier Company productions including Elegies
(Bridewell); Purlie (Bridewell, nominated for 4 Whats On Stage awards); Ruthless (Stratford Circus, winner of 5 Musical Stages awards); Preacherosity and The Dorchester (both at Jermyn Street
West End Studio Theatre); The Sister Wendy Musical, The
Smilin State, Collision and In His Hands (both Hackney
Empire) and Dracula (White Bear Theatre).
Amy Rycroft - Casting/Associate Producer
Casting credits for the English Theatre Frankfurt
include; The Full Monty, Educating Rita, Hysteria, Hair, Gaslight, Death Trap, Laughing Wild,
Nevelles Island, The Last Virgin, Blithe Spirit,
RENT; Other theatre casting credits include; A Day at the Racist
(Finborough Theatre), The Tenants (Drill Hall),
Ruth (New End Theatre, London) A Wrongful
Execution (Acorn Theatre, Hackney); Borrowed Time (New End Theatre, London); Purlie (Bridewell Theatre);
Passion (Bridewell Theatre). Music Video & Commercial
casting credits include: Andre Rieu (Decca Records), Dreamboats & Petticoats 3 (Universal Music Op), Bingo
Wings Music Video (MJNA Records). Associate Producer and Producer
credits include: Circus Agogo (New End Theatre); A
Wrongful Execution (Acorn Theatre, Hackney); The Last
Session (Acorn Theatre, Hackney); Bridewell Theatre
Farewell Gala (Bridewell Theatre); Purlie (Bridewell
Theatre). Production Assistant on Death of a Salesman (Lyric
Theatre, London); The Countess (Criterion Theatre, London);
I Am My Own Wife (Duke of York Theatre, London).
Renell Shaw - Music
London born lyricist, composer and
multi-instrumentalist Renell Shaw has been uniquely placed between the genres of
African-classical, soulful hip-hop, Jazz and world music. He is an innovative
songwriter/producer working within the worlds of film, theatre, and dance and as a session
As well as being involved in the creation and
performance side of music his entrepreneurial skills have thrown him into the music
business partaking in facilitation, events production and artist development/management.
Renell Shaw has performed at many prestigious venues
including The Royal Festival Hall, Roundhouse, Jazz Café and The Barbican alongside
respected musicians including Orphy Robinson, Soweto Kinch, Nitin Sawhney and The London
Philharmonic Orchestra. He continues to thrive on the challenges of working on
varied, eclectic and creative projects and remains committed to pushing the
boundaries of his various art forms.
Annabel Bates - Ingrid Blavatsky
Annabel trained at the
Central School of Speech and Drama (BA Acting), graduating in 2006.
includes Princess Lotus Blossum in Aladdin (Brewery Arts Centre), Judy in Moonshadow
(White Bear), Irene in Tuesday (The Pleasance), Elle in Elle and the
Cabaret of the Cavendish Club - Musical (295 Regent Street), Kitty in The
Last Maharajah - Musical (Hoxton Hall) and Zenocia in The Custom of the
Country (White Bear).
includes Girlfriend in Ikea Furnishing Project, Lisa in Ohms (Bruno
Centofanti) and various decapitated zombies in Colin (Marc Price).
Audio includes Narrator in Love in the Lakes (Hart McLeod)
and CUP Projects (Cambridge University Press).
Girl (lead) in The Lung (Channel 4 and Cancer Research).
Annabel is an
experienced teacher of acting for film, theatre, voice and Shakespeare technique. She also
prepares students applying to drama school.
Emily Bowker Audrey Blavatsky
Emily trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and
Drama. Her theatre credits include Too True to be
Good (Finborough) Lie of the Land
(Arcola), Present Laughter (Theatre Clwyd), Poor Cousin (Hampstead Theatre), A Great Undertaking in Little America (Cheltenham
Everyman), Daisy Pulls it Off (No.1 Tour), Look Back in Anger, A Midsummer Nights Dream (The Garrick Theatre Rep
Company), Much Ado About Nothing (Ripley
Castle), Antigone (Bristol Old Vic)
and Noises Off (The Torch).
Emily enjoys being involved in the development and
performance of new writing. Recent work includes I
see Myself as a bit of an Indiana Jones Figure at The Old Red Lion, Devon Country and Seven Sisters for The Tobacco Factory, Newfoundland for the Ustinov Studio/Theatre Royal
Bath, and The Primrose Cresent Party for Attic
Theatre Co. She is also a member of 'The Company Project', an actor/writer ensemble that
she regularly workshops new scripts with, and recently performed in their productions of Playlist and Playground at the Arcola and Theatre 503.
Her work for television includes Dr. Rees in Holby City
(BBC), Alex in Shameless (Company
Pictures/Ch.4), Ellie Johnson in Torchwood
(BBC), Leanne in Wire in the Blood (Coastal),
Mandy Cook in The Bill (Talkback Thames).
Radio includes High
Table, Lower Orders, Swimming Lessons (BBC Radio 4) and various
characters in comedy sketch show Roundabout (BBC
Film work includes playing Carla in the British black comedy feature City Rats starring Danny Dyer (Face Films/Urban Way).
Anthony Hoskyns - Roland Blavatsky
Graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in
2007. Previous theatre includes: Romeo and Juliet (BAC), She Stoops to
Conquer (Nuffield theatre, Southampton), The Age of Consent (The Drill
hall), Lonestar and Hard Feelings (O.S.O. Barnes). Television and Radio include: Trinity
(ITV3) and A Dance to the Music of Time (BBC Radio 4).
Oliver Hume Hector Blavatsky
Oliver was born on tour and grew up
around theatres from Salisbury to Pitlochry. After a wild youth of getting a maths degree
he settled down, working his way into the business as a stage manager on his fathers
one man show Old Herbaceous and then re-training as
an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
He spent 7 years doing weekly rep in
Norfolk and Wolverhampton doing a total of 50 plays over the course of 7 summers. Then
after being shot by a Dalek in The Dalek Empire III by Big
Finish productions he fled to Germany where he toured in Macbeth for the White
Horse Theatre Company before returning to the UK to appear at the Open Air Theatre in
Regents Park as a dirty bald giggling psychotic fairy in A
Midsummer Nights Dream.
Last year he did a one man show at
the Brighton Festival about a Stand up Comedian; over the summer he appeared in a new play
about psychiatry (directed by Chris Loveless, produced by Simon James Collier and
co-starring Annabel Bates) called Moonshadow which was
given 4 stars and Critics' Choice in Time Out and then went on to be a Terrifying Torturer
at Warwick Castle for Halloween. Over Christmas he was an Ugly Sister in the Solihull Arts
Complex Pantomime Cinderella, and most recently he has
been a Jules Verne type scientist (at Warwick Castle once more), inventing stink bombs!
As acting can be a slightly
temperamental occupation, he has also been reliving the hedonistic times of his youth and
tutoring mathematics in and around London just for fun. Feel free to quiz him about
Oliver is at present living out of a
suitcase, likes to think of himself as sesquipedalian, loves pizza and owes an enormous
amount to A Zed & 7 Gastronauts. He is delighted to be working once again with Chris,
Annabel and Simon.
Robert Wilson - Doctor Tim Dunn
Robert trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His theatre credits include MacDuff
in Macbeth at Catford Broadway, Jed in Faust with Punchdrunk/National
Theatre, The Emperor Jones at The Gate Theatre directed by Thea Sharrock, Wittipol
in The Devil is an Ass at The White Bear, Paul in Up the Feeder Down the 'Mouth
at Bristol Old Vic and Duke Vincenzio in Measure for Measure (tour of India).
Also: Slave in The Magic Flute - Welsh National Opera (tour), dir Dominic
Cooke. TV includes Casualty (BBC).
Angel Theatre Company