BWW Review: EAST, King's Head Theatre
Raw, sleazy, provocative, delicious, and gritty are just a few spontaneously thought of words that I can generate to describe the show currently playing at London's King's Head Theatre. Imagine having sex using a toffee crisp wrapper as a condom, and how disgusting that would be. Watching EAST feels just like that.
However, this disgust has a certain appeal, and amidst the grossness it's pretty polished, and the production's messiness has been crafted in a way where the performers are always in control. This is probably because they are so reactive to one another's actions.
The cast are all equally glorious; to say their performances are over the top is a huge understatement. Their crazy caricatures of an East London family are played perfectly to represent the style in which Steven Berkoff writes. Anger, sorrow, horror, and so much more are all played out with a fantastic truth.
Jessica Lazar's direction has clearly provided a set of rules in terms of choreography, but what's particularly nice is that there seems to be lots of space allowed to play within those confines. It creates momentous bursts of energy, and makes EAST truly unpredictable.
A blend of silent film, movement sequence and comedic absurdity, the majority of the production is underscored on a piano. The instrument provides a bopping beat that flits between numerous famous film soundtracks, to improvised melodies that are equally funny and disturbing.
Rapid fight scenes smoothly transition into slow motion interactions, and there's even a brief moment of song. I wish that this would have been explored more, as it is clear from the off that Boadicea Ricketts has an unbelievable voice. Dramaturgically there may be a few too many monologues during the first act, but they're all performed so well that you hardly care.
Above everything else, watching this I felt repulsed, humoured, excited, but more importantly, overjoyed that such a crazy and unpredictable machine is allowed to be on stage. If you want a night that consists of chaotic debauchery, copious amounts of 'what the fuck' moments, and to feel so much laughter your stomach hurts after it, then EAST is the show to see.
Photo credit: Alex Brenner