Howard Barker Festival - Riverside Studios
Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle
THE HOWARD Barker Festival, comprising two plays – Hurts Given and Received and Slowly – plus a reading of Barker’s latest work, Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward, runs at Riverside Studios from April 29 to May 9, 2010.
Hurts Given and Received is described as a vivid and provocative study of a poet compelled to sacrifice friends and lovers to fulfil the demands of his imagination in obsessive pursuit of creating the perfect masterpiece.
His meeting with a child and its shocking consequences create an intense drama in which motive and responsibility are interrogated, and violence becomes inevitable. This startling aural collage of provocative ideas, striking images and pungent poetic language is given a distinctive interpretation by director Gerrard McArthur.
Exploring a similar theme to his classic work, Scenes From An Execution, and a subject he is passionate about, Barker’s new play is a characteristically witty and confrontational examination of the demands society makes of an artist to reflect its values and preoccupations, and the struggle that ensues when an artist insists its subsidy does not buy obedience.
This has direct relevance to Arts Council funding policies and the onus it places on artists to fulfil a social function rather than just achieve artistic excellence.
The poet is played by Tom Riley, whose recent theatre credits include The Woman Before, The Vertical Hour, Paradise Regained, The Entertainer and Censorship (Royal Court Theatre), as well as work at the Donmar Warehouse, the Young and Old Vic, and the RSC.
On television, he has appeared in Lost In Austen, Poirot: Appointment With Death, No Heroics and the forthcoming Bouquet of Barbed Wire (alongside Trevor Eve).
Tickets: £15, £10 concessions.
Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 6.30pm (April 29 to May 9).
Slowly, in which Barker questions if in a culture of conformity, it is up to the individual to decide, is presented alongside Hurts Given and Received.
As barbarians approach the palace of an ancient culture, four princesses must decide if they will witness the destruction of all they know or conform to expectation and commit suicide. For some, the possibility of life is all too compelling.
Slowly is directed by Hanna Berrigan whose recent credits include Public Property (Trafalgar Studios) and The 39 Steps (as Associate Director).
Tickets: £10, £8 concessions.
Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 6.30pm, Sunday at 5pm (May 1 to May 9).
NB: Joint ticket for both plays on one evening – £22, £12 concessions.
And on Sunday, May 2 at 2.30pm, audiences will have a rare opportunity to experience three new Barker plays on one day, when Barker also directs a rehearsed reading of his latest work, Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward.
NB: See all three plays for £24, £15 concessions.