Home / Drama / The Victorian in the Wall – Northern Stage,Newcastle-Upon Tyne

The Victorian in the Wall – Northern Stage,Newcastle-Upon Tyne

Writer: Will Adamsdale with contributions from Jason Barnett, Chris branch, Matthew Steer and Melanie Wilson

Co-Directed: Will Adamsdale &Lyndsey Turner

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez


victorian in the wallEssentially a fragile love story, the couples flat unearths a Victorian man living in the wall during a knock through, what is the result? Many who see this piece will arrive at a different conclusion. The writer, Adamsdale set out on a voyage of discovery with weird, wacky, fast and furious results; blink and you may miss something, but does it matter? Do you really care what happens to any of the characters?

Apart from the central character, Guy (Will Adamsdale) the other cast members play various parts. They lack definition and depth of character, just relying on the text to inform you who they are. The only things ‘Victorian’ about the 19th century gent is his costume and his ignorance of modern technology; the well-known music hall star was very ‘un theatrical’, often being difficult to hear and although a taxi driver may only have a few lines to say, there is still room to present a ‘character’; this means lot of lines were not given their full power, some almost being ‘thrown away’. One exception was Jason Barnett, maybe better known as Eddie in The Bill, who turns up as a mature orphaned Nigerian, lighting up the stage with his character, playing it with enthusiasm.

The music and sound (Chris Branch) has an enormous input greatly contributing to the performance, generally enhancing it; initially almost frenetic, building a relentless tension over a prolonged period, but on a monotonous level leaving one willing a gap. The lighting (Ian Scott) adds atmosphere and some humour.

You see a Victorian in the wall but you often cannot see the wood for the trees. Acting in a piece you have essentially written and also co-directed, is a tall order and difficult to deliver on all levels. Not a musical, review or straight play, but a conglomeration of each with comedy and a comment on society thrown in. It was wanting to, willing to, wishing to, but not quite making it. The main character needs someone to organise his life and so does this piece.

A co-production between Royal Court and Fuel, both are known for their support of new work. This new Adamsdale piece originated in a Royal Court Rough Cuts eighteen months ago. Writers are given a week to work on an idea giving a performance on the Friday and Saturday. Adamsdale then developed The Victorian in the Wall with contributions and in collaboration with the other four performers.

Adamsdale’s one man show, ‘Jacksons Way’ won the Perrier Award at the 2004 Edinburgh Festival and his ‘The Receipt’ a Fringe First winner. His talents as writer, actor and director are not in question, but to do justice to all three in the same venture may be a bridge too far.

In the after show discussion one of the performers mentioned the exceptional quality and content of Adamsdale writing, unfortunately most of this got lost among the perfusion of ideas and additions that came from the months of working on it. As with much innovative material there are mistakes, many here could be corrected if someone just stood back at looked at the result, sort the wood from the trees. Less is more.

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