Drawing: Hannah Boyde in Fuenteovejuna

Hannah Boyde

One of the great things about theatre in London is the myriad of small spaces where independent productions are performed. One such place is the CLF Arts Centre in Peckham where Daniel Goldman’s Tangram company staged a ‘rapturous re-interpretation of one of Spain’s classics’, FUENTEOVEJUNA in the heat of the summer of 2013. Written in 1619 by the country’s most celebrated playwright of the time, Lope de Vega it is based on a true chronicle of a small village by the same name that is oppressed by an evil Comendador. On entering the theatre the audience immediately becomes part of the town as its ‘new members.’

My wife and I joined the membership one sunny Sunday afternoon. Playing the mayor’s daughter and resisting the tyrant’s advances was the accomplished Hannah Boyde, who’s theatre credits includes the National’s WAR HORSE. I drew this sketch of her in the role at the time, which she actually signed a year later when she appeared in Daniel’s production of THE DRAGON at the Southwark Playhouse, this time playing a Mayor.

Drawing: The Dragon at Southwark Theatre

Dragon 2 Dragon 1

The Tangram Theatre Company’s brand new take on Yevgeny Schwartz’s brilliantly funny 1943 critique of Stalinist Russia, The Dragon, is currently running at the Southwark Playhouse in London.

Led by their award winning director Daniel Goldman, their productions are described as, “joyous, exciting, messy, chaotic, irreverent, intelligent, silly, fun and surprising”. The Dragon is all of these things and more. It’s an anti-panto and wicked allegory lampooning the soviet bloc. Daniel likens it to, “The Princess Bride meets Captain America and Animal Farm“.

Adapted by Daniel and his company, who form an impressive ensemble cast that includes Anthony Best, Hannah Boyde, Justin Butcher, Jo Hartland, James Marshall, James Rowland, Peter Stickney, Stella Tyalor, Rob Witconb and Charlotte Workman. They cover all the (un)usual suspects required for this fairy tail – Lancelot, the Knight-errant and cut price superhero; a narrating feline, a pretty and innocent in-and-out-of-distress damsel, her always distressed mother, a mad mayor-cum-diabolical-dictator, his sleazy intelligence-challenged son, visiting strangers bearing gifts, a cow…. oh, yes and a three headed dragon.

I was introduced to the term ‘samizdat satire’ by one reviewer. It’s the romanticisation of a soviet form of dissident activity and the practice of evading officially imposed censorship, which was certainly the environment in which the Russian-Jewish playwright wrote this piece.

The Dragon ends on 10 January 2015.

Dragon 3 Dragon 4