I’d like to highlight the work of a fine actress, Emily Raymond, who I have just seen in Carl Grose’s wildly entertaining ‘Grand Guignol’ at Southwark Playhouse.
The play is a delirious and blood-soaked homage to the French theatrical tradition of graphic horror plays, and takes us backstage to explore the creation of these bloody thrillers. Emily Raymond plays the theatre’s stunningly glamorous queen of gore, Paula Maxa – ‘the most assassinated woman in the world’. It is a ripe and very funny performance, and gives Emily the opportunity to showcase a truly magnificent, full-throated scream, to rival even the great Fay Wray.
She also demonstrates a skilful handling of Grose’s heightened language and a very physically adept comic sensibility, even when the most appalling things are happening to her – eye-gougings, throttling, reanimation etc.
It was only after the show that I remembered working (very briefly) with Emily on an episode of ‘Tales From The Old Bailey’ for the BBC, in which she gave a beautifully poised and dignified performance as Emmeline Pankhurst, a world away from the hysterical excesses of ‘Grand Guignol’. She is clearly an actress of great versatility.
We hear a lot about those with their names in lights, but often the most interesting work is being done further down the cast list, and in theatres a bit further away from London’s glittering West End… So here’s an occasional series where I champion a recent performance that has really stood out for me – and take the chance to point the spotlight in a new direction.
#1: Corran Royle in ‘The Wall’ by D C Jackson, directed by David Ricardo-Pearce at the Old Red Lion, 6th August 2014
A real treat, this one, as Corran is someone I have met a few times but have never seen act before. I had no concept of what sort of an actor he might be, so it was fascinating to watch such a strong and appealing characterisation. ‘The Wall’ of the title is a literal one which serves as the gathering point for a group of Scottish teenagers trying to kill time in the summer holidays, and is the backdrop for a tangle of adolescent passions and confusions.
Corran played Rab, a mouthy and confident young sort very given to doling out words of romantic wisdom, if not quite so good at taking his own advice. He showed a great comic sense and a bold and totally convincing physicality. A fine accent too.
I’ve just heard that ‘The Wall’ will have a fresh run at The Hope Theatre in Islington, from the 28th of October to the 15th of November, so audiences will have another chance to catch this brilliant performance: