Queens Theatre, Hornchurch – until 24th September 2022
Reviewed by Bobbi Fenton
The Blueprint Festival is a collection of various projects created and produced by different people all presented throughout the space of two weeks. I was lucky enough to experience three of these events, as well as a speech explaining the events given by some of the creators and performers behind them.
The first event I saw was ‘Shakespeare on Sea’, a three-minute short film featuring three monologues from Shakespeare plays presented in a modern context. The Mawa Theatre Company have explored these monologues through the gaze of black female artists in Essex. The film features monologues from Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, and The Tempest, which are performed by the wonderfully talented Deborah Imhogiemhe, Mia Jerome, and Sharon Rose. These monologues are performed in such a brilliant way that the typically complicated and difficult to understand Shakespearean language is much easier to understand, and it is much easier to understand what is going on in the scene because of the modern context in which they are presented.
The second event I saw was a 31-minute play with 31 scenes, called ‘In This Smoking Chaos’. This play is the result of asking the question ‘what if design was the first thing you thought about when creating a performance.’ Instead of having typical scenes with short transitions in between, this play is made up of one continuous transition with no definitive beginning or ending. The audience are invited to move about the auditorium to experience multiple different angles, as we follow a person (Yael Elisheva) exploring the process of life from beginning to end. There is no actual speech in the performance, with the exception of a person talking over the phone in a demonic sounding voice, so the performance is all movement. The set is what looks like a house that spins around at various times throughout the performance, and in often lit up in red, with 31 phrases projected onto it every so often, as these are the names of each scene. These are ominous phrases with no obvious meaning or relation to their scenes, only what can be inferred by the audience and their interpretation of the play. Overall, this piece is an absolutely incredible experience.
The final event was a very fun 15-minute presentation and light show projected onto the side of the building, displaying every show the theatre has put on, featuring music from each of these shows as well as very entertaining lighting and exciting pyrotechnics. The evening ended with drinks at the bar accompanied by a musical theatre dj set. Overall, it was the most fun theatre experience I have ever had, and that didn’t cover all the events the theatre had to offer. There are many other events taking place over two weeks, which all sound very entertaining. Everybody should go to this festival for at least one day to experience even a small piece of this magnificent festival.