Anna Lindup
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Reviews - The Pimp

Anna Lindup in The Pimp Anna Lindup in The Pimp Anna Lindup in The Pimp

www.theStage.co.uk
By Paul Vale
Published Mon 24 April 2006 at 11:45

The Pimp
Poet and dandy Charles Baudelaire sets up home with an actress prompting his doting mother to launch a seemingly endless campaign to expel her from his life. Dic Edwards new play touches upon a selection of themes such as rebellion and racism as the Western world begins a new era of modernity.
The language of Edward's script is delightfully classical and yet its heavy use of the vernacular works remarkably well thanks to tight performances and a wonderful sense of pace given by director Ana Dirckinck-Holmfeld.
Anna Lindup give a fine, multi-layered performance as Baudelaire's intriguing and emotional mother. Hers is not the expected dowager widow and the hints of the passion beneath the crinoline. Her ally in battle is the ridiculous lawyer Narcisee Desire Ancelle played by Timothy Dodd whose scenes as the go-between bring much humour to the play. Dodd masters this role beautifully and tinges the lawyers philosophies with an almost innocent menace.
Lara Agar-Stoby obviously relishes her role as Jeanne and plays it to perfection. Edwards has given the character a lively voice and it is this role which lifts the play. Will Tosh as Charles seems to take some time settling into the role and in the early scenes he appears very awkward on stage. Fortunately, the later scenes and his final demise are well handled.
Tandis Jenhudson has created a thoughtful score to compliment the piece and Ellen Kyriacou's costume designs offer a flamboyant contrast to Sadie Tilbury's Spartan setting.

Londontown.com - 26 April 2006
The Pimp
White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Road, SW11 4DJ

Paris 1842. One intoxicating evening Charles Baudelaire, poet and dandy par excellence, encounters the Creole actress Jeanne. When their inter-racial relationship is exposed, his mother and the Baudelaire family lawyer begin a two-decade campaign to drive Jeanne out of his life, with unsettling and unexpected results.

Dic Edwards is one of the hottest young writers around at the moment, and no stranger to controversy - his last mock opera featured a female suicide bomber as the heroine. This is a brilliantly observed period piece, with authentic language and social mores, but still liberally peppered with horrible brutality between characters. After all, there's no reason to think the Victorians weren't just as rude and beastly as we are.

We're not massive fans of shock tactics at LondonTown.com and ventured along to this show after some excellent notices - entirely justified. This is visceral, gut wrenching theatre with nasty language and nudity, but shot through with humanity. The characters are entirely realistic, and brilliantly acted, and the play is a triumph, confronting the repellent side of human nature but also celebrating love and loyalty.

www.mylondonyourlondon.com - 23rd April 2006
Theatre Review: The Pimp at The White Bear Theatre, Kennington
by Jonathan Grant & Nirmal Grewal

This is a play about the pimp, the poet and the paradox. Charles Baudelaire (Will Tosh) is the heir to a handsome fortune and has fashionable society at his beckoning in 19th-century Paris. Yet, in true intelligentsia style, and au fait with the times, he rebels against conventionality and takes a mistress, a muse for his poetry, choosing one who is an ex-prostitute of Creole origin at that.
Baudelaire is a poet, aspiring yet failing, and The Pimp, now at Kennington's White Bear Theatre, is, prima facie, the story of his struggles to publish his works - considered obscene for the age. Yet his liaison dangerous, with the self-destructive Jeanne (Lara Agar-Stoby), and the actions and reactions of Paris' opulent classes, provides the interesting and substantive part of this story.
Superbly written, full of Wilde-like witticisms and aphorisms that are sharp enough to peel words back to contextual reality, the dialogues between the cast, also including Caroline Aupick (Anna Lindup), Charles despairing mother, and the aptly named Narcisse Desire Ancelle (Timothy Dodd) are well delivered, with a delightful depth of intelligence. The frustrated poet himself, who, with each desperate attempt to cut loose from the privileged class he belongs merely serves to tighten that bond on which he depends so heavily, clearly understands his position.

The characters are acutely defined in true Oscar Wilde tradition. Ex-prostitute Jeanne is a maverick who, after claiming she's "lived on the streets and the world that put (her) there is a world of contracts" enters a contract with Baudelaire that ultimately breaks her spirit far more than the streets ever could. Ancelle, the self-proclaimed "crusader for the values of wealth against anarchy" and firm proponent of double-entry book-keeping, who has a self-destroying penchant for black prostitutes, is a staunch traditionalist.
Yet, while well-defined, none of these characters are inherently good or inherently bad, and each one becomes too obviously a parody of themselves to ever warrant the audiences support, pity or hate. Moreover, this stereotyping shatters any attempt by the playwright, Dic Edwards, to comment on the racism of a bygone age, and left this audience-member wondering first whether the treatment of racism in this context was appropriate, then second whether further commentary on this issue in this age is needed when, in our own time, we still have so many social divides to bridge and ills to cure.
Stunning period costume in a classy design is perhaps, however, a saving grace for some. See this play you like the wit of Wilde. Don't if you despair at hatchet racist commentary or crude characterisations.

The production continues until May 7 at The White Bear Kennington. Box Office: 020-77939193.

Extraextra.org by Mary Cozens - 22 April 2006
Some Engaging Evening . . .

It has to be said that, although I've attended many a fine production at the White Bear Theatre in the past, this outstanding performance of Dic Edwards' new play The Pimp has to be one of its best to date. The storyline of the play is extremely compelling, and the acting alternates between being thoroughly entertaining and putting you on the edge of your seat. The play seems to boast something for everyone in that, although it is set in the Paris of 1842, it's had the advantage, in this case, of having been written in the present day, granting it a freedom of speech it could never have entertained if penned in the 19 th century. Given its artistic license, which, at times, allows the language of the play to almost mirror that of the decadent poet Charles Baudelaire, who is its main character, along with thoughtful casting and fine direction, The Pimp is capable of conveying all of the unexpected twists and turns of relationships in a realistic, no holds barred, totally engaging manner. It might sound like a cliché, but you could have literally heard a pin drop from the opening scene, the audience seemed that involved in this engaging production. It was almost as if one forgot one's own inhibitions, in a sense, as an audience member, with people, taking whatever they would from the play. At times, rather cryptic laughter could be heard emanating from a few, or even, occasionally, a lone individual, who'd obviously related to and/or relished, certain scenes or lines from this multi-faceted play in their own, individual way.
From the moment Will Tosh as spoiled young fop, and would-be scandalous poet Charles Baudelaire, opened his mouth, the audience couldn't take their eyes off of him. It was impossible to tell whether the actor had bags of inborn, nervous energy, or if he was simply pretending to, for the sake of his character. In contrast, Lara Agar-Stoby, stunningly strong in the role of his Creole mistress Jeanne Duval mouthed her refreshingly frank, brazen for 1842, lines with all the resignation one could imagine from a female in her position, settling for the patronage of a heir she doesn't really expect love, true or otherwise from. That this isn't a fairytale, with a happy ending is apparent from the outset. This unsettling notion is further emphasised by the introduction to Charles' small, imposing mother, wonderfully played by Anna Aupick. At times, the actress almost seemed to morph into a fire-snorting dragon as she venomously breathed her lines. But nothing is what it seems in Edwards' stunning play. Having said that, outstanding actor Timothy Dodd in the roll of 'double-entry' bookkeeper Narcisee Desire Ancelle literally seems to elevate the calibre of this already outstanding production right through the rafters. Dodd was recently fantastic at the White Bear in the role of Don Quixote, a seemingly impossible feat, but now, in The Pimp , he outdoes himself further as a gentleman as changeable as a chameleon. In a surprise turn of events, the actor also plays a bit part as a janitor, and manages to infuse the role with a genuine sense of intelligence and warmth. However, it has to be noted that the focus, and interplay of all of the actors in this fascinating production was so convincing that it almost felt at times as though we were eavesdropping, while looking at them through a keyhole - quite an achievement for any group of actors, in any venue, let alone one as compact as the White Bear Theatre.
But nothing about The Pimp feels compromised, and the costumes, by Ellen Kyriacou, are well crafted and true to their period. At times, Anna Aupick's gown in act two put me in mind of ones seen in photographs of Queen Victoria. Thoughtful lighting, designed by Richard Williamson was especially notable in the context of delicate scenes where it helped heighten the sense of poignancy and desperation. And Tandis Jenhudson's lovely, thoroughly haunting score is a fitting accompaniment to this first-rate production.
Turn yourself a clever trick and book tickets for The Pimp as soon as you possibly can, for if this fantastic production gets its just deserts, it'll soon be completely sold-out.


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