Friday, 26 May 2017

REVIEW: Out of This World at Newcastle Northern Stage

Mark Murphy's V-Tol: Out of This World
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 27th May 2017

Mark Murphy returns to Northern Stage with the ambitious Out Of This World. With a production values, the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Curious Of The Dog In The Night Time, it is at times a real assault on the senses.

The set at the start is made up of three clinically white sides and a pair of sliding doors. Blood bags dangle from above and the floor is littered with chairs that have been knocked over.

The start of the show is deliberately chaotic. You have musician Ellen (Sarah Swire) and her husband Anthony (Scott Hudson) running around trying to remember everything before going on a trip. In addition you have a neurosurgeon (Catherine Cusack), a doctor in orange emergency uniform, a nurse (Anwar Russell) rushing around as there clearly has been an emergency. Whilst this is happening Anthony’s brother (Alex Palmer) sits poleaxed on a chair staring at the audience.

The show then keeps repeating a scene in which Anthony wishes Ellen luck before she goes on stage and the scene gets more surreal each time it is run through. Without giving the game away, we want no spoilers here, order is soon brought to the narrative. That is not to say the repeating scenes feel more and more like a weird nightmare complete with people in the wrong places - such as half way up the wall - and a phone that doesn’t co-operate (or is that just my dreams?)

Talking of people half up the wall, this is a good point to discuss the set. The white set is used as a giant projector screen however Mark Murphy’s projections are both impressive and well thought through. Be it a lift coming down on a single panel or glass exploding across the whole set, they helped with the narration.  The burning star which appears behind the building looked spectacular.

In addition to those projections there are the ropes and aerial work which literally lets the action take off. The rotating performers gives the show real kinetic energy.

The lighting design, by Lizzie Powell, is very well thought out as it not only picks out the action, it also conveys that sense of attack on the audiences senses. This includes that moment when the action stops and Ellen steps forward to address the audience.

The programme notes state that this show has been a long time in the making. There has been care taken to fully use the space available and produce a spectacular show. Whilst the premise of the story is fairly simple love story, the vivid interpretation, disorientating cinema and energetic movement set this production apart. Mark Murphy's V-Tol: Out of This World is the most visually stunning show we have seen this year and is worth seeking out just to see how a live show can be produced.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

Cast & creatives:
Conceived, written and directed by Mark Murphy
Devised with and Performed by Sarah Swire, Catherine Cusack, Itxaso Moreno, Anwar Russell & Scott Hoatson
Associate Director: EJ Boyle
Set Design: Becky Minto and Mark Murphy
Costume Design: Becky Minto
Music Composition and Sound Design: Nathaniel Reed
Lighting Design: Lizzie Powell
Projection Design: Pod Bluman / Bluman Associates
Projection Film Content: Mark Murphy
Rigging Design: Alex Palmer
Production Management: Chris Hay
Executive Producer (Scotland): Jon Clarke / BoldWorks

On The Web:
Twitter @OOTW_Tour
Instagram ootwtour
Youtube OOTW Tour
Soundcloud markmurphyvtol

Mark Murphy's V-Tol: Out of This World
FRI 26 – SAT 27 MAY, 7.30pm at Northern Stage, Newcastle
Tickets from £15.50
Recommended age: 14+ (Strong Language)
Box office 0191 230 5151 or online at

The tour then continues:

Tuesday 30th & Wednesday 31st May 2017

The Lowry 8pm

08432 086000
Post show Q&A 30 May

Ticket Link

Friday 2nd June 2017

G Live 8pm

01483 369350
Post show Q&A 2 June

Ticket Link

Tuesday 6th & Wednesday 7th June 2017

Playhouse 7.30pm

01865 305305
Post show Q&A 6 June

Ticket Link

Friday 9th & Saturday 10th June 2017

Hall for Cornwall 7.30pm

01872 262466
Post show Q&A 9 June

Ticket Link

Running time 80 minutes with no interval

Suitable for ages 14+. Contains strobe lighting, smoke effects and strong language


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