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Michael Scott Moore, SF Weekly, 16 Dec 1998

The author of Kvetch and East has no use for subtlety.

click for link East
Theatre Alive

Steven Berkoff East

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The Age, Cameron Woodhead, 28 Mar 2006

Steven Berkoff East motorcycle scene

This is comedy at its ugliest, as likely to arouse disgust as provoke laughter. But satire is never meant to be simply funny. At its best, it stabs you in the head, wounds you into thought. And Berkoff's foul caricatures are, in their way, every bit as nasty as that notorious piece of satire from Jonathan Swift suggesting that, if the Irish were starving, they should eat their own babies.

Berkoff's brand of physical theatre, dubbed "total theatre", calls for a fearsome level of imaginative involvement with the text.  His directors become choreographers, too. Actors aspiring to perform Berkoff must use every trick in the trade, from monologue to mime.

click here for link The Fall of the House of Usher
D.C.A.C. 1997

Steven Berkoff The Fall of the House of Usher
Jon Sherman and Aix Wy Zee

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The Fall of the House of Usher
Tricia Olszewski, Washingtonpost.com 7 Nov 2003

British playwright Steven Berkoff's adaptation of "The Fall of the House of Usher" is impressive, inventively maintaining Edgar's role as narrator while shaping dialogue from Poe's highly descriptive first-person narrative. The actors are often called on to cleverly represent the decaying house, whether it's Henley personifying the dwelling in a speech about its condition or Murray posing as a creaking door. Berkoff even dares to inject a bit of humor into the dismal proceedings, making light of the mad Roderick's inability to keep Romania and Bohemia straight during a failed attempt at polite conversation and at one point having him morosely say, "I greet you with my usual vivacious warmth."

click here for link The Fall of the House of Usher (link is down)
Firehall Arts Centre 1994

Small, perfect details stand out: light drifts in through a slightly moving curtain, highlighting only the lace cuff of an otherwise darkened figure. Later, a bloodied Madeline silently but desperately claws the air behind an intermittently illuminated scrim. Poe was a masterful creator of psychological thrillers. Add to this witches cauldron Berkoff’s strange but compelling adaptation, Sandhano Schultze’s stylish multi-layered direction, and the cast’s unwavering fidelity to style and you have an intoxicating brew that is the stuff of the nightmare world-beautiful in all its horror." Jo Ledingham The Courier.

Arts The Fall of the House of Usher (link is down)
Review by Nick Lewis.

With a sense of melancholy and fatefulness, brother and sister Roderick and Madeleine, played by Simon Startin and Pamela Mungroo, decide to act out the book they are reading in bed The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, which tells of the decline of an ancient house into putrefaction and incest.

...The sense of horror and psychic control is built up as the actors speak Berkoff's stage directions: "Bleak walls, vacant eye-like windows set amidst a few rank sedges." And in an "eye-like window" above the bed, a videoed signer the screen sometimes spattered with blood appears.

click here for link The Fall of the House of Usher (link is down)
Kerryn Chan, 11 Jun 1999

The company members climbed over one another, acted as arches to the old manor, all bent and transformed by age and decay. They formed "live" props such as the huge dining table where Roderick and Madeline partook their daily meals. In the next instant, they arched their bodies to become the vault of a tomb that was closed over a screaming Madeline. Movement was the sheer forte of this group, and they capitalised it to their advantage. Facial expressions were also not lacking from these young actors, contorting their faces to portray the mood of the moment, be it pain, torment, despair or conflict.

click here for link The Fall of the House of Usher (link is down)
Arthur Kok, 11 Jun 1999

Central to Poe's tale is Roderick's assertion that the House itself pulses with malevolent intent. To recreate this, the cast undertook another clever technique: with each contortion, the chorus became the House's gothic archways, labyrinthine catacombs, religious icons, ornate furniture and even vegetative compounds, writhing with every human contact. Organic and sentient, the House's crumbling integrity both mirror and speed along the splintering lives of those who inhabit it.


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