Interview: West @ Nottingham New Theatre

Nottingham New Theatre’s autumn season has reached it’s half way mark, and hitting that mark is Steven Berkoff’s West. Impact Arts speaks to co-director Omid Faramarzi about the challenges of producing the play of a legend.

What’s West about?

It’s essentially a parable, telling the story of Mike (the leader of the N16 Gang) as he gears up to take on his most fearsome enemy, The King of Hoxton. As the play goes on you see how the choices he makes are influenced by his own ideas of what it means to be a man and how courage is key, but also how they come to destroy the relationships he has outside of the gang. Because the play is so non-naturalistic in nature, it doesn’t run in a chronological way, rather it runs in a way that lets the audience see an impression of Mike and an impression of the late sixties/early seventies London that Berkoff knew. It’s a violent portrayal of a dynamic time, and a parody of it too, so there’s a lot to get from it!

Steven Berkoff is renowned for his In Yer Face theatre, is this something you’ve been conscious of when creating your piece?

Definitely. When we first decided to take the play on, we did it conscious of the fact that we weren’t just taking on a piece of physical theatre but first and foremost a Berkoff play. Throughout the process, we’ve been conscious of including the Brechtian and Artuadian elements of In Yer Face theatre that makes it what it is – an assault on the audience’s senses to make the play as impacting as possible. It’s supposed to be insane!

The play is very physical and borderline absurd, what attracted you to the play?

Just that. We love theatre that challenges everyone, from actors, to techies, to us, and West does just that. It’s a stock story, about a man trying to make a name for himself, but it’s the telling of the story not the story itself which made us want to do it. It’s been an absolute joy to direct, as at every rehearsal we’ve learnt something new about the play and seen it develop into the behemoth that it is now.

What should people come and see your show?

People should come and see the show if they fancy a fun and high-energy show that’ll leave them breathless. It’s a change of pace from other things you may have seen recently, and a refreshing romp through the limits of theatre. It’s our chance to tell a story you would have heard a thousand times before, in Beowulf or Hamlet, but in as different a way as possible!

Describe your play in 3 words…

High-octane fun storytelling

Jessica Millott

‘West’ is running at Nottingham new Theatre until Saturday 21st November

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