THE GLASS MENAGERIE
★ 'BEST DESIGNER'
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - USA Today Network
"An evocative setting that draws us into that vivid and painful world."
"Philip Witcomb’s set is literally a hall of mirrors–worn so much by time that the silver is eroding. Sometimes they reflect the scene, offering us a view of the action from multiple perspectives. And sometimes they allow us to peer through and see the world beyond the sofa, the Victorola and the tray of delicate glass animals. A monumental portrait of the family’s absent father shines through. Or we see into the dining room where Tom works on his poems, Laura works on her typing lessons, and Amanda works on preserving the veneer of her old Southern gentility in these shabby surroundings."
"A touching, heart-rending vision."
"Amid the shadows and reflections, they create a few moments of warmth and spark in the tortured world of Tom’s memory. And they linger beautifully, even after he leaves them behind and slams the hatch on the world he left behind."
"Stylistically, the production supports Clements’ reimagining of the work. Of particular note is Philip Witcomb’s scenic design, which features two monumental walls of glass panels punctured by large doors that the Narrator opens and closes throughout the play. Action among the family members and Gentleman Caller occurs both behind these walls and before them, heightening the sense of the Narrator’s memory as permeable, subjective and—despite its sometimes overwhelming content—fundamentally under his control. This is a world which Tom, with all his guilt and regret, has mulled over many times and which informs his creative work through all the subsequent years of his life. We are invited to take a look into his bitter but very human origins."
"Menagerie begins and ends in the dark. What light there is plays off Philip Witcomb’s stunning set of smoky glass, which conjures half-seen ghosts of a sister and mother whose voices sometimes give off an eerie echo, making clear to us that they’re not really there. Except, of course, that they are. They play on in Tom’s mind, harrowing him and haunting us, forever."
"There is a deliberate blurring in the staging for this production of Tom as commentator looking back and Tom as scene partner alive to the moment. A sense of double view also dominates Philip Witcomb’s set, where mysterious mirror scrim and Thomas C. Hase’s pool and pinpoint lighting keep us reflecting on the action even as it unfolds. The duality of the set evokes the tricks that memory plays. Clements keeps the cast moving throughout this environment, every major moment choreographed to the right spotlight."
"In this production, the Williams’ apartment is exceptionally sparse, as created by set designer Philip Whitcomb. Every bit of it looks scruffy and worn. There isn’t even a small, lighted display case for Laura’s collection of glass animals (giving the play its title). Instead, the collection sits on a wood tray that is stored on the floor beneath a bench. The set’s most striking element is a full-sized enclosure of smoked glass or acrylic. One door serves as an entrance to the apartment as well as the fire escape, which serves as a balcony. The other door leads to the dining room. The family sometimes congregates behind the glass wall to eat. This forces the audience to peer through this slightly wavy glass to see the characters. The glass walls also suggest the impermanence of memory and, perhaps, Amanda’s heightened fear that the glass will come toppling down on her at any moment."
"The set design by Philip Witcomb creates illusion and a pervasive claustrophobia."
"Stage director Tom Diamond with set and costume designer Philip Witcomb have moved the drama from the balmy sunshine of seventh century Lombardy to cold dark medieval Scandinavia. The story of Rodelinda and Bertarido’s enduring love plays out assisted by and commented on by a golden Norse god of love and a dark figure of fate."
"Philip Witcomb’s sets are on the massive side. The opening curtain is a candle strewn, rock wall with a huge medallion that opens in sections. In the opening scene a three story stairway leads up and out of the set. Later a huge memorial stone face pierced by a sword fills the stage. As the evening goes on more and more large grey swords rest their points on the stage. More intimate set of stairs leads up to the thrown of the play’s center, but then it’s back to swords and the fall of lanterns in the finale with a collapse of a ballroom."
"Witcomb’s costumes for the characters creatively seem to take their cue from the rough and fantastical designs of the TV series The Game of Thrones."
Indiana Public Media
"The actions undertaken by the cast and the impressive settings on view for an extravagant tale from the Dark Ages makes IU’s Rodelinda a stimulating experience."
THE GOOD PEACHES
★ 'OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN'
Broadway World Regional Theatre Tributes
"In the three-day, blink-and-you'll-miss-it run of "The Good Peaches" written by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, a small team of actors shared the Allen Theatre stage with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. The collaboration yielded a visual and aural feast, like walking into a banquet hall to the strains of a symphony and encountering a vast table groaning with culinary masterpieces, each more inventive than the last."
"The set, created by Philip Witcomb and lit by Michael Boll, was a piece of modern art, the curve of a cyclone frozen in midair and carrying with it the detritus of civilization - sheets of music and bits of cloth and a bed, pillows and sheets and all, suspended above the heads of the players. Dotted throughout the trash were lamps that sometimes glowed. Throughout the world premiere production, the aerial wave of debris was illuminated with light - amber and purple and a cool blue - bringing the gorgeous thing to pulsing life."
"Witcomb created the costumes too, dip-dyed cottons that had the whiff of ancient and futuristic peoples all at once."
"The poetic imagery of Hudes' language matched the beauty of the scenery."
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
"The amazing fold out set of a skid row street complete with X-Rated Sci-Fi Movie Marquee, billboards, piles of garbage, collection of winos and the flower shop is a wonder to behold. Scene transitions are quickly and expertly done."
"With two show stopping hummable tunes to take home, a great stage set, fine acting and singing, a really rocking band and of course the true star of the show, Audrey II, “Little Shop” is a creepy delight that will entertain all who attend. The show is a killer."
"Set and lighting are superb, with a dilapidated caravan that is an art installation in itself, and the surrounding landscape exploited to the full. Kilworth is the West End in rural Leicestershire, an extraordinary experience."
The Stage ★★★★
"This is a superbly dexterous show. The cast and crew migrate nimbly around Philip Witcomb’s extraordinary puzzle-box set, routing golf carts, stair sets, and a full sized caravan."
Musical Theatre Review ★★★★
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
"The ninth successive production at Kilworth House Theatre is glorious, radiating exuberance and exploiting every advantage of an outdoor stage purpose-built for musicals."
"On Philip Witcomb’s lavish art deco set, Singin’ in the Rain is beautifully fluid and evocative of the period."
"The show never flags. It’s got glitz, glamour, high-speed tapping, big company numbers, a flamboyant orchestra and always something to catch the eye. As night falls here, the lighting gains impact and the pace gets hotter, culminating in an unexpected gold and silver finale."
The Stage ★★★★
"Director and choreographer Mitch Sebastian has assembled a West End quality cast for his ninth successive production, on Philip Witcomb’s sweeping and versatile art deco set that places the orchestra at the centre of the action and truly evokes that era of transition from silent films to talkies."
The show – lavishly costumed – never flags. It’s got glitz, glamour, high-speed tapping, big numbers and always something to catch the eye. As night falls here, the lighting gets more and more atmospheric and the pace gets hotter. Simply ravishing.
Musical Theatre Review ★★★★
"West End performers in a show that has West End production values."
"The creative team behind these annual in-house productions has come up trumps yet again."
"Director Sebastian marshals his forces impeccably on an impressive set by Philip Witcomb which is ingenious and cleverly used."
The Stage ★★★★
"With a nice tumbledown set and blissful 1940s costumes from designer Philip Witcomb, this vibrant, classy South Pacific looks good, feels good and wins hearts."
Musical Theatre Review
THE WINTER'S TALE
"Set and costume designer Philip Witcomb, a New York–based Brit whose career began in Scotland, put audiences on three sides of his rustic barnwood stage in People’s Light’s 340-seat flexible mainstage space, and costumed the cast in tattered Threepenny Opera–style circus garb with a steampunk edge. The result presented The Winter’s Tale as performed by a 19th-century traveling troupe, a “low-tech, outlier band” that celebrated the power of company. The large cast, including a dozen teens from the summer workshops and 14 adults, created an outdoor festival before and after the play, climaxing with the effigy burning of the Witch of Winter."
American Theatre Magazine
"A short pre-curtain show featuring the cast on an outdoor stage under tin can lamps and beside a warming fire, general admission tickets, and post-show pagan revelry, including a burning of the 'Witch of Winter' all add to a sense of togetherness."
"Philip Witcomb's sets and costumes evoke, simultaneously, a traveling carnival and Victorian junk shop."
"Old-timey circus banners flank parts of the newly-built thrust stage, while over the proscenium hangs a bough laden with taxidermied trophies, antlers and seasonal greenery."
"In the first act, Leontes' castle is constructed of haphazardly nailed two-by-fours, and characters wear the kind of musty men's fur coats and women's mutton-chop sleeves that would suit one of Edward Gorey's decrepit mansions. Hollands may have imported a bit of the vibe from his home base (Glasgow's Citizens Theatre) said to be haunted by a ghost that looks significantly like the later incarnation of wronged Hermione, and leans toward a mystical reading of the play's later events."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The opening night of 'The Winter's Tale' at Peoples Light & Theatre Company offered sad tales, ribald songs and dances, swirling snow showers, homemade tin lanterns, flaming braziers, a man in a bear suit dispensing hugs and other delightful departures from traditional staging that will surely cause jealousy among theater companies faced with trying to get paying customers into seats during the snow and Super Bowl season."
"Director Guy Hollands of Glasgow's Citizens Theatre, brings a familiarity with community theatre and offers something completely different, a Saturnalian solstice festival that uses traditional music-hall, vaudeville and burlesque to tell the disjointed story of a king wrecking his reign with jealousy and suspicion."
"Philip Witcomb, another visiting Citizens Theatre stalwart, has created a towering set that evokes British music-halls and pantomime productions, then adds a traditional thrust stage (open to the audience on three sides) that necessitated a reconstruction of the main stag"Any production so favored by the gods of weather and circumstance that it can create its own rich post-holiday revel, can make us believe a shipwreck could occur on the "shore" of a land-locked Bohemia or that a statue of a long-dead queen could come to life, can surely bring some much-needed warmth to our own contemporary winter of discontent."
Daily Local News
"For the People's Light and Theater Company, The Winter's Tale does not begin onstage but literally in winter. Outside, half an hour before the show starts, the audience is encouraged to mingle underneath strings of lanterns, sipping at hot cider and warming themselves at giant wood-fire stoves, as the company juggles, sings, and dances - and, on this occasion at least, snow enthusiastically falls from the heavens. The ambitious production consists not only of the play, but of an entire festival, incorporating Shakespeare's words into a pageant celebrating the turn of the seasons and the promised arrival of spring from the depths of winter."
"It's an elaborate yet intriguing conceit: a flyer elaborates the company's role as a wandering troupe of performers dedicated to strengthening the bonds of community through the arts and in the spirit of ancient pagan festivals. Director Guy Hollands takes his inspiration from the Dance of the Satyrs at the sheep-shearing festival in Act IV, a sequence that is frequently cut from productions. His research into the subject led him to a wealth of information about folk traditions and rituals, and the decision to incorporate the play itself into a seasonal ceremony. (In what is either a brilliant marketing decision or an extremely happy coincidence, they even manage to open on Groundhog's Day, Pennsylvania's very own heralding of spring.) Hollands presents an almost seamless transition between new and old material: the revelry outside concludes with the presentation of an effigy of the Winter Witch, who is carried inside by a procession chanting "Burn the witch!" and stored underneath the stage, after which the ensemble performs another song before segueing into the beginning of the play."
"Outside the main entrance, surrounded by the stoves and underneath the lanterns, is a weathered wooden structure acting as a stage for the entertainers, laid out like the grounds at a small country fair. Costume/Set Designer Philip Witcomb continues this association inside with a thrust stage constructed of the same gray wood, lined with battered red and white bunting and old-timey gazebo lights. Modern technology is disguised, as the speakers have been replaced by phonograph horns and the stage lights given retro limelight covers. Flanking the stage are two giant posters in the style of old woodcuts: on the left, a skeleton cavorts in a bleak landscape under In Mortem Brumalis, and on the right, a maiden is surrounded by greenery underneath Die Natalis Aestas; roughly, "In the death of winter to the birthday of summer". Just in case the theme of the festival isn't yet clear, the set dressing features a literal progression of the seasons: Sicilia, soon-to-be site of brutality and cold-heartedness, is decked out like a winter hunting lodge with antlers, animal skulls, and an enormous bear's head and holly wreath; Bohemia, source of renewal and rebirth, changes out those fixtures for stuffed lambs and garlands of flowers.
Witcomb's costume design parallels these motifs - a band of players celebrating the seasons and their transformative power - almost exactly: at the pre-show festivities, some of the actors have donned their characters' costumes, but others are dressed specifically for that event, with many of the dancers donning jackets made of fluttering red and white ribbons. The troupe's baseline seems to be a slightly twisted circus aesthetic, featuring a lot of black and white stripes, tattoo sleeves, and Victorian silhouettes, but paired with wild teased hair and stylized face paint, including some designs clearly inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. In the play itself, wintery Sicilia requires the addition of heavy coats and furs; in springtime Bohemia, meanwhile, the dress is in fact more bohemian, with skirts and trousers rolled up and topped with a variety of outlandish accessories, including more flowers and animal masks for the sheep-shearing festival."
"The production ends with the company retrieving the Winter Witch from beneath the stage and processing off to burn it in a (symbolic) bonfire. Sadly, despite the pageantry, performance, and imaginary immolation, the People's Light and Theater Company's production did not actually have the ability to summon spring: the snow kept on falling. Nevertheless, their exceptional interpretation of The Winter's Tale stands as a testament to the the creativity and passion that can liven even the dreariest winter months."
A WIND IN THE WILLOWS CHRISTMAS
"A sweet, expertly staged holiday offering at the Two River Theater Company in Red Bank."
"Moley wears eyeglasses, a sweater vest, a bow tie, jeans and on his head, a miner's-cap light, the only acknowledgment that the actor is playing a certain furry mammal rather than a human. Philip Witcomb used similar restraint in costume design for most of the characters, but he does put Mr. Burgess in a bright-green suit to emphasize his toadness."
"Mr. Witcomb also designed the set, which has a fanciful English-country-garden feel, dominated by a rotating, winding wooden path and an elevated, upstage section of Toad Hall, where Dr. Badger always seems to be looking something up in a big book."
The New York Times
"Philip Witcomb's evocative set resembling an abandoned amusement park perfect for a rodent takeover. When Water Rat rows his boat, a turntable makes him seem to be gliding past shoreline."
"Witcomb also designed the costumes, which eschew animal mimicry in favor of character-inflected human garb. Toad, for example, wears a loud chartreuse jacket above shamrock green pants, a perfect look for an ego that's as large as the Emerald Isle."
"The superb scenic design by Philip Witcomb is centered around a giant rotating circular ramp festooned with greenery. There are platforms at several levels and stairways linking them with the ramp, largely within the latter's circle."
★ NOMINATED FOR 'BEST SCENIC DESIGN'
Annual Carbonell Awards
"Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Amadeus is a dazzling triumph for Florida theatre."
"Broadway Global's '2012 Top Regional Theatre' has once again created magic."
"Scenic Designer Philip Witcomb designed the breathtaking set which evokes a dilapidated theatre in Salieri's life."
"In a stylized production, Salieri and Mozart battle in the wreckage of one man's memory."
"Gieleta and his design team take the idea of the wreckage of an old man's memories as their inspiration."
"Scenic designer Philip Witcomb sets Amadeus in a ruined theater, a place sporting crumbling royal boxes, a collapsed harpsichord and slanted surfaces that become an obstacle course for the actors."
"Set in a gloriously decrepit 18th century theater created in the mind of an insane old man, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's production of Amadeus is a visually stunning and highly inventive vision of Peter Shaffer's meditation on whether Great Art is divinely inspired."
"Michael Gieleta has led talented creative team members whom he either has worked with before or knew by reputation. All of them gorge themselves on the opportunities to bring a fresh approach to such meaty material."
"Top of the list is Philip Witcomb's breathtaking set: the stage and royal box of a European opera house that is beyond dilapidated, the gilt edges flaking off, the ceiling lath exposed, the curtains in tatters, the entire structure crumbling in on itself. It leans over like those long abandoned farmhouses that the wind has blown into diagonals rather than verticals. Chandeliers have fallen to the stage and a piano forte's third leg has collapsed so the instrument slants to the floor. This is not meant to be a literal theater, but Salieri's imagining of one as he speaks to us from a madhouse."
"The vision is augmented by video and still projections on the opera stage's curtain, created by Andrzej Goulding who seamlessly integrates his ideas into Witcomb's work."
Florida Theatre On Stage
"One of the production's stars is scenic designer Philip Witcomb, who comes up with a out-of-balance, disintegrating opera house set paralleling Salieri's mental state made all the more eery by Andrzej Goulding's cinematic projections of the spirits that haunt Salieri.
Palm Beach Artspaper
"The Maltz Jupiter Theatre features interestingly unconventional scenic, projection and lighting design in their production of Amadeus. In a show where most productions would capitalize on the ornate architectural and opulent furniture designs of the time period and the setting, this set is a disintegrated shambles of a once grand court executed in worn shades of gray. Slightly elevated, curved opera boxes look as though their floor might very well fall through if trod upon."
"The stage is half-raked toward center, and a pianoforte slanted downward toward the audience helps establish the disjointed feel of the setting. The lighting design is reminiscent of the style of film noir, with side lighting casting shadows across faces and spilling across the set."
"The set is complemented by rear projections on a screen that looks like a sheet up-stage right. Strong silhouettes of bustling peasants, penitents rocking in remorse, nuns, and a limping man lumbering in either pain or anger all provide an unsettling backdrop for this tortured tale told from the troubled mind of an aging Salieri. How much is an honest and clear-sighted recollection, and how much has been altered in his mind by his guilt, is intelligently enhanced by all these technical elements. As Salieri lived in comfortable wealth, the fact that the setting for his flashbacks is portrayed in this way parallels the impoverished state in which his nemesis Mozart lived his last days."
"In the hands of the Maltz Jupiter Theater, between the macabre set and dark performances, Amadeus takes on a spirit all its own."
"The set, designed by Philip Whitcomb, reflects Salieri's dilapidated psyche. A once grand opera house sits in shambles, a mess of grayness and crumbling architecture. A rising chandelier signifies shifts in time. Never changing, the set is an ever-constant reminder of the sorrow that awaits both composers."
"Though not a ghost story in the traditional sense, Amadeus will leave audiences feeling haunted long after curtain call. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre handles this difficult piece with vigor, producing superior performances and technical design. We're sure you'll be begging for an encore."
Palm Beach Illustrated
"Scenic designer Philip Witcomb has created a marvelously decrepit, crumbling set that reflects the decline and disintegration of the two main characters."
The Boca Raton Tribune
9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL
"The production values are up to NSMT's usual high standards, with special mention to set designer Philip Witcomb, with his pop-up desks and beds making good use of every advantage the in-the-round configuration allows."
On Boston Stages
"Scenic Design Philip Witcomb has crafted a clever set of ramps for wheeling interlocking desks and floating bookcases that give the flavor of the office while still working with NSMT's in-the round stage."
"Lucas Hnath structures his story in five scenes, presented without break in the intimate Victor Jory Theatre, to which scenic designer Philip Witcomb has added a menacing drop ceiling and unforgiving fluorescent lights to create a feeling of pervasive, clinical dread."
"Philip Witcomb's set is as sparse and functional as the nursing home it represents. Brian H. Scott's lighting is bleak, clinical and unforgiving - light fit for morgues and post-mortems. That seems appropriate: Hnath's script is a psychological post-mortem that attempts to slice through issues around death and deception, power and poverty, conspiracy and family."
Leo Weekly - Louisville's Alt-Weekly
"If an audience can sit in such an intimate space for ninety minuets without a single cough, chair squeak or candy unwrapping, there must be something very special happening."
"Death Tax is nothing short of outstanding"
"This production is one worth remembrance and mention."
"The end result is something truly amazing."
"Simple, sparse and without any frills. With this production Actors Theatre has proven that they don't always need spectacle to pack a powerful punch."
IN THE NEXT ROOM or THE VIBRATOR PLAY
"The set, which displays the drawing room and the doctor's operating theater, is curvy and elegant and dressed with carefully selected and well-used props."
"With the spot-on aesthetic elements in place, the strong cast under the direction of Laura Gordon fantastically realizes Ruhl's exceptional script. Themes of nature versus technology, light and dark, and the quest for sexual identity prevail, allowing us to laugh at the characters' innocence, empathize with their struggles and leave feeling fulfilled."
Leo Weekly - Louisville's Alt-Weekly
"Ruhl lifts up the interesting phenomenon no less in evidence today than in 1880 whereby men and women often share space but on separate, parallel planes. While the male characters of In the Next Room carry on their insular lives, making plans and decisions for their wives and dependants, the female characters make connections with themselves and each other that pass unnoticed.
This idea is restated in scenic designer Philip Witcomb's beautiful design that incorporates two circles that meet, but fail to intersect. The set is also indicative of Ruhl's Victorian story-telling style, filled with embellishments often streamlined out of modern theatre."
"Ruhl's Pulitzer Prize nominated play 'In the Next Room' skillfully invokes modern dilemmas on Scenic Designer Philip Witcomb's exquisite Victorian stage. His circular shaped rooms snuggly fit the set together while decorated with plush seating and detailed medical equipment."
"The evening offers a visual delight that electrifies all the audience's senses."
Postscript Performing Arts
"Philip Witcomb's geometric scenic design graphically illustrates all that divides us and the layers we must remove before we can find the spontaneity we have lost.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
★ NOMINATED FOR 'BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE'
Critics Award For Theatre In Scotland
"Around the Beast's Castle there are burning-eyed creatures in the wild wood whose silver-grey roots, in Philip Witcomb's designs, thrust themselves organically through and around the proscenium."
"It's true that there are some genuinely challenging moments. A Christmas treat, no question, but one to send you out thinking rather than singing and dancing."
The Times ★★★★
"Philip Witcomb's haunted-house set is brooding."
"Guy Hollands's serious-minded production, is lush, dreamlike, creepy and emotionally satisfying."
The Guardian ★★★★
"IF YOU are a theatre lover - a fan of high drama, sweeping spectacle, and fearless emotion - then there's no doubt which Christmas show should be your first choice this year."
"Alan McHugh's new version of Beauty and the Beast, directed by Guy Hollands on a fabulous grey-and-silver set by Philip Witcomb - all cobwebs and whirling birch forests, with a great, howling moon - is a superb piece of musical theatre, beautiful to look at, magnificently acted, and powerfully sung."
"This remains an astonishingly powerful new take on a familiar story, swept up into a seamless and gorgeous piece of theatre."
The Scotsman ★★★★
"The Beast, imprisoned in the grey decaying grandeur of Philip Witcomb's atmospheric set, running wild through the midnight forest that, on a revolve, shifts and spins to breath-taking effect."
"This isn't Disney, it isn't a jolly panto. The music and songs, like McHugh's themes, have depths of sophistication best suited to older children - but in every way, from the captivating visual impact to the superb acting, this is the stuff of memorable theatre."
The Herald ★★★★
"Haunted by the spirits which chilled the Dickensian Christmases, Philip Witcomb's design is breathtakingly beautiful, a highlight not just of the season but of the year. It captures the decaying grandeur of the British Empire in the Regency period, all dusty grey foot servants and enamelled mirrors. Part Universal horror film and part Victorian Gothic, Witcomb has created something both cinematic and nightmarish."
"The Citizens Theatre has, once again, created something very special, a production red in tooth and claw that sets the heart both fluttering and racing. Gloriously lit by Colin Greenfell, visceral in its design and aurally rich, Beauty and the Beast is more than just another pantomime of comic faces in gooey gowns."
"This is a feast for anyone who wants more from a Christmas show than a handful of caught sweets."
WhatsOnStage ★★★★ OnstageScotland ★★★★
"In general, this show eschews the typical squeaky clean, 'look behind you' nature of the Christmas production. The ending, twisted into a more realistic resolution, fits with designer Philip Witcomb's gothic imagery, bringing out the light and shade of the story itself."
The List ★★★★
"Beauty and the Beast offers an engaging and intelligent take on the mythology."
"Hollands and McHugh share a serious intention, supported by a detailed and versatile set."
"The Citizens Beauty and the Beast is a classy Christmas cracker."
"Call of the wild makes for an enchanting Gothic horror you can really sink your teeth into."
"Two years ago, Jemima Levick's highly imaginative production of the French fairytale at Dundee Rep proved one of the highlights of the Scottish theatre calendar. Guy Hollands' production at the Citz, while very different in style, is no less enchanting or gripping. If anything it's darker."
"Jim Sturgeon's Beast meanwhile is not so much a study in rage, as embarrassment and humiliation, and all the more effective for it."
"It all makes for a heady, and dare one say it, Freudian mix. One in which McHugh opts for a different ending than is usual that seems more in keeping with the moral heart of the story."
WIND IN THE WILLOWS
"An entrancing Christmas production."
"They all mess about quite happily in boats, motor cars, the Gypsy caravan, a canal barge and steam train not to mention a creepily scary Wild Woods, which had the family audience jumping in their seats, in designer Philip Witcomb's beautifully realised sets."
"This is so beautiful and hypnotic that I could have stayed to watch it all over again. Hannah Chissick has a real affection for the book and captures its world to perfection, with imaginative use of the revolve on Philip Witcomb's set."
"There are moments of pure tranquillity among the reeds of the riverbank, and episodes of glorious madness on the open road."
"It's full of ingenuity. The rabbits introduce leaf blowers into the autumn sweep and Toad's stained loo and double bunk at Wild Wood Scrubs metamorphose into the steam engine on which he makes his flying escape."
"You come out believing there is still goodness in the world."
"Wind in the Willows has set the benchmark this Christmas."
"If you enjoy classic storytelling, a gentle ode to the values of friendship and well-produced theatre, this is a Christmas treat that will surely melt away your winter blues."
"Best of all are the production values, designer Philip Witcomb has delivered a sumptuous production that's a joy to behold."
"Whether we are messing about on the river, taking a gypsy caravan on a journey, or lost in the Wild Wood, it's a visual feast."
"Hannah Chissick directs with assurance and Witcomb's set which covers a multitude of scene changes is little short of stunning."
The British Theatre Guide
OTHELLO - Ludlow Festival Theatre
"Grippingly arranged against the atmospheric castle walls with long walkways and, in Philip Witcomb's design, a large golden frame and a chaotic installation of suspended bed frames."
"Crocker spreads the action with commendable bravura against both the castle walls and Philip Witcomb's striking sculptural design of cascading bed frames around a tilting gilt doorway and red curtain."
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
"Philip Witcomb's set design, with its condensation damp walls and sparse rigidity, is oppressive and intimate. The atmosphere of the Argentinean prison cell in which the action takes place emanates thickly into the auditorium. I am impressed by the striking immediacy of the dire circumstances for this play's central characters."
"This studio production is simple but highly effective. The intimate setting, truthful performances and clear direction facilitate a satisfying sympathy and a moving experience of a beautiful, lyrical play."
TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT
"Havergal's premiere was played on an ordered garden, where growing dahlias was Henry's life. In Northampton, designer Philip Witcomb opts contrastingly for higgledy-piggledy piles of luggage-like compartments.
These give a sense of unsteadiness and transience, increasingly apt for the action. In which they play their part: a trans-Europe train journey identifies stations by labels revealed inside passing cases. And compartments open up, briefly revealing characters, or the prison cell where three Henry's seem simultaneously confined.
Eventually this set forms the doors and windows of a South American mansion where the plot reaches its climax - the shafts of Richard Godin's lighting menacingly piercing the slats of blinds."
"A riveting, hurtling production."
"Designed by Philip Witcomb with a spectacular, ever changing backdrop of silhouetted female images, light and flame."
"Philip Witcomb's glitzy pink and black set owes much to the aesthetic of Saturday night TV. Hannah Chissick directs efficiently. It's not Shakespeare but it is, by and large, good fun."
OTHELLO - Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
"Hollands's production reveals many fine qualities. There's an effective stylised grey wall of a set, by Philip Witcomb, that opens to reveal glimpses of the world."
"The stark set from Philip Witcomb, essentially two mobile walls allows a rapid pace, segueing one scene into the next."
"Through costume and design, the production draws parallels between the racism exhibited by Iago and Brabantio towards Othello."
"It is Witcomb's set, rather than the dialogue itself, which streams this production from scene to scene and is undoubtedly the smoothest and slickest aspect of the evening."
"Philip Witcomb's design is surprisingly engaging. Two great, grey flats move in three dimensions, creating a claustrophobic feeling that lingers throughout. They split, periodically, to reveal interesting staging, such as Desdemona's death bed, softly lit by gothic candles."
"Making a 400-year-old play feel fresh is no small task. The company has managed to do so without falling into the trap of the ultra-modern."
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
"Philip Witcomb's design sensibly works in harmony with the natural attributes of the space, providing an attractive curved wooden playing area dotted with citrus trees."
London Evening Standard
"Philip Witcomb's set, with its strategically placed citrus trees is an excellent backdrop to the action, the trees doubling as props for the two eavesdropping scenes as well as underlining Claudio's disdain when he implores Leonato "to take back this rotten orange" when he rejects Hero."
"Regents Park on a warm, dry summer evening must be one of the most glorious venues in the world, Unsurprisingly, the romantic, leafy setting has helped to inspire this year's opener, a clean cut, visually appealing, intelligently acted production."
"Philip Witcomb's set on decking spirals to represent an Italian citrus orchard, deftly allows characters to lurk beneath as well as run along it."
"Tim Sheader's production dances on designer Philip Witcomb's gorgeous snaking ramp."
The Jewish Chronicle
"Sheader's dynamic staging has benefited from an outstanding creative team, notably with the timbered circular arrangement of sloping footways leading to a central rostrum designed by Philip Witcomb."
The British Theatre Guide
"Settling an appealing serpentine swathe of wooden-boards across the stage area, Philip Witcomb's set boasts two trees, one laden with oranges, the other with lemons."
"With its twisting design by Philip Witcomb that suggests like the poisonous Don John a snake has entered Eden, Sheader's orange-grove production has a high comic edge."
"A simple, spiralling stage with an orange tree at its centre is an apt platform for this striking and sophisticated production. It's nicely designed and magically lit."
"Philip Witcomb's design of a swirling wooden ramp with a central round performance area provides opportunities for multi-level action, while the orange and lemon trees suggest an appropriately lush Mediterranean ambience."
"Due a star mention is Philip Witcomb's sweeping new staging at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre which provides a stunning setting; both simple and damned effective."
"It doesn't detract from the loveliness of the lavish backdrop provided by nature, but gives wonderfully clever opportunities for beautiful staging of Much Ado About Nothing's many comic and tragic moments."
"Perhaps the real star of this enjoyable show is Philip Witcomb's wreck-like set, with its barnacle-encrusted, verdigris-coated trunks and tattered flags. A continual flood wells at its centre so that most characters are wet most of the time and we never forget that, among other things, this is a play about the effects of a storm at sea."
"Philip Witcomb's set beautifully mimics a ship wreck with a central water pool and jet spray which the cast exploit to good effect."
"The most active figure is the circus trained Matt Costain as a bleach blonde, white clad Ariel in some truly impressive rope work, suspended dangerously from the ships rigging that designer Philip Witcomb has supplied to change his basic season setting of curving walkways into a maritime criss-cross of masts, sheets, rope ladders and tattered sails."
British Theatre Guide
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
★ Nominated for 'BEST PRODUCTION'
★ Nominated for 'BEST DIRECTOR'
★ Winner of Best 'FEMALE PERFORMANCE'
Critics Award For Theatre In Scotland
"Designer Philip Witcomb places Edward Albee's compellingly ghastly drama in the centre of a wasteland. All around the book-lined New England residence of George and Martha lie mountains of black rubble, littered with discarded liquor bottles beneath a cloudy night sky. This post-apocalyptic vision is a metaphor for a dysfunctional marriage. But more than that, it locates this 1962 play in the era of the cold war. George and Martha are superpowers, forever squaring up to each other, stockpiling their emotional armouries and playing lethal games of brinkmanship."
The Guardian ★★★★
"Philip Witcomb's design is quietly breathtaking, a standard academic living room marooned against a great dark sky, on a rubbish-heap of empty bottles and disappointed hopes."
"A spine-shiveringly powerful production."
"A superb evening of theatre."
The Scotsman ★★★★
"Designer Philip Witcomb's fabulous setting takes over the first four rows of the stalls, lending even more to the theory that we are actually sitting in on private conversations in the living room, which itself is surrounded by a symbolic pile of broken glass and empty drink bottles."
"A child's tricycle stands alongside a wasteland of empty bottles flanking a book-strewn interior. A mirrored ceiling reflects and exposes every manoeuvre in George and Martha's increasingly desperate game. These symbolic touches on Philip Witcomb's set break up the gruelling claustrophobia of the battles being played out within a deceptively understated first act."
The Herald ★★★★
"A marvellous design by Philip Witcomb - the stage transforms into an academic office of book-heavy disorder."
"Philip Witcomb's book-lined study frays at the edges, revealing ever more books stretching away into the shadows. Even the forstage rests on piles of books. All the little physical details of Rita's progress are in place, her hairstyle and clothes changing as she escapes from the uniform of her origins."
THE WHITE DEVIL
★ NOMINATED FOR 'BEST OFF WEST END PRODUCTION'
Whatsonstage Theatregoers' Choice Awards
"Philip Witcomb's design, with its red curtain, suits and sashes, has little of the Fringe about it."
"John Webster's White Devil returns in thrilling style."
"Across a simple traverse stage, decorated only with doors and chairs at either end (Philip Witcomb's effective design), Munby's excellent cast sweeps to and fro with an almost frenzied energy."
"In Jonathan Munby's thrilling production, the moral ambivalence of the trial is strikingly visually represented as Vittoria, sheathed in a scarlet gown, confronts the cardinal, robed in the red cassock of his office."
"Excellent production of John Webster's Jacobean revenge tragidy.'
"Staged on a narrow traverse set, with doors et either end and a few chairs, Jonathan Mumby's production has terrific pace and bite."
"The updating to modern times has throughout a clarifying force."
"A political bloodbath that's fit for the West End."
"This is a production any West End house would be proud to call its own."
The Daily Mail ★★★★
"Yards of lush, blood-red velvet and a combination of lounge suits and plague doctor outfits convey depravity that is at once medieval and modern."
"Designer Philip Witcomb excels using a narrow traverse, which ensures that the production is intimate and all too often voyeuristic. His costumes are modern but with a period feel, none more so that the sexy red velvet frock sported by the unfaithful anti-heroine Vittoria Corombona."
"An evening that is both visually stunning and highly entertaining."
"It might be some time before The White Devil is seen again, so don't miss out."
The British Theatre Guide
DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT
"A series of gorgeous creations from designer Philip Witcomb."
"Salisbury Playhouse Panto is back on glittering form."
"Philip Witcomb's sets are a triumph of ingenuity in a tiny space."
"It's all played out on Philip Witcomb's versatile drawing room set, working well whether the vista beyond the French windows is a town square or a country park."
"A charming and lively revival."
"Designer Philip Witcomb employs his costume skills well in this colourful production."
"Philip Witcomb's colourful set from the diminutive Watermill Theatre setting sits prettily on the larger Oxford Playhouse space."
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
"Philip Witcomb has created scenery with enchanting colours."
"The stage is set against the soaring walls of the castle where, from a platform sheltering a line of musicians below, a stairway leads to the very top. From there John Killoran's Richard will fool the Lord Mayor by pretending to be holy."
"Design is by Philip Witcomb, who is responsible for the Georgian costumes, a style I don't remember having seen applied to a Shakespeare history but one that fits well with the grave and dignified speeches of the court."
The Times ★★★★
"Our action spins, quite literally, courtesy of the revolve and some excellent scenery."
"Manipulated and voiced by actors, the Weird Sisters, a fusion of skeletal fingers and ragged hair with fishlike-tails and pendulous breasts, vanish in a crescendo of jangling discordant sound. Their brooding presence looms sinisterly throughout, each formless mass suspended from a rough wooden tower set at the apex of the circular space that fronts a forest."
"Oozing atmosphere, Philip Witcomb's remote, timeless setting is spectacularly and dramatically lit in a pivotal second half giving credence to ghostly apparitions, sleep-walking and field of battle."
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
"A compelling production."
The Guardian ★★★★
"Designer Philip Witcomb makes full use of the stage width with a terrific set of faded opulence set by the ocean complete with crashing waves and lighthouse."
"Designer Philip Witcomb's two-tier set recreates brash Southern comfort."
"Another major Dundee achievement."
"Designer Philip Witcomb's superb and meticulously dressed seventies set lays bare the superficiality and dissension of Beverley's world, allowing her to inhabit the space. For almost 15 minutes before house-lights dim, swaying seductively in a long figure-hugging dress, from upstairs bedroom to downstairs living room, Beverly gets ready for her guests."
"Setting the topsy-turvy world of Illyria on a spacious Victorian pier is an inspired decision by director Ben Crocker and designer Philip Witcomb."
"Adding maximum comedy impact an inebriated Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek make memorably noisy entrances down a huge helter-skelter, while a Punch and Judy booth becomes an inventively portable hiding place."
"This outdoor production is filled with riches and is hugely entertaining."
"Nick Winston's direction on an intimate stage is seamless and the minimal choreography works perfectly on Philip Witcomb's wonderful split set design."
"A remarkably successful collaboration of all-round talent."
"The set is simple and effective in providing space for the couples at different stages of their relationship. The women predominately inhabit the living room while upstage Jack (Alistair Robbins) inhabits a sparsely furnished flat with only grey boxes around. John, the young self, is superbly performed by the light baritone Stephen Ashfield. His flat can be seen through a large window frame. Either moves to the living area in moments of intimacy or attempted reconciliation."
"A delightful treat."
The British Theatre Guide
"Under the directorship of Nick Winston, who manages to manoeuvre the quartet comfortably around the tiny stage in Philip Witcomb's effective set."
"This show could well be headed for the commercial West End."
"Tomorrow Morning could see itself added to the ever-growing list of new West End musicals popping up this year."
"A show given a highly polished staging from Nick Winston on an attractive Philip Witcomb set that looks ripe - and smart enough - for transfer."
★ NOMINATED FOR 'BEST DESIGN' and 'BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE'
Critics Award For Theatre In Scotland
★ PICK OF THE WEEK.
The Guardian Guide
"Philip Witcomb's set, a kind of haunted, shabby gilt banqueting hall that dissolves and reforms itself throughout the show - it boasts one of the most staggeringly beautiful pieces of design I've ever seen on the Scottish stage. Shaped to make what is already a handsome space look as large and mysterious as a huge palace, or perhaps a small country."
"A near-perfect piece of Christmas theatre for children over five."
The Scotsman ★★★★
"The clever angled set gives the impression of a spacious banqueting hall or kitchen as the action demands."
"Stylish and entertaining."
The List ★★★★
"The play opens with a bleak stage set of a single tree growing above Cinderella's dead mother's grave, but this monochrome soon gives way to a riot of colour. Alternating between the grand dining room of a palace and the cavernous kitchen, the set design is always visually interesting and the costumes are another delight."
"A feast for the eyes."
"This Cinderella is truely sumptuous."
"There is a guilt edge gloss on Philip Witcomb's stately-home interior that's wittily appropriate for the narrative clashes between vicious, conniving greed and simple goodness."
The Herald ★★★★
"This is a particularly stylish looking production with a fabulous palace interior and costumes designed by Philip Witcomb and lit by Oliver Fenwick on which to feast one's eyes."
"Director James Brining has brought together the well-loved traditional elements of a Christmas show while taking it forwards with the stylish design."
"Philip Witcomb's clever design, the lighting by Oliver Fenwick, and Steve Kettley's music all contribute to making this one of the best-ever Christmas shows staged by Dundee Rep."
"Philip Witcomb has designed an adaptable set based on turn-around panels - angles and covered in written graffiti for the school then parallel and plain for the art gallery. Ryan's own graffiti, like the Emperor's new clothes, has to be imagined."
"Philip Witcomb's set re-angles the school's scrawled walls behind the gallery's perspex elegance of act 2. Its a strong, economic statement of the play's contrasted environments."
WOMAN IN MIND
★ PICK OF THE WEEK.
The Guardian Guide
"Designer Philip Witcomb's clever set replaces the garden fence with reflective panels that flash distorted, fractured images at us as a neat metaphor for the state of Susan's mind."
"Despite the blue skies, the fantasy family dressed in sugar pink and pristine white and the rosy glow of sunlight on manicured lawns and neat borders, all is not well in Susan's world."
"The immaculate grass of Philip Witcomb's lawn setting, as well as his pure cyclorama sky complements the powerful impression of unreality."
"An absorbing production."
The British Theatre Guide
"Each of the three characters has a detailed set on a revolving stage to inhabit. On the far back wall are rows of windows. Each window has a different style of curtain or blind and in some of them a light comes on. Bennett's characters are placed firmly in their restricted little worlds."
"Superbly cast, sharp and clear."
"Innovative design ideas have distinguished Hannah Chissick's tenure in harmony with designer Philip Witcomb."
"As a reminder that there are a dozen Talking Heads in total, Witcomb's backdrop is a wall of twelve windows, each capturing the essence of the characters inside, a brilliant design concept."
This is York
HOUSE AND GARDEN
"More of a theatrical enterprise than a mere production, Harrogate Theatre's staging of House and Garden is a significant achievement."
"Alan Ayckbourn's two interconnecting, simultaneously performed plays have previously been shown in separate auditoria, at Scarborough and then at the National Theatre."
"Even with press releases and patient explanations, this reviewer could not quite understand how Harrogate's technical staff would utilise their Grade II listed theatre."
"The performance space is traditional proscenium arch so two auditoria have been specially constructed. Some rows of stall seats have been dismantled to draw the usual stage further out. House is played here."
"Directly behind the House backdrop is the walled garden. It is facing the theatre's back wall and an audience sitting on benching covered with grass mats."
"There is no compromise with scenery and no compromise with creature comfort. Soundproofing ensures that noise from the other stage is barely discernible. It is all so simple. The two plays start at the same time and end, more or less and without undue panic, at the same time."
"Designer Philip Witcomb and lighting designer David Holmes should have the model for the interconnecting sets put out on display in the theatre's foyer. A model of the stage prior to it's transformation would further emphasise how adept and resourceful they have been."
"Philip Witcomb's set design is appropriately witty and inventive."
"Harrogate Theatre's production has the look of a stage version of an intelligent adult cartoon strip."
"Harrogate Theatre's revival is bespattered with precisely the right kind of rain. Silvery rivulets course down the windows of the Alvings' drawing room, through which one can see the jagged maw of a gloomy fjord and a cluster of harbour lights glinting wanly in the distance."
"The broad sweep of Philip Witcomb's set is a triumph of theatrical perspective and clever plumbing that determines but never dominates the oppressive tension of Hannah Chissick's production."
The Guardian ★★★★
"This is no static show with bland, abstract sets. It moves, it creates and it celebrates."
FOLLOW MY LEADER
"Philip Witcomb's design is a gaudy star-spangled delight."
"The set looks like a music hall crossed with a televised press conference. Its proscenium arch is swathed in a Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes, while its walls are giant screens, flashing up news footage and strategic maps."
"Lively, pungent and entertaining."
"It is worth going to the theatre just to see Philip Witcomb's sets and costumes, which between them must have cost a pretty penny. The major features of the set are a proscenium arch created from the Star-Spangled Banner and two 25 ft high projection screens."
The British Theatre Guide
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
"Philip Witcomb's set is simply amazing. A larger than life-sized portrait dominates the stage early on while even taller mirrors give a haunting feel. Lord Henry's and Gray's decadent homes are impressively projected onto the rear wall, as is the portrait when it has changed through aging."
The British Theatre Guide
"With Pivoted mirrors, pros-arch and projected images, Philip Witcomb's sombre design is stark but effective, while Dorian's portrait vividly disintegrates using computer enhanced images."
"Philip Witcomb's set is fascinating and often beautiful, a great gloomy array of tall swivelling mirrors reflecting faded photographs of lush Victorian interiors."
THE EMPEROR AND THE NIGHTINGALE
"The Emperor and the nightingale is essentially for anyone who thrills at the sudden sight of a dragon erupting downwards from the roof, twisting it's serpentine body as though tossed by tempests."
"The dragon isn't the only spectacular feature of Fiona Laird's in-the-round production. Peacock feathers and curious birds decorate the frieze around the central pavilion with green pillars and red lanterns, designed by Philip Witcomb. The glittering costumes are also his, Wu in scarlet and gold, Xiao in rainbow stripes."
"I defy anyone not to be touched and delighted by Fiona Laird's enchanting production, which fits perfectly into this jewel box of a theatre. Neil Duffield's script and Paul Kissaun's music are a perfect match, while Philip Witcomb's design exploits the fantastical chinoiserie."
The Sunday Times
"An oriental pavilion festooned with Chinese lanterns provides the dinky platform for a new spin on the tale about the tiny bird that charms all who hear it. Through the ingenious use of masks, face-paint and a lavish array of robes and kimonos the action ranges across mountain tops and waterfalls, and into the path of chattering monkeys and fire-belching dragons. There's no doubting the show's mesmerising appeal to the imagination."
"This reworking of Hans Christian Andersen's story is a little thing of real beauty."
"Fiona Laird's production is done with such charm and elegance that the whole thing seems somehow much more than it is, and has the rare quality of being as entertaining for an adult as it is for a small child. In part, that's because it looks so good: Philip Witcomb provides a red, gold and green pagoda, and there is a jewel-like richness about almost every aspect of the design."
"A little treasure box of a show."
The Guardian ★★★★
"Philip Witcomb's clever design sees the playing space reconfigured in the round, with the action unfolding under a red and gold chinoiserie canopy bedecked with lanterns."
"Director Fiona Laird, has another hit on her hands."
London Evening Standard
"Neil Duffield's reworking of the Hans Christian Andersen tale is a dream for any designer and the Watermill has landed a dream of a designer in Philip Witcomb."
Newbury Weekly News
LOVE IN A MAZE
★ NOMINATED FOR 'BEST DESIGNER'
TMA Theatre Awards
"An entertaining evening, and the roses around the maze are exquisite."
The Times ★★★★
"The final scene set in the maze of the title and staged in the Watermill grounds in a sort of wedding cake structure is undeniably effective."
"Your eyes are ravished by Philip Witcomb's elegant colour coordinated country-house setting, all shades of pink and crimson with a wall motif of huge pink roses. The glorious period costumes continue the colour scheme."
"And when the audience troops outside to join the cast for the last act in the maze itself, we find more roses, decorating Witcomb's three-tier vertical maze, rising like a wedding cake in the Watermill's lovely setting. It's an apt image for, as the lovers finally come together in the gazebo atop the maze, looking just like figures on a wedding cake, you feel you've tasted one of the most delicious summer confections the Watermill has come up with yet."
"Philip Witcomb's extravagant maze makes amends for Boucicault's inability to edit his own work."
London Evening Standard
SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
"On Philip Witcomb's witty set, the Playhouse floor is a litter of tiny scraps of paper that get wafted by every flounce of a skirt, to send fragments of torn-up reputations fluttering."
"Pairs of dis-embodied, white gloved hands grab copies of Hello! magazine through lip like slits in a taut black curtain. They provide a sustained metaphor for appetites for gossip even more voracious and damaging that in Sheridan's day."
"Three tiers of small boxes with double doors flank the proscenium arch and provide miniture stages for portraites that come to life and unseen eavesdroppers hands that hold scandal sheets or clip pot plants in unison."
"The liberties taken with costume serve to give the play a very fresh and contemporary feel."
"Charles Surface wears a period wig and shiny leather trousers and his decadent household is depicted in bikinis around the hot tub."
"The zaniest, most outrageous, brilliantly entertaining production is the result of a most ingenious, original and imaginative design throughout by Philip Witcomb. The combination of modern and period costumes and a set that is full of amusing surprises blends well with the action of this wonderful Restoration comedy."
"Lady Teazle's costume will definitely set a new trend in Restoration comedies."
"Adventurous and entertaining."
"Its wonderfully wacky stuff, raising a laugh while packing a punch."
"The costumes, wigs and make-up are stunning, a cross between The Rocky Horror Show, Blackadder and Adam Ant."
Chronicle and Echo
THE BLUE ROOM
"Giant cabinets on Philip Witcomb's impressive set glide in and out to deliver beds that make their own individual statements - one is so absurdly wide that it puts acres of silken sheet between an estranged married couple."
"An hypnotic evening."
THE TURN OF THE SCREW
"Philip Witcomb's designs dwell on one brilliant coup: a huge fuzzed mirror, centrally hinged, which swings to permit toings and froings, and forges an entire Victorian mansion from the concave rear recesses of Wilton's, variously reflected."
"Elijah Moshinsky's in-your-teeth new staging delivers events to your eyeball."
"Wilton's is spooky enough when empty, but Elijah Moshinsky's virtuoso staging has the whole audience looking round nervously, with the production happening all over, you never know where the ghosts are going to pop up next."
"Quint erupts from within Miles's bed, there are hauntings in the gallery, Miles's bedroom is squeezed under the staircase and the little blasphemous Benedicte is backstage behind the revolving metaphysical mirror that sometimes symbolises the interface of life and death. We only get to see in the mirror a chandelier reflection, and later Miles practicing the piano like a concerto prodigy."
"Moshinsky, with modest resources, achieves stunning effects."
The Daily Mail
"Elijah Moshinsky's production of Britten's Turn of the Screw for Broomhill Opera is the creepiest, most penetrating and powerful staging i have seen, and I have seen many since the first in 1954. Indeed I am tempted to call it the best I have ever seen."
"Moshinsky and his designer Philip Witcomb have brilliantly seized the opportunities offered by the venue. The stage thrusts near the audience and a platform reaches the length of the central aisle of the auditorium. The children Flora and Miles run about the gallery, the ghosts Peter Quint and Miss Jessel peer over it. A large revolving reflecting screen turns as often as the screw, and the only props are Miles's bed, the school room desk and the Governess's bag."
"The Audience is not watching events at the country house Bly, where the events of "this curious story" occur, but is part of them."
"There are six more performances and I implore you to attend this revelation."
The Sunday Telegraph
"Visitors to Wiltons Music Hall should be warned that the atmospheric and shadowy venue ensure the screw is turned still further in this excellent production of Britten's chilling opera."
"The bold use of space enfolds the audience in this claustrophobic story."
"The Turn of The Screw, the line between stage and audience is lightly drawn: the action is as likely to take place above and around you as behind the proscenium arch. Sometimes, the intimacy of the place is almost shocking. As Miles lies dead on his governess' knee, single teardrops run down her cheeks and fall rhythmically on the skirt of her black dress. Human grief on a human scale. Wilton's was packed, its 230 seats fought over, as they have been every night."
"The critical acclaim heaped on this captivating production and its superlative cast has obviously helped, but something else was drawing the crowds, too: a theatrical experience limited, by its very nature, to 230 people. It wasn't the exclusivity we were after. It was the intimacy."
"Broomhill Opera's greatest triumph."
"From the moment you enter the still equisitely distressed music-hall, past and present, forms and shadows mingle in the dimly lit auditorium."
"Philip Witcomb, designing for Moshinsky, fills the tiny stage with a huge swivel-screen of a blurred mirror: as it turns and turns again, we seem to glimpse a ghostly bygone audience in the gallery - then realise with a gasp that it is ourselves."
"Miss it at your peril."
"Bly itself is the beautiful, decrepit interior of Wiltons Music Hall, reflected in a massive revolving mirror, all here is not what it seems."
"The whole is a uniquely disturbing piece of musical theatre."
"You need to go and see Moshinsky's superb production, if you think your nerves can take it, for this is, without question, the definitive Turn of the Screw for our times."
DEATH IN VENICE
★ Selected by Time Out New York Theatre Editor Jason Zinoman as one of his '10 Best in Theatre' for 2002.
"A powerful production."
Time Out New York
"Brilliant, Gripping, Superb, Marvellous, Intelligent."
"It's an exciting version, masterfully performed."
"The stage is simple and symbolic. The atmosphere of Venice is subtly but powerfully evoked by the suggestion of water and light."
New York Post
"Mr Havergal finds the full power of Thomas Mann's disquieting tale; and when he does, a chill runs through the room that will be with you long after you step outside into the June heat."
"The play proves the truth of Dumas's grand claim that all you need for drama is one man and four walls. I'm so tired of sets that are like noveau riche houses, advertising how much they cost. The small stage of Manhattan Ensemble Theatre is dominated by a wooden pillar, a table with a typewriter, a chair, a bowl of fruit on a stand and a death mask."
"I don't want 'Death in Venice' to finish it's New York run (it closes tonight) and just go back to Europe. its compact, mobile and potent. It should be travelling to theatres across the country."
The New York Times
"On one table sits a well maintained black typewriter. On the other, a large glass bowl brimming with obscenely ripe, red strawberries. Before even a word is spoken in Death in Venice, the Citizens Theatre of Glasgow's adaptation of Thomas Mann's haunting novella, this perfect visual image succinctly expresses the battle raging inside the story's aged protagonist, novelist Gustave Von Aschenbach."
"Giles Havergal directs with a utilitarian simplicity that defers to the majesty of the words."
The Village Voice, New York
"A gripping portrayal, Havergal commands the stage from the moment he steps out."
"Theres a sense of voluptuousness to this finely modulated piece."
"A magnificent, memorable theatrical work, one rarely matched on or off Broadway, or anywhere else, for that matter."
The Jewish Post and Opinion
"A truly memorable theatrical event."
"A stunning show."
"A devastatingly powerful one-man drama."
"The Manhattan Ensemble Theatre is to be congratulated on importing such a stunning show to it's Soho stage."
"Philip Witcomb's set is simplicity itself."
United Press International
"Philip Witcomb's set distills the play's Apollonian/Dionyson conflict into visual markers."
"Amazingly, The Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow has accomplished what would seem nearly impossible. They have brought this extraordinary work to the stage intact. The beauty and the haunting delicacy of the original is maintained, Communicated with heart breaking restraint in a tour-de-force performance by Giles Havergal."
"The set by Philip Witcomb is spare and elegant. On stage right, a large bowl of strawberries rests on a high pedestal; while on the left can be seen Aschenbach's office chair and typewriter. Both the strawberries and the typewriter have dramatic purposes. Across the back of the stage runs a water system which is used to creat the sounds of fountains in the numerous piazzas which Aschenbach visits on his extensive and ultimately doomed walks."
"Nothing can be faulted in this production."
"Havergal's skill as a director is also strong, providing interesting staging with the help of Philip Witcomb."
"The only other items that set and costume designer Philip Witcomb has immaculately furnished, and which Havergal ignors for the moment, are a long-legged white table atop which rests a bowl of strawberries, an old typewriter sitting on an old desk, and two sizable blue blocks to serve as seats. At the back of the stage is a curtain painted to suggest a blue sea under a less blue sky. It's all strikingly pristine, spare but aesthetically pleasing."
"A fine example of how enthralling story theatre can be."
"A first-rate performance piece."
"The perfectly chosen set pieces designed by Philip Witcomb include a period writing desk, a typewriter, a bowl of strawberries, a chair, Von Aschenbach's pedestalled death mask and four raised spigots that burst forth sensuously at the heights of expressed passion all add to the success of the piece.
San Francisco Bay Times
"The play opens as a funeral service for Aschenbach, with Havergal delivering Mann's descriptive background material as a eulogy to the figure depicted by the white-on-white death mask on the monument that dominates Philip Witcomb's striking, minimalist set."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Marrying scattered, ordinary furnishings (a glass bowl of strawberries on a side table, a wooden desk with a typewriter on it) to more expressionistic features (an alabaster memorial plinth with a death mask carved into it, a row of tall metal faucets), Philip Witcomb's scenic design evokes, like a Dali landscape, a waking dream."
San Francisco Weekly