Four Stages of Cruelty by simple8 at Arcola 24 May

simple8 presents The Four Stages of Cruelty, by Adam Brace and Sebastian Armesto with simple8. Based on the engravings of William Hogarth, at the Arcola Theatre, a fringe venue in east London, from 24 May to 24 June 2011.

Cast includes Oliver Birch, David Brett, Stephanie Brittain, Christopher Doyle, Hannah Emanuel, Dudley Hinton, Richard Maxted, Emily Pennant-Rea, Mat Wandless.

With his engravings Hogarth told stories. He published The Four Stages of Cruelty in 1751. The South Sea trading bubble had recently burst causing economic insecurity, political tension and social fractures. Hogarth's London was an overcrowded, cacophonous and disquieting mess – and somewhere near the bottom of the social ladder is Tom Nero, Hogarth’s orphaned protagonist. In simple8's production nine actors create the swirl of life, death, crime, love and cruelty that Nero encounters on his rise from poor orphan to notorious criminal. The company's use of the ensemble and poor theatre approach attempts to catch the spirit of the source material: busy, broad and picaresque. Live music, period cant, physical ingenuity and an array of characters feature in a story that plunges a corkscrew into the city’s social bedrock, taking in the Hackney carriages, gin halls, boxing bouts and masquerades of 18th century London.

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