After researching and deliberating over different styles or directions to go down, I finally settled on my ‘dolls house concept’.
Inspired by David Hockey’s designs for A Rake’s Progress, I really wanted to have a neutral set which complimented the bold colours of the costumes. When I heard Tom Hardy’s description of the play as an ‘adult pantomime’, I was determined to have over the top, farcical costumes with exaggerated hair and makeup. This meant I needed a neutral set with pops of colour to compliment such an extreme costume design. I settled on an illustrated design to achieve this.
2. Dolls house
I came up with the idea of the play being set in a dolls house environment, to highlight their childish behaviour; they are all playing a game or each other. This would involves 4 hand-drawn rooms on side panels which would cover the balcony areas, and also a traditional proscenium style arch at the top as a roof. Each room would have a cut out in it, which would allow a particular coloured light to shine through and represent each location; green for Mrs Loveit’s house for example, as she is an envious character. I really liked the set design for Mary Poppins as an influence for this.
The stage, and its 2 extensions, would be lined with birdies or footlights in order to create a ‘catwalk’ atmosphere. This highlights the high presence of fashion within the play, as they are all trying to be the biggest socialite with the trendiest clothes. The lightbulbs also have the purpose of identifying each location also; they will light with the corresponding colour of the rooms. For example if the scene is in Mrs Loveit’s house, the room light will glow green, along with the footlights on the stage. For The Mall scene, a curtain would be drawn to cover the back half of the stage, and will show twinkling lights to represent an outdoor, nighttime space. The footlights instead of glowing a particular colour, would be flashing in different patterns to create a bold, ‘carnival-esque’ effect to show the fun element of the mall/ pleasure gardens.
The costumes were my first decision, and the set led from there. Tom Hardy’s quote really inspired me to create fun and daring costumes with a huge emphasis on hair and makeup. I researched into pantomime, drag queens and caricatures to help achieve this statement look. As with the set, I wanted elements of 17th century clothing, yet with a modern twist.