Popping-in?

We designed our studio; it's filled with light and music. There are multiple meeting rooms, a well stocked kitchen, and an indoor garden (with fishpond). Pop-in for tea and stay to use a spare desk for as long as you need.

11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

Public transport

We’re next to Greenwich train and DLR station. We have a door right on the concourse but it’s different to our postal address.

From Greenwich rail platform

This video shows the route to take from the train that will arrive at Greenwich rail station from London Bridge.

From Greenwich DLR station

This video shows the route to take from the DLR that will arrive at Greenwich DLR station from Bank.

By car

If you have to come by car, we have a couple of parking spaces in front of our studio. Call ahead to make sure they’re free, and use our postcode (SE10 9QF) to guide you in.

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We’d love to hear from you. Use whichever medium works best for you.

11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

New project enquiry

It's exciting to chat about potential new projects. We don't have a ‘sales’ team or a form to fill in. Call us or give us a little detail via email and we'll get straight back to you.

enquiry@cogdesign.com

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If you're a client then you'll be best served by calling us or contacting us via Basecamp, otherwise you can use this dedicated email that reaches all of the digital team.

digital@cogdesign.com

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This email hits the inboxes of the people who deal with our bookkeeping and finances.

accounts@cogdesign.com

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hello@cogdesign.com

Cultural Calendar

A round-up of recommendations and reviews, sent on the first Friday of each month, topped-off with a commissioned image from a talented new illustrator. Sign-up and tell your friends.

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Cog News

An irregular update of activity from our studio. Showing off about great new projects, announcements, job opportunities, that sort of thing. Sign-up and tell your friends.

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Neil Bartlett’s Stella at LIFT Festival

Neil Bartlett’s Stella at LIFT Festival

The ‘true’ story of infamous Victorian socialite, Ernest Boulton AKA Stella, is given an emotionally driven yet enigmatic treatment in Neil Bartlett’s new play. Melissa tells us what she thought.

For June’s Cog Night, we headed to Hoxton Hall for the LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) presentation of Stella, a new play from Neil Bartlett. From the buzz of a sunny Hoxton evening there was an instant contrast stepping into the cool shadows and forgotten by time feel of the interior of Hoxton Hall, which has been newly refurbished, yet retains an air of history. In the low light we see on stage a solitary figure in a crumpled suit sat hunched, waiting. As the lights dimmed to black and the audience grew silent he continued to wait, and us with him – though for what was uncertain. His fragility palpable, his frame hollowed out, whatever is coming, we sense, will be terminal. And so the story begins to unfold as the recollections of one apparently near to death brings to life a previous self, a different self… Enter Stella, the vivacious and glamorous young woman, alone in her dressing room, also waiting, though she for her lover, and life is in full swing.

Stella

There is a detailed history included in the programme, written by Neil Bartlett, the playwright and director. We discover that this is about Ernest Boulton, an infamous Victorian socialite, and that Stella was perhaps the most successful of his many alter egos, a respectable young lady of London’s West End and the lover of the Tory MP and aristocrat Lord Arthur Pelham-Clinton. They lived together briefly before the scandal of Stella’s arrest and trial in 1870 (although surprisingly, Boulton was not charged with sodomy).  It’s a fascinating story – one that Bartlett has researched in detail. And yet the factual elements of the story barely make it onto the stage. Rather, the approach is a more poetic musing on memory, on identity, on the reflections, refractions, surfaces and depths of a self within a self, and the relationship between them. It seems the subjective experience of the character(s) is really what the play is trying to convey, relying heavily on prior knowledge to fill in the narrative blanks.

Ernest and Stella are invoked in a split-screen-like staging, as the two main actors, Richard Cant and Oscar Batterham (who are excellent) deliver stream of consciousness soliloquies that at times echo each other across the divides of age and gender. However, the relationship between the two is not immediately clear, and is further complicated by the mysterious and silent presence of a third actor, David Carr, who seems to be somewhere between a stage hand and a prop, who mainly watches silently from the background.

Themes of mirrors, reflections, of image and surface, individuality and multiplicity, of continuity and contrast are evoked throughout the play as part of the exploration of this historical character, yet are recognisable to a more modern sense of self, and also to current discussions and experiences of what gender might mean. And while this is clever and thought provoking there is a strong sense of considered literary devices at work here, which ends up detracting somewhat from the accessibility of the story. The deliberate ambiguity that is part of the intriguing dream-like quality of the play is both a help and a hindrance. However, the physical performances of the actors shine through, and it is the nuance and flair of movement and delivery that most vividly conveys the characters. Perhaps the restrained staging is a nod to the constrictions of Victorian society which the play’s namesake inhabited.

After the play, as we shuffled out of the theatre, blinking like moles in the still bright sunlight, I was struck by the sense of dissociation. We had certainly witnessed something, which was probably quite good, performed with notable skill and Interesting Content, but missing the mark of an experience easily enjoyable.