31 December 2006

Theatre Index for 2006

▼ December (5)
Don Juan in Soho by Patrick Marber after Moliere
Love Song by John Kolvenbach
The Lightning Play by Charlotte Jones
Catch by April de Angelis, Stella, Feehily, Tanika...
Therese Raquin by Emile Zola & adapted by Nicholas...
▼ November (5)
Drunk Enough to Say I Love You - Caryl Churchill
Scenes from the Back of Beyond by Meredish Oakes
The Seafarer by Conor McPhearson
A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill
The Cryptogram by David Mamet
▼ October (2)
The Alchemist by Ben Johnson
Pianoforte by Terry Johnson
▼ September (2)
In Extremis by Howard Brenton
Exiles by James Joyce
▼ August (5)
The Life of Galileo by Bertold Brecht
Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan
Titus Andronicus - William Shakespeare
Sunday in the Park with George by James Lapine & S...
Under the Black Flag by Simon Bent
▼ July (5)
Savages by Christopher Hampton
tamasha new writing showcase
On the Third Day by Kate Betts
The Seagull by Anton Chekhov
Eh Joe by Samuel Beckett
▼ June (8)
Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard
Market Boy by David Eldridge
Woman And Scarecrow by Marina Carr
A Voyage Around My Father by John Mortimer
The Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Shaffer
Southwark Fair by Samuel Adamson
Enemies by Maxim Gorky/David Hare
Smaller by Carmel Morgan
▼ May (15)
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Product by Mark Ravenhill
Dying City by Christopher Shinn
Phaedra by Frank McGuiness after Racine
Exonerated by Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen
Citizenship by Mark Ravenhill
Chatroom by Enda Walsh
Burn by Deborah Gearing
I remember the Royal Court devised by Patrick Marb...
The Changeling by Thomas Middleton and William Row...
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
A Tribute to Look Back in Anger by John Osborne an...
Motortown by Simon Stephens
Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
Blackbird by David Harrower
▼ April (7)
Rainbow Kiss by Simon Farquhar
Endgame - Samuel Beckett
Members Only
Hilda by Marie NDiaye
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
My Name is Rachel Corrie
▼ March (2)
The Cut by Mark Ravenhill
A Man for all Seasons - By Robert Bolt

30 December 2006

Don Juan in Soho
by Patrick Marber after Moliere

Stan - Steven Wight
Colm - Richard Flood
DJ - Ryhs Ifans
Elvira - Laura Pyper
Peter/Vagabond - Abdul Salis
Lottie/Ruby - Seroca Davis
Mattie/Dalia - Jessica Brooks
Aloysius - Chris Corrigan
Charles - Tim Eagle
Lous - David Ryall

Director - Michael Grandage
Designer - Christopher Gram

As seen in it's premiere run at the Donmar Warehouse

I should know better than to write this while listening to the Best of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue but here goes......

Everything you would expect from Patrick Marber and then some. Every line, every concept a gem and thankfully supported by a magnificent cast. Stephen Wight is one youngster to watch out for in the future. Rhys was glorious. How can a man appear wonderfully camp and yet strangely sexy to me, I do not know?

Sadly, I don't see credit given to the statue which was always a scene stealer - including the curtain call.

Celeb in the audience : Megan Dodds, Ben Chaplin?

28 December 2006

Love Song by John Kolvenbach

Cillian Murphy - Beane
Romy Tennant - Joan
Michael McKean - Harry
Neve Campbell - Molly
James Scales - Waiter

Directed by John Crowley
Designed by Scott Pask

Seen at the beginning of it's premiere run at the New Ambassadors Theatre

Really interesting piece. Is Beane schizophrenic? I don't think so but he enjoys the company of his alter ego or is he just lonely?

This could have been a really dull exploration of the self but it is interspersed with such contrastingly witty interludes that there is hardly time to absorb the more contemplative elements.

Two main settings - Harry & Joan's living room. Beane's bedsit into which he invites (envokes the spirit of?) Molly. Something isn't quite right with Beane and his sister & her husband try to support and solve. His journey is totally different but they notice that while he has 'his imaginary friend' he is happier and more socially acceptable.

So much to think about. I loved the performances with Neve being the weakest. That said, her role is quite a difficult one to get across without seeming too well considered. Cillian is always easier to stomach when he is tousled and bearded. He is always sensitive but also brought a bit of rare manliness to the character which I often have trouble finding when he's all prettied up. Seems like a very nervous, jumpy soul. Reminded me of Ben Whishaw........

14 December 2006

The Lightning Play by Charlotte Jones

Max Villiers - Matthew Marsh
Eddie Fox - Lloyed Hutchinson
Harriet Villiers - Eleanor David
Jacklyn Pettit - Adie Allen
Imogen Cumberbatch - Katherine Parkinson
Burak - Simon Kassianides
Marcus Cumberbatch - Orlanda Seale
Tabby Morris - Christina Cole

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Lez Brotherston

in it's premiere run at the Almeida

I had the weird feeling I'd seen this before when this started..............and the 'twist' at the end was also no shock to me. I know I saw this plotline recently and it is bugging me to think where.

That said it's a very entertaining piece of writing and in the main, very well presented and performed. Highly recommended.

12 December 2006

Catch by April de Angelis, Stella, Feehily, Tanika Gupta, Chloe Moss, Laura Wade

Andrea/Carol - Lucy Briers
Dean/Graham - Alexi Kaye Campbell
Maya - Kathryn Drysdale
Fatima/Jade - Farzana Dua Elahe
Ree - RIccie Mcleod
Claire - Tanya Moodie
DN - Kyle Summercorn
Casey - Niamh Webb

DIrected by
Designed by

in it's premiere at the Jerwood Upstairs

Some of this was so good and some of it was weak. Some of the performances were wonderful and some were terrible. Tanya Moodie did not seem to be aware that she was in a tiny space and she was really irritating. Alexi was gorgeous and a couple of the youngsters were great especially Kathryn Drysdale.. Lucy Briers was good but she had a good bit of script.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola & adapted by Nicholas Wright

Camile - Patrick Kennedy
Laurent - Ben Daniels
Therese Raquin - Charlotte Emmerson
M Grivet - Mark Hadfield
M Michaud - Michael Culkin
Suzanne - Emma Lowndes

Directed by Marianne Elliot
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler

Well, I loved this. The performances were wonderful and the set was great. Ben Daniels was so erotic and Charlotte's stoney exterior was incredible. I should also mention Patrick Kennedy who has a naive energy and who has yet to disappoint me


30 November 2006

Drunk Enough to Say I Love You - Caryl Churchill

Sam - Ty Burrell
Jack - Stephen Dillane

Directed by James Macdonald
Designed by Euguene Lee

In it's premiere run at the Royal Court Jerwood Downstairs.

On of the lovely front of house staff remarked that she thought it would probably be better viewed in retrospect and I think she may be right.

The issues discussed are all too raw and therefore every-changing to resonate right now. Incredible performances and the entire staging was delightful (including some visual gags).

I'm very glad I saw it but it did not have the impact of her other pieces for me.

Celeb in the audience : Lindsay Duncan

25 November 2006

Scenes from the Back of Beyond by Meredish Oakes

Guy - Luke Bromley
Helen - Penny Downie
David - Daniel Lapaine
Jasmine - Samantha Losey
Robbo - Tom Sangster
Bill - Martin Turner

Directed by Ramin Gray and Designed by Jon Bausor

I think this might have been this production's UK premiere are the Jerwood Upstairs

Totally engaging........more later

20 November 2006

The Seafarer by Conor McPhearson

Richard Harkin - Jim Norton
James 'Sharky' Harkin - Karl Johnson
Ivan Curry - Conleth Hill
Nicky Gilbin - Michael McElhatton
Mr Lockhart - Ron Cook

Directed by Conor McPherson
Designed by Rae Smith

Seen during it's first run at the Cottesloe.

Hilarious, intellegent and poignant. The performances are wonderful and the entire cast are glorious together.

14 November 2006

A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill

Josie - Eve Best
Mike - Eugene O'Hare
Phil - Colm Meany
Jim - Kevin Spacey
Stodder - Billy Carter

Directed by Howard Davies
Designed by Bob Crowley

In the middle of it's acclaimed run at the Old Vic during the Autumn of 2006

Once again, I made the mistake of thinking that front of Dress Circle seats would be brilliant in this theatre and they are not. It's just too far away for an intimate production like this. Oddly enough, I think it might have worked better for me at the Olivier because of the nature of not being so removed from the audience.

I know I was supposed to adore this and whilst enjoying it I couldn't get past the sense of removal. I wanted to feel more of what was going on but couldn't. It was obvious from the reaction at front of stalls, there was a connection with them that most of us missed.

The performances were glorious and I can't deny that there was much to enjoy but I felt as though I'd missed the full emotional experience.

08 November 2006

The Cryptogram by David Mamet

John - Oliver Coopersmith
Del - Douglas Henshall
Donny - Kim Cattrall

Directed by Josie Rourke
Designed by Peter McKintosh

The programme says 'first presented a the Donmar Warehouse on 12th October' but I don't know if that means it's the first time here. I suspect not.

An intense play about ..........hah! you won't catch me out like that!! A very complicated piece. I wish I'd written this as soon as I got home because we were treated to an on-stage discussion afterwards from the cast and crew. I guess to me it was about honesty versus tact, loyalty versus self preservation & liberal parently versus implied restrictive parenting.

The young boy had an enourmous task on his hand and he rose to it admirably. This is one of Mamet's more forced recitals. The dialogue is so unnatural and persistantly loaded with pointed prods. It can only be endured if the cast are exquisite and happily these were. I must admit to throwing away all my preconceptions of Ms Cattrall's shallow talents. She was wonderfully measured.

16 October 2006

The Alchemist by Ben Johnson

Subtle, The Alchemist - Alex Jennings
Face, The Housekeeper - Simon Russell Beale
Dol Common - Lesley Manville
Dapper, a clerk - Bryan Dick
Abel Drugger, a Tobacconist - Amit Shah
Sir Epicure Mammon, a Knight - Ian Richardson
Pertinax Surly, a Gamester - Tim McMullan
Tribulation Wholesome, a pastor - Ian Barritt
Ananias, a Deacon - Sam Spurrell
Kastril, the Angry Boy - Tristan Beint
Dame Pliant, his sister - Elisabeth Dermot Walsh
Lovewit, Owner of the House - Julian Curry
and various neighbours

Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Designed by Mark Thompson

at the Olivier Theatre

Don't ask me to enjoy farce but in this case the performances were so good that I could tollerate all the silliness and as farces go, this was moderately clever. Great set given the nature of the door opening circus but I will have to say I saw it out of duty more than anything else. Can't miss Simon Russell Beale when he's in town, can you?

In my defence, I got the ticket on a cheapie standby because I was already in the auditorium to see Brenda Blethyn do a platform discussion. Hmmmmm

01 October 2006

Pianoforte by Terry Johnson

Caterina - Nuria Benet
Clifford - Oliver Cotton
Juan - Sebastian Gonzalez
Louise - Kelly Reilly
Dawn - Natalie Walter
Ray - Danny Webb
Abigail - Alicia Witt

Diercted by Terry Johnson
Designed by - Mark Thompson

Seen in it's premiere run at the Royal Court Downstairs

Hmmm - a rambling effort with lovely performances excepting Kelly Reilly who was so hammy. I really wanted her to be wonderful and though her body was magnificent, her performance was just too laboured and loud. Alica was amazing.


17 September 2006

In Extremis by Howard Brenton

Abelard - Oliver Boot
Heloise - Sally Bretton
Bernard of Clairvaux - Jack Laskey
Fulbert - Fred Ridgeway
Denise - Pascale Burgess
William of Champeaux - John Bett
Louis IV - Colin Hurley
Alberic - Patrick Brennan
Lotholf - William Mannering
Helen, 1st Woman - Sheila Reid
Berthode, Nun, Woman - Frances Thorburn
Marie, Courtier, Whore, Nun - Niamh McCann
Francine, 2ns Woman, Courtier, Nun - Rhiannon Oliver
Fulbert’s cousins, students, courtiers, monks, drunker bishops, mad monks - Tas Emiabata, David Hinton, Paul Lloyd, Simon Muller, Tom Stuart

Directed by John Dove
Designed by Michael Taylor

In it's premiere presentation at Shakespeare's Globe.

Joyous production. Wonderful text totally lived up to my expectations.

05 September 2006

Exiles by James Joyce

Richard Rowan - Peter McDonald
Bertha - Dervla Kirwan
Archie - Thomas Grant
Robert Hand - Adrian Dunbar
Beatrice Justice - Marcella Plunkett
Brigid - Aine Ni Mhuiri

Directed by James MacDonald
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler

At the Cottesloe

Well this hasn't had very good critical aclaim but I'm glad I saw it. The female characters are under-developed and I've seen Adrian Dunbar in better roles but I did love that 'only from an Irish writer' indulgence of studying the nature of human relationship at such leisure. Something of the discourse reminded me of Total Eclipse but that may just be my hazy memory.

Peter and Dervla were intoxicating and I adored Marcella's wardrobe!

28 August 2006

The Life of Galileo by Bertold Brecht

Galilieo Galilei - Simon Russell Beale
Cardinal Inquisitor - Oliver Ford Davies
Ludovico Marsili - Bertie Carvel
University Chancellor/Rude Official - Tim McMullan
Sagredo - Duncan Bell
Little Monk - Zubin Varla
Cardinal Barberini - Andrew Woodall
Andrea Sarti - Ryan Watson
Andrea Sarti (oler) - Bryan Dick
Virginia - Elisabeth Dermot Walsh
Cosimo de Medici - Jamie Manton
Court Chamberlain - Ian Barritt
Philosopher/Clavius - Simon Merrills
Mathematician/Official of the Inquisition - Christopher Gilling
Sugnora Sarti - Julia Ford
Federzoni - Dermot Kerrigan
First Monk/Cosimo (older)/Guarding Monk - Tristram Beint
Second Monk - Amit Shah
Senior Cardinal - Ian Barritt
Cardinal Bellarmine - Sam Spruell

Directed by Howard Davies
Designed by Bunnie Christie

A translation by David Hare at the Olivier

An incredible production. Simon Russell Beale is an awsome sight. A fantastic cast bringing this intense investigation to life.

15 August 2006

Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan

Richard Nixon - Frank Langella
Jim Reston - Elliot Cowan
David Frost - Michael Sheen
Jack Brennan - Corey Johnson
Evonne Goolagong - Kate Roscoe
John Birt - Rufus Wright
Manola Sanchez - Amerjit Deu
Swify Lazar - Kerry Shale
Caroline Cushing -Lydia Leonard
Bob Zelnick - Vincent Marzello

Directed by Michael Grandage
Designed by Christopher Oram

At the Donmar Warehouse during it's first run

Despite the restricted view from my seat, this was a dynamic production. More later, I hope........

I have taken my time to come back to this because I thought/hoped I'd see it again after it transferred.

Remarkable piece of writing, the likes of which we expect from Mr Morgan but this is so tight and electric to see on stage.

Performances are staggering and what should have been a potentially short and boring story is an incredible intelligent journey to a masterful expose. The characters who are charged with the expositional stuff like Renton and Birt give it to us without a hint of clunkiness. The pacing is exsquisite and the protrayals of the well known characters were just wonderful/hilarious.

14 August 2006

Titus Andronicus - William Shakespeare


Saturninus – Patrick Moy
Bassinanus – Simon Wilson
Titus Andronicus – Douglas Hodge
Marcus Andronicus – Richard O’Callagghan
Lavinia - Laura Rees
Lucius – David Sturzaker
Mutius – Thomas Padden
Quintus – Elliot Guiraloarocca
Young Lucius – Hugh Wyld
Publius – Jake Harders
Valentine – Thomas Padden
Caius – Simon Wilson
Plebian – Chris Emmett
Nurse – Claire Nielson
Emilluis – Chris Emmett
Peasant - Elliot Guiraloarocca


Tamora – Geraldine Alexander
Alarbus – Ben Crystal
Chiron – Richard Riddell
Demetrius – Sam Alexander
Aaron – Shaun Parkes

Directed by Lucy Bailey
Designed by William Dudley

Witnessed at Shakespeare's Globe on Bankside

The smoked filled yard came alive with the return of Rome's victorious general Titus Andronicus as he was processed around the yard on what seemed to be a mini zip-up tower. He was clothed in full Roman fighting dress and 2cm squares of black confetti were flung from the upper balconies. What with that and the amazing velarium, Ridley Scott and Arthur Max would have been proud.

The production never lost it's pace from that moment. The confetti device was used on a couple more occassions with multi coloured strips and at one point little strips of paper with the words 'Terra Astraea reliquit' (and justice returns to earth)which was clever.

I watched this from the farthest back wall of the yard where I was safely out of the action but for those a couple of feet in front of me it was a testing experience. Groundlings needed to have their wits about them as they never knew when some of the action would take place via these two zip-up towers being hurled around the yard.

Douglas and Shaun were magnificent and so was Geraldine Alexander. There was much blood and gore and it was really well done. The humour that one expects at the Globe was also readily available. Lavinia's demise was handled so well. She was so piteous and so bloodied and in the wrong hands it could have been ridiculous.

I am seriously thinking about seeing this again from one of the upper balconies. I think it would be great fun to watch the action from above.

07 August 2006

Sunday in the Park with George by James Lapine & Stephen Sondheim

George - Daniel Evans
Dot/Marie - Jenna Russell
Old Lady/Blair Daniels - Gay Soper
Nurse/Mrs/Harriet Pawling - Joanna Redman
Jules/Bob Greenberg – Simon Green
Yvonne/Naomi Eisen - Liza Sadvoy
Boatman/Dennis - Alasdair Harvey
Soldier/Alex - Christopher Colley
Celeste 1/Elaine - Sarah French Ellis
Celeste2/Silent Artist - Kaisa Hammarlund
Mr/Charles Redmond - Mark McKreacher
Louis/Billy Webster - Ian McLarnon
Franz/Lee Randolph - Steven Kynman
Frieda/Betty - Anna Lowe
Louise - Lauren Calpin/etc

Directed by Sam Buntrock
Designed by David Farley

at the Wyndham's on a Monday night sitting behind David Tennant

I had my reservations about seeing this because the original production was one of the most magical theatrical experiences I had ever witnessed.

I cannot find fault with this production. I preferred the original way in which the Chromalome was handled and I suspect that was due to lesser technology at the time, ironically.

Simply beautiful performances from Daniel and Jenna. A superb evening.

Celeb in the audience : David Tennant

04 August 2006

Under the Black Flag by Simon Bent

In England
Executioner - Andrew Vincent
King Charles I - John Dougall
John Silver - Cal MacAninch
Tom - Gary Collins
Ebenezer Silver - Howard Ward
Mary Silver - Jacqueline Defferary
Ann Silver - Jane Murphy
Mission - Robin Soans
Harold - Matthew DUnphy
Cromwell - John Dougall
General Harrison - Howard Ward
Bosun - John Dougall

Kees de Keyser - Nicolas Tennant
Ben Gunn - Paul Hunter
Calico Jack - Joseph Marcell
Black Dog - Ciaran McIntyre
One-Eye Pew - Trevor Fox
Billy Bones - Paul Rider
Teach - Andrew Vincent
In Rabat Sale
Hamlet - Mo Sesay
Isabelle - Jacqueline Defferary
Sultan of Morocco - Joseph Marcell
Sula, The Sultan's Daughter - Akiya Henry
English Ambasador - Robin Soans
French Ambassador - Mathew Dunphy
Edward - Paul Rider
Frederick - Ciaran McIntyre
Angel - Akiya Henry

Directed by Roxana Silbert
Designed by Laura Hopkins

seen as a groundling at the Globe. I think this was it's first run.

It's great fun from start to finish. It follows a typical Shakespearean format much the same as Pericles etc where father looses daughter then finds her three hours later!

Most of the characters have a point where their entrance is via door 1 through the audience. I stood within a couple of feet of Cal and Nicolas etc several times. There is a scene where Cal's character plus his father and his best friend are challenged to remove their clothing in order to compare c@ck size. Sadly, only the father completes the request but the scene is hilarious. Cal does spend quite a while with his shirt off and the rest of the time with a billowy shirt barely buttoned. He cuts a dash as a pirate.

He shows a great range of emotion. Most of the saucy dialogue is in the first 15 minutes to get everyone's attention. There are many gags and many Shakespearean lines and references.

Nicholas was much more theatrical than the last time I saw him but he was fine as the major pirate and had the best costume. Cal lapsed his accent once but soon recovered.

Titus Andronicus was on for the matinee and it sold out!! A matinee! Even all the Yard tickets were sold! I really need to see this and I am so cavalier about turning up to theatres on the night and getting a cheap ticket. I guess I shall actually have to book ahead. Black Flag was probably three quarter full in the seats and half full in the yard. I prefer it that way because I like moving around (away from the talking tourists!)

29 July 2006

Savages by Christopher Hampton

Mr West - James Pearce
Mrs West - Yolanda Kettle
Carlos Esquerdo - Josh Azouz
Crawford - Louise Brooke
Major Brigg - Jack Bannell
Penn - Winston Alaneme
Kumal - Luke Rabbito
Investigator - David Grewcock
Ataide Pereria - James Cooper
.....plus all the Indians

A National Youth Theatre production directed by Edward Kemp and designed by Mchael Ozouf at the Royal Court Downstairs

This was a bold and spectacular effort at including as many company members as possible with set pieces from the Indians being a little loud and over-long for my liking. A couple of standout performances that will bring interesting watching in the years to come.

27 July 2006

tamasha new writing showcase

I could address all four reading seperately as they were all so wonderful but since they were not full productions I don't think it's appropriate.

Four writers were give a brief to write for a maximum of three characters, no longer than 15 minutes and all to take place in one day.

The wonderful cast of readers included Tony Jaywardena, Krupa Pattani, Vinny Dhillon, Lucy Adams, Phillip Elvy and Dione Inman,

The pieces were:-

Babe by Mina Maisuria, directed by Amman Brar
Up Down by Sonia Likhari, directed by Poonam Brah
Silence in Golden by Alan Jones, directed by Amman Brar
Gollywog by Nina Patel, directed by Poonam Brah

Performed at the Michael Frayn room in the Hampstead Theatre

A wonderful and hilarious evening with sharp wit and great performances.

Three of the plays were based around the public perceptions and cliches surrounding the Asian community and the final reading was a really clever exploration of a supposed conversation between Enid Blyton and Gollywog.

19 July 2006

On the Third Day by Kate Betts

AKA "The Play's the Thing"

Young Claire - Daniella Wilson
Jesus/Waiter - Benjamin Wilkin
Claire - Maxine Peake
Mike - Paul Hilton
Young Robbie - Jordan Clarke
Robbie - Tom McKay
Elvis - Tom Silburn

Directed by Robert Delamere
Designed by Mark Thompson

See towards the end of it's first and probably on run at the New Ambassador's Theatre

A bit of a muddle of a play. This needs so much more work and I suspect there might be something good in there but a novice writer needs time to work on this and from I could tell from the tv show that sporned it, she didn't have that.

The cast did the best they could with the script and the designed excelled himself. Kate should be overjoyed at such attention but it's not there yet.

Children lose their parents at an early age and the little girl finds solace in the heavens and Jesus. There is confusion (to me)over whether we are watching two parallel existances or whether the children also died.

So many very serious issues are covered in this piece but it shouts 'inexperience' at you from the very first and frankly labourious scene.

The audience were divided. A small house seemed to be willing them to do well but about a quarter of them had no respect whatsoever. Phones going off, late arrivals taking several minutes to sort themselves out once they had sat down. Talking during the performance and that awful thing where someone misguidedly thinks that buy russling a bag to open a sweet reeeeaaaallly slowly will somehow make it less intrusive, when the opposite is true. All the things I hate so the production did well to rise above that!

10 July 2006

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov

in an adaptation by Martin Crimp the cast were as follows:-
Arkadina - Juliet Stevenson
Konstantin - Ben Whishaw
Sorin - Gawn Grainger
Nina - Hattie Morohan
Shamraev - Michael Gould
Polina - Liz Kettle
Masha - Sandy McDade
Trigorin - Mark Bazeley
Dorn - Angus Wright
Medvedienko - Justin Salinger
Yakov - James Bolt
Servants - James Bolt, Beth Fitzgerald, Jonah Russell

Directed by Katie Mitchell
Designed by Vicki Mortimer

During this adaptation's first run at the Littleton Theatre

Well, you will not often see me say this but I was dissappointed.

I came to see Ben in the knowledge that I would not enjoy Juliet and there lies the problem. I did not feel the cast were all under the same direction. Juliet was prancing around over-doing it as usual and Ben was showing a little too much of his troubled angst that he can do so well but usually keeps back more.

I don't know if there was a genuine technical problem on the day I went but the very first scene change took a full four minutes. That is a very long time and the audience didn't know what to do. The set was majestic and the changes cannot have been easy but in a production where cohesion is lacking already, pausing for the men in black to fart around it the last thing it needed.

There were some nice little performances but I wanted them to all be on the same page

05 July 2006

Eh Joe by Samuel Beckett

Joe - Michael Gambon
Woman's Voice - Penelope Wilton

Directed by Atom Egoyan
Designed by Eileen Diss

During it's short run at the Duke of York's Theatre
First live production of this in the UK. The production premiered in Dublin in April 06

Joe sits on the side of his bed and allows the woman he 'loved' to tell him of all the terrible things he has done to her.

The most intense 30 minutes you are likely to spend in the theatre this summer. I've hopefully included that picture to set the scene. Penelope Wilton's voice is almost unrecognisable as she inhabits the Beckett tone, continually questioning Joe's motives and he flinches and sickens at her words. We see the great Gambon in profile but his full frontal face is caught on closed circuit camera and projected as we listen and watch this grotesque yet pathetic figure having his faults laid out before us.

Once again mesmerised by Michael's beautiful, graceful and expressive hands.
I long to see this again but doubt I will have the time....as a silly note.....if you look at my other Blogger recording my film notes you will see a picture in the snow. It is a shot of none other than Atom Egoyan, the director of this piece.

30 June 2006

Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard

Piper/Police,am/Stephen - Edward Hogg
Esme(younger)/Alice - Alice Eve
Jan - Rufus Sewell
Max - Brian Cox
Eleanor/Esme(older) - Sinead Cusack
Gillian/Magda/Deidre - Miranda Colchester
Interrogator/Nigel - Anthony Calf
Ferdinand - Peter Sullivan
Milan/Policeman/Jaroslav - Martin Chamberlain
Lenka - Nicole Ansari
Candida - Louise Bangay

Directed by Trevor Nunn
Designed by Robert Jones

at the Royal Court during the first month of it's premiere run

Tom Stoppard is always accused of being predictable but is that a bad thing? Is the guarantee of intelligent debate presented by well rounded characters really a thing to complain about?

This play is hard to sum up in a few lines. We watch several pivotal relationships charting the politics of Czechoslovakia right down to the stigma attached to a dying woman's right to excercise her brain. I'll admitt that I was concerned that this would be too much for my tiny head to cope with but I think it speaks on many levels.

The cast were magnificent (with one exception who shall remain nameless) and clearly salivated over the incredible text. There were no weak points here at all. Each short scene is changed with loud and narratively acute music taking us backwards and forwards between Cambridge and Prague. Nothing is wasted. Every scene has it's purpose and impact. Heaven

26 June 2006

Market Boy by David Eldridge

Boy - Danny Worters
Mum - Claire Rushbrook
Mouse - Callum Dixon
Don - Paul Anderson
Snooks - Freddy White
The Trader - Gary McDonald
Girl - Jade Williams
Woman with huge feet/Fat Annie/ - Jan Goodman
Mother/Kate Arms - Ruth Sheen
Daughter/Sticky Nicky - Jaimi Barbakoff
Transvestite/Flypitcher/Paintings Man/Baliff - Owen Oakeshott
Gypsy/Flypitcher/Market Sweep/Knicker Woman - Georgina Lamb
Spanish Lady/Market Brass/Flower Lady - Mercedes Grower
Thatcher - Nicola Blackwell
The Most Beautiful Woman in Romford - Jemma Walker
Leather Man - Andrew Frame
Leather Boy - Branwell Donaghey
Steve the Nutter & Nut Nut - John Marquez
Fish Woman/Old Biddy - Sophie Stanton
Jason - Jim Creighton
The Toby - Paul Moriarty
Meat Man - Jonathon Cullen
Romford Labour Candidate/Video Man - Jacob Krichefski
New Boy/Flypitcher - Craig Vye
Dad/Flower Man - Stephen Ventura
Colonel Blood/Flypitcher - Micah Balfour
Flypitcher/Titus - Ralph Birtwell
Flypitcher/Sweet Man/Steve Davis -Michael Camp
Flypitcher/Vespasian - Mike Darnell
Flypithcer/Knicker Man - Michael Taibi

Directed by Rufus Norris
Designed by Katrina Lindsay

During it's first run at the Olivier

It had the look and feel of a first class west-end musical without the nauseating and contrived songs! A wonderful evening's entertainment charting a rites of passage for a young Romford lad pushed by his mother to work on a shoe stall in the Market.

The story doesn't go very far and it doesn't get there fast but this show is about the dialogue, the characters and the soundtrack.

For the first time in the Olivier I took one of the cheap seats at the front(B12 in the aisle with no seat in front so loads of leg room etc)

23 June 2006

Woman And Scarecrow by Marina Carr

Woman - Fiona Shaw
Scarecrow - Brid Brennan
Him - Peter Gowan
Auntie Ah - Stella McCusker

Directed by Ramin Gray
Designed by Lizzie Clachan

seen during it's first run at the Jerwood Unstairs

A woman is fighting the demons of her past as life slips away from her. Her alta ego discusses her triumphs and failures and she prepares herself for the death she fears. She has issues with her husband which she tries to address with him and with her late mother's sister.

Her alta ego is called Scarecrow and protects her from the crow of death that resides in her closet. The lines become blurred as the minutes run out. Very dark and interesting piece with some humour and some political comment. Something for everyone there - even Demis Roussos lovers.

20 June 2006

A Voyage Around My Father by John Mortimer

Father - Derek Jacobi
Son - Dominic Rowan
Mother - Joanna David
Iris/1st ATS - Kate Warren
Son/Child/Daniel - Edward Jackson Keen
Ringer/Rhong/Director/Mr Marrow - Neil Boorman
Japhet/First Judege/Sparks/2nd Judge - Jamie de Courcy
Matron/Miss Cox/2nd ATS/Miss Ferguson - Lily Bevan
Ham/Boustead/Arthur/George/Doctor- Osmonda Bullock
Mrs Noah/Miss Reigate/Miss Baker/Doris/Witness - Sadie Shimmin
Headmaster - Christopher Benjamin
Reigate/Jonathon - Piers ~Stubbs
Elisabeth - Natasha Little

Directed by Thea Sharrock
Designed by Robert Jones

in this production's first run at the Donmar

I have looked forward to this so much and was not let down. The performances are wonderful.

We watch a young boy's growth to a married man and the strong influence (intentioned or otherwise) that his father had on him during this course.

Even the children gave acceptable performances. An enthralling production from start to finish. Nigel Planer sat behind me but I didn't get into a Hogfather conversation:)

A funny incident in the bar: A couple were talking about previous shows they'd seen there and gushed the praise of Michael Gambon. The guy said he could have just stood there and said nothing and still be entertaining. I butted in to say that he was doing just that in Eh Joe at the Duke of Yorks for three weeks and they took some convincing :)

10 June 2006

The Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Shaffer

Old Martin - Malcolm Storry
Francsico Pizarro - Alun Armstrong
Hernando de Soto - Darrell D'Silva
Miguel Estete - Philip Voss
Pedro de Candida - RIchard Lintern
Diego de Trujillo - Gary Oliver
Young Martin - Tristan Beint
Salinas - Bradley Freegard
Rodas - Andrew Frame
Vasca - Branwell Donaghey
Domingo - Jim Creighton
Juan Chavez - Tam Mutu
Pedro Chavez - Owen Oakeshott
Fray Vincente de Valverde - Oliver Cotton
Fray Marco de Nizza - Paul Ritter
Atahualpa - Paterson Joseph
Villac Uma - Ewart James Walters
Challcuchima - Israel Aduramo
Chieftain - Ralph Birtwwell
Headman of a thousand families - Bhasker Patel
Felipillo - Amit Shah
Manco - Micah Balfour
Inti Coussi - Natasha Bain
Oello - Nataylia Roni

Directed by Trevor Nunn
Designed by Anthony Ward

at it's revival in The Olivier

Southwark Fair by Samuel Adamson

May - Margaret Tyzack
Simon - Rory Kinnear
Aurek - Michael Legge
Alexander - Rhashan Stone
Angus - Simon Gleeson
Patrick - Con O'Neill
Toni - Madeleine Potter

Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Designed by Giles Cadle

Seen in it's first run at the Cottesloe

A very sharply written play with lots of elderly people in the auditorium over whose heads some of this must have sailed. So many contemporary references and even some of the visual gags seems to pass them by too.

Lovely performances from everyone except the rather wooden Rhashan Stone. Rory Kinnear who I last saw in Mary Stuart, was very special.

Essentially we see the same play twice from two different perspectives. So clever and wonderful character studies. It seems I still adore Con O'Neill. Even the unlikable characters are a joy.

A nervous man in his mid 30's is contantacted by his first sexual encounter who he met when he was doing a school play at the age of 14 (other guy was 20). A case of mistaken identity makes for an awkward situation and it's made worse by the 'polish' trainee barista/waiter having marital problems with his 'deputy major of London' partner. A joy.

05 June 2006

Enemies by Maxim Gorky/David Hare

Massive cast with Amanda Drew and Jack Davenport, Sean Chapman and Sean Gilder......more later

Directed by Michael Attenborough
Designed by Simon Higlett

Gosh - I'm so cross that I forgot to write my notes about this. It was writing out the long cast list that made me defer but I wanted to catch the moment with my thoughts. I know I loved it.

01 June 2006

Smaller by Carmel Morgan

Dawn French - Bernice Clulow
Alison Moyet - Cath Clulow
June Watson - Maureen Clulow

Directed by Kathy Burke
Designed by Jonathan Fensom

at the Lyric Theatre during the last week of it's first run

Staaggering awful. Tired old story about two sisters - one with a sad but proudly perceived as glamorous career in Spanish resort cabaret....the other very long suffering teacher and 'widowed, handicapped mother' carer. She eventually dies and the sister spat and make up. Totally insulted by this rubbish.

There were a few (and only a few) laughs, some great singing for which the lyrics weren't half as clever as the company thought they were.

In a final note of disgust the running time was supposed to be 1hr 50 Mins with a 20 minute interval. What's the point? If a play is only 90 minutes long why bother with an interval and prolong the torture. This entire production was all about commercial enterprise. With any other cast the auditorium would have been empty. As it was, I was surround my loud course coach parties bellowing like cows from row to row.

29 May 2006

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The extensive cast will be added soon but suffice it to say that the Proctors were played by Iain Glenn and Helen Schlesinger.

Directed by Dominic Cooke
Designed beatufully

Wow. This is the third production I have seen of this play and this one made more sense than the others. It was raw and uncomplicated, humerous and passionate without the hand-wringing.

I sat next to a complete oaf who spoke without whisper to his long suffering companion about the great revelation that had occured to him - hey whaddaya know, it's JUST like the McCarthy thing. This was only after the interval, Before the interval I was entertained by his snores and the rythmic shaking of his wide open legs. I digress.

Despite all this, it was an incredible production. The boards outside said it was 'Glenn best performance of his career' and before entering I just grinned at the damning endictment on his body of work. By the curtain call I could only concur. He used a voice I have never heard from him and it was unholy. You can only imagine how much of a chord that struck with me. He rightfully got a standing ovation.

The set must not go without note. Wonderfully sparse and achingly practical. It's one aim was to serve the play and not the designer's ego.

I should have taken the opportunity to see Smaller in it's last week but I feel I made my deal with the devil and won.

27 May 2006

Product by Mark Ravenhill

Mark Ravenhill - James
Jessica Brooks - Olivia

Directed by Lucy Morrisson
Designed by Mat Ort

at the Royal Court Upstairs straight after Dying City. Only showing for three nights as part of the 50 Year Anniversary

Well, I may be ignorant but the 'designing' consisted of pushing back the sofa from Dying City and putting a couple of chairs and a coffee table in it's place - oh and some scripts and filmy paperwork.

That said - it was a hoot. Mark is a one man self promotion tool so one felt that he was reading from a cartoon version of his own diary. He is a mesmerising guy to watch but one wonders how another actor would have handled it. Thoroughly enjoyable - oh, it's an ego maniac pitching a sick, bad taste movie to a Hollywood starlet. The movie is about a post 9/11 love affair between an active supporter of Al Kaeda and the surviving partner of a twin tower casualty. Yep - that bad taste and that funny!

26 May 2006

Dying City by Christopher Shinn

Sian Brooke - Kelly
Andrew Scott - Peter/Craig

Directed by James McDonald
Designed by Peter Mumford

at the Royal Court Upstairs in it's UK first run

A disintegrating relationship unravels via conversations with a twin brother and flash backs. Both performances were empassioned but Sian Brooke was beautifully underplaying her role.

A good premise for a play and it progressed nicely. The set was a little clunky in so far as it was impossible for Andrew to exit one side as Peter and return silently as Craig from the other because we heard his hurried disrobing journey. Suspension of belief needs to be aided not thwarted. Heartbreaking and powerful.

24 May 2006

Phaedra by Frank McGuiness after Racine

Ben Meyjes - Hippolytus
Sean Campion - theramenes
Linda Bassett - Oenon
Claire Higgins - Phaedra
Janet Whiteside - Panope
Marcella Plunkett - Aricia
Lucy-Anne Holmes - Ismene
Michael Feast - Theseus

Directed and designed by Tom Cairns

At the Donmar Warehouse

I am almost willing my next theatrical experience to be a bad one because I keep on staring in wonderment and can only conclude that I have no rational discernment. Once again, tonight I was enraputred.

Ben Meyjes was mezmerising and Claire Higgins lived up to my reason for bothering with the production. I had the last seat in the stall which was way off to the side but it was so comfy and so intimate that I would even consider asking for B41 again.

I adored Linda Bassett and shall watch for Marcella Plunkett in future.

22 May 2006

Exonerated by Jessica Blank
& Erik Jensen

Barbara Barnes - Sandra/Sue
Todd Boyce - Gary Gauger
Geff Francis - David Keaton
Aiden Gillen - Kerry Max Cook
William Jay Marshall - Delbert Tibbs
Mike McShane - Jess Tafero
Cecelia Noble - Georgia/Darla
Abdul Salis - Robert Earl Hayes
Kerry Shale - Walter Rhodes
Susannah York - Sunny Jacobs

Directed by Bob Babalan

At the Riverside Studio 2

A touching recitation in the style of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" sharing diaries and testimonials of various people who spent time on Death Row for crimes they did not commit. The Sunny Jacobs story is particularly poignant because her husband was not exonerated before his time to die and in the event there was a huge malfunction in the style of The Green Mile that made his criminal death the most horrific murder.

Unlike Rachel Corrie, there is no set for this and it is essentially a rehearsed reading. This affords them the luxury of having a few higher profile celebrities pitch up and pitch in which is something of a crowd pleaser. I missed some really good people early on but the performances were still very, very good today.

20 May 2006

Citizenship by Mark Ravenhill

Claire Louise Cordwell - Amy
Sid Mitchell - Tom
Matt Smith - Gary
Robert Boulter - Ray
Farzana Due Elahe - Kerry
Andrea Riseborough - Chantal/Tarot Reader's Daughter
Naomi Bentley - Alicia
Richard Dempsey - De Clerk
Matti Houghton - Melissa
Joy Richardson - Tarot Reader
Alex Tregear - Baby
Javone Prince - Martin

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Jonathan Fensom

at the Cottesloe

This is the piece I was looking forward to the most so the fact that Chatroom was so good turned out to be a bonus. Citizenship was everything I could expect from Mr Ravenhill. Another case of History Boys feeling but more so than Chatroom because there was also the gay teacher and the boy trying to discover his sexuality. There were not too many young people in the audience (though Mike Leigh was there ) but I feel this would really speak to GCE students.

A real privalidge to see all of these..............

Chatroom by Enda Walsh

Matt Smith - William
Javone Prince - Jack
Matti Houghton - Eva
Andrea Riseborough - Emily
Andrew Garfield - Jim
Naomi Bentley - Laura

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Jonathan Fensom

In the Cottesloe at National on one of the few occassions when all three plays were performed in one evening.

........and this month's prop will be:- the plastic mould chair

Chatroom was the first of three short productions for young people staged at the Cottesloe tonight and it hit thre ground running.

We witness verbal representations of internet chatrooms local to Chiswick (which is a little odd given it's the World Wide Web but it is essential to serve the process of the story). This is so clever because within a few short sentances we seem to be fully acquainted with the indivudual characters and their personality strengths and traits. Performances are so good and the writing is intelligent and respectful of it's audience. A Bennet in the making.

Gorgeous in every way and I have to make special mention of Matt Smith and Andrea Riseborough. Ones To Watch.

Burn by Deborah Gearing

Robert Boulter - Aaron
Alex Tregear - Sal
Andrew Garfield - Birdman (Joey)
Andrea Riseborough - Linda
Joy Richardson - Jan
Claire-Louise Cordwell - Mel
Matti Houghton - Marie
Farzana Dua Elahe - Sita
Matt Smith - Tom
Sid Mitchell - Niall
Naomi Bently - Rachel
Javone Prince - Colin
Richard Dempsey - Matt

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Jonathan Fensom

Of the three productions I would say I enjoyed this the least. If I had been unlucky with a return ticket I would have gone to one of the evening that only had two plays omitting this one. It was not as tight and well planned. The performances were good, really good but the writing let them down. It reminded me of something Roy Williams might have done but not as good.

This is a good a place as any to remark on the efficiency of the complete set changes. They had 20 minutes in each case to completely change the stage. Admittedly it was all quite simple stuff but Burn was set on a rubbish tip.

18 May 2006

I remember the Royal Court
devised by Patrick Marber


Dermot Crowley
Elyse Dodgson
Joe Hills-Gibbins
Stephen Jeffreys
Lisa Makin
Lesley Manville
Lucy Prebble
Indhu Rubasingham
Alan Williams
Richard Wilson

Directed by Patrick Marber

at the Royal Court Downstairs for three nights performed after the final three shows of Motortown.

A few chairs on the stage and these wonderful people recite cleverly choreoraphed anecdotes about the theatre. I wish I could remember some of the really wonderful things I heard tonight. It was electric. Not a sell-out, sadly. If I'd seen Motortown that night I would have stayed. This is the night I spoke to Daniel Mays and he told me that Matthew had been in the house earlier.

17 May 2006

The Changeling by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley

Tom Hiddleston - Alsemero
Jotham Annan - Jasperino
Olivia Williams - Beatrice Joanna
Will Keen - De Flores
David Collings - Vermandero
Jennifer Kidd - Diaphanta
Jim Hooper - Alibius
Tobias Beer - Lollio
Phil Cheadle - Antonio
Philp McGinley - Pedro/Franciscus
Laurence Spellman - Atonzo de Piracquo
Clifford Samuel - Tomazo de Piracquo
Jodie Mcnee - Isabella, Alibius' wife

Directed by Declan Donnellan
Designed by Nick Omerod
Movement by Jane Gibson

At the Barbican with Declan fully indulged in changing the seating configuration!

This performance was preceeded by a talk in the Garden Room with Declan. He is a wonderful man. I hung on his every word and he signed my book.

The downside of this being 'talk night' was that the auditorium was crammed with 'A' Level students who got somewhat over excited. I managed to move to a more sedate part of the theatre after the interval. It was also much nearer.

I loved the set as usual. Gloriously functional and nothing fussy but so graphic. The entire stage area had been gutted so that the wings were just areas without light. The space was enormous even though the seated area was considerably reduced.

The central performances were so good. I think Will Keen stole the show. The mad story was shown in what seemed like an easy contrast but it is often omitted because of the difficulties in including it.

A good night....

10 May 2006

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

Martha - Kathleen Turner
George - Bill Irwin
Honey - Mireille Enos
Nick - David Harbour

Directed by Anthony Page
Designed by John Lee Beatty

at the Apollo during the last week of it's run

I struggled to get a seat and had to reluctantly settle for the second row which would normally have been too close.

Happily in this theatre it was tolerable and the performances were so vital that I had not room to think about discomfort.

Bill Irwin was absolutely outstanding. I was full of admiriation for Kathleen Turner. She was totally without ego as she bounced her body around the stage. It was a magnificent performance from everyone. The set was great - it was a wonderful night out.

09 May 2006

A Tribute to Look Back in Anger
by John Osborne and others

Including contributions from:-

Ted Beaumont
Anne-Marie Duff
Paul Higgs
Joe Hill Gibbins
Damian Lewis
Helen McCrory
Emily McLaughlin
Steven Mc Nicoll
Anthony Page
Tony Palmer
Corin Redgrave
Ian Rickson
David Tennant
Ben Walden

a magnificent collaboration by all cconcerned with the Royal Court for one night only

This was a singular experience. The evening started with a recitation from David Hare of his Hay on Wye lecture/tribute to John Osborne from 2002. Ian Rickson introduced the main event and we were treated to scenes from the work and re-enactments of the conversations between the then Creative Director, George Devine, John Osborne and the man who was the first to direct the piece, Tony Richardson.

There was some lovely anecdotal stuff from Ben Walden who was John's step-son by his final marriage.

The audience was special. the production was special and the final couple of hours in the bar were alright too!

07 May 2006

Motortown by Simon Stephens

Lee - Tom Fisher
Danny - Daniel Mays
Marley - Daniela Denby-Ashe
Tom - Steve Hansell
Paul - Richard Graham
Jade - Ony Uhiara
Justin - Nisk Sidi
Helen - Fenella Woolgar

Directed by Ramin Gray

at the Royal Court

as per Lyn Gardner at The Guardian

To Danny it is not Iraq but England that is the foreign country. "I don't blame the war. The war was all right. I miss it. It's just you come back to this," he says.
The 'this' is a girl who doesn't love him, and who has got herself another boyfriend. It is an England where the "war on terror" has become a war waged using the tactics of the terrorists. It is also a place of dubious moralities, small-time arms dealers and middle class swingers and anti-war protesters.
Nobody is coming up smelling of roses, and this England has all the stinking attractions of a dog turd. Perhaps it is no surprise that Danny is going to turn his disappointment and inarticulate rage into an inarticulate revenge.

Anyone familiar with Stephens' previous work may be in for a bit of a shock. In his excavations of working class life, Stephens has often displayed a tender touch. Motortown is like being run over by a 10-tonne truck that doesn't bother to stop to check that you are still breathing.

It is in no way a pleasant experience, but is, I think, an essential one. And it is not without a desperate, brutal tenderness, particularly in the relationship between the life-damaged Danny and his genetically damaged elder brother, Lee.

It is only with his brother that Danny gropes towards a kind of communication. There are imperfections: although the play is recklessly brave, its aim is sometimes that of the scatter gun, and in suggesting that Danny was a psychopath long before he went to Iraq, or perhaps even joined the army, Stephens undercuts the connection between personal violence and violence perpetrated in the name of the state.

But although it will probably get up a lot of liberal noses, this is a searingly honest play written and played particularly by Daniel Mays as Danny, with a deadly coiled energy. It owes a debt to Edward Bond as well as B├╝chner, and Ramin Gray's stark production - played under bright lights, on a stripped-out stagea is thrustingly contemporary even as it pays homage to Brecht.

I could have done without the dancing furniture, but not the astonishing moments when blood is mopped from the stage in a ritual that feels both like absolution and a terrible punishment.

Me? I loved it....I loved the sparsity of the set, the 'Stomp' style chair thumping and the gentle humanity shown between the actors.

06 May 2006

Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

Aedile - Andrew VIncent
Junius Brutus - John Dougall
Cominius - Joseph Marcell
Caius Martius Coriolanus - Jonathan Cake
Titus Lartius - Ciaran McIntyre
Menenius Agrippa - Robin Soans
Sicnius Velutus - Frank McCusker
Valeria - Akiya Henry
Virgilia - Jane Murphy
Volumnia - Margot Leicester
Adrian - Howard Ward
Tullus Aufidius - Mo Sesay
Nicanor - Garry Collins
Senator - Andrew Vincent

Directed by Dominic Dromgoole
Designed by - Mike Britton

The first night of the first season under the artistic direction of Dominic Dromgoole on a balmy summer's evening

I did find this rather hard going. There were some great performances but I made the mistake of starting off in a position where the accoustics made it nearly impossible to hear over the sound of drunken girls clunking their beer cans. It was better when I had the chance to move.

Jonathan Cake is much too pleased with himself and I find him rather repulsive but not in a Jeremy Irons way...... Some of the lesser roles were fantastic. It's a long piece to stand through but a wonderful atmosphere and I might see it again a little further into the production when Mr Pleased has hopefully calmed down a bit.

03 May 2006

Blackbird by David Harrower

Una - Jodhi May
Ray - Roger Allam
Child - Jessica Lucy/Maggie Walker

Directed by Peter Stein
Designed by Ferdinand Wogerbauer

The Alberry during the last fortnight of it's run

Harrower by name, harrower by nature!

This is a really intense piece about the long-term side effects of child abuse. Jodhi May found a voice that I have need seen her produce before and it was exhausting. I saw a matinee and I cannot imagine how she could have the emotional strength to bring such energy to the evening performance. Roger Allam was slightly more passive but he a wonderful performance in this difficult role.

Sixteen years after the event, the victim of abuse (at 12 yrs old) confronts the perpetrator and they explore the events that led to the incident and the effects on their lives. Not a pleasant subject but handled with superb objectivity. Lovely touches from the director with what I presume were various members of the theatre and production staff popping their heads around corners etc and interesting use of sound too.

I was also very impressed by the final hasty scene change. Must have looked like a nightmare on the page but it was dealt with very efficiently.

Website and resources

26 April 2006

Rainbow Kiss by Simon Farquhar

Shazza - Dawn Steele
Keith - Joe McFadden
Murdo - Clive Russell
Scobie - Graham McTavish

Directed by Richard Wilson
Designer - Dick Bird

at the Royal Court Upstairs

A very intense piece, powerfully presented. A young man from a middle class background lives in a terrible high rise flat with his young baby. The mother has been institutionalised and he is left to survive but cannot cope. The last thing he needs is to find himself head-over-heels in love but who can protect against that? Unhappily for him, the object of his desire was born on the downside of luck and has climbed to the dizzy heigths of drug pusher's fiance. Furthermore, she is only after sex and is scared by any real emotional attachment.

Our hero finds friendship in his suicidal neighbour but falls fowl of a money lender. It's all tough stuff and does not offer any relief until the end...............but not everyone will see that as relief. The women behind me were a little slow on the uptake and yet seemed proud that they'd worked out the ending 10 seconds before it came (unlike the rest of the audience who realised/suspected at the beginning of the scene!).

I went on a night when there was an aftershow talk which was great. A very uncompromising piece and brave for the cast.

It worked for me.

21 April 2006

Endgame - Samuel Beckett

Hamm - Kenneth Cranham
Clov - Peter Dinklage
Nagg - Tom Kickey
Nell - Georgina Hale

Directed by Charles Sturridge
Designed by Eileen Diss

at the Barbican Theatre during the Beckett Centenary season

I had to negotiate with a man who was sitting in my seat when I arrived. It turned out that he WAS in the right seat but shold have turned up the day before. I felt very sad for him because like me, they had chosen good seats. I noticed that there were two spare seats right behind me yet I'm guessing they were given rather poor seats nearer the back. Enough..

The production was so wonderful. It was funny.......well paced (meaning just as slow as it should have been) and the performances were perfect. It looked good and I just wanted it to go on and on.

19 April 2006


by Christopher Hampton and based on
the novel by Sando Marai

Henrik - Jeremy Irons
Konrad - Patrick Malahide
Nini - Jean Boht

Directed by Michael Blakemore
Designed by Peter J Davison

at the Duke of York's Theatre

Essentially a two hander set in the home of old Hungarian aristocracy. The story is the attempt of a man to come to terms with brief events and realisations that shaped and ruined the past forty years of his life. The play is about the turmoil of love, betrayal and denial. I am obviously very suggestable at the moment but I felt it was unlike any Hampton writiing I had witnessed before and I felt he had an almost Beckett influence so far as Henrik was concerned.

The performances were very good. I have a natural aversion to Jeremy Irons but I would never deny that he is a good actor. I don't like his voice or his physical appearance but it was a lot of lines for him to deliver and he stopped it being dull. Patrick was incredible, in my opinion. He was being talked at for a large proportion of the play and he was focused the entire time.....even though he was playing 'deep in thought'. Jean Boht has to turn up to each performance with half a dozen lines right at the beginning and right at the end. She does them adequately and it must be a good gig for her.

18 April 2006

Members Only

Written By Fabrice Roger-Lacan
Translated by Christopher Campbell

Bernard - Robert Bathurst
Adrien - Nicolas Tennant

Directed by Marianne Badrichiani
Designed by- Vicki Fifield

at the Trafalgar Studio 2

In the format of Art (also a French translation) this exlplores the nature of male friendship and is HILARIOUS. Such a wonderful intimate space. The play hits the ground running with a side-aching telephone conversation with Bernard and his young daughter and the pace never lets up until the curtain call.

Both performances are so powerful and perfect for this space. Always underplayed and comfortable. We follow the paranoia of business partnership with hilarious and potetntially dramatic consequences!

12 April 2006

Hilda by Marie NDiaye

in a new translation by Sarah Woods.

Mrs Lemarchand - Stella Gonnet
Franck - Bo Poraj
Corrine - Sarah Cattle

Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
Designed by Peter McKintosh

as the Hampstead Theatre

A short but intense production about extreme loneliness breeding an inability to relate to any other soul but an aching desire to achieve the human contact that is seen in others. Extraordinary piece. It's a tough remit for Stella Gonnet but for someone of her experience and calibre it should not have been quite the challenge that she found it. There are a lot of intense lines delivered at great speed but the impact is lost on the several occassions when she fluffs them. Not just by stumbling but by actually delivering a line which clearly relates the opposite of what was intended and therefore cannot be recovered but needs to be repeated correctly. She may have been put off in the first 15 minutes but the very noisy and talkative exit of a member of the audience behind me but she never recovered. That said - when she was good, she was very good but the audience was always anxious to make sure she didn't mess up again.

All through this we had the beautifully considered Franck played by Bo Poraj. He was the baffle board of this constant onslaught and by some miracle managed to remain physically and mentally engaged throughout despite have very few lines and no great speeches. The production would not have survived without the quiet confidence that his presence gave the audience. Even when Franck is in pain and terribly distraught we are completely comfortable with this character, his reactions and his portrayal.

I'm at a loss to understand the casting of Sarah Cattle. She plays Franck's sister in law and eventually lives with him but if she is supposed to represent something similar to Franck's wife Hilda (which I doubt) she creates the opposite image so is one supposed to presume that Franck sought solace in a contradictory soul?

Such an interesting piece and perhaps a little more rehearsal would iron out the falters for Ms Gonnet. It may have just been a bad night and it was very early in the run.

10 April 2006

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Vladimir - Barry McGovern
Estragon - Johnny Murphy
Pozzo - Aland Stanford
Lucky - Stephen Brennan
Boy - Barry O'Connell


Directed by Walter D Asmus
Designed by Louis le Brocquy

At the Barbican Theatre during their Becket Centenary Festival.

Everyone needs to see this piece once in their lives and experience it in their own way. To my shame and surprise I have only seen excerpts and read passages. While being valid in their own right it was a great relief to sit through this marvellous production all the way through.

The beauty of Beckett is the humour crashing so violently into the poignancy of his piteous observation. Sets are traditionally sparse and this is no exception and yet the collaboration with the lighting designer (Rupert Murray) is a joy to behold without distracting from the performances. All the cast were delightful and in some way mesmerising.

I won't make a seperate entry for this but after seeing Godot I wandered down to The Pit (Barbican) to enjoy a selection of readings from Beckett's prose and poetry. The readers were Alan Stanford (who also directed and quite clearly lives and breathes Beckett from the soul), Charles Dance (who I don't usually enjoy but he did present a couple of pieces quite well) and the ever satisfying Penelope Wilton.

A fantastic evening

06 April 2006

My Name is Rachel Corrie

Written by the late Rachel Corrie.
Edited and directed by Alan Rickman

Performed by Megan Dodds.

New York's loss is London's gain. I missed this during it's run at the Royal Court but a political hoo-ha in New York has prevented this award winning piece transferring so it is playing for six weeks in The Playhouse Theatre by Hungerford Bridge.

A student from Olympia, Washington goes to Gaza to help mediate and assist with the displaced people and is mown to death by a bulldozer. This is a compilation and recitation of Rachel's diaries and emails during that period.

This should have been an hour long - such is the stamina required by the solo artiste. In order to tell the story with full perspective (including anecdotal references to Rachel's childood relationship with her parents) nearly two hours are required. Megan's performance is a masterpiece as she holds the passion and reportage throughout. Two thirds of the way through she breaks into the most beautiful singing at a time when her voice ought to be on it's last legs. She has about four swigs of water in the last quarter but other than that she seems to be running on honey and oil.

I will admitt I only previously noticed Megan as she dared to seduce my lovely Matthew Macfadyen in Spooks (MI5) but I was lucky enough to see her back at the Royal Court last month as she took the Munroe part for Insignificence in the rehearsed reading series. I have therefore seen her close up and she is stunning.........of that type. I now have enormous respect for her.

30 March 2006

The Cut by Mark Ravenhill

Paul - Ian McKellen
John - Jimmy Akingbola
Gita - Bindu De Stoppani
Susan - Deborah Findlay
Mina - Emma Beattie
Stephen - Tom Burke


Directed by Michael Grandage
Designer - Paul Wills

Donmar Warehouse during the last week of
the run (do you seeing a pattern forming?!)

I missed the rehearsed reading of Mark's first full length play when it was performed 10 days ago at the Royal Court so I felt as though I was paying my dues here.

Mark has distilled the political and social climate into it's purest form.......the us and them. As is the way of the world and the intelligent beings that inhabit it, the tables turn and the hunters become the hunted. This is more a product of their own conscience and they suffer willingly. A long discussion about acceptance and submission. I felt some parallels with last night's Thomas Moore and Ian McKellen's character both suffering incarceration for being passive but with very different convictions of the soul.

To say this is innovative probably implies that it's originality is productive but I didn't feel it had quite the brio I was expecting. I can't find fault with any individual aspect but the total didn't appear equal to the sum of the very fine parts.

A Man for all Seasons - By Robert Bolt

The Common Man - Tony Bell
Sir Thomas Moore - Martin Shaw
RIchard Rich - Gregory Fox-Murphy
Duke of Norfolk - Paul Shelley
Alice - Alison Fiske
Margaret - Sophie Shaw
Wolsey - Brian Poyser
Cromwell - Clive Carter
Henry VIII - Daniel Flynn
William Roper - John Sackville
Signore Chapuys - Clive Kneller
Directed by Michael Rudman
Designer - Paul Farnsworth

The Theatre Royal Haymarket during the last week of it's run.

One of the more accessible plays about such a fraught period in English history and this production makes it every bit as tactile as an episode of CSI.

The lines just slide from the tongues of these consummate professionals. The clean, clever design of the set just serves to distill this tale of uncompromising faith in one's own conscience into something pure and definitive.

Beautiful performances and confident direction. A complete joy.