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.