31 December 2007

Theatre Index for 2007

▼ December (2)
Present Laughter by Noel Coward
Swimming with Sharks by George Huang
▼ November (11)
War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Ni...
Alex by Charles Peattie & Russell Taylor
The Country Wife by William Wycherley
The Arsonists by Max Frisch & translated by Alista...
Face to Face with Stephen Poliakoff
Statement of Regret by Kwame Kwei-Armah
The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala introduced by Kev...
Notes about the 24 Hour Play proceedure
Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill
Rafta, Rafta by Ayub Khan-Din & Bill Naughton
Vincent River by Philip RIdley
▼ October (5)
Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
Emperor Jones by Eugene O'Neill
Moonlight & Magnolias by Ron Hutchinson
Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco in a Martin Crimp tra...
Fragments by Samuel Beckett
▼ September (12)
Bill Bailey - Pre Arena Shows
The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg & translated ...
A Disappearing Number by Simon McBurney
Awake and Sing by Clifford Odet
Burning Cars by Matt Hartley
Playtime by Gabriel Bisset-Smith and Gary Owen
Settled by George Cotts
Waiting for Leroy by Tanita Gupta and Atiha Sen-Gu...
1 in 5 by Penelope Skinner
Thank God it's Friday by Cosh Omar and Amy Rosenth...
Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat by Mark Ravenhill
All About My Mother based on the film by Pedro Al...
▼ August (5)
Absurdia - see below
Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw
The Enchantment by Victoria Benedictsson
In Celebration by David Storey
Philistines by Maxim Gorky, adapted by Andrew Upto...
▼ July (7)
The Hothouse by Harold Pinter
The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams
Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton
Rough Cuts: The Girlfriend Experience by Alecky Bl...
Rough Cuts: Posh by Laura Wade
Rough Cuts: A Liability by Sean Foley
Rough Cuts: Airbag by Leo Butler
▼ June (5)
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (adapted by Tanya ...
Betrayal by Harold Pinter
The Pain and the Itch by Bruce Norris
A Matter of Life and Death by Powell & Pressburger...
Alaska by Dan C Moore
▼ May (4)
Leaves of Glass by Philips Ridley
my child by Mike Bartlett
That Face by Polly Stenham
Elling adapted by Simon Bent
▼ April (9)
Whipping it Up by Steve Thompson
Dublin by Lamplight by Michael West
The Reporter by Nicholas Wright
Equus by Peter Shaffer
Landscape with a Weapon by Joe Penhall
John Gabriel Borkman by Ibsen in a version by Davi...
Attempts on her Life by Martin Crimp
Total Eclipse by Christopher Hampton
The Lady from Dubuque by Edward Albee
▼ March (9)
Extraordinary entry
The Caretaker by Harold Pinter
The Soldiers' Fortune by Thomas Otway
Dying For It by Moira Buffini(a free adaptation of...
Treats by Christopher Hampton
The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Brecht in a version ...
An Oak Tree by Tim Crouch
The Seagull by Anton Chekov in a version by Christ...
There Came a Gypsy Riding by Frank McGuiness
▼ February (6)
Boeing, Boeing by Marc Camolettiand Beverley Cross...
The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter
Happy Days by Samuel Beckett
Man of Mode by George Etherege
Waves by Virginia Woolf & The Company
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
▼ January (2)
bash latterday plays by Neil LaBute
Caroline or Change by Tony Kushner

21 December 2007

Present Laughter by Noel Coward

Daphne Stillington - Amy Hall
Miss Erikson - Anny Tobin
Fred - Tony Turner
Monica Reed - Sarah Woodward
Garry Essendine - Alex Jennings
Liz Esssendine - Sara Stewart
Roland Maule - Pip Carter
Henry Lyppiatt - Simon Wilson
Morris Dixon - Tim McMullan
Joanna Lyppiatt - Lisa Dillon
Lady Saltburn - Frances Jeater

Directed by Howard Davies
Set Designer - Tim Hatley

During it's run at the Lyttleton on Theatre Quiz Night - E21
Celebrity in the audience.......hmmmm - well Richard Curtis and family were there to support Emma for the Quiz

Almost as much fun as The Country Wife and if I'm honest, slightly less silly, in a good way. Wonderful performances all round and such a great story arc for a farce. Just the perfect thing for the Friday before Christmas.

13 December 2007

Swimming with Sharks by George Huang

Rex - Arthur Darvill
Guy - Matt Smith
Buddy Ackerman - Christian Slater
Mitzy - Elizabeth Croft
Dawn Lockard - Helen Baxendale
Cyrus - Jonathan Newth
Daniel Faruk - Fanos Xenofos
Jack - Mark Edel-Hunt

Directed by Wilsom Milam
Designed by Dick Bird

seen during Michael Lesslie's version at the Vaudeville Theatre .....ticket was H4 but I sat in D7

Hmmm. Well it was a matinee though I feel both audience and performers gave all they had but it wasn't enough. Something wasn't tight enough. The tension was not built up and it felt like they'd skipped 10 minutes of the text. Entertaining enough if you've not seen the film or if you like to see a couple of good young actors but not show to their best advantage.

28 November 2007

War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford

Major Nicholls - Jamie Ballard
Swallow/Emilie - Alice Barclay
Chapman Carter/Rudi - Jason Barnett
Sergeant Bone/Colonel Strauss/Sergeant Fine - James Barriscale
Captain Stewart/Soldat Schmidt - Simon Bubb
Joey's Mother, a horse/Goose/Topthorn/Veterinary Officer Martin - Finn Caldwell
David Taylor/Soldat Schultz - Paul Chequer
Song Man - Tim Van Eyken
Young Joey/Topthorn = Thomas Goodridge
Joey's mother, a horse/Dr Schweyk/Coco, a horse/Geordie - Stephen Harper
Rose Narracott/Private Shaw - Thusitha Jayasundera
Veterinaray Officer Bright/Karl - Gareth Kennerley
Crow/Joey - Craig Leo
Young Joey/Emile - Rachel Leonard
Topthorn/Major Callaghan - Tim Lewis
Joey - Tommy Luther
Young Joey/Emile - Mervyn Millar
Paulette/Crow - Emily Mytton
Swallow/Joey/Crow - Toby Olie
Ted Narracott/Coca, a horse - Toby Sedgwick
Ned Warren/Heine, a horse - Ashley Taylor-Rhys
Albert Narracott - Luke Treadaway
Sergeant Thunder/Soldat Klebb - Howard Ward
Arthru Warrren/Soldat Manfred - Alan Williams
Heine, a horse/Ensemble - Matthew Woodyatt
Hauptman Friedrich Muller - Angus Wright

Directed by Marianne Elliot & Tom Morris
Designed by Rae Smith
Puppet Design & Fabrication - Basil Jones & Adrain Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company

Phew ! A fairy tale story about a farm boy in World War 1 but more about the forgotten animals in war. Some really lovely performances but the most credit goes to the horse puppeteers. They were so fluid and beautiful with such attention to detail.

A fun night out.

21 November 2007

Alex by Charles Peattie & Russell Taylor

Alex - Robert Bathurst

Directed by Phelim McDermott

Seen at the Arts Theatre Circle A2

No actors I could see in the audience but during one of my shelters from the rain, I think I saw Tom Hardy in a cafe

I had the misfortune of sitting (wedging) right next to the epitome of old Telegraph readership. This great lummox had clearly never been inside a theatre before, waded in with his tumbler of red wine.........and proceeded to stumble in and out to the bathroom with no thought for Mr Bathurst or his fellow audience members. He was clearly oblivious of the etiquette around waiting for scene changes. He was so drunk that he kept lurching forward as he dozed. We were in the front row of the balcony and the temptation to tip him over the bar was enormous.

I must say that Robert was wonderful but I just found the material a bit too tired and dated.

I was soaked to the skin in the 7 or 8 minutes it took me to get there and ringing wet all over after the 25 minutes it took me to get home on my bike.

The Country Wife by William Wycherley

Horner - Toby Stephens
Quack - David Shaw-Parker
Boy - Derek Howard
Sir Jaspar Fidget - Nicholas Day
Lady Fidget - Patricia Hodge
Dainty Fidget - Lucy Tregear
Mrs Squeamish - Liz Crowther
Harcourt - John Hopkins
Dorilant - Tristran Beint
Sparkish - Jo Stone-Fewings
Pinchwife - David Haig
Mrs Margery Pinchwife - Fiona Glascott
Ms Alithea - Elisabeth Dermot Walsh
Lucy - Catherine Bailey
Old Lady Squeamish - Janet Brown

Directed by Jonathan Ken
Designer - Paul Brown

seen during it's run at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket R16

Celeb in the audience: Fern Britton & Philip Schofield

Glorious humour, inspired set design and wonderful performances from everyone. With the exception of the carrier bag fiddler near me, the audience were marvelous too.

19 November 2007

The Arsonists by Max Frisch & translated by Alistair Beaton

Anna - Zawe Ashton
Chorus - Michael Begley
Schmitz - Paul Chahidi
Eisenring - Benedict Cumberbatch
Babettte - Jacqueline Defferary
Chorus - David Hinton
Biedermann - Will Keen
Chorus/Dr of Philosophy - Munir Khairdin
Chorus - Claire Prempeh
Chorus/Widow Knechling - Alwyne Taylor
Chorus Leader - Graham Turner

Directed by Ramin Gray
Designed by Anthony Ward

Seen during it's run downstairs at the Royal Court - Circle A18

Actor in the audience: Harry Lloyd - well, he was in the bar, at least!

I wonder why they needed to enlist the help of the fire department at a station as far away as Euston? Were Chelsea unhelpful or has that station been closed?

Well, thank goodness for Will Keen. Without his dry wit and immaculate timing this would have little to commend it. He was glorious and there were a couple of nice staging gags but I loathed and loathed and loathed the bloody chorus thing. As soon as they started, the whole thing descended to a school play for me. I should make it very clear that it was the format that grated. The performers were all top class. I feel disloyal but I always have my reservations about Ramin's work. I should try to rise above it.

On a practical note, I made the unusual choice of circle seats on a whim but I'm glad I did as much of the action takes place on the roof of the house.

Face to Face with Stephen Poliakoff

I really am taking the piss now! This was so fascinating that I felt the need to record the event here. I shall write more when I have caught up on my main reason for being at the Royal Court tonight

14 November 2007

Statement of Regret by Kwame Kwei-Armah

Issi : Angel Coulby

Soby : Oscar James

Val : Trevor Laird

Michael Akinbola : Colin McFarlane

Idrissa Adebayo : Chu Omambala

Kwaku Mackenzie Jnr : Javone Prince

Adrian Mackenzie : Clifford Samuel

Lola Mackenzie : Ellen Thomas

Kwaku Mackenzie : Don Warrington

Director: Jeremy Herrin

Designer: Mike Britton

At the Cottesloe during it's premiere run

I stumbled upon the press night and the flash of a smile let me in. There was a good atmosphere in the audience for which the cast must always be grateful.

A complex piece from which you can take as little or as much as you please. Very efficient set design and good performances though a couple were a bit too large for me. I didn't really grasp the point of our central character changing his accent around so much. I thought it might have been that he was more West Indian when he was with his father or halucinating but that theory didn't hold up. Ellen Thomas stole the show a couple of times which pleased me.

Interesting. I wonder what the reviews will say.

11 November 2007

The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala introduced by Kevin Spacey & hosted by Ronnie Corbett

I would not ordinarily describe much about the plot in this blog since such information is always readily available elsewhere. However, after seeing some new writing earlier in the year and regretting making such brief notes, I decided that this night may warrant a different approach.

Assuming that the format of these 24 Hour Plays is well understood by now, I should explain that during a brief film shown beforehand, we learned of props brought by the actors and one provided by the frozen food manufacturing sponsors, the inclusion of which in one of the plays would produce a further £ 1,200 to got to the charity.
I have copied the Old Vic notes about the format of the event if anyone is not familiar with it

Fighters by Moses and Nina Raine

Billy - Kwame Kwei-Armah
Patrick - Samuel West
Craig - Ralf Little
Amanda - Elizabeth McGovern

Directed by Josie Rourke

Now this is terrible of me. I don't remember much about the plot of this play. Such is the mind of a withering soul. I remember that I had a sneaking suspicion that Elizabeth McGovern was trying to do a cut-glass English accent which she never fully achieved and should not have attempted with no time allowance for a voice coach. I also remember that Kwame and to an even greater degree Sam were woefully under-used. Something about the play made it feel like Robert De Niro had turned up in an episode of Neighbours but I think I am being too cruel. I am waiting for my friend to remind me of the plot. How ridiculous that I cannot recall any detail of it. I recall that Ralf Little produced all of his props to much laughter. It was very funny - I do remember that but it was not tight and polished ..........and the plot was unmemorable, apparently

My memory has been jogged but I decided not to replace the comments above because this blog is about instant reactions. This is the plot summary as supplied by my dear friend.

Talented but insecure boxer tries to psych himself up for the fight. He is being cajoled by the assistant, bullied by the manager. The manager objects to the on-off girlfriend. Girlfriend shows up, tension mounts, the boxer wants to quit boxing because he doesn't like the pressure. With the backing of the girlfriend he finds the nerve to stand up to the manager. The boxer fires the manager and between the firing and the girlfriend, he finds his backbone and decides to fight. He goes out for the fight and we find out that the situation was a set up between the manager and the girlfriend, who are having an affair. The assistant is clueless throughout.

Sounds alright, doesn't it?

Two Stars

A Handbag by Amy Rosenthal

Jez - Stephen Mangan
Zoe - Juliet Rylance
Victor - Donald Sumpter
Marilyn - Gemma Jones

Directed by Wilson Milam

Zoe's bag is stolen but Victor, the husband of the thief, brings his wife, Marilyn to justice. Zoe and her husband, Jez invite Victor and Marilyn to their home to discuss the theft. The bag has already been returned presumably via the police. This seemed like some cathartic act straight out of the plot of The Pain and the Itch.

The play starts with witty banter between Jez and Zoe as they prepare to receive their guests. Upon their arrival it is clear that Victor is annoyed with his wife's strange behavior and it transpires that this is an isolated incident. Marilyn sits in a daze but it is unclear whether this is with distress, denial or indeed peace. She even suggests it was fate they should meet and after years of drudgery she found the contents of the bag liberating and uplifting, filling her with optimism. Witty and touching with taught performances. What more can you ask for?

Four Stars

An Act of Love by Aschlin Ditta

Drew - Tom Hollander
Louise - Sharon Small
Catherine - Doon Mackichan
Ben - Obi Abili

Directed by Edward Dick

The star of the evening in my opinion. It hit the ground running and didn't lose pace at any point.

A couple let themselves into a flat and shout out for the owner who is finishing in the bathroom. Drew is very uneasy about the task ahead - going to the clinic for a wank so that the bathroom dwelling sister of his wife, Louise can have his child by the turkey basting method, thereby negating the need for the intervention of a male partner. After some awkward preamble Louise confides that her sister Catherine is not at all keen on the artificial method of conception so they (the two sisters) have decided it should be done 'naturally'. Drew was not a party to this decision. The banter is sharp and immaculately delivered.

Catherine emerges with the obvious intention of performing said natural act immediately. Louise departs for the kitchen and Drew strips down to his y-fronts and a perfectly judged detached petting ensues. The front door opens and the lodger, Ben walks in. More silly exchanges with the added contrivance of a packet of McCain Oven Chips being introduced into the script which he takes off to the kitchen to cook.

Louise returned from the kitchen when she heard Ben talking and is now left with her husband and sister in a state of undress and decides that she would feel better about the entire arrangement if she could watch them. This is not greeted with the greatest of enthusiasm but the curtain falls as the task resumes.

The joy for this writer was knowing the cast in advance and totally using Tom Hollander's talents to the greatest advantage. We saw the tech rehearsal for this and I must say Obi gave a better performance then but all in all this was wonderfully timed and a total hoot.

Six Stars

Get Tested by Laura Wade

Bob - Kevin Spacey
Claudia - Haydn Gwynne
Abby - Katherine Parkinson
Daniel - Tobias Menzies

Directed by Matt WIlde

Bob and Abby, an affluent but disparate couple are joined by a self-assured interloper, Claudia. It is clear that Bob has decided their marriage should not be a sexually exclusive union but does not wish to digress with any deceit to his wife.

A very practical arrangement is made with Claudia, to the extent that all three of them gain written proof they have been tested for the various STDs. Abby is clearly not quite as comfortable with this new stage in her marriage but becomes significantly more interested in the prospect when Claudia's friend Daniel enters to join the fun. Bob's mood turns on a sixpence and even the production of Daniel's test certificate does not placate him. Bob's protestations are universally taunted until he drags Abby away from the house, leaving just long enough for her to mouth a big 'thank you' to Claudia as she leaves.

I think this gets my 5 out of six rating for the evening. The performances were wonderful and once again, I suspect the writer had the individual actors in mind. Perfect timing and everyone clearly enjoyed themselves.

Five Stars

Dinner - Simon Vinnicombe

Susan - Sharon Maughan
Paul - Rob Brydon
Vera - Fiona Shaw
Mike - Simon Woods

Directed by Tim Roseman

Two couples meet for diner and are clearly on blind dates from a lonely heart's contact. I don't believe we are supposed to think they are the same restaurant at this point. We flit from one couple back to the other over various time-lines, both trying to make the best of the liaison and eventually agreeing to make a more permanent partnership.

Various rifts form in the relationships and cruel truths are finally discussed. We see the same arc of the relationship commence as the couples swap over.

I feel as though I may have missed or forgotten something here. I liked the little vignettes and the cast were wonderful but other than demonstrating the desperate nature of some people's desire for companionship and the inevitable repetition or our mistakes, I think there was more to this than I grasped or remembered. The enjoyable little sketches did not adhere well enough to make a satisfying play.

Three Stars

Tears by Bryony Lavery

Marilyn - Sian Thomas
Maria - Natasha Little
Moira - Nancy Carroll
Maura - Ronnie Ancona
Marta - Maureen Lipman

Directed by Tamara Harvey

So sad to end on the weakest piece. A bunch of silly women turning up to an adulterer's wake. They all have their points to make and they all have blue carrier bags containing reminders of their late lover. A few clunky laughs but a dreadful waste of a talented cast, in my opinion. Bad luck all around.

One Star

I cannot conclude my notes of the auditorium proceedings without mention of the talents of the heavily jet-lagged Mr Spacey as he introduced the evening. He really does have a confidence and charisma that both excites and puts at ease.

Ronnie Corbett was wonderful. He was unrelenting in his jokes around his diminutive stature and I only wish I could remember some of them.

Any harsh criticism of the work here is not meant to in any way diminish the wonderful evening enjoyed by all. A monumental achievement and that a couple of these tiny productions were virtually flawless is a testament to the greatness of the entire endeavor.

in other parts of the building we were treated to a brief look in at a tech rehearsal and endless champagne in the Pit Bar with a gracious and personal thank you from Mr Spacey. We were efficiently hauled away to the Plaza on the River for more champagne, raffles and generous entertainment during the 25th Hour Gala Night Party.

I fear that after years of resisting, I am now addicted and will need to find the means to attend next year.

I normally note celebrities in the audience but that would be a fools errand on this occasion. I will just say that Mrs Mangan sat in the row behind us and if I see Adrian Lukis at the theatre any more times, he will think I am on the staff. Esther Hall was there to support her beau but Bo was sadly not there to support his wife or current co-star. Rebecca Hall seemed to be enjoying the company of other thespians. The remarkable young Mark Field, whose performance in Vincent River will surely secure his future, was also in the front row and had benefited from the object of this charity.

Notes about the 24 Hour Play proceedure

The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices
Information sheet taken from the Old Vic website


The ultimate theatrical challenge. In just 24 hours, seven teams comprising of 1 writer, 1 director, 1 producer and 4-5 actors must create, produce, rehearse and perform a 10-minute play in front of 1,000 members of the paying public.

The breakneck schedule starts when the writers, producers and directors meet the actors who, one by one, introduce themselves, have their photograph taken and describe a single prop that they’ve brought. The actors retire and each writer bids for the actors that they feel most inspired to write for. Clutching polaroids of their chosen casts, the writers each head for their own room in a local hotel where, overnight, they’ll have to create their plays.

At 7.00am the next morning, the producers prise the new works from the hands of the weary writers, and frantically photocopy and distribute them. The directors read the plays and make impassioned bids for their favourites. Once everyone has been assigned a play, the rush begins to create ideas before the casts arrive.

Come 9.00am, the actors and directors are at work around the theatre - a process managed and co-ordinated by the producers. Each cast has just 11 hours to rehearse the show and memorise their parts.

A short technical rehearsal that afternoon is the last chance for directors to make changes, and for actors to learn lines. The producers are on hand ready to tackle all the inevitable last-minute crises.

At 8.00pm, the moment of judgment arrives. The Old Vic is a-buzz with 1000 eager theatregoers waiting to see six brand new plays, ink barely dry on the scripts. As the curtain rises, an evening of spontaneous creativity rarely seen in the theatre begins...


Each year, a celebrity 24 Hour Plays gala is held at The Old Vic to raise money for Old Vic New Voices. Previous casts have featured a host of well-known theatre, TV and film talent, including Catherine Tate, Brooke Shields, Brian Cox, Gabriel Garçia Bernal, Joseph Fiennes, Jim Broadbent, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Meera Syal.

In 2005, we decided to throw out the same nail-biting challenge to 18-25 year old practitioners. The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices project was born, with a company of 50 young actors, writers, directors and producers receiving support and advice from a host of professionals (including Patrick Marber, Claire Higgins, Michael Sheen, Patsy Rodenberg and Sam Adamson) to prepare them for their big day. The event was such a success that we made The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices an annual sister event to the gala show.

09 November 2007

Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill

Clive/Cathy - James Fleet
Joshua/Gerry - Mark Letheren
Harry Bagley/Martin - Tobias Menzies
Betty/Edward - Bo Poraj
Maud/Victoria - Joanna Scanlan
Ellen/Mrs Saunders/Lin - Sophie Stanton
Edward/Betty - Nicola Walker

Directed by Thea Sharrock
Designed by Peter McKintosh

Seen during it's revival at the Almeida D9

Celebrity in the audience - Daniel Radcliffe??? but I could be wrong there

Joy of joys. Caryl's work can either excite me or confuse me and this happily falls into the former camp but further energised beyond my wildest dreams by Thea Sharrock's inspired direction. Wonderful performances given because they were so perfectly cast. I could happily see this again - time permitting. Seriously thinking about going to the last night.

..........didn't make the last night but I did get another chance on 7th December. Utterly wonderful again and as the run waltzed to the end the cast had a really naughty time.

08 November 2007

Rafta, Rafta by Ayub Khan-Din & Bill Naughton

Eeshwar Dutt - Harish Patel
Atul Dutt - Ronny Jhutti
Jai Dutt - Rudi Dharmalingam
Etash Tailor - Arsher Ali
Jibaj Bhatt - Simon Nagra
Lopa Dutt - Meera Syal
Lata Patel - Shaheen Khan
Vina Patel - Rokhsaneh Gwawam-Shahidi
Moly Bhatt - Natalie Grady
Laxman Patel - Kirss Dosanjh

Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Designed by Tim Hatley

Seen during it's long run at the Lyttelton Theatre G19

Celebrity in the audience - Stephen Frears

I suffered with a donkey braying woman behind me during this......and not even at appropriate moments. It looked good and would have had some really poignant points to make between the comic lines if I had the luxury of being able to hear it over the screeching behind. I am sure this is very clever. I have a vested interest because Bill Naughton was a client of my father's and visited us from time to time with his lovely wife.

07 November 2007

Vincent River by Philip RIdley

Anita - Lynda Bellingham
Davey - Mark Field

Directed by Rebecca McCutcheon
Designed by Harry Scott

Seen in it's premiere run at the Trafalgar Studio 2 C13

Very intense story of love, bereavement and denial. Wonderful performances, full on for the duration and at the perfect venue.

27 October 2007

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet

Shelly Levene - Jonathan Pryce
John Williamson - Peter McDonald
Dave Moss - Matthew Marsh
George Aaronow - Paul Freeman
Richard Roma - Aiden Gillen
James Lingk - Tom Smith
Baylen - Shane Attwooll

Directed by James Macdonald
Designed by Anthony Ward

seen during it's run at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue G5

This piece hits the ground running and never stops. I'd forgotten how short it is - 35 plus 45 mins. That's 20 minutes shorter than the film. Wonderful characters for most of the cast to get their teeth into and so intense for many of them. One of those plays you should really experience live and with this cast. it's a real joy.

20 October 2007

Emperor Jones by Eugene O'Neill

Native Woman - Corinne Skinner Carter
Henry Smithers, a trader - John Marquez
Brutus Jones - Paterson Joseph
Witch Doctor - Dwayne Barnaby
Lem - Yemi Goodman-Ajibade
Ensemble - Adrian Chrostopher, Olivette Cole- Wilson, Brooks Livermore, Rex Obano, Daniel Poyser, Leroy Ricardo-Jones, Jonathan Taylor

Directed by Thea Sharrock
Designed by Robin Don

Seen during it's short run at The Olivier G17

Once a sun-god, now an emperor, Paterson Joseph seems to be in his element and once again, gave so much energy and spectacle. I can't imagine what this would have been link in it's earlier staging. Wonderful piece, fantastically presented.

I have no idea how much the rest of the cast were paid but they walked on for no more than five minutes and there were around 28 of them who I am not going to list anytime soon.

Moonlight & Magnolias by Ron Hutchinson

David O Selznick - Andy Nyman
Citor Flemming - Steven Pacey
Ben Hecht - Duncan Bell
Miss Poppenghul

Directed by Sean Holmes
Designed by Francis O'Connor

During it's run at the Tricycle

Brilliant in every area. Wonderful little set in that tiny space. Utterly energetic, tight performances of a wonderful script. This will undoubtedly transfer to the West End.

09 October 2007

Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco in a Martin Crimp translation

Housewife/Monsieur Jean's wife - Jacqueline Defferaray
Grocer Woman/Madam Beouf -Alwyne Taylor
Jean - Jasper Britton
Berenger - Benedict Cumberbatch
Waitress - Claire Prempeh
Grocer Man/Dudard -Pal Chahidi
Old Gentleman/Monsieur Papillon - Graham Turner
Locigian - Michael Begley
Boss of Cafe/A Fireman - David Hinton
Daisy - Zawe Ashton
Botard - Lloyd Hutchinson

Directed by Dominic Cooke
Designed by Anthony Ward

Seen at the Royal Court Downstairs
on the Cast & Crew after show talk night B13

Celeb in the audience: Ben Miles

Deliciously absurd, funny, adroit and in my face (because my seat was too near the front).......... clever set that was approached in a similar way to the theatre of the absurd we saw in the Donmar earlier. The rhinoceros heads were very, very effective. The arc of the central character's journeys must have been a joy for the actors to get their teeth into.

If it wasn't such a crazy time of year I would try to see this again.........

Some really interesting info here.

06 October 2007

Fragments by Samuel Beckett

Actors: Jos Houben, Kathryn Hunter & Marcello Magni

Performing: Rough for Theatre 1
Act without Words II
Come and Go

Directed by Peter Brook

Seen at the Young Vic

Celebs in the audience: Alan Rickman and Anna Ford
(but not together)

I really jumped through hoops to get this ticket but in the end, I'm not sure if I was as enthralled as I had hoped. How many more chances will I get to see Peter Brook at work though?

On the face of it, the performances were faultless, the pieces sublime and the direction pure but it didn't give me the thrill I had anticipated.

27 September 2007

Bill Bailey - Pre Arena Shows

Does it count to mention this?

I've seen one or two things in Studio Two but never such an eager crowd. Half an hour before the show began, the line for the unreserved seating was already winding from the far side of the bar, down the miserable corridor and well into the main booking area. All these people had chosen Bill over seeing Ricky Gervais down the road at the Apollo.

Some of the routine was very funny and I wish I could remember some more. He did a sketch about how he feels like a Malteser in a pack of Revels........he can just sense the toffee and the orange flavoured ones looking at him and saying 'what's his game? He doesn't need to be here. He's got his own pack.' Priceless.

In haste, I stupidly chose a bad seat and suffered in the morning for sitting at an awkward angle.

24 September 2007

The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg & translated by Maja Zade

Fanny - Amanda Drew
Lette - Michael Gould
Scheffler - Mark Lockyer
Karlman - Frank McCusker

Directed by Ramin Gray
Designed (if you can call it that) by Jeremy Herbert

At the Royal Court Upstairs during it's UK premiere run and as part of the international writing project.

Very interesting piece and if I'd known the subject matter in advance I would have been too squeamish to attend. The text is, of course, about much more than the surgical procedures and this lovely cast adopted the mantels of their various characters so seamlessly that I couldn't dwell on the gory bits.

Totally enjoyable, mercifully short and gratifyingly articulate.

22 September 2007

A Disappearing Number by Simon McBurney

The cast includes: David Annen; Firdous Bamji; Paul Bhattacharjee; Hiren Chate; Saraj Chaudhry; Divya Kasturi; Chetna Pandya; Saskia Reeves and Shane Shambhu.

Conceived and Directed by Simon McBurney
Devised by the Company
Original Music Nitin Sawhney
Design Michael Levine

Seen at the erstwhile London home of Complicite - The Barbican Theatre - E8
Saw Simon himself wandering around pre-show but nobody else caught my eye

I wouldn't usually list a load or reviews but this is a complicated piece and it's good to see the critics point of view. In a staging that felt like a cross between Robert Lepage and Katie Mitchell. So hard to describe and do justice.


Jasper Rees - The Sunday Times, 2 September 2008

For Simon McBurney, Complicite`s artistic director, this is more than just a tale of two boffins.
read article


Nikita Lalwani - New Statesman, 23 August 2007

With touching emotion and unnerving disquietude, A Disappearing Number forces the spectator to consider the facts of love, death and belonging, within the space of his or her own personal universe.
read article


Brian Logan - The Times, 20 August 2007

This is very much Complicite territory: echoes through time, connections across worlds. In McBurney`s hands, mathematical sequences become journeys through life, and numerology a means of giving substance to the unknowable.
read article


Sarah Hemming - Financial Times, 28 July 2007

One morning in 1913 the Cambridge mathematician G.H. Hardy opened an unexpected letter from India. It was crammed with wild mathematical theorems...
read article


Michael Billington - Guardian, 12th September 2007

Maths, mysticism and mortality combine in Complicite's latest mind-expanding show conceived and directed by Simon McBurney....
read article

20 September 2007

Awake and Sing by Clifford Odet

Ralph Berger - Ben Turner
Myron Berger - Paul Jesson
Hennie Berger - Jodie Whittaker
Jacob - John Rogan
Bessie Berger - Stockard Channing
Schlosser - Kieron Jecchinis
Moe Axelrod - Nigel Lindsay
Uncle Morty - Trevor Cooper
Sam Feinschreiber - John Lloyd Fillingham

Directed by Michael Attenborough
Designed by Tim Shortall

During it's revival at the Almeida - E18

Celeb in the audience: Tom Stoppard....and that wonderful man with the glass eye and the young kid from last week's readings.

Mr Stoppard clapped till he was sore and shouted Bravo! twice. I think that says it all.

Jodie really suits the dark hair that I now suspect she was born with. John Rogan was wonderful and Niel Lindsay is a good solid reliable.

14 September 2007

Burning Cars by Matt Hartley

Cast includes Alicia Davies, Dave Harley, Sarah Solemani, Tom Stuart

Directed by Nick Bagnall during the New Writing Festival at the Hampstead

the 2nd act of a play in development. How a foolish error of judgement can turn into a crime.

Playtime by Gabriel Bisset-Smith and Gary Owen

Kirsty Bushnell - Fliss
Fiona Button - Sam/Student3/Girl
Billy Carter - Alan
Simon Darwen - Billy/Student 1
Jonny Phillips - Boss/Minister
Narinder Samra - Suman/Soldier
Richard Shanks - Colin/Student 2
Ellen Thomas - Ama/Stella
Philip Voss - Oscar
David Webber - Vincent

Directed by Tamara Harvey

Seen at the Hampstead Theatre during it's Daring Parings Festival of New Writing.

Peter Wight and Sam West were in the audience.

Tight little piece about the last knockings of civilisation and the way the human condition will continue to make the same mistakes.

13 September 2007

Settled by George Cotts

Cast includes James Chalmers and Charlotte Pyke

Directed by Chris White

Interesting exploration of the human condition. I left wanting to know a lot more about this piece. Did we see act 1, for instance? it could have been but it could have also been act 2.

Waiting for Leroy by Tanita Gupta and Atiha Sen-Gupta

Laurie - Claire-Louise Cordewell
Hassan - Stephenjohn Holgate
Kweku - Emmanuel Idowu
Tyrone - Marcel McCalla
Blacker - Luke Norris
Amir - Ray Panthanki
Shanice - Ony Uhiara

Directed by Maria Aberg

Performed during the Hampstead Theatre New Writing Festival

Celeb in the audience: Roy Williams

Fantastic piece and performances. Luke is still at drama school! I feel like I'd seen the format before, probably from the above-mentioned Mr Williams. Some young people are waiting for a new youth centre to open so that they can channel all their ambitions but in this bold political statement, it doesn't open and one of the girls is carrying her brother's stash and it all goes pair-shaped.

12 September 2007

1 in 5 by Penelope Skinner

Cast Includes Simon Darwen, Sian Hutchinson, James Kermack, Alison O'Donnell & Gary Selford

Directed by Michael Longhurst

Slightly too self conscious but an interesting piece.

Thank God it's Friday by Cosh Omar and Amy Rosenthal

Jan - Emma Cunniffe
Zeki - Michael Higgs
Sam - David Horovitch
John - Jonathan McGuiness
Michael - Joseph Millson
Aiyse - Lisa Stevenson
Rachel - Susannah Wise

Directed by Noah Birksted-Breen

Seen as a rehearsed reading during Hampstead Theatre's New Writing Festival

Celeb in the audience:- Anthony Scher, Maureen Lipman

Wonderful sharp piece about religious and gender taboos. Hardly a dead moment throughout and so well put together.

11 September 2007

Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat by Mark Ravenhill


Tom Brooke
Deborah Findlay
Alice O'Connell
Lesley Sharp
Kevin Trainor

New writing as part of the 'daring pairings' new writing festival at the Hampstead Theatre

So many people of note in the audience. I saw Mel Kenyon chatting to Mr Ravenhill himself in the bar and Lesley Sharp's lovely fella (Nicholas Gleaves) was in a house seat.

Six twenty minutes pieces on the theme of the age of war on terror propagation. There are seventeen of these pieces in total and I think he wrote them in a few months. A force to be admired. Some of them got a bit raggy in the middle or towards the end but generally tight and hilarious dialogue.

10 September 2007

All About My Mother based on the film by Pedro Almodovar & written by Samuel Adamson

Esteban - Colin Morgan
Manuela - Lesley Manille
Doctor - Michael Shaeffer
Alicia - Yvonne O'Grady
Nian Cruz - Charlotte Randle
Humo Rojo - Dianna Rigg
Maria del Toro - Bradly Freegard
Agrado - Mark Gatiss
Client - Robert Galas
Nun - Eileen Nicholas
Sister Rosa - Joanne Froggatt
Sister Rosa's Mother - Eleanor Bron
Alex - Robert Galas
Gynaecologist - Bradley Freegard
Nurse - Yvonne O'Grady
Streetcar Actor - Michael Shaeffer
Streetcar Actress - Eileen Nicholas
Lola - Michael Shaeffer

Directed by Tom Cairns
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler

Seen in it's premiere run at The Old Vic. Q19

Celebs in the Audience: Kevin was there, Michael & Mary Parkinson, David Tennant

I have mixed feelings about this. So much of it was incredible but it seemed to lack some of what Almodovar brings to a project. I realise it's a different medium but so much effort was made to bring the visual mood from his films so it seemed a shame that the dialogue wasn't always there.

Mark Gatiss had the role he was born to play and was the star of the show but Lesley Manville was perfect too. A couple of magnificent performances.

21 August 2007

Absurdia - see below

A Resounding Tinkle by N.F. Simpson

Middie Paradock - Judith Scott
Bro Paradock - Peter Capaldi
Uncle Ted - Lyndsey Marshal
Vicar's Voice - John Hodgkinson

Gladly Otherwise by N. F. Simpson

Mrs Brandywine - Judith Scott
Mr Brandywine - Peter Capaldi
Man - John Hodgkinson

The Crimson Hotel by Michael Frayn

Bibette's Voice - Judith Scott
Pilou - Peter Capaldi
Lucienne - Lyndsey Marshal
Dodine's Voice - - John Hodgkinson

Directed by Douglas Hodge
Designed by Vicki Mortimer

This collection see at the Donmar Warehouse on Supporters Night - B7

Celeb in the audience: sweet faced boy from The Thick of It

I laughed uncontrollably and shook the benches during A Resounding Tinkle. Gladly Otherwise didn't do so much for me but The Crimson Hotel was more clever than funny. A very smart ensemble and we were treated to a wonderful post show discussion so that I could bask in the multiple talents of Douglas Hodge . Gawd, I adore that boy. He helped compose the music too, you know.

13 August 2007

Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw

Robert de Baudricourt - Brendan O'Hea
Stewards and Pages - Luke Treadaway
Joan - Anne-Marie Duff
Bertrand de Poulengey - Ross Waiton
Duke de la Tremoullie - James Barriscale
The Archbishop of Rheims -James Hayes
Gilles de Rais(Bluebeard) - Gareth Kennerley
Captain La Hire - Finn Caldwell
Charles (The Dauphin) - Paul Ready
Dunois - Christopher Colquhoun
Richard - Angus Wright
Chaplain de Stogumber
Peter Cauchon (Bishop of Beauvais) - Paterson Joseph
The Inquisitor - Oliver Ford Davies
Canon John D'Estivet - William Osborne
Canon de Courcelles - Simon Bubb
Brother Martin Ladvenu - James Ballard
The Executioner - Jonathan Jaynes
Ensemble - Michael Camp, Eke Chukwu, Simon Markey, David Ricardo-Pearce

Directed by Marianne Elliott
Designed by Rae Smith

At the Olivier where it belongs - K 14

Celeb in the audience: Andrew Davies

My evening began earlier in the Cottesloe where I attended a 'Platform' with Paul Miller as he discussed The Enchantment. So young and so talented.....and frighfully posh. Very interesting start to my cultural delights.

Entering the Olivier tonight (as so many nights) was a beautifully calming experience. It always reminds me of a really well designed church and I cannot express how disgusted I would have been if they had staged this production at the Lyttelton. I endure that auditorium but I can only think of one production that actually felt right in it (The Far Side of the Moon) - that actually needed a space like that.

I digress. Saint Joan is as remarkable as a revival in London is likely to be. Humour has been injected in almost all the right places allowing the space for Joan to be the bright shining light of passion and serenity. My only grip here is the silliness of the French Court. I think it was just a tad overplayed on the night I saw it but I'm sure it is more balanced normally.

I cried during the trial when she burned. I think the staging of the burning was either having a bad night or just a tiny bit too subtle but I would love to see this again.....time permitting.

08 August 2007

The Enchantment by Victoria Benedictsson

Louise Strandbert - Nancy Carroll
Erna Walden - Niamh Cusack
Henrik Ryberg - Edward Davenport
Viggo Pihl - Hugh Skinner
Gustace Alland - Zubin Varla
Lilly Wallden - Claudia Renton
The Concierge - Avril Elgar
Botilda - Marlene Herrington
Mr Moller - Patrick Drury
The Postman - Ray Newe

Directed by Paul Miller
Designed by Simon Daw

in a new version by Clare Bayley at the Cottesloe - F 28

At tale of obsession and manipulation. Very interesting piece. A famous but fading artiste preys on the vulnerable bereaved woman as his inspiration and muse. I think it took a little longer to make it's point than necessary. A couple of the scenes didn't seem to move the plot along very much but some lovely performances. Mses Cusack and Carroll were fabulous

07 August 2007

In Celebration by David Storey

Steven - Orlando Bloom
Mr Shaw - Tim Healy
Mrs Burnett - Lynda Baron
Mrs Shaw - Dearbhla Molloy
Andrew - Paul Hilton
Colin - Gareth Farr
Reardon - Ciaran McIntyre

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Lez Brotherston

At the Duke of York in an average seat surround by noisy people but the second half was nearer the front and in the middle - J3

Brilliant play with a wonderful cast. Sadly, my deepest fears about Orly were realised to a greater degree than I had thought. He just stood there like a plank and recited his lines. He knew where to move to but no more than that. He's playing Steven so he can get away with that for a certain amount of the time but he looked like a petrified observer throughout. He had no idea how to occupy himself in a naturalistic way. This was made all the more obvious by the wonderful performances from his stage father and brothers. They were exceptional and I completely forgot I was in a matinee (especially by the time I had moved seat).

Go see the play and just don't be too hard on Orly. It's not his fault he was robbed of his learning curve.

04 August 2007

Philistines by Maxim Gorky,
adapted by Andrew Upton

Tanya - Ruth Wilson
Polya - Susannah Fielding
Pyotr - Rory Kinnear
Vassily - Phil Davis
Akulina - Stephanie Jacob
Stepanida - Maggie McCarthy
Perchikin - Duncan Bell
Teterev - Conleth Hill
Elena - Justin Mithcell
Nil - Mark Bonnar
Shyshkin - Jonathan Bryan
Tsvetaeva - Rendah Heywood
Doctor - Marcus Cunningham
Old Man - Mike Aherne
Old Woman - Julia West
Passers-by - Saskia Butler, Danny Nutt, Charlotte Pyke

with live music played by Irita Kutchmy

Directed by Howard Davies
Designed by Bunnie Chrisite

Seen towards the end of it's run - K6

What a wonderful vibrant version. So well judged and balanced and some priceless performances. Rory Kinnear always stands out and he really showed his versatility with dry humour and pain.

30 July 2007

The Hothouse by Harold Pinter

Roote - Stephen Moore
Gibbs - Finbar Lynch
Lamb - Leo Bill
Miss Cutts - Lia Williams
Lush - Paul Ritter
Tubb - Henry Woolf
Lobb - Peter Pacey

Directed by Ian RIckson
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler

Seen during it's run at the Lyttleton K12

Not one actor spotted in the audience though I thought maybe Michael Stipe in a fleeting moment

What a joy. I am Pintered in the extreme. We are so lucky to have such amazing directors around at the moment. I sat next to a couple who asked if I had expected a Pinter to be so funny. I was polite, of course but I was aware of pockets in the audience who didn't really understand some of the humour. He can be so deliciously obtuse. All the performances were glorious. I really don't like that space at all but this suited it well.

Wonderful evening. Finbar interview here.

19 July 2007

The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams


Giuseppina - Katerina Jugati
Peppina - Stephanie Jacob
Violetta - Jules Melvin
Teresa - Marilyn Cutts
Mariella - Sadie Shimmin

Serafina delle Rose - Zoe Wanamaker
Rosa delle Rose - Susannah Fielding
Assunta - Maggie McCarthy
Estelle Hoehngarten - Sharon Bower
The Strega = Rosalind Knight
Father de Leo - Nicholas Chagrin
The Doctor - Gerard Monaco
Miss Yorke - Sheila Ballantine
Flora - Buffy Davis
Bessie - Sarah Annis
Jack Hunter - Andrew Langtree
A Girl - Rendah Heywood
A Man - Jonathan Bryan
The Salesman - Mac mcDonald
Alvaro Mangiacacllo - Darrell D'Silva
Also in the company - Marianne Morely

Bruno - Max Baldry/Bradley Ingram/ David Perkins
Salvatore - Sebastian Applewhite/Sam Lanchin/Marcus Lezard
Vivi - Lana Pitcher/Larissa Tasker/Janine Vieira

Directed by Steven Pimlott and Nicholas Hytner
Designed by Mark Thompson

Seen during it's run at the Olivier J 38

Celebs in the audience: Jack Davenport, Michelle Gomez, Maria Aitken & Patrick McGrath

I found the first act rather clunky and it didn't seem to warm up until after the interval when Alvaro enters. It then turned into something so farcical I could not recognise it as Williams. Rather jolly but not what I was expecting.

17 July 2007

Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton

Jack Manningham - Andrew Woodall
Bella Manningham - Rosumund Pike
Nancy - Sally Tatum
Elizabeth - Rowena Cooper
Detective Rough - Kenneth Cranham
First man - Matthew Field
Second Man - Edward Newborn

Directed by Peter Gill and designed by Hayden Griffin.

Seen during it's summer run at the Old Vic. H 15

Celeb in the audience: Adrian Lukis

A wonderful classic story well told. The auditorium was so hot with o air-con so it was a little hard to concentrate at times but the plot was familiar enough to not concern me.

I'm afraid the great Mr Cranham fluffed his lines a few times but he made up for it with his physical antics. Rosumund was perfect and beautiful and Andrew's menace was delicious.

A good evening's entertainment.

07 July 2007

Rough Cuts:
The Girlfriend Experience by Alecky Blythe

Cast: Debbie Chazen, Beatie Edney, Rachel Lumberg, Jason Barnett

Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins
Seen during the Rough Cuts season at the Royal Court Upstairs.

We were asked for feedback on these pieces so I think mine will suffice here....

1) Describe the way The Girlfriend Experience made you feel in three words.
Needing a drink.
2 ) What idea, line of dialogue or image stood out for you?
Honestly? I found the performances so overbearing that I didn't engage with the text.
3) Was there anything in The Girlfriend Experience that made you look at something in a different way or told you something new?
4) What one suggestion would you make if The Girlfriend Experience was to be developed into a full production.
A little more time to develop some kind of connection with the characters.
5) Would you come back and see The Girlfriend Experience again, either in further Rough Cuts work or as a full production?
Hmm - that would depend on the cast and whether I thought there would be enough material to sustain a full production.

Rough Cuts: Posh by Laura Wade

Cast: Sebastian Armesto, Andrew Buchan, Nicholas Burns, Pip Carter, Tom Riley, Jay Taylor.

Directed by Lyndsey Turner.
Seen during the Rough Cuts season at the Royal Court Upstairs.

1) Describe the way Posh made you feel in three words.
Amused, poor and sane.
2 ) What idea, line of dialogue or image stood out for you?
The futile destruction of the beloved book.
3) Was there anything in Posh that made you look at something in a different way or told you something new?
Sadly not - all my cliched notions were confirmed :-D
4) What one suggestion would you make if Posh was to be developed into a full production.
It might be tough to maintain the same standard of writing for a much longer piece so I would suggest it remains almost as compact as it currently stands.
5) Would you come back and see Posh again, either in further Rough Cuts work or as a full production?

04 July 2007

Rough Cuts: A Liability by Sean Foley

Cast: Jacqueline Defferary, Sean Foley, TOm McKay, Sarah Somemani, Peter Wight

Directed by Terry Johnson and Music by Chris Larner.
Seen during the Rough Cuts season at the Royal Court Upstairs.

We were asked for feedback on these pieces so I think mine will suffice here....

1) Describe the way A Liability made you feel in three words.
Satirically satisfied, thankyou !
2 ) What idea, line of dialogue or image stood out for you?
The line about it being so hard to live with someone who doesn't have a subtext.
3) Was there anything in A Liability that made you look at something in a different way or told you something new?
Not really but there is great satisfaction in having ones own thoughts articulated with such adroit humour.
4) What one suggestion would you make if A Liability was to be developed into a full production.
More of the same.
5) Would you come back and see A Liability again, either in further Rough Cuts work or as a full production?

Rough Cuts: Airbag by Leo Butler

Cast: Gillian Hanna, Nick Moss, Nicola Walker, Vincent Etagweyo, Frank Asiyai

Directed by Leo Butler and choreographed by Anthony McC Odey
Seen during the Rough Cuts season at the Royal Court Upstairs.

1) Describe the way Airbag made you feel in three words.
Engaged in sorrow
2 ) What idea, line of dialogue or image stood out for you?
The precision of the two dancers when one was in front of the sheet and one behind. Reminded me of Woman & Scarecrow a bit too much.
3) Was there anything in Airbag that made you look at something in a different way or told you something new?
It reminded me of Aboriginal Dreamtime which I had never previously considered in respect of other continents
4) What one suggestion would you make if Airbag was to be developed into a full production.
I think a subject is more easily discussed with the inclusion of humour. Whilst that was present in the dance expression it would be nice to see a little dry humour in the dialogue.
5) Would you come back and see Airbag again, either in further Rough Cuts work or as a full production?

22 June 2007

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
(adapted by Tanya Ronder)

Betty Pam - Lorraine Bruce
Abdini/Mr Peyalo - Andrew Clark
Ella/Taylor - Mariah Gale
Lally - Mark Lockyer
Vernon - Colin Morgan
Sheriff Pokorney - Nathan Osgood
Vaine/Leona - Penny Layden/Sian Reeves
Mom - Joanna Scanlan
Lasalle - Ray Shell

Directed by Rufus Norris
Designed by Ian MacNeil

Seen during it's last week at the Young Vic

I really miserable premise brought to us with great humour and musical fun with great stage gimics put together on a shoestring, one presumes.

Colin Morgan will be worth watching when he fleshes out a bit. A touch of the Cillian about him but with apparently more humour and less doll-like. You have to keep an eye on someon who is working at both Young and Old Vics before he graduates.

Quite a fair review Here.

19 June 2007

Betrayal by Harold Pinter

Jerry - Toby Stephens
Emma - Dervla Kirwan
Robert - Samuel West
Waiter - Paul Di Rollo

Directed by Roger Michell
Designed by William Dudley

At the Donmar sneaking in on a return C8

It doesn't seem so long since I saw Aiden Gillen do this with Hugo Speer. It's a staggering piece of writing and it's hard to tire of it but this version seems so incredibley fresh as though I saw it with new eyes. Roger Michell is so busy that he could not attend the after show talk tonight and Toby dashed home to his newborn but I found the convo with everyone else very interesting. Sam put his directing hat on for a while and posed various intersting questions. He also mentioned that he'd discussed the play with Doug Hodge which made me smile. One of the points they were making is that the non-linear element of the play gave them a freedom to actually express their characters in a more realistic way. Rather poignantly it seems Doug Hodge had said to Sam something like it was so much more true to life because he never realises what he's lost until about five years after he looses it.

The staging was beautiful - simple and fluid. It all worked so well. Every performance was totally on the ball, beautifully balanced and the timing was hilarious and moving all at once.

A fantastic evening for me.

Celeb in the audience: Paul Copely

16 June 2007

The Pain and the Itch by Bruce Norris

Mr Hadid - Abid Gouhad
Clay - Matthew Macfadyen
Kelly - Sara Stewart
Kayla - Angelica Trew
Cash - Peter Sullivan
Kalina - Andrea Riseborough
Carol - Amanda Boxer

Directed by Dominc Cooke
Designed by Robert Innes Hopkins

Seen in preview during it's UK premiere at the Royal Court. Also notable as Mr Cooke's directorial debut since taking over here.

I am reluctant to make too much unfair comment while this is in preview but here we go.

There is a script device that didn't work well last night and I really hope it's sorted before the run starts properly. If Dominic is curious enough to Google and finds this entry, I am vain enough to suggest perhaps there could be a little audible help and a lighting team with a better sense of timing. At the moment it clunks and at one point was actually confusing (to me) for a moment.

I pray that when I see it further into the run I will be lucky enough to get a different child in the role of Kayla. I loathe children on stage at the best of times. This one stared at her relations all night and was vile but my words are too harsh because it would have been impossible to cast such a young child......especially with a girl. A boy would would have been less annoying to me but any child of that age is not really going to understand what the audience require of them.....even less the director! Thank goodness it didn't have a speaking role.

Very interesting piece. Perhaps Bruce has crammed in a few too many themes and plot tangents but it holds your attention with it's sharp wit and tight performances. Once you get the hang of the style, you can see where it's going and it does all tie up nicely at the end. So long as the usual Royal Court demographic don't mind gaping into a mirror for a couple of hours and finding the humility to laugh at themselves, it should be well received.

Some of the roles have a more interesting arc than others and to that end I felt sorry for Andrea as her role is as unforgiving as Sally Hawkins' was in The Winterling or Kelly Reilly's in PianoForte. Just too big for me to like very much and I really enjoy all three of those actresses and they have all been acclaimed for their work.

Carol is delightful and played with such understated confidence by Amanda Boxer. Kelly and Clay work very well together which can't have been easy because they have to remain utterly detached for the duration. Cash didn't really relate to anyone and in a strange way, that made Peter's relaxed performance stand out. He has curly hair which I often hate (having it myself) and is thinning but I found him rather smouldering in the role. I may be hung for this but Cash was the most likeable character for me. Clay gets the sympathy vote but it's a very fine line, amply handled by Matthew to keep it vital enough to prevent him from being pathetic.

I will say now, if a couple of matters aren't addressed in the next couple of days, I can think of one or two critics who will go for the jugular and you cannot imagine how much I want to see positive reviews. All the right ingredients are there. With a cast and director like this, it should be a hit.

Celeb in the audience: Samantha Bond

12 June 2007

A Matter of Life and Death by Powell & Pressburger, adapted by Tom Morris & Emma Rice

Peter - Tristan Sturrock
June - Lindsey Marshal
Bob - Craig Johnson
Girl - Debbie Korley
Frank - Douglas Hodge
Dr McEwan - Andy Williams
Mr Archer - Chike Okonkwo
Harold - Mike Shepherd
Boy - Dan Canham
Woman - Dorothy Atkinson
Nurses - Fiona Chivers, Meryl Fernandes, Lorraine Stewart, Lissie WInkler, Kirsty Woodward
Injured Soldiers/Airmen - Jamie Bradley, Thomas Goodridge, Pieter Lawman, Robert Luckay
Conductor 71 - Gisli Orn Gardarsson
Chief Recorder - Tamzin Griffin
First Prosecutor - Stuart McLoughlin
Ensemble Musicians - Stu Barker, Pete Judge, Dominic Lawton, Alex Vann, Michael VInce

Directed by Emma Rice
Designed by Bill Mitchell
Special mention for Jon Driscoll and his amazing projections

Seen during it's opening run at the Olivier. F 30

Wonderful production. How many times have you seen the film? Can it be bettered? Maybe not, but this is a different medium and the film was always immensely theatrical. Why a musical.........same reason....begging for it.

Douglas Hodge was so wonderful. I thought I would have to wait a while before seeing him but rather than twiddle his thumbs back-stage he loitered on stage with the musicians and turned his extensive musical talents to good use until his character had a proper entrance. He was made for the role. I am pleased that Tristan is making his mark here too.

Glorious set effects, standing ovations........and all this at £ 10 for a best seat. I love my life

Celeb in the Audience: Mark Rylance

06 June 2007

Alaska by Dan C Moore

Adam - Sebatian Aremsto
Emma - Christine Bottomley
Russell - Harry Hepple
Chris - Thomas Morrison
Frank - Rafe Spall
Mamto - Fiona Wade

Directed by Maria Aberg and Designed by Fred Meller.

See at the Royal Court Upstairs in it's premiere run

Short but very intense. Packs an awful lot of story into 70 minutes. Rafe was incredible and Tom Morrison is now on my list of boys to watch. Post Show talk went on for a good 40 minutes and was very entertaining. I could even see this again.

Celeb in Audience:- Hmm - I think it was Luke Treadaway the one who is joining the National Theatre Company.

14 May 2007

Leaves of Glass by Philips Ridley

Barry - Trystan Gravelle
Debbie - Maxine Peake
Liz - Ruth Sheen
Steven - Ben Whishaw

Directed by Lisa Goldman
Designed by Laura Hopkins

During it's premiere run at the Soho Theatre

A super-charged evening. A tale of family secrets in denial and the damage caused. Amazing performances of an interesting piece of drama.

Celebrity in the audience: At least Mike Figgis & Jamie Doyle.....but probably others.

10 May 2007

my child by Mike Bartlett

Father - Richard Albrecht
Child - Adam Arnold
Mother - Jan Chappell
Karl - Adam James
Older Woman - Sara Kestelman
Another Man - James Livingstone
Man - Ben Miles
Another Woman - Antoinette Tagoe
Young Woman - Jodie Taibi
Other Woman - Romy Tennant
Woman - Lia Williams

Directed by Sacha Wares
Designed by Miriam Beuther

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

All that is comfortable and beautiful about the Royal Court auditorium is hidden from view for this. WHY it wasn't staged upstairs is beyond me......half the audience capacity maybe but the cost of decking the hall and the reduction in the usual house seems crazy to me....and for what? So that this could be set in the interesting (maybe even innovative) premise of an enlarged tube train but with no good reason. If there is a relevance it passed me by but it was good to experience it.

By the time we were ready to start the cast had completely merged into the audience and that is probably the one and only way in which the tube thing was useful.

We are then subjected to a mostly traumatic, sometimes witty destruction of a relationship. In a sense, it seemed like a series of cameos or vignettes posing more questions than it answered. The performances, especially from Ben Miles & Lia Williams, were extraordinarily passionate but beautifully contained.

Celeb in the audience/bar: Toby Jones, Christopher Hampton (who may have been going Upstairs) and a really lovely bloke I remember from a 1970's band but can't quite place....black, big smile, side-burns.......

02 May 2007

That Face by Polly Stenham

Martha - Lindsay Duncan
Alice - Abigail Hood
Mia - Felicity Jones
Henry - Matt Smith
Izzy - Catherine Steadman
Hugh - Julian Wadham

Directed by a plonker called Jeremy Herrin
Designed wonderfully by Mike Britton

seen in it's premiere run at the Royal Court Uptsairs

A really interesting piece of new writing but my experience was spoilt by a selfish, self-important idiot sitting next to me who I later discovered was the director! What he hoped to gain by annoying the people around him I don't know. If he had not had a couple of wonderful actors in the form of Lindsay and Matt he would have floundered completely. The scenes that didn't include them were the weakest and the Julian Wadham's character should have been a little more ambiguous but Julian is such a vile smug git that he didn't work for me either. So writing good, direction bad, couple of performances wonderful and Felicity Jones was fine too. Sadly, Lindsay did not make it to the after show talk.

Celebrity in the audience: Nicholas LeProvost

01 May 2007

Elling adapted by Simon Bent

Kjell Bjarne - Adrian Bower
Alfons - Jonathon Cecil
Frank Asli & Poet - Kier Charles
Nurse Gunn, Johanna, Reidun & Poet - Ingrid lacey
Elling -John Simm

Directed by Paul Miller
Designed by Simon Draw

Seen during it's world premiere run at the Bush. Free Seating

Hilarious exploration of the sanity in madness. Very well adapted from the Norwegan and a lovely cast.

Starting off looking like the Dumb Waiter but we follow two men as they are rehabiliated from an asylum. Wonderful threads run through the story. An absolute delight of a sellout. Surely it will transfer.

Celeb in the audience: Joe Penhall & an actor whose name escapes me but I really like him.......scouse.....hmm

30 April 2007

Whipping it Up by Steve Thompson

Alastair - Robert Bathurst
Guy - Nicholas Rowe
Tim - Lee Ross
Maggie - Kellie Bright
Fulton - Richard Wilson
Delia - Helen Schlesinger

Directed by Tamara Harvey
Designed by Tim Shortall

Seen during it's run at the New Ambassador's transferred from it's premiere at The Bush ticket was E15 but I sat in C 10

Really witty play about the dedication of the Tory Whips. Very sharp and good characters. Visually amusing too and just the right side of farce.

29 April 2007

Dublin by Lamplight by Michael West

Eva St John - Karen Egan
Willy Hayes - Louis Lovett
Maggie - Janet Moran
Frank Hayes - Tadhg Murphy
Martyn Wallace - Tom Jordan Murphy
Jimmy Finnegan - Paul Reid.

Directed by Annie Ryan
Designed by Kris Stone

Seen at the Riverside Studios during the 2007 Tour.

Hilarious and innovative. Went to see Tom J Murphy and he was barely recognisable. The mask-like make up gave him a release I have never seen in him before. Marvellous! The other performances were similarly liberating.

27 April 2007

The Reporter by Nicholas Wright

James Mossman - Ben Chaplin
Marko - Aleksandar Mikic
Walter - Angelo Paragoso
Joan Marsden - Tilly Tremayne
Robin Day - Paul Ritter
Ray Ray - Bruce Alexander
Daneil - Leo Bill
Cameraman -John Cummins
Louis - Chris New
Molly - Gillian Raine
Harold Wilson - Patrick Brennan
Rosamond Lehmann - Angela Thorne
Mrs Rudge - Tilly Tremayne

Directed by Richard Eyre
Designed by Rob Howell

in it's premiere run at the Cottesloe H 31

Celebs in the Audience :- Janet Suzman, Patrick Marber, Liz Miller.......

A wonderful production made all the more fun by getting a standby priced ticket in the house seats (best seats).

The true story of a BBC reporter. Whist being compared to Frost Nixon by the lazy critics this is a totally different approach. Frost Nixon was a clever observation of one particular event and thus exposing the emotional and strategic conditions of the central characters. The Reporter is a suggestion of a biography centered around his emotional state which is described by particular events that shape him and eventually might have led to his suicide.

Where both productions do delight in equal measure is in the detail of the times they are portraying and the cultural observances.

Ben Chaplin is on stage for the entire duration and gives a seamless performance, swtiching from reportage to the audience and participating in the various vingettes. The supporting characters, many of them well known in their day were cleverly cast and the progression of the bumbling Daniel was also a charm to watch. I found it very amusing to see Harold Wilson always sucking on a cigar until seconds before he went in front of the camera when he fired up his famous pipe.

As with Mr Wright's beautiful 'Vincent in Brixton' the content of much of this play is pure conjecture in the absence of known fact. Some might question the worth of that but in such careful hands it makes for exsquiste drama.

The Evening Standard review.

17 April 2007

Equus by Peter Shaffer

Martin Dysart - Richard Griffiths
Alan Strang - Daniel Radcliffe
Frank Strang - Jonathan Culen
Dora Strang - Gabrielle Reidy
Hesther Salmoman - Jenny Agutter
Jill Mason - Joanna Christie
Harry Dalton - Colin Haigh
The Young Horsman & Nugget - Will Kemp
Nurse - Karen Meagher
Horses - Joel Corpus, Jamie Reid-Quarrell, Greig Cooke, Temujin Gill, Jonathan Readwin

Directed by Thea Sharrock
Designed by John Napier

during it's run at the Geilgud Theatre (Formerly The Globe) during it's period of restoration - D7

I had no real plans to see this because I didn't really want to sit in an audience of eager eyes HP fans and tabloid readers. I had intended to wait until towards the end of the run so in the hopes that it would calm down because the price of the ticket was worth it to see Richard and Jenny alone. I am glad I was persuaded otherwise.

The staging of this piece is such a icon image that it was wonderful to see they had not decided to ring the changes......although I am not sure the original staging had any of the audience incorperated into it.....but I could be wrong. The bars and rails were replaced by beautifully simple cubes and block which the cast choregraphed around the stage to serve their ever changing purposes.

The performances were good. Radcliffe is not the Strang I wanted to see, to be frank. I don't want to be hard on such a young and inexperienced boy but I never felt disturbed by him as I would have done with someone like Ben Whishaw for instance. He didn't seem to be very self aware and a lot of the time just appeared to be delivering text. Judging from the reviews from people I respect, it is possible that I saw him on a bad night.

Jenny Agutter has made some odd choices on telly lately and her age shows on the small screen. Tonight on the stage a few feet in front of me she was luminous. I have no idea where Richard Griffiths finds the breath and energy but he was magnificent.

The horses did a Trojan job! Will Kemp's faultless footwork filled me with anxiety but it was beautiful to watch.

A glorious end to a wonderful day spent with a friend. A simple but delicious snack at the Tate Modern overlooking my beautiful city and a sprint (I kid you not) around the Gilbert & George exhibition. Bliss

Oh - Celeb in the Audience: Sir Peter Hall

10 April 2007

Landscape with a Weapon by Joe Penhall

Dan - Julian Rhind-Tutt
Ned - Tom Hollander
Ross - Pippa Haywood
Brooks - Jason Watkins

Directed by Roger Michell
Designed by William Dudley

seen in it's premiere run at the Cottesloe HH 29

Joe Penhall always has something to say and is very articulate. He sees the funny side of bitter sweet situations and Tom's casting was so incredibly well considered. I must say I was very sad when Joe dropped out of The Last King of Scotland but that's another story.

Tom and Julian are wonderful together.....Tom the strongest. His physical appearance makes the vulnerable, socialy awkward part of the character easy to communicate. The cast list shows Julian at the top because he is first to speak but Tom is wandering around on stage for what seemed like 5 minutes before Julian speaks (via the intercom of his flat). It's very funnny but I do agree that it has holes. At the time I thought I'd seen it too soon in the run and it still needed to be in front of audiences a while longer. It only has a relatively short run for something in rep and there is a big part of me that would love to see it again. I notice some blogs are raving about it and I can see why.

I actually didn't like the staging of it very much. I would normally have liked it but I don't think it leant it self to the text and I think it might have been done like that simply to ring the changes rather than to serve the actual piece.

I want to write more but I can't focus at the moment.

Tom was amazing. I can't stress that more.

07 April 2007

John Gabriel Borkman by Ibsen in a version by David Eldridge

Mrs Gunhild Borkman - Deborah Findlay
Malene - Emma Beattie
Miss Ella Rentheim - Penelope Wilton
Mrs Fanny Wilton - Lolita Chakrabarti
Erhart Borkman - Rafe Spall
John Gabriel Borkman - Ian McDiarmid
Frida Foldal - Lisa Diveney
Vilhelm Foldal - David Burke

Directed by Michael Grandage
Designed by Peter McKintosh

in the premiere run of this version at the Donmar C23

more notes later

Attempts on her Life by Martin Crimp

The Company Are :-
Claudie Blakeley
Kate Duchene
Michael Gould
Liz Kettle
Jacqueline Kington
Dina Korzun
Helena Lybery
Paul Ready
Jonah Russell
Zubin Varla
Sandra Voe

Directed by Katie Mitchell and the Company
Designed by Vicki Mortimer

In it's opening run at the Lyttleton G14

A lot of what I have to say about this can be referenced back to my notes on Waves. An incredible theatrical experience in the innovative genre only hithertoe pulled off by the likes of Robert Lepage.

This went further out on a limb than Waves, presented as a sort of script meeting where far too many people put their thoughts together on how a film script would progress. After a while their thoughts cross over into realised scenes with the occassional aside to discuss the progress. The use of on stage filming/projections is once again skillful but I did think on of the most amazing things about Waves were the minutiae in the little trays and boxes. Many of the Company were those used in Waves.

There was a technical problem about a third of the way through and it was dealt with very efficiently but they did have to stop the performance. In most other productions that would have been a disaster but in this it hardly mattered at all. I actually think some member of the audience thought it was part of the show. Maybe it was. Maybe I am the fool!

Incredible. I really didn't know what I was going to see (got a standby on a whim) and had I known it was going to be such an amazing piece I would have chose a day when I was not due to see Ibsen a la Eldridge in the evening.

At least I have had time to make my notes before departing for Covent Garden

06 April 2007

Total Eclipse by Christopher Hampton

Paul Verlaine - Daniel Evans
Arthur Rimbaud - Jamie Doyle
Mme Maute de Fleurville - Susan Kyd
Mathilde Verlaine - Georgia Moffett
M Maute de Fleurville - Ronald Markham
Charles Cros - Angus McEwan
Etienne Carjat - Ronalk Markham
Jean Aicard - Tom Marshall
Judge Theodore T"Sterstevens - Ronald Markham
Clerk - Tom Marshall
Barman - Angus McEwan
Eugene Krantz - Susan Kyd
Isabelle Rimbaud - Wendy Nottingham

Directed by Paul Miller
Designed by Paul Wills

during it's brief revival at The Menier Chocolate Factory

This was more of an exorcism than a trip to the theatre. Last year I missed a reading of this early Hampton play at the Royal Court during their anniversary project. It was directed by Daniel Evans who played Verlaine tonight. In the reading, this role was taken by Matthew Macfadyen and Rimbaud was read by Ben Whishaw. I have never really recovered from missing this.

Tonight's production was almost as intimate as the reading would have been. I know the text fairly well so it seemed to motor along for me but I was a little saddened by the aggression from Jamie Doyle. It needs to be there in part but there was something about his performance that was not really my idea of Rimbaud. Only a teenager but precocious and with more facets that we saw tonight. Daniel was wonderful though his outbursts were a little OTT.

Nicely staged and a lovely little performance from Georgia Moffett.

04 April 2007

The Lady from Dubuque by Edward Albee

Lucinda - Vivienne Benesch
Sam - Robert Sella
Jo - Catherine McCormack
Fred - Cen Fleshler
Edgar - Chris Larkin
Carol - Jennifer Regan
Oscar - Peter Francis James
Elizabeth - Maggie Smith

Directed by Anthony Page
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler

seen fairly near the start of the run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket - J2

Celeb in the audience: There was a grand old dame of the theatre whose name would not come to mind. That's it.

I think I read that this didn't go down to well when first producted and I think I can see why. It seemed to be much more of our time. Very slick writing charting a dying woman's decent into her everlasting abyss. The pain and the fear manifesting as honesty and anger from all those around her. Fascinating study of the human condition and wonderful cast, in the main.

30 March 2007

Extraordinary entry

I am bawking the original purpose of this blog which was simply to record notes so that I could relive the fun in my dotage.

I feel the need to report an announcement to the effect that the wonderful (and pictured in my header) Matthew Macfadyen will be appearing at my favourite theatre for a month in Summer.

The Pain & The Itch was originally produced by John Malkovitch's wonderful company in Chicago and it will be Dominic Cooke's directorial debut since he took over the artistic directorship at the Royal Court from Ian Rickson.

More details here and have a click around here.

29 March 2007

The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

Nigel Harman - Mick
Con O'Neill - Aston
David Bradley - Davies

Directed by Jamie Lloyed
Dseigned by Soutra Gilmour

In the Sheffield Theatre production during it's run at the Tricycle in Kilburn

What a joy! Hilarious performance by David, poignant from Con and hmmmm measured from Nigel. I've seen this a couple of times before on stage and it always seems so fresh. David was doing something crossed between what I saw Michael Gambon do in the role with a touch of Albert Steptoe but funnier than both. We had great seats in this lovely little theatre and I can't recommend this production more highly. If you go early in the week the tix are £ 14.

Celebrity in the audience: Douglas Henshall YAY!

15 March 2007

The Soldiers' Fortune by Thomas Otway

Sir Jolly Jumble - David Bamber
Lady Dunce - Anne-Marie Duff
Captain Beaugard - Ray Fearon
Whore - Kate Feldschreiber
Sir Davy Dunce - Oliver Ford Davies
Drawer & Constable - Michael Howcroft
Vermin - Sam Kenyon
Sylvia - Kananu Kirimi
Whore - Lisa Lee Leslie
Courtine - Alec Newman
Bloody Bones - James Traherne
Fourbin - Ben Turner

Directed by David Lan
Set by Lizzie Clachan
Costumes by Joan Wadge

Seen at the newly refurbished Young VIc

Woefully poor audience for this. Less than a third full, I would guess and lots of chattering and sweet paper noise. The musicians were glaring at a couple of people but they were oblivious to the distraction they were causing for both the audience and the performers.

Despite all this, the cast gave fine performances, many of which were hilarious. The simple set was cleverly devised. Not exactly Shakespeare but an enjoyable farce with some lovely performers.

14 March 2007

Dying For It by Moira Buffini(a free adaptation of Nikolai Erdman's The Suicide)

Semyon Semyonovich Podsekalnikov - Tom Brooke
Maria Lukianovna 'Masha' - Liz White
Serafima Ilyinichna - Susan Brown
Alexander Petrovick Kalabushkin - Barnaby Kay
Margarita Ivanova Peryesvetova - Sophie Stanton
Yegor Timoveivich - Paul Rider
Aristarkh Domincovich Grand Subik - Ronon Vibert
Kleopatra Maximovna 'Kiki' - Michelle Dockery
Father Yelpidy - Tony Rohr
Viktor Viktorovich - Chalrie Condou
Stepan Vasilievich - Dominic Chares-Rouse
Oleg Leonidovich - Gil Cohen-Alloro

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Lez Brotherston

In it's debut run at the Almeida

Wow - I'm certainly getting my fair share of farces at the moment. This is a farce of suicide instead of love, of politics instead of infidelity.

I can't help wondering if some of the names are a joke in their home country. I think they are part of the humour somehow.

Michelle Dockery was really glorious. Some nicely measured performances. I felt a bit sorry for Liz White because her character doesn't take much of a journey and she has to be fairly miserable most of the time. Given without vanity though and within the ensemble it made great comedy.

13 March 2007

Treats by Christopher Hampton

Ann - Billie Piper
Patrick - Laurence Fox
Dave - Kris Marshall

Directed by Laurence Boswell
Designed by Jeremy Herbert

seen during it's revival run at the Garrick Theatre

I always watch out for Christopher Hampton and feel as though I have not seen enough of his plays on stage. There are three to choose from at the moment so I can redress the balance.

This play doesn't work at all if the timing is wrong and the audience is dead. Happily all things were in place tonight. Motto of the play - Better the devil you know than the devil that has nothing interesting to know. That sounds a bit hard on Patrick but he is played so well that his lack of colour is entertaining in itself. Forget any thoughts you may have about Laurence in 'Lewis' e really is very funny and has more than one dimension!

Kris Marshall was rather sexy but we all love a brute if we're not living with him, don't we?

Thoroughly enjoyed this production.

10 March 2007

The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Brecht in a version by Frank McGuiness

Arkadi Tscheidze - Leo Chadburn
Adjutant/Innkeeper/Monk/Nephew - Oliver Dimsdale
The Governor/Corporal/Jessup/Shauva - John Lloyd Fillingham
The Govenor's wife/Lady/Aniko/Old Peasant Woman - Thusitha Jayasundera
Simon - Ferdy Roberts
nanny/Fat Peasant/Mother-in-law/Ludovica - Gemma Suanders
Fat Prince/Lavrenti/Iraki - Mo Sesay
Azdak - Nicolas Tennant
Grusha - Cath Whitefield

Directed by Sean Holmes
Designed by Anthony Lamble
A Filter Theatre Company Production

seen the night after it's Press Night in the Cottesloe C32

Had it's press night on Friday so I didn't see any reviews but when I went to look this morning I couldn't see any. The odd thing is that the entire season sold out about 3 weeks ago and I just snagged a house ticket at the last minute.

The thing that bothered me was the music. The narrator was singing....all the time. He sounded like Neil thingy from ....oh good grief....very deep posh voice. His kecks were so tight I would have been able to tell his religion.....if he'd been of that faith!!! (that joke SO doesn't work when applied to men with hats).

All the women were prancing around much too big and loud with the lovely exception of a lady who was mainly in charge of sound but had a couple of scene stealing contributions. Bottom line is that they were trying to be a bit too clever. It may settle down but the programme makes a point of including a quote from Brecht about his method for stopping his actors being too OTT and several members of the cast were just that! The blokes were much better and I love Nicolas Tennant (a good actor trapped in a very odd body) and the other blokes were good. They adopted an acting plan devised by Oliver Dimsdale and Ferdy Roberts whereby they perform sound fx on stage (a bit like Waves but nothing like as good or innovative) Oliver is cute and may make a very good bloke oneday. It was definately the singing that got on my tits. Much too contrived. Oh a special mention for Mo Sesay who was magnificent......a Harewood in the making.

There were some good things about this but the annoying things were SO annoying that I have to think hard to remember.

04 March 2007

An Oak Tree by Tim Crouch

Hypnotist - Tim Crouch
Father - Janet McTeer

Directed by Tim Crouch, Karl James & a smith with the sound designed by Peter Gill.

Seen on the last night of it's run at the Soho Theatre

I have been very nervous that one of my absolute faves might have done a stint in this but it is impossible to know in advance. As it turned out I think I was really lucky. Janet is an amazing actress and I had inadvertantly sat in the second row, behind her seat. Her shoulders are beyond broad and she looks like a fully articulated, cantilevered building.

A conundrum. I was aware that the playtext was for sale but it would have been madness to buy and read before the performance. It relied on the audience not really knowing what to expect. However, I was itching to see if every word uttered was scripted (and it pretty much was) because it seemed so fresh. Tim reminds me of Mark Ravenhill with slightly less ego intervention. He is confident and boundlessly charming but there is a gentle vulnerability about him and if you burrow deep enough to find his eyes they are full of mischievous passion.

The premise is inspired. Apparently a comedy but in fact a hopelessly heart wrenching search for resolution.

Far too clever for me to go into detail now.......

Celeb in the audience: Stephen Moyer

03 March 2007

The Seagull by Anton Chekov in a version by Christopher Hampton

Arkadina – Kristen Scott Thomas
Konstantin - – Mackennzie Crook
Sorin – Peter Wight
Nina - Carey Mulligan
Shamraev - Paul Jesson
Polina - Denise Black
Masha – Katherine Parkinson
Trigorin - Chiwetel Ejiofor
Dorn - Art Malik
Medvedenko – Pearce Quigley
Yakov - Christopher Patrick Nolan
Maid – Mary Rose

Directed by Ian Rickson and designed by Hildegard Bechtler

During this version’s premiere run at the Royal Court - B6

A remarkable vision of this play. I felt a sense of duty when I bought the tickets because I had seen Ben Whishaw's Konstantin only a few months ago and it was hard to imagine Mr Crook in the role.....very hard. I now see that in this ensemble he was perfectly cast. I think everyone was and right down to the detail of the maid. All the bustling attendant staff had been jetisoned for this one lower servant and a couple of higher standing. There was more than enough going on in the play to not need their choreography.

The most astonishing thing was this was all played for laughs until act three. It worked marvelously well. It was a blessing to see Kristen Scott Thomas instead of Juliet Stephenson. I know I shouldn't compare and I really can't because my seat at the Lyttleton was several yards farther from the stage than I was tonight (perhaps a little too close!).

This was the most engaging production of The Seagull I have ever seen (and I have witnessed Dame Judy Dench & Bill Nighy in my time). I can always trust Christopher Hampton (with the possible exception of that film he directed).

Celeb in the audience:- Stephen Campbell Moore.

01 March 2007

There Came a Gypsy Riding by Frank McGuiness

Bridget – Eileen Atkins
Louise – Elaine Cassidy
Simon – Aiden McArdle
Margaret – Imelda Staunton
Leo – Ian McElhinney

Directed by Michael Attenborough
Designed by Robert Jones

During it’s premiere run at the Almeida G7

Great cast and a really fun bitter sweet piece. A family dealing with the death of a son three years on. Anger, sorrow, pragmatism and a touch of denial. I careful study of family with just the right amount of humour.

20 February 2007

Boeing, Boeing by Marc Camoletti
and Beverley Cross

Gloria - Tamsin Outhwaite,
Bernard - Roger Allam
Bertha - Frances de la Tour
Robert - Mark Rylance
Gabriella - Daisy Beaumont
Gretchen - Michelle Gomez

Directed by Matthew Warchus
Designed by Rob Howell

This version in it's run at The Comedy Theatre........D6

A comedy of door - a farce, if you will. Not something I would normally rush to see but the cast list and director were too much of a pull.

Mark and Michelle stole the show for me but that is high praise amongst some wonderful performance. The set was in a glorious tri-crhome arrangment playing on those ice-cream colours of a globe.

Mark's perspiration bothered me but all credit to Tamzin who had to prolong a snog through it.

I had a really good laugh and the time flew by.

Celeb in the audience : Maria Aitken, Chris Morris and I think Anastasia Hille

13 February 2007

The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter

Ben - Jason Isaacs
Gus - Lee Evans

Directed by Harry Burton
Designed by Peter McKintosh

The Trafalgar Studio 1 - C7

Sharp and thoroughly entertaining. I am sure they stole each other's lines a couple of times but they seemed to recover. Jason looked the part - underworld spiv......I was a bit distressed by his palour. Lee was fine and they took three curtain calls.

We had a small child in the audience who didn't understand the contract an audience makes with each other and the performers but in some ways that added to the show.

Only criticism, the end black-out didn't work. It wasn't crisp enough or perhaps the timing was just off.

Celeb in the audience:- nil that I saw, very poor !

10 February 2007

Happy Days by Samuel Beckett

Winnie - Fiona Shaw
Willie - Tim Potter

Directed by Deborah Warner
Set Designed by Tom Pye

In it's short 2007 run at the Cottesloe E15

So much to thrill in this. It is impossible to take your eyes off Fiona, lost as she is in a barren rocky landscape. She had a big black bag like mine, full of things. Sam Shepherd and his daughter? were in the audience in house seats so near my standby.

It’s very bright when you first go in. Not great for my eyes and I was quite near the front (immediately behind the cheap seats) so I had to adjust to the glare. It certainly gave the impression of arid inescapable desert. I was amused that to pass some time she hummed the tune to the Archers at the start of the day. I wonder I that was in Beckett’s original text.

They played the Happy Days (Fonz)theme as we went into the interval.

Overwhelmingly delightful.

Celeb in the audience : Sam Shepherd

Man of Mode by George Etherege

Dormiant - Tom Hardy
Medley - Bertie Carvel
Handy - Thomas Goodridge
Young Bellair - Amit Shah
Old Bellair - Madhav Sharma
Lady Towlney - Shelly King
Emilia - Abby Ford
Mrs Loveit - Nancy Carroll
Belinda - Hayley Atwell
Pert - Penny Ryder
Harriet - Amber Agar
Lady Woodvill - In dira Joshie
Busy - Sharon Maharaj
Sir Fopling Flutter - Rory Kinnear
Foggy Nan - Sarah Annis
Barman - Tim Lewis
Assistant at Loveit's shop - Lizzie Winkler
Customers at Loveit's shop - Meryl Fernandes, Sheena Irving, Lorraine Stewart
John Trott - Peter Caulfield
La Tour - Jamie Bradley
Driver - Ralph Birtwell
Photographer - Mark Tinter
Mr Smirk - Neil D'Souza

Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Designed by Vicki Mortimer

In it's 2007 run at the glorious Olivier O42

Rory Kinnear is magnificent and the audience loved him. It actually much easier to do that OTT stuff (a bit like Charles Surface) but he still wore it well. The costumes and sets were glorious. Mrs Loveit’s red dress could not have effectively be worn by many people but Nancy looked amazing. Tom Hardy is a beautiful thing. He’s so relaxed and despite his annoying boyishness he is sexy, Bertie was naughy which adds to my respect for his repertoire. Fantastic choreography and music during the scene changes – one of which got an applause.

Celeb in the audience : Mark Gatiss

05 February 2007

Waves by Virginia Woolf & The Company

Kate Duchene
Michael Gould
Anastasia Hille
Kristin Hutchinson
Sean Jackson
Liz Kettle
Paul Ready
Jonah Russell

Directed by Katie Mitchell
Designed by Vicki Mortimer

In it's 2006/7 premiere run at the Cottesloe C20

The night started well because the man picking up his ticket in front of me was Michael Sheen, beaming away as always. What a happy soul and with good reason right now.

I was initially annoyed that the only seat I could get was on the captioned night because it is so distracting but luckily my seat was too far forward and on the other side so I could hardly see it. However, there were moments during the production when I found it handy to double check the intention of the sound effect.

This is a remarkable production. In simple form, the company are reading Virginia Woolf's book but it seems to start almost like a radio dramatisation with people making noises to match other actions. In the first half here are two video cameras on sticks and one mounted from direction above to look down the middle of a run of four tressle tables. Behind the tables there is a back projection screen.

The company interchange their roles between the visual and the audio characters. I am hopelessly inadequate to explain this. They operate the cameras and perform the details of the story visually but the dialogue and inner thoughts of the characters portrayed are voiced somewhere else on the stage. The choreography of the front of camera action is incredible because so much of it is in extreme close up…..no room for mistakes. They make their marks every time. It wouldn't work if they missed.

In the second half one of the cameras is off sticks and hand held on a steering wheel mount. Some of these shots are even more amazing that the first half.

The piece itself is heartbreaking and passionate. There are little pockets of humour and they are carried off wonderfully. I am so annoyed I saw this so late in the run. I would like to see it again but not so soon and it closes on Thursday. It's a one off – like a Robert Lepage event. Sigh.................

I should look at some detailed reviews to see if they have found a way to articulate this experience.

Celeb in the audience : Michael Sheen