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.