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.