25 February 2008

The Lover/The Collection by Harold Pinter

The Lover
Richard - Richard Coyle
Sarah - Gina McKee
John - Charlie Cox

The Collection
Harry - Timothy West
James - Richard Coyle
Stella - Gina McKee
Bill - Charlie Cox

Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Glimour

seen on the What's On Stage outing night to the Comedy Theatre with my sister. We were the most famous people in the audience! Seat F20

Gorgeous production. All the performances were outstanding and apparently this is young Charlie Cox's professional stage debut. He glided through like an old hand but clearly benefited for the combined experience of the rest of the cast.

The Lover is delicious in it's ambiguity and the actors carried that through so cleverly. The Collection was not quite as well formed IMO but still a treat to watch. The kitten was rubbish but the bongos from The Lover made up for that!

The after show Q & A with the cast was interesting but we were quite taken aback that the host seemed quite niaive about the craft. It's possible he was dumbing down for the audience but I'm not so sure. The only people in the audience who 'asked questions' were either asleep during the performance and the start of the Q & A or just turned up to listen to the sound of thier own voice grandstanding about some spurious connection the perceived they had with the play or the cast.

23 February 2008

La Cage aux Folles by Jerry Jerman and Harvey Fierstein

Georges - Philips Quast
Francis - Sebastian Torkia
Jacob - Jason ennycooke
Albin - Douglas Hodge
Jean-Michel - Neil McDermott
Anne - Alicia Davies
Jacqueline - Tara Hugo
M Renaud - Iain Mitchell
Mme Renaud - Una Stubbs
Etienne - Philip Riley
Colette - Kay Murphy
Tabarro = Mark Insco
Edouard Dindon - Iain Mitchell
Mme Dindon - Una Stubbs
'Les Cagelles'
Chantal - Nolan Frederick
Hanna - Nicholas Cunningham
Mercedes - Spencer Stafford
Bitelle - Kay Murphy
Angelique - Mark Johnson Richardson
Phaedra - Steven Cleverley sranding in for Lee Ellis

Directed by Terry Johnson
Designed by David Farley

seen in the tiny space at the Menier Chocolate Factory where I bypassed the tables and chairs at the front for a seat in the second tier of the unreserved seating.

A completely magical night out. From the ambient perfume they were pumping into the room to the improbably ambitious set for such a small place

I'm not a musicals person but you can't bring Douglas Hodge onto the stage without my wanting to take a peek. Staging this at the Menier was another huge pull though I don't really like the worry of scrapping over a good seat as they are unreserved.

In front of the first row of the raked seating they had left just enough room for some cabaret style tables and chairs. I think there were about 5 of them. I was unsure if a couple of the people taking those seats had already agreed to take the brunt of interaction.

Where do I start? As we feverishly tried to be first through the door as soon as they were unshackled we were transported through a short tunnel clad in fabric and fairy lights. So pretty and you immediately knew you were in for an experiential evening.

Introduced by Georges, Les Cagelles did some wonderful routines and we had to wait quite a while before sampling the delights of Douglas in beautiful not-quite-elegant drag.

A sweet pantomime of a story and it must have been such shame that the cast were too poorly to make this the Christmas sensation it should have been.

I guess if you don't like performances in your lap, you would hate this but don't avoid it just because you don't like music based shows because few of the songs are contrived and most of them are set piece routines within the night club scenes.

22 February 2008

The Homecoming by Harold Pinter

Max - Kenneth Cranham
Lenny - Nigel Lindsay
Sam - Anthony O'Donnell
Joey - Danny Dyer
Teddy - Neil Dudgeon
Ruth - Jenny Jules

Directed by Michael Attenborough
Designed by Jonathan Fensom

This production seen on a last minute return at the Almeida seat A9

I have seen several productions of this piece and it seems different every time. I loved all of the cast though the weakest link was Jenny Jules. That's a shame because Pinter's women are so interesting and powerful. I felt this opportunity was somewhat lost tonight. I don't remember what I have seen Anthony O'Donnell doing before but he was wonderful as the uncle. Ken was gloriously grotesque and the sons were so diverse and well formed. They all worked so well together.

19 February 2008

Ring Round the Moon by Jean Anouith & adapted by Christopher Fry

Emily Bruni - Lady India
Fiona Button - Isabelle
Joanna David - Capulat
Elisabeth Dermot Walsh - Diana
Peter Eyre - Joshua
JJ Feild - Hugo/Frederic
Andrew Havill - Patrice
Belinda Lang - Mother
Leigh Lawson - Messerschmann
John Ramm - Romainville
Angela Thorne - Madam Desmortes

Directed by Sean Mathias
Designed by Colin Richmond & Mark Henderson

Seen on it's press night at The Playhouse in seat A9

It would be pointless to mention all the actors in the audience. All of the cast had at least one relative there!

The atmosphere and performances on a press night are not totally representative of how it would be under other circumstances but I was not in such a hurry to see this so when a virtually free ticket popped up, I grabbed it.

The plot is a familiar format but I found the way it was presented was messy and incoherent. The audience needed to be grabbed from the start but the first 30 minutes where so clunky in their exposition that I struggled to keep my eyes open. Should I lay the blame at the feet of the late Mr Fry or Mr Mathias? It is to everyone's credit to say that I was able to re-engage for the second act as we got into the real plot and the actors were able to display their real purpose.

I thought Angela Thorne and Peter Eyre were fine. I want to add Leigh Lawson to that list but he is so gorgeous that I cannot trust my objectivity. I found the accent thing a little patronising but perhaps they are aiming at the populist audience.

The set really bothered me to the point of distraction. We were persistently asked to believe we were in the domain of wealthy people but this gazebo or whatever had a sort of laboured dilapidation. It was nicely minimal but incongruent lighting presumably installed to inform the audience of the time of day were pointedly badly maintained and a ridiculous cross member right over the centre arch was left at a jaunty angle. I was convinced this was some terrible error which would be rectified in the interval but I am informed that this is a feature of the set design.

I wasn't expecting an overly culturally fulfilling experience but this was sadly mediocre for my taste. Audience watching was fun though!

Oh -I have one last comment and I know it is probably trite but I was amused at the way JJ Feild curtain called both of his characters. Nicely done albeit rather silly.