27 March 2008

Never So Good by Howard Brenton

Young Harry Crookshank : Ben Addis
Smithson : Jonathan Battersby
Anthony Eden : Anthony Calf
Young Harold Macmillan : Pip Carter
Nellie Macmillan : Anna Carteret
Dorothy Macmillan : Anna Chancellor
Selwyn Lloyd : Peter Forbes
Dwight D. Eisenhower : Clive Francis
Ronald Knox : Tim Frances
Bob Boothby : Robert Glenister
Neville Chamberlain : Terrence Hardiman
Ensemble : Sarah Head
Harold Macmillan : Jeremy Irons
Ensemble : Sioned Jones
Ensemble : Anne Kavanagh
Sgt. Robinson : Nicholas Lumley
Winston Churchill : Ian McNeice
Ensemble : Charlotte Melia
Ensemble : Roger Ringrose
Ensemble : Janet Spencer-Turner
Older Harry Crookshank : Terence Wilton
Ensemble : Claire Winsper
Ensemble : Rupert Young

Directed by Howard Davies
Designed by Vikki Mortimer

See during it's debut run at the Lyttelton Theatre on the day after press night, with post-show discussion including Howard Brenton & Jeremy Irons K11(which was better than anticiapted)
Notables in the theatre: Roger Allam, Mark Kermode and that NNR fella who always has to look at his notes while talking and pretending to not look at his notes - name dismissed from memory

Like JF Kennedy, Macmillan lived his life in constant pain acquired from his heroics in The Great War. We needed to know how dramatic this was. We needed to know about his dalliance with another boy when he was at Eton but for some reason the first 30 minutes of this play seemed to drift a little. Then Anna Chancellor lit up the stage and proceedings stepped up from then on.

In the way that only Howard Brenton can manage we have a tender portrayal of a clever man. Every scene displays his loyalty, integrity and pragmatism whilst showing the heart of the man.

I found the audience around me rather embarrassing and didn't know why they laughed at some lines. There was wit there but I found it in different places. I loathed the musical interludes, not for their content but for they way they were handled and was further angered when I heard some woman say they were the only good bits.

It's my own problem, I know but it turned my stomach when Jeremy Irons kissed Anna but I was salved when she had a go with lovely Robert Glenister. Sadly, he only has one vaguely meaty scene. They needed to cast an actor of his calibre but I felt he was underused. He wore a fat suit that helped him to adopt a stance that reminded me of my father. Anthony Calf was glorious and I could watch him forever. He probably gave the strongest performance. I couldn't really hear Mr Irons half the time and I think the arena was too big for him but young Pip Carter was a real stage actor.

There was a huge bang at the end of the second act and fortunately, I had been resting my eyes at the time because I felt a surge of warmth on my face as you do when you approach a bonfire.