30 April 2008

Brief Encounter by Noel Coward and adapted by Emma Rice

Laura - Naomi Frederick
Myrtle - Tamzin Griffin
Beryl - Amanda Lawrence
Stanley - Stuart McLoughlin
Ensemble - Jess Murphy
Musician - Adam Pleeth
Ensemble - Adam Randall
Musician - Ian Ross
Alex - Tristan Sturrock
Fred/Albert - Andy Williams

Director and Adapter - Emma Rice
Designer - Neil Murray

Seen with the blue-rinse-crowd on a Wednesday afternoon in a lovely seat H 26 but I don't think there ARE any bad seats.

So much to commend this production but my viewing was marred by a cackling witch sitting in the row behind me. People on either side of me moved elsewhere in the interval. It was made worse by the laughter being at totally inappropriate moments which broke any mood of romance and some very clever set devices.

This is a magical production from the moment you approach the building. A wonderful old cinema in it's usual guise, it has been propped with old film cans and strewn with red roses everywhere to put you in the mood for nostalgia and romance as soon as you come into the foyer. The bar was littered with old style cups and saucers.

The stage is a huge open space gently draped with audience and comfy seats. With about 10 minutes to go before curtain up, the cast (all of whom seemed to be talented musicians, singers and dancers) serenaded the audience to their seats with the songs of Noel Coward.

A simple set worked very cleverly to facilitate each scene and the cast were superb in their roles. During the intervals, scones were distributed through the audience. Grab your twin-set and pearls and head for a one-stop entertainment shop.

15 April 2008

Shoot, Get Treasure, Repeat
Double Bill by Mark Ravenhill

Fear and Misery
Harry - Joseph Millson
Olivia - Joanna Riding
Soldier - Burn Gorman
Alex - Lewis Lemprereur-Palmer

War and Peace
Soldier - Burn Gorman
Alex - Lewis Lemprereur-Palmer

Directed by Dominic Cooke
Designed by Nicki Brown

Performed in the soft area and the green room area of the bar at the Royal Court theatre.

It's interesting to see something performed in a space with which I am so familiar for it's customary use as a bar.

Fear and Misery transformed the soft area into a simply stylish dining area which immediately introduced the audience to the uptight unease of the dining couple as they discussed the welfare of their marriage and child. Very slick banter back and forth as the paranoia mounts. The introduction of the Soldier was wonderfully creepy and I later discovered that revelation was a different experience depending upon whereabouts in the audience you were standing (or for the more agile, squatting & kneeling)

We stood next to Mark Ravenhill and Dominic moved in the shadows of the pillars behind.

War and Peace moved us like a promenade to what is often used as a Green Room. An ante-chamber left in it's original state when gleaned from the underground train part of the reclaimed space. The Soldier visits Alex in his bed and you would go a long way to find a more accomplished performance from a young boy under such intimate circumstances.

A very special evening.

14 April 2008

Bliss (Felicite) by Olivier Choiniere & translated by Caryl Churchill

Oracle - Hayley Carmichael
Cosmetic Salesperson - Brid Brennan
Display Assistant - Justin Salinger
Manager - Neil Dudgeon

Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins
Designed by Jeremy Herbert

This version performed upstairs at the Royal Court with no interval and no seat allocation.

I saw two films yesterday but now, two weeks later I cannot remember much about them to write my notes!

We were all given ASDA tabards with the name 'Oracle' and the title 'Cashier' on the badge. When the curtain came back we were looking at three actors strangely framed who had the same tabards but their badges read in reverse. We were looking into a huge mirror and behind them were the cubicles of a public toilet we presume to be in the staff area of an ASDA store. It all worked very well.

This was so clever that the main device crept up on me and snuck into the back door of my brain. Apparently about the intensity of fandom and the lines it can cross, then at some point which even after much deliberation, I cannot quite place in the time-line, it takes a more sinister, real-life turn. It's an odd but thought provoking piece and I think Caryl Churchill was an inspired choice for the translation.

10 April 2008

Birth of a Nation by Mark Ravenhill

Writer - Megan Dodds
Painter - Monica Dolan
Performer - Toby Jones
Dancer - Pearce Quigley
Woman - Badira Timimi

Directed by Ramin Gray

Seen during the wonderful Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat season being staged at four different venues around London this week. It was free seating but I think we went for the middle of row B

I have already seen 6 of these at the Hampstead Theatre last year.

Sadly, this event was one concept too far for your average punter so there were last minute tickets pretty much being given away and the house was heavily papered. We saw Corin Redgrave, Neil Dudgeon, Justin Salinger, Mel Kenyon and Mark himself (does that count?). There were several other faces there whose names sadly escape me.

I do sometimes have my issues with Ramin but the way he handled this piece was really very good. He had the cast wander into the auditorium from the front of house and ask for the house lights to be turned on so they could applaud us for turning up which whilst being pertinent to the entire script, was also hilarious given the efforts they had gone to in order to fill the stalls.
Wonderful performances from all of them but it's such a good script. Lots of interrupting each other and ego battles. Lovely little thing where Toby Jones always dismissed what he did as 'art installation bollocks' and Pearce with his dance. I loved this and with a few important adjustments it would work on tv.

07 April 2008

Random by Debbie Tucker Green

Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Teacher
All parts played by Nadine Marshall

Directed by Sacha Wares
Assistant director was Gbolahan Obissan
There was no design

In it's premiere run at the Royal Court downstairs. A8

A marathon of a performance by Ms Marshall, moving so effortlessly from character to character that I got a bit confused at one (but only one) point. A sad tale made all the more poignant because it was told in this start, lonely way. Wonderful