31 May 2008

Harper Regan by Simon Stephens

Harper Regan - Lesley Sharp
Elwood Barnes - Michael Mears
Tobias RIch - Troy Glasgow
Seth Regan - Nick Sidi
Sarah Regan - Jessica Raine
Justine Ross - Jessica Harris
Mickey Nestor - Jack Deam
James Fortune - Brian Capron
Alison Woolley - Susan Brown
Duncan Woolley - Eamon Boland
Mahesh Aslam - Nitin Kundra

Directed by Marianne Elliott
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler
Seen at the Cottesloe during it's world premiere run on a standby ticket in F31
Actress in the audience name escapes me for now.
The choreography of this set is an example of my conviction that it was the chippies that let down Ms Bechtler's set at the Almeida. This was pure, simple, effective and poetic in itself.The production has a great deal to say and Harper takes an odd journey that I am still trying to piece together. All the performers were giving everything they had with wonderful little cameos as she wandered through her personal trauma.

29 May 2008

Piranha Heights by Philip Ridley

Alan - Nicholas Tennant
Terry - Matthew Wait
Lilly - Jade Williams
Medic - John Macmillan
Garth - Luke Treadaway

Directed by Lisa Goldman
Designed by Jon Bausor

In it's premiere run at the Soho Theatre. I saw Alison Steadman in the bar but I don't think she watched the play

A remarkable piece, covering so many issues not the least of which was challenging drama. Michael Coveney had this to say and he sums it up wonderfully. So I may come back with thoughts later but I may not.

24 May 2008

Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen
(version by Mike Poulton)

Rebecca West - Helen McCrory
Mrs Helsketh - Veronica Quilligan
Doctor Croll - Malcolm Sinclair
Johannes Rosmer - Paul Hilton
Ulrik Brendel - Paul Moriarty
Peder Mortensgaard - Peter Sullivan

Directed by Anthony Page
Designed by Hildegard Bechtler

Seen during the premiere run of this version at the Almeida A9.
Celebs in the audience: Penelope Wilton & Gemma Jones.

Really fabulous version that romped along at a perfectly judged pace. Performaces were really good throughout though I think I detected a couple of deftly fielded stumbles from Paul. Peter has the shortest stage time of the evening but some of the most laughter inducing lines delivered with his usual dry wit. Both ladies glided from terse pragmatism through to heart wrenching sorrow.

There can never be enough of Paul Moriarty and Malcolm Sinclair's performance was reassuringly effortless.
I did have a couple of issues with the set though and I hope this was due to a bit of hasty work from the construction team rather than Hildegard's design.
As a silly aside, somebody in the front row had her phone in a noisy plastic bag and it went off within 5 minutes of 'curtain up'. She did not turn it off but proceeded to fumble and send a text, treating everyone behind her to a glowing torch effect from her screen and noisy interference to her nearest neighbours. She was completely oblivious to the diversion she was causing the audience AND the cast and proceeded to talk to her companion. I admire her total lack of ego but it was an horrible way to start the production. She eventually left the auditorium at a totally inappropriate and unconsidered moment a few minutes later and I had to assume she had some family crisis. Nonetheless, I did breathe a sigh of relief.

At least three more phones rang out during this performance. How hard can it be?

20 May 2008

The Vortex by Noel Coward

Preston - Vivien Keene
Helen Saville - Phoebe Nicholls
Pauncefort Quentin - Barry Stanton
Clara Hibbert - Annette Badland
Florence Lancaster - Felicity Kendal
Tom Veryan - Daniel Pirrie
Nicky Lancaster - Dan Stevens
David Lancaster - Paul Ridley
Bunty Mainwaring - Cressida Trew
Bruce Fairlight - Timothy Speyer

Directed by Peter Hall
Designed by Alison Chitty

At the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue H 4

I came to see young Dan but with certain reservations because I saw the wonderful production from 1989 with Rupert Everett and Maria Aitken. This production didn't really come close.

The set design was neither here nor there. It wasn't a luxurious set like Present Laughter at the National but then it was not so stunningly minimal. There was an awful gap behind the door which was too narrow to be a statement and just looked like a clumsy mistake.
I was not expecting Felicity Kendal to give a delicate performance and the role doesn't call for it but she was so irritating. She looked like she was wearing those support knickers though she was tiny. Dan did not convey a young man with a vice to me at all. He was lovely but not the way I wanted to see Nicky played. Phoebe Nicholls was probably the best judged performance except that I struggled to hear her sometimes. Annette Badland was suitably annoying and got a lot of the laughs.

Costumes were delicious.

19 May 2008

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan - Vanessa Redgrave

Directed by David Hare
Designed by Bob Crowley

seen during it's UK premiere run at the Lyttelton. F 20

Celeb in the audience :Sara Stewart who also ligged her way into the WOS Post Show Discussion - cheeky!
I am at something of a loss to know what to write. I don't know why I found it so easy to watch this woman indulgently explore her trauma in front of me but it was mesmerising. That we were then able to see the actress as herself afterwards only served to add to the magic.

15 May 2008

Hello & Goodbye by Athol Fugard

Hester - Saskia Reeves
Rafe Spall - Johnny

Directed by Paul Robinson
Designed by Libby Watson

Seen by the skin of my teeth in the last week of the run B 21 of the tiny Trafalgar 2.
No celeb in the audience but I think we had the producer and her Mum & Dad. Bless

I've stood next to Rafe often enough to have a feel for his height and had no idea that Saskia was QUITE so tiny. She hardly reached is shoulder in her back-combed 60's hairdo. What I would have given to have seen her Beatrice with Matthew Macfadyen's Benedick towering over her all those years ago. She still looks stunning and so powerful.
Rafe was amazing. They both were. The accent wandered a little and in some ways, it might have been better to modify the script for England but there is an element that was peculiar to SA in the 60's so perhaps not.

This was a really juicy piece for them to get their teeth into. I felt there was probably one set piece too many and the 'don't wake up Dad' thing was wearing since it was obvious rather early on that there was no Dad to wake.

An interesting afternoon and worth it just to see the performances.

08 May 2008

The City by Martin Crimp

Chris - Benedict Cumberbatch
Claire - Hattie Morahan
Jenny - Amanda Hale
Girl - Matilda Castrey

Directed by Katie Mitchell
Designed by Vicky Mortimer

In it's premier run at the Royal Court Downstairs in C8.
I didn't see anyone in I knew in the audience.

The WOS roundup gives a few mixed feelings and reservations. I have the impression that the production has moved on since the Press Night and I say that because of comments made during the post show talk.

I could quite easily see this again. I love ALL of the performances including the girl playing the 8 year old daughter. My companion noted that it was a different girl for the press night so one can only wonder if Ruby Douglas is even better than Matilda (who I saw).

This is a complicated play that twists around in a way simliar to Bliss but the lines and change in balance are slightly more clearly defined. I shall read the text and see if I can survive without seeing it again.

Young Matilda also made a delightful, crowd pleasing contribution to the post show talk......and Mr Crimp allowed us to believe he bared his soul....a tiny bit.

07 May 2008

Tinderbox by Lucy Kirkwood

John/John Junior Junior/ Dixon - Nigel Betts
Perchik - Bryan Dick
Saul - Jamie Foreman
John Junior/ Dixon/ Detective Prawn - Sartaj Garewal
Vanessa - Sheridan Smith

directed by Josie Rourke
designed by Lucy Osborne
Unreserved seating in the newly benched Bush Theatre.

I really enjoyed the performances but the structure of the play seemed messy to me. There were lame verbal jokes that fell dead and the ones that worked were more visual and down to the good acting. It became repulsive and silly and didn't seem to know i it wanted to be a social statement or a farce. I am sure the two CAN work together but this needs a bit more fine tuning.

The new seats are high as reported elsewhere but I didn't mind that. I'd rather have room to extend my leg than have to sit sideways.

06 May 2008

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Butch Honeywell - Shane Attwooll
Henrietta Iscariot - Amanda Boxer
Uncle Pino/Pontius Pilates - Ron Cephas Jones
Sigmund Freud/Saint Thomas - Josh Cohen
Gloria/Mother Theresa - Dona Croll
Caiaphas the Elder - Gawn Grainger
Satan (Lou) - Douglas Henshall
Jesus of Nazareth - Edward Hogg
Judge/Saint Peter - Corey Johnson
Yusef El-Fayoumy - Mark Lockyer
Fabiana Aziza Cunningham - Susan Lynch
Baillif/Simon the Zealot - John Macmillan
Judas - Joseph Mawle
Mary Magdalene - Poppy Miller
Saint Monica/Loretta/Sister Glenna - Jessika Williams

Directed by Rupert Goold and designed by Anthony Ward.

Seen in the last week of it's UK premiere at The Almeida with a happy 'first' for me in the front of the circle (the ideal place for this play)

Celeb in the audience: Charles Dance and Sam West but NOT together! We also saw a dog collar behind us and I wondered if it's that guy who has the blog........

Amazing production ..........more later.............


03 May 2008

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza translated by Christopher Hamilton

Alain Reille - Ralph Feinnes
Annette Reille - Tamsin Greig
Veronique Vallon - Janet McTeer
Michel Vallon - Ken Stott

Directed by Mathew Warchus
Designed by Mark Thompson

Seen during it's limited run at the Gielgud in the center of the Grand Circle C21

Every line a winner and a fabulous set design. The chairs were a bit incongruous but I could see why they were chosen. The translation was joyful and it was perfectly performed to a grateful and collaborative audience.

02 May 2008

Branded by Simon Bent

Ben - Tam Williams
Bob - Ian Redford
Mr Lai - Daniel York
Charles - Corey Johnson
Bridget, Rox's Mother - Claire Gordon
Rox - Sally Amaka Okafor
SU-Lin, Tang's Mother - Uma Bussarapom Thongman
Tang - Seong Park
Melon - David Waddington
Desmond - Aaron Andrew Anderson
Ryan - Rakim Young
Clare- Katharine Bennett-Fox
Chinese Workers - Shu-Yu Chin, Oma Dapul, William Mychael Lee
Xang - Hugo Trebels
Henry - Tom Wood
Wang - Billy Sy
Flight Attendant - Ralph Bogard
Serena - Anniwaa Buachie
Jed - Alex Felton
Sarah - Cassandra Harwood
Leo - James Baldwin
Amy - Lisa Devlin
Candy - Harriet Chatfield
Loz - Robin Berry
Joyce/Solicitor - Anne Rabbit
Zhou - Helen Russell-Clark
Yardley - Paul Joseph
Hunter - Shaka Bunsie

Lead Dancer - Aline David
Dancer - Clinton Baugh
Jubal Carbon
Joseph Appiah-Danquah
Kemi Durosinmi
Stephanie Frances O'Brien
Katie Lowe
Emily Mondo
Seth Nicolsey
Stefan Puxon
Bobby Joel Stearns
Miguel Hernando Torres Umba

Musicians - Tom Wood & Francesco Corallini

Choir - Victoria Holtom, Vanessa Mansaray, Mariesa Clarek, Jacqueline Michelle, Elizabeth Ngero, Nicole McKenzie

Director - Matt Wilde
Associate Director & Choreographer - Aletta Collins
Set & Video Designer - Lorna Heavey
Original Music & Sound Design - Ben & Max Ringham

I saw the third of only five performances of this piece at the Old Vic. Seats were free so by the time I booked I had a rubbish one (D12 of the Dress Circle) but the dance stuff was probably better viewed from the circle so I'm cool about it.

You should probably read more about this here

Whilst I enjoyed elements of this, with special note for the raucous audience, I think this was far too clunky in it's efforts to be worthy and down with the kids. Simon has a solid body of well crafted work to his credit but this felt like something more akin to your favourite school drama teacher writing something for the end of term. Perhaps I am just old old to watch so many young people on stage but I certainly didn't get that feeling during the wonderful trilogy at the National last month. Perhaps that was due to the direction there of Paul Miller, who handled Simon Bent's translation of Elling so masterfully. This is not a dig at Matt Wilde because I have also enjoyed his work. I wonder if the whole thing just needs more time.

There were some fun set pieces but I feel this piece needs a lot more work to articulate the message more concisely. I'm not saying it was too long but it seemed to lunge along in fits and starts and felt messy.