27 July 2008

The Frontline by Ché Walker

Babydoll - Naana Agyei-Ampadu
Jayson - Ben Bishop
Donna - Sally Bretton
Casey - Kellie Bright
Ragdale - Paul Copley
Salim - Kurt Egyiawan
Mordechai Thurrock - Trystan Gravelle
Cockburn - Robert Gwilym
Kurt - Peter Hamilton Dyer
Roderique - Fraser James
Seamus - Paul Lloyd
Mahmoud - Kevork Malikyan
Violet - Jo Martin
Jodie - Jodie McNee
jimmy - Matthew Newtion
Elliot - Ashley Rolfe
Beth - Golda Rosheuvel
Marcus - Mo Sesay
Erkenwald - John Stah
Val - Lorraine Stanley
Miruts - Beru Tessema
Benny - Danny Lee Wynter
Street Fighters - Aaron Gordon, Clifford Lyonette, Matthew Pattimore, Chris Preddie, Luis Valentine, Nicholas Waters, Miles Yekinni

Directed by Matthew Dunster
Designed by Paul Wills

In the audience today we had Dominic Cooke & Alexi Kaye Campbell, Nick Hytner, Zawe Ashton. I also saw that wonderful actor who was in Burn Up......hmm....white hair, practically an institution but escapes my memory!

What's On Stage review roundup.

Great fun and the perfect setting for this kind of energy.

The only downside of this is that the beautiful, funny Sally Bretton is rubbish at doing anything other than posh. She sounded and moved like a female equivalent of Dick Van Dyke's Burt.

24 July 2008

Black Watch by Gregory Burke

Macca - David Colvin
Kenzie - Paul James Corrigan
Stewarty - Ali Craig
Fraz - Emun Elliot
Officer - Jack Fortune
Granty - Jonathan Hot
Writer/Sergeant - Michal Nardone
Rossco - Henry Pettigrew
Cammy - Paul Rattray
Nasby - Nabil Stewart
(Understudy - William Barlow)

A National Theatre of Scotland production Directed by John Tiffany and designed by Laura Hopkins. Movement Direction by Steven Hoggett and Musical Direction by Davey Anderson. I wouldn't normally mention those last two but they are listed as Associate Directors and quite rightly so.

See in a completely reconstructed Barbican theatre (similar to Nick Omerod's staging) during it's short run at the Barbican.

In the audience we had Sir Ian McKellan and a swathy Mediterranean looking friend and A A Gill who, on reflection looks a bit like Jack Fortune.

I am going to spam a load of YouTube links because I can hardly put into words, the beauty of this piece. It is loud, brash, challenging and full of expletives but it feels as though you are listening to poetry whilst being gently pulled through a warm, moonlit stream to the sound of angelic sirens singing.

Some of the physical prop devices are straight out of an homage to Robert Lepage, I hope he got to see it somewhere because he'd love it. The music and movement element was so powerful and given that the piece was based on interviews with real soldiers, to take all the words out of the expression was brave but perfectly judged. I didn't bother to stay dry eyed. It would have been futile.

I was really looking forward to seeing Jack Fortune again. It's probably 20 odd years since I last saw him on stage. He's lost a lot of hair (well, for this production, he would have to) but I think the follicles are still intact and he still has powerful eyes and a softness to his chisled contours.

I'm just going to link this rather than embed in case anyone is offended by challenging language.

The Glasgow Herald prefer not to embed so click here.

we even have making of the set

and finally, a link to an old fave of mine, Jack Fortune

22 July 2008

The Female of the Species by Joanna Murray-Smith

Margo - Eileen Atkins
Molly - Anna Maxwell Martin
Tess - Sophie Thompson
Bryan - Paul Chahidi
Frank - Con O'Neill
Theo - Sam Kelly

Directed by Roger Michell
Designed by Mark Thompson

Seen at the lovely cuddly Vaudeville Theatre (some of the nicest Box Office staff in the whole of the 'old school' West End) at a ridiculously cheap offer from Ticketmaster in D15.

In the audience Mr & Mrs Trevor Eve, Timothy West, Greta Scacchi (turns out she was hot-foot from RIchard & Judy's

I guess you'd call this a modern farce. Funny, a bit shrieky, very witty. Sophie Thompson managed to remain within a hair's breadth of being annoying with her downtrodden neurosis. In fact, it didn't seem neurotic because her delivery made all of Tess's issues seem utterly plausible and understandable. Eileen camped it up deliciously and had the joy of being the only cast member to dress up, rather than down. it's not something she gets to do very often as she is so good in the more down trodden roles. Anna was good and I have not seen her quite so forceful before.

Con was lovely (but I am biased) and I couldn't find a production photo but I had to include this - from rehearsal video.

17 July 2008

Behind The Image compiled and edited by Michael Bhim, Alia Bano & Nina Raine

Please note - in most cases, the character names I have given are my own dubbing. Performers were just given as a random list and several spoke for more than one voice.

Part 1 - compiled and edited by Michael Bhim

Muslim 4 - Nathalie Armin
Policeman - Tom Brooke
Yusef - Ameet Chana
Gay Muslim 2 - Navin Chowdhry
Prim Police woman/Scottish wife of convertee - Ruth Everett
Gay Muslim 1 - Ronny Jhutti
Matthew Marsh - Muslim convertee
Lambeth/West Indian - Nathaniel Martello-White
Somalian born Muslim/UK born Muslim - Peter Polycarpou
Muslim 3 - Shane Zaza

Directed by Dominic Cooke as a thoroughly well rehearsed reading in the Jerwood Upstairs. Part of the 2008 Rough Cuts season

A bit scary because Ronny Jhutti and Navid Chowdhry were in the audience for 30 odd minutes before they got up and became part of the production.

Part 2 - compiled and edited by Alia Bano & Nina Raine

Forthright woman - Stephanie Street
Muslim - Shelley Conn
Young non Hijab wearing - Farzana Dua Elahe
Policewoman - Thusitha Jayasundera
Iraqi role player - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Muslim convertee - Jodie Whittaker

Directed by Nina Raine after a 15 minute interval after which everyone returned to a very hot auditorium.

Playwrights Michael Bhim and Alia Bano interview a diverse cross section of Muslims at the mosque, university, at work and at home, and draw their responses together into revealing and essential tapestry of beliefs, atitudes and perspceives on life in the UK - it says in the programme.

Part one could have been so dull if it weren't for the wonderful performances. So many mezmerising people. Matthew Marsh has such a gorgeous voice and speaks with such gentle authority. Tom Brook has hypnotic eyes and an effortless charm. Shane Zaza held the audience every time he spoke. Peter Polycarpou had a wonderful pace and timing and gorgeous voice. Navin Chowdhry has beautiful eyes too !

Part two suffered from being on second, if you see what I mean. We were hot and full of so many ideas, I am not sure we were ready to see the female point of view but there were six amazing and balanced performances from beautiful women. I was particularly in awe of Thusitha Jayasundera.

I'm not sure if this format could be progressed much further. They had questionaires for the audience but once again, I felt as though I was in a 5 per cent minority of people who did not work in drama. How valid would such responses be? We were all literate liberals who didn't really learn anything new from the piece but enjoyed having our own feelings and impressions endorsed. I am not sure that was the intended purpose.

08 July 2008

Chronic by DC Jackson (Rough Cuts Season)

Mr Gibson - Sean Campion
Lucy - Elaine Cassidy
Man/Doctor Roberts/Fart effect/Mr Gilbert - Tim Frances
Emily(Existential Dread) - Amanda Drew
Phil McKee - Michael Watson
James Cunningham - Bart Fargass(depression)

Rehearsed reading directed by Lyndsey Turner

more later

01 July 2008

The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold

Miss Madrigal - Penelope Wilton
Maitland - Jamie Glover
Second Applicant - Steph Bramwell
Laurel - Felicity Jones
Third Applicant/Nurse - Linda Broughton
Mrs St Maugham - Margaret Tyzack
Olivia - Suzanne Burden
The Judge - Clifford Rose

Directed by Michael Grandage
Designed by Peter McKintosh

Seen during it's revival at the Donmar Warehouse in a chance returned seat D33

Celeb's in the audience (actually all spotted in the street outside) Francesca Annis (whose previous co-star, I saw last night), Lloyd Owen, Frances De La Tour and a journalist whose name evades my memory.
The Donmar is a wonderful space for most wordy dramas and a comedy such as this that relies on visual precision and perfect timing feels as though it were written for the place.

I feel that I must have see the Mills duo film but this incredibly tight and intelligent piece of writing is even more enjoyable with the reactions of an audience who are completely engaged with every moment. That said, I can't think of a medium in which this glorious piece would not work. There must be a radio version out there somewhere. I would even imagine a tolerable version could be presented at the end of the school term.
In the hands of this wonderful director and cast, a joyously witty and intriguing script is elevated to delicious feast for the eyes, ears and brain. I felt like a child in a sweet shop, not quite knowing where to look for the next nugget of thrill.