23 August 2008

Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton

Timon - Simon Paisley Day
Poet/Caphis - Michael Matus
Printer/Creditors' Servants - Michael Jibson
Merchant/Servilius, Timon's Servant - Christopher Brandon
Jeweller/Flaminius, Timon's Servant - Peter Bankole
Messenger/Sepronius/Bandit - Sam Parks
Old Athenian/First Senator/Creditors' Servant - Robert Goodale
Lucilius, A Servant/Lucius/Bandit - Jonathan Bond
Apermantus - Bo Poraj
Flavius, Timon's Steward - Patrick Godfrey
Alcibiades - Gary Oliver
Alcibiades's Friend/Creditors' Servant/Bandit - Vinicius Salles
Lucullus/Bandit - Adam Burton
Ventioius/Bandit - Oliver Boot
Second Senator/Creditors' Servants - Richard Clews
Third Senator - Frank Scantori
Cupid - Fernanda Prata
Phrynia - Pippa Nixon
Timandra - Laura Rogers
Amazon - Bethan Walker
Amazo - Sian Williams

Directed by - Lucy Bailey
Designed by William Dudley

If I was going to see this anywhere, the best chance I had of getting any form of enjoyment would be by seeing it at The Globe and I was not disappointed. It should have been dull and hard going but largely due to the contributions from Bo Poraj, Simon Paisley Day and Patrick Godfrey it was tragic fun.

Attended the very interesting Talking Theatre Q&A with Bo and Patrick afterwards. More late?

21 August 2008

Under The Blue Sky by David Eldridge

Nick - Chris O'Dowd
Helen - Lisa Dillon
Michelle - Catherine Tate
Graham - Dominic Rowan
Anne - Francesca Annis
Robert - Nigel Lindsay

Directed by Anna Mackmin
Designed by Lez Brotherston

We sat in the front of the circle which gave a brilliant view but punishing for comfort. Nicholas Grace made a last minute entrance to sit next to us which for some unaccountable reason made me feel even more self conscious about moving to ease the pain.

I had wanted to see a full production of this because I had really enjoyed the reading held at the Royal Court a couple of years ago. I was disappointed when the cast was announced for a couple of reasons but Mr O'Dowd is reason enough to turn up. However, my response to the suggestion that I went along was luke warm for quite a while. I had tried to avoid reviews as always but couldn't help absorbing a less than glowing vibe from out there in the theatreland ether.

All that said, I was joyfully surprised in the actual event. I had decided that I could not justify full price (when do I EVER do that ?) so I had resigned myself to get a TKTS special. What's On Stage have evenings that often amount to the same cost but often with a programme and Q&A thrown in. This was one of those and it made the evening much more satisfying.

First of all, this felt like a totally different play to the one I saw read a couple of years ago. So much so that I doubted my recall but both productions gave as much satisfaction. Three vignettes of relationships but all complete enough to give satisfaction........and I will say that they were perfectly cast.

The Q & A was very entertaining with Chris's effortless and uncontrollable humorous interjections moving things around to great effect and the best thing was that we were able to move downstairs to seats that had more respect for the 21st century human form. Jolly good fun all round.

12 August 2008

Her Naked Skin by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Celia Cain - Lesley Manville
William Cain - Adrian Rawlins
Eve Douglas - Jemima Rooper
Florence Boorman - Susan Engel
Mrs Schliefke - Pamela Merrick
Emma Wilding Davidson - Zoe Aldrich

House of Commons
Herbert Asquith - David Beames
Miss Brint - Harriet Quarrie
John Seely - Julian Ball
Augustine Birrell - Ken Bones
Edward Grey - Simon Markey
Keir Hardie - Robert Wilcox

Holloway Prison
Potter - Tony Turner
Mrs Briggs - Stephanie Jacob
Doctor Vale - Dermot Kerrigan
Doctor Parker - Nick Malinowski
Nurse - Erica Daly
Young Nurse - Stephanie Thomas
Wardress - Ruth Keeling
Guard - Edward Newborn
Guard - Joe Dunlop

Charlie Power - Gerard Monaco
Hunt - Julien Ball
Brown - Tony Turner
Doctor Klein - Ken Bones
Mrs Collins - Deborah Winckles
Lord Curzon - David Beames
Robert Cecil - Robert Wilcox
Mrs Major - Barbara Kirby
Felicity - Anna Lowe

Directed by Howard Davies
Designer - Rob Howell

Seen on a silly cheapie standby during it's premiere run at the Olivier with Anastasia Hille in the audience

Well, that's a nice bunch of actors in gainful employment for the rest of Summer and beyond!
Lovely, outwardly simple design that perfectly served the action so a big tick in that box. Performances were well measured and it's my own fault for grabbing a cheapie that I did not become fully involved in this tale of suffragette love. The centre section went wild at the curtain call. I had an instructive view of the Elysian Quartet who must be bored stupid with their sporadic insertion of one and two note tones. They sounded beautiful but so sparsely used.

05 August 2008

Afterlife by Michael Frayn

Max Reinhardt - Roger Allam
Helene Thimig - Abigail Cruttenden
Gust Adler - Selina Griffiths
Rudolf 'Katie" Komer - Peter Forbes
Franz - Glyn Grain
THe Prince Archbishop of Salzburg - David Burke
Fredrich Mueller - David Schofield
Everyman - Nicholas Lumley
Ensemble - Devid Baron, Colin Haigh, Sarah Head, Elizabeth Marsh, Charlotte Melia, Hugh Osborne, Peter Prentice, Clair Winsper,
Rupert Young.

Directed by Michael Blakemore and designed by Peter Davidson

I saw Anthony Calf in the cafe but not sure if he was there to see a play or even which one.
Great stanby seat E 16

Hmmmm - this is not a new idea, it's just been updated but did we really need it to be? Much was lost in the 'rewrite' and I have a ghastly feeling that after however many weeks the cast have been performing it, they had finally realised that it is impossible to sustain a level of passion for such writing.

I was drawn to this by both Frayn and Allam. I left with quite a large amount of deflation and a sense of let-down. Whilst I was not actually aware of any specifics, I had the impression that the cast were introducing things to amuse themselves in order to get through the night in one piece. I hate to damn these people in all their hard work but it seemed as though little effort was being made here tonight.

Small point - I understand the device of the hair change for Reinhardt but that orange thing Roger sported for most of the show was distractingly annoying and I'm pretty sure that attached picture is from pre-citric rehearsals

Set design was wonderfully simple and had great mechanics.

02 August 2008

...some trace of her - inspired by The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky adapted by Katie Mitchell and the company

Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin - Jamie Ballard
Anastassya Filippovna Barashkov - Hattie Morahan
Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin - Ben Whishaw
Aglaya Ivanovna Yepanchin - Helena Lymbery
General Ivan Fyodorovitch Yepanchin/Afanassy Ivanovich Totsky - Gawn Grainger
Gavril 'Ganya' Ardalyonovich Ivolgin - Bradley Taylor
Lizaveta Prokofyevna Yepanchin - Pandora Colin
Hippolite Terentyev - Sam Crane

Director: Katie Mitchell
Designer: Vicki Mortimer
DoP: Leo Warner and Music by Paul Clark

Also including the poems of Emily Dickinson

I sat in D24 but it was too close (low)

You can see a taster of this piece at the NT website here.

I have to confess a bit of disappointment with this. I kept comparing it to my experience with Waves which was pitch perfect and seamlessly magical. I think I saw Waves much later in the run and I guess they had time to get it into a faultless production. 'trace' seems to still have a lot of technical rehearsing left to do. I am not convinced that so much of the video work was supposed to be so soft and the sound work was an absolute mess. The cast that wasn't being featured clunked around the stage in a distracting way which I don't remember in Waves where they seemed to glide around, props in hand as though they were choreographed. I wonder if Kate has had a frustrating time with these fabulous actors because they are not quite so adept at the tech side. I think I read that Ben Whishaw said it wasn't really like acting, it was more about working with props. Whilst this isn't actually true because Ben gave a very moving performance, it implies that the prop element was bothering him.
There is so much to watch in these productions and I don't know if sitting slap bang in the middle of the seating was such a good idea because my view was often obscured by the centre camera. I can't believe that the intention is to watch the screen all the way through because surely, it would be better to watch a well made film, if that was the case. I thought that Sam Crane voicing Ben's action was a beautifully believable combination. With the exception of a few scenes that worked incredibly well, I felt much of this was a mess and with all the anticipation I had, it makes me very sad. The more I think about it, I am convinced it was just a bad night. I know this has all the ingredients to be as amazing as Waves.

There is a '£10 for best seat' offer knocking around and I am tempted to see it again at the end of the run to check it's progress. I really believe this can be an incredible production but it has a lot to iron out. Perhaps I saw it on a bad night. I'm am not off to discover if anything went better on press night..............
edit: Just caught up on some reviews and it would seem I'm not the only person who thinks D is a tad too near and I also think that the info from the West End Whingers (one of the last paragraphs) about the final quarter not being ready in some of the previews substantiates my feelings about hoping it will go from strength to strength.

UPDATE: Second viewing in the middle of September was magical. All the right adjustments had been made and it was a pure, moving joy.