30 November 2008

The Twenty Four Hour Plays Celebrity Gala

Love Me Till My Heart Stops by Joel Horwood

Tony - Tony Booth
Henry - Henry Goodman
Sally - Sally Phillips
Ralf - Ralf Little

Directed by Clare Lizzimore (AD was Abigail Graham)

We're onto a winner when we start with one of my favourite Talking Heads tracks! Tony is Henry's father. Henry and his wife, Sally are living in his house but they want to move to somewhere smaller and less like a childhood home. Ralf is the estate agent. Lots of silly wordplay here. Sally and Henry's relationship has lost the love and Henry falls easily into the arms of Ralf for a bit of human comfort. It turns out that Ralf was also there for Sally but who was there for Tony?

Fairly amusing but not enough impact to start the evening off at full tilt.

The Border by Stephen Jeffreys

Ferko - Tim PIggot Smith
Gaxsi - Ilan Goodman
Zala - Jenny Seagrove
Anita - Jenny Agutter
Inngard - Michelle Ryan

Directed by Jonathan Munby (AD was Dan Herd)

I was secretly hoping for one of those hard hitting opening monologues from Mr Jeffreys but I would imagine he thought that might be a big ask for the cast. Instead we see two Austro/Hungary border guards watching the minute hand take it's last sweep before Europe unites against ..........erm the non-European oppressors.(?)

Zala & Anita approach the border with their papers, unaware that within the hour the border will be dismantled. For sport, Ferko and Gaxsi go through the motions and while searching the car they discover Inngard. Zala and Anita are sister and they claim that Inngard is their cousin. Inngard looks distressed and is clutching a Russian doll. Ferko asks to see what is in the doll and the final cavity reveals a small piece of paper. After a little more discussion the women are allowed to get back in their car as the border guards choose not have seen them. The border is hacked down and we finally understand that the piece of paper said the word 'help'.

Elephant Hotel by Moira Buffini

Colin - Hamish Clark
Jacqueline - Jessica Hynes
Serena - Marina Laird
Veronica - Lia Williams

Directed by Josie Rourke (ADs were Joe Hancock & Tara Wilkinson

Jacqueline and Veronica are two odd obsessive characters that run this hotel in Wales. They have not had any visitor for a long time. Colin and Serena have been on a romantic hike in the area. Serena is not impressed with the prospect of spending a night in a tent so they look for a hotel. They are told the Elephant Hotel is full except for two single rooms.

My memory is a bit hazy after that but I do know that I was impressed by a very long speech from Jessica Hynes and the fact that they managed to squeeze four acts into 20 minutes.


Ruby by Tanita Gupta

Ruby - Jenny Jules
Arun - Sanjeev Bhaskar
Jack - Josh Hartnett
Sam - Jason Isaacs

Directed by Tamara Harvey (AD was Rachel Briscoe)

I have seen Tanita's work as readings through Tamara's company and this seemed a little familiar. We are in a speed dating venue where Ruby fabricates three very different personalities to accommodate our three very different men. Fairly amusing interjections here.

Two Very Different Ladies by Amelia Bullmore

De - Dervla Kirwan
H - Hugh Bonneville
D - Doreen Mantle

DIrected by Anna Mackmin (AD was Lottie Wakeham)

We were already aware that by total fluke, no less that three members of the cast had brought a fez with them as a prop. All of them were used in this play. We start with D asking to see the 'item in the window' of H's shop and a debate follows. She goes back to the window to see it in the light. De enters the shop and asks to see the 'item in the window'. It turns out there is another fez and whist a fez has a pretty uncomplicated blueprint, it turns out that no two are the same. We see the difference etc. There is an amusing passage whereby, in the absence of a mirror, both women show each other what the fez's look like on and admire them in varying combinations. They are not, however completely satisfied and ask to see more stock. There is more debate about the shop being a front for contraband etc since it only seems to have two fez in stock. Finally, H produces a third one and more debate follows.

A very interesting exercise in the exchange of words and perspectives.

The Elephant in the Room by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Cynthia - Julia Davis
Hamish - Mark Gatiss
Iain - Julian Glover
Patrick - David Harewood
Mother - Doreen Mantle

Directed by Matt Wilde (AD Dan Barnard)

In case you are wondering where Doreen Mantle could get her stamina from to perform in two plays, she spends all of this one lying on the sofa.

Iain is showing Cynthia and Hamish around their home with a view to buying it. There are plenty of humourous and topical exchanges including Iain introducing himself and "Iain with two 'I's" to which Cynthia bristles that is as unnecessary as her saying she is "Cynthia with two legs". It doesn't work so well on the page! It turns out that mother is dead but must stay in the house. The taxidermy/mummification was done on the cheap so there is a smell. The house has been reduced from three quarters of a million pounds to just fifty thousand pounds. What's the catch? A tardy inspection of the upstairs reveals that there is - you guessed it.....(the clue is in the title of the play)

David Harewood brings the house down entering the room as the very camp boyfriend dressed in very little. What he IS wearing is ridiculous and wonderful.

Very entertaining.

Staged at the Old VIc, the evening was introduced by Kevin Spacey and a very flawed attempt at hosting it was made by James Cordon and Johnny Vaughan.

I would like to think that perhaps an anonymous donation was made by somebody if the writers were able to include 'elephant' in their play somewhere. Last year McCain Oven Chips made such a contribution which carried on to the party. I also wondered whether Foxtons had any similar input as well since two of the plays were about buying houses.

It seems daft to mention celebrities on a night like this but extra to the performers and contributors, I saw Iain Softley and Danny Lee Wynter (who was there last year too and who I also saw in the RC bar last week). Sometime after midnight, Sean Lock came to the party with a cigarette in his mouth which I thought was odd.......More on the details of the evening later.....

05 November 2008

6 Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

DENISE GOUGH - The Step-Daughter
JOHN MACKAY - The Executive
JAKE HARDERS - The Cameraman

Directed by Rupert Goold and designed by Miriam Beuther at the Gielgud Theatre on a half-price ticket in the third row of the stalls.
I came back to this entry to embed a trailer and was dismayed to find I never got around to making any notes.