31 December 2008

Theatre Index for 2008

▼ December (8)
No Man's Land by Harold Pinter
Well by Lisa Kron
The Family Reunion by T S Elliot
National Theatre Christmas Quiz - chaired by Emma ...
The Pride By Alexi Kaye Campbell
Wig Out! by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Gethsemane by David Hare
Rain Man adapted by Dan Gordon
▼ November (2)
The Twenty Four Hour Plays Celebrity Gala
6 Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Piran...
▼ October (6)
Love's Labours Lost by William Shakespeare
Faces in the Crowd by Leo Butler
Waste By Harley Granville Barker
Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
Paradise Regained by Mark Ravenhill
Table Manners by Alan Ayckbourn
▼ September (19)
Landscape by Harold Pinter
A Slight Ache by Harold Pinter
De Profundis by Oscar Wilde & edited by Merlin Hol...
Now or Later by Christopher Shinn
Round and Round the Garden by Alan Ayckbourn
The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh
a number by caryl churchill
far away by caryl churchill
Ivanov by Chekhov in a translation from Tom Stoppa...
ice cream by caryl churchill
three more sleepless nights by carylchurchill
Top Girls by Caryl Churchill
The Pretender Agenda by Christopher Manoe
light shining in buckinghamshire by Caryl Churchil...
Lipsynch by Robert Lepage
Kicking a Dead Horse by Sam Shepard
Factory Hamlet
Hamlet by Factory and Shakespeare
Hedda, adapted by Lucy Kirwood based on the Ibsen
▼ August (5)
Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare and Thomas ...
Under The Blue Sky by David Eldridge
Her Naked Skin by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Afterlife by Michael Frayn
...some trace of her - inspired by The Idiot by Fy...
▼ July (6)
The Frontline by Ché Walker
Black Watch by Gregory Burke
The Female of the Species by Joanna Murray-Smith
Behind The Image compiled and edited by Michael Bh...
Chronic by DC Jackson (Rough Cuts Season)
The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold
▼ June (10)
2,000 Feet Away by Anthony Weigh
The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Relocation by Anthony Neilson
The Country by Martin Crimp
The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan
Oxford Street by Levi David Addai
Contractions by Mike Bartlett
Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
The Revenger's Tragedy by Thomas Middleton
▼ May (11)
Harper Regan by Simon Stephens
Piranha Heights by Philip Ridley
Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen (version by Mike Poult...
The Vortex by Noel Coward
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Hello & Goodbye by Athol Fugard
The City by Martin Crimp
Tinderbox by Lucy Kirkwood
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Gu...
God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza translated by Chris...
Branded by Simon Bent
▼ April (5)
Brief Encounter by Noel Coward and adapted by Emma...
Shoot, Get Treasure, Repeat Double Bill by Mark Ra...
Bliss (Felicite) by Olivier Choiniere & translate...
Birth of a Nation by Mark Ravenhill
Random by Debbie Tucker Green
▼ March (10)
The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other by Peter Ha...
The Miracle by Lin Coghlan
DNA by Dennis Kelly
Baby Girl by Roy Williams
Never So Good by Howard Brenton
The Sea by Edward Bond
Scarborough - Fiona Evans
Artefacts by Mike Bartlett
A Prayer for my Daughter by Thomas Babe
Major Barbara by Bernard Shaw
▼ February (4)
The Lover/The Collection by Harold Pinter
La Cage aux Folles by Jerry Jerman and Harvey Fier...
The Homecoming by Harold Pinter
Ring Round the Moon by Jean Anouith & adapted by C...
▼ January (17)
Happy Now? by Lucinda Coxon
The South Bank Show Awards.
Critic's Circle Awards
The Vertical Hour by David Hare
Off the Endz! By Bola Agbaje
Talking Dirty edited by Clare Lizzimore
The Running Machine by Joe Harbot
Ignition1 in the Rough Cuts season at the Royal C...
Thrown by Mike Bartlett in the Rough Cuts season ...
The Lion's Mouth by Alexandra Wood in the Rough ...
Gambling - By Matt Hartley
The Astonished Heart by Noel Coward
Regeneration by Gbolahan Obisesan
Women of Troy by Euripides translated by Don Taylo...
Dealer's Choice by Patrick Marber
Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourn
Othello by William Shakespeare

No Man's Land by Harold Pinter

Hirst - Michael Gambon
Spooner - David Bradley
David Walliams - Foster
Nick Dunning - Briggs

Directed by Rupert Goold
Designed by Giles Cadle

Seen in one of the Duke of York's wonderful house seats by some gift of great fortune on a Rescard Standby.
Didn't spot anyone in the audience but sat next to a charming young man and made a fool of myself with a poorly judged joke about Paris and Washington DC. He was very accepting and polite though.

I had gone to some effort to see this, the details of which I shall save you from suffering. If I had gone ahead to book a regular, advance seat it would have been at the expense of a couple of other trips to the theatre or a vital meal so I made a pact with myself that it had to be a cheaper or reduced ticket. After all, I had seen this 15 years ago with Mr Pinter and Mr Hodge in the cast and I'm not yet ready to accept Mr Walliams in a role of this magnitude. In short, I really had set myself up for disappointment but without seeing, how could I judge?

If there is a calculation to be made which would match something as base as cash paid against moments of bliss, this would have shot right off the scale within the first 10 minutes. I'm afraid my first laugh was at hearing the adorable Mr Bradley's total lack of native accent which always makes me smile as I hear it ringing in my ears. Here he uses an exaggerated RP/BBC, similar to Mr Gambon's which seems to only be reserved for Pinter dialect.

Such was Michael's performance that I kept picturing Harold himself as Hirst. Sadly, Mr Walliams could never match up to Douglas Hodge and I just don't find him believable as the attractive young man Foster is meant to be. He's an odd shape and has mean piggy eyes, which seems unnecessarily cruel to pigs. Douglas is in another league. He was the square peg in a perfectly rounded hole for me. Nick Dunning always steps up to the mark but the most enthralling moments were when David and Michael were on stage alone together.

As someone who struggles to enjoy New Year's Eve, these two hours will be in my top three until my memory gives out completely.

30 December 2008

Well by Lisa Kron

Ann Kron - Sarah Miles
Lisa Kron - Natalie Casey
Oliver Chris, Jason Rowe, Maggie Service & Zara Tempest-Walers
Voiceover - Emilio Aquino

Directed by Eve Leigh
Designed by Nicky Bunch

See on a half price tkts in a great centre aisle seat at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue. Nobody of note in the audience

Billed as running for 90 minutes but despite the fact that it was a matinee, it ran for much more like 100 minutes, even allowing for the fact that Jason Rowe battled a total corpse for about 3 minutes.

Wow - I wouldn't like to be Ann Kron! A refreshing production which starts off as more of a stand-up routine fantastically well handled by Ms Casey, that morphs into a 'let's work out all my problems and parental blame on a stage' type of thing. Lisa is so cruel to her Mum that the ensemble invited (and paid) to flesh out this tale of mistakes in upbringing decide they cannot continue with the production.

You can pretty much deal with the thought process that Ms Kron went through when writing this but thankfully she soon came to a point where she must have thought 'this is a load of self-regarding wank' and realised she needed a twist to make it palatable. I think her next decision was spot on. Lisa's Mum is dreadful in the telling but wonderful in the actual event. No wonder the ensemble revolt.

Each of these actors held their characters masterfully and I marveled at Sarah Miles energy. The set was interesting and practical and my only annoyance was that the lighting tech seemed to be working at half cock. There is an outside chance it was supposed to be rubbish but I think it was either a substitute techy or a lazy, distracted git.

I did have the feeling that a slightly different space would have suited this piece more. It felt quite strange to see it in an old style establishment and on the theatre avenue. Perhaps the location was the cause of my concern more than the theatre type - I suspect a swap with Sunset Blvd at the Comedy would feel better.

So far, all the press photos I have seen give the impression of a light farce, which it isn't. I won't say it's a masterpiece but it's so good to see someone deal with their issues in a quirky way.

20 December 2008

The Family Reunion by T S Elliot

Cast: Samuel West (Harry) , Penelope Wilton (Agatha) , Anna Carteret (Violet), William Gaunt (Charles), Gemma Jones (Amy), Christopher Benjamin (Dr Warburton), Kevin McMonagle (Downing), Ann Marcuson (Denman), Hattie Morahan (Mary), Paul Shelley (Colonel), Una Stubbs (Ivy), Phil Cole (Winchell)
Directed: Jeremy Herrin
Designed by Bunny Christie
Seat A7 moving to B7 (my fave) didn't spot anyone in the audience. Lazy cut & paste for cast as it's a busy time of year

This is all about the actors having a teasing time with a testing text and not one of them faltered. I was transfixed by Penelope and Sam but Hattie and Gemma were incredible too. Love Christopher Benjamin and William Gaunt. Paul Shelly was wonderful in the ensemble pieces.

19 December 2008

National Theatre Christmas Quiz - chaired by Emma Freud

........and the teams were:-

For Warhorse

Howard Ward
Bryony Hannah
Pieter Lawman
Alan Williams

For August, Osage County
Jeff Perry
Tracy Letts
Sally Murphy
Paul Vincent O'Connor
with help (or was it intervention?) from Rondi Reed

Scoremaster was Adam James from Gethsemane.

We sat in the middle of the third row thanks to Poly's punctual booking and enjoyed a good view only tempered by an annoying know-it-all sitting comfortably with his spectrum disorder a few seats away.

The Guardian took some of the easier questions and published them on-line for Christmas Day.

Given that the audience are only given the opportunity to answer when neither team can get the question right, I feel that a score of 17 was very respectable. Unlike last year when War Horse failed to score, both teams were neck and neck (forgive the further equestrian phrase) and since no tie breaker has ever been needed they both triumphed.

This year the quiz took an unusual form in order to make it a fair course for the Steppenwolf contingent. If it had taken the usual shape, Warhorse would have barely needed to break into a trot.

Wonderful, silly fun and we all love Adam James and his ability to gently pop up in everything at the moment.

11 December 2008

The Pride By Alexi Kaye Campbell

Philip - J.J. Feild
Sylvia - Lyndsey Marshal
Oliver - Bertie Carvel
Man, Peter, Doctor - Tim Steed

Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designer Soutra Gilmour

Celeb in the audience - Kelly Reilly

Rather unfortunate that the actors' entrance is heralded by their back-lit silhouettes in the doorways which in JJ's case, had a pair of rather charming luminous orange handles at the top. Enough of that. This is a remarkable production.

I came to this with much anticipation to see what Alexi could do and that can sometimes be fatal. I don't know what I expected but this was much more than I could have hoped for. If it doesn't transfer to the West End, I would hope that they would at least reprise it downstairs.

This is a beautiful, tightly constructed muse on the changing views and taboos between 1958 and 2008. The set was wonderfully economical but still retained a richness. The performances where fantastic all round as they got their teeth into long speeches and punchy dialogue.

08 December 2008

Wig Out! by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Eric - Alex Lanipekun
Wilson/Nina - Nathan Stewart-Jarrett,
Rey-Rey - Kevin Harvey,
Loki - Drew Calden
Fay - Holly Quin-Ankrah
Fate - Kate Gillespie
Faith - Jessika Williams
Lucian - Danny Sapani
Venus- Craig Stein
Deity - Leon Lopez
Serena - Billy Carter

Directed by Dominic Cooke
Set and costume design by Ultz

I probably shouldn't really commit my words here because I was tired from a hectic day at work but I didn't enjoy this as much as I had been expecting. I thought it would be more fun, I suppose. It was a bit of a laboured and somewhat unoriginal plot and whilst some of the set pieces were entertaining enough, I didn't feel it was special.

The temporary configuration of the auditorium worked well but I had thought the stalls might be more fun than they actually were. The circle is your best bet and in a similar way to the current layout at the Old Vic, the seats that are usually cheap at the side of the circle are actually very good.

06 December 2008

Gethsemane by David Hare

Lori Drysdale - Nicola Walker
Mike Drysdale - Daniel Ryan
Frank Pegg - Pip Carter
Otto Fallon - Stanley Townsend
Meredith Guest - Tamsin Greig
Suzette Guest - Jessica Raine
Monique Toussant - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Geoff Benzine - Adam James
Alec Beasley - Anthony Calf

Directed by Howard Davies
Designed by Bob Crowley

This had me from the moment Nicola Walker said she was in the group without a book (referring to all the groups of people who live their lives according to what is written in a book). Echos of Now Or Later in a UK style but with a broader sweep to fill more than two hours.

This has far more to say than The Vertical Hour and it tells it a lightening pace. Wonderful performances from everyone. It seemed ages before Anthony Calf made his entrance (and your bum's getting a bit big now, Anthony - get back on that bike).

Loved the simplicity of the set, loved my seat and just loved the whole thing. Pip Carter was wonderful but it seems crazy to single one person out. I guess I meant that Pip's performance in a fairly small role, was of note. I was sad that Stanley didn't use his native accent but it slipped in a couple of times. He is so charismatic. Tamsin was fabulous and wore some killer wardrobe.

04 December 2008

Rain Man adapted by Dan Gordon

Charlie Babbitt - Josh Harnett
Raymond Babbitt - Adam Godley
Susan - Mary Stockley
Dr Bruener - Colin Stinton
Lucy/Waitress/Iris - Tilly Blackwood
Mr Mooney/Cop/Dr Marsden - Charles Dish

Directed by Terry Johnson
Designed by Jonathan Fensom
Brilliant half-price TKTS in the house row aisle!

Interesting adaptation. The opening scenes went on for far too long and I had a dread that the whole thing would follow the same course. However, not to take anything away from the lovely Mr Harnett, the whole thing took a turn for the better and tighter when Adam Godley entered. All the performances were adequate, Colin is always good, Josh was really fine and Adam was exceptional.

The set just scraped into the stylishly practical bracket but no more than that. I'm glad I saw this against my earlier better judgement.

I found it more difficult that usual to find a production photo. Lots of press and party stuff but nothing from the show so I have included my picture of the safety curtain.