31 December 2009

Theatre Index for 2009

▼ December (2)
The Priory by Michael Wynne
Cock by Mike Bartlett
▼ November (2)
Enron by Lucy Prebble
The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett
▼ October (4)
Kings of Convenience at the Barbican
Sea Wall by Simon Stephens
Judgement Day by Ödön von Horváth translated by Ch...
The Power of Yes by David Hare
▼ September (7)
The Fastest Clock in the Universe by Philip Ridley...
A Life in Three Acts by Bette Bourne & Mark Ravenh...
The Seagull Project by The Factory
Only four more entries to catch up on....
Mother Courage by Bertolt Brechttranslated by Tony...
The Fugitive Kind by Tennessee Williams - Rehearse...
A House Not Meant to Stand by Tennessee Williams (...
▼ August (4)
A Streetcar Named DesireBy Tennessee Williams
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Three More Sleepless Nights by Caryl Churchill
Helen by Euripides in a new version by Frank McGui...
▼ July (3)
The Observer by Matt Charman
Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
A Doll's House by Ibsen in a new version by Zinnie...
▼ June (8)
When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell
a thought in three parts by Wallace Shawn
Apologia by Alexi Kaye Campbell
A Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
Our Late Night by Wallace Shawn
Aunt Dan & Lemon by Wallace Shawn
Harold Pinter Tribute at the National Theatre, Oli...
the rape of europe by Gregory Motton
▼ May (11)
the hotel by wallace shawn (rehearsed reading)
Dido, Queen of Carthage by Christopher Marlowe
Collaboration by Ronald Harwood
Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood
Grasses of a Thousand Colours by Wallace Shawn
All's Well that Ends Well by William Shakespeare
Tunnel 228, A Punchdrunk production
Time and the Conways by J B Priestley
Dimetos by Athol Fugard
Nocturnal by Juan Mayorgatranslated by David Johns...
Andromaque - par Jean Racine
▼ April (13)
BAFTA ROCLIFFE New Writing Forum Chaired By Mike N...
Parlour Song by Jez Butterworth
The Great Game - Part Three
The Great Game - Part Two
The Great Game - Part One (& general overview)
England People Very Nice by Richard Bean
You Can See The Hills by Matthew Dunster
Paris Calling: Readings at the National Theatredir...
Jacques and his Master by Milan KunderaTranslated ...
Madame de Sade by Yukio Mishima (translated by Don...
The Fever by Wallace Shawn
Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham
Rory Kinnear in Conversation @ the NT
▼ March (15)
Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg
A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller
the pigeons by David Gieselmanntranslated by Maja ...
Owen Teale Masterclass
Wall by David Hare
The Uncertainty Of The Situation (Die Unsicherheit...
A Miracle by Molly Davies
The Olivier Winners.................
Wrecks by Neil LaBute
Stovepipe by Adam Brace
The Bankrupt Man by David LescotTranslated by Chri...
Over There by Mark Ravenhill
Mrs Affleck by Samuel Adamsonfrom Henrick Ibsen's ...
to the south seas by gherkin plane by Christophe N...
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
▼ February (9)
Burnt By The Sun by Peter Flannery(based on Mikhal...
Black Beast Sadness by Anja Hilling & Translated b...
Skin Deep by Armando Iannucci & David Sawer
Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza by Caryl Ch...
The Stone by Marius Von Mayenburg (translated by M...
What's On Stage Theatregoers Choice Awards Winners...
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by Tom Stoppard and...
Berlin by David Hare
Extraordinary Entry
▼ January (4)
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
La Cage Aux Folles by Jerry Herman and Harvey Fier...
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
In a Dark, Dark House by Neil LaBute

21 December 2009

The Priory by Michael Wynne

Adam - Nick Blood
Kate - Jessica Hynes
Ben - Alastair Mackenzie,
Daniel - Joseph Millson
Carl- Rupert Penry-Jones
Laura - Charlotte Riley
Rachael Stirling - Rebecca

Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Designed by Robert Innes Hopkins

Seen downstairs at the Royal Court in what seemed like the pantomime-like run up to Christmas Day.

I don't think I've ever seen anything quite so frivolous at the Royal Court but it really worked with the season's sentiment and as I had something of a theatre novice with me, I was able to relax and let all the silliness wash over me. The dialogue was ping-ponging backwards and forwards like a treat and the performances were enviably joyous.

03 December 2009

Cock by Mike Bartlett

F- Paul Jesson
W - Katherine Parkinson
M - Andrew Scott
John - Ben Whishaw
Directed by James Macdonald
Designed by Miriam Buether

Seen upstairs at the Royal Court on the night of the Post Show Talk. Daisy Haggard and Rufus Wainwright were in this tiny, 80 seats-in-the-round production.

I like everything I see from Mike Bartlett. It's uncompromising and visceral whilst still retaining a breath-taking degree of delicacy. The performances were wonderful and confident.

These are two of my favourite young actors on the stage at the moment.

25 November 2009

Enron by Lucy Prebble

News Reporter - Gillian Budd
Lehman Brother, Trader - Peter Caulfield
Security Office.Trader - Howard Charles
Claudia Roe - Amanda Drew
Congresswoman, Business Analyst, Irene Grant - Susannah Fellows
Arthur Anderson, Trader - Stephen Fewell
Lehman Brother, Trader - Tom Godwin
Andy Fastow - Tom Goodman-Hill
Trader- Andrew Corbett
Lou Pai, Senator - Orion Lee
Hewitt, News Reporter, Prostitute - Eleanor Matsuura
Ken Lay - Tim Pigott-Smith
Ramsay, Trader - Ashley Rolfe
Jeffrey Skilling - Samuel West
Lawyer, Trader - Trevor White
Daughter - Gabby Willcocks

Director Rupert Goold
Designer Anthony Ward

Seen at the Royal Court downstairs.

Powerful stuff, beautifully presented. Read the reviews as I have nothing to add.

16 November 2009

The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett

Matt (Sound)- Danny Burns
Ralph (Dresser) - Martin Chamberlain
Brian (Originally Boyle) - Philip Childs
Kay (Stage Manager) - Frances de la Tour
Fitz (W H Auden) - Richard Griffiths
George (Assistant Stage Manager) - John Heffernan
Henry (Benjamin Britten) - Alex Jennings
Joan (Chaperone) - Barbara Kirby
Neil (Author) - Elliot Levey
Donald (Humphrey Carpenter) - Adrian Scarborough
Tim (Stuart) - Stephen Wight
Charlie (Singer) - Laurence Belcher/Otto Farrant/Toby Graham
Tom (Rehearsal Pianist) - Tom Attwood

Director - Nicholas Hytner
Designer - Bob Crowley

Seen on the last night of preview in a brilliant seat (by Lyttelton Standards). Jean Marsh was in the audience. Georgia Moffat and her boyfriend were wandering in the vicinity.

I am confident that all the reviews will set out the perverted joy of this piece. Mr Bennett presents us with theatrical faux-pas that no other playwright could possibly get away with and we delight in them like the supplicants we all are.

More deliciously adroit lines per minute than should be allowed in the current economic climate and all performed with the relish that any actor given this opportunity should convey. Have a little poke around the site.

All the action takes place in an imagined rehearsal room a this National Theatre.
A rogue mobile was swiftly retired and a couple of dissatisfied customers removed themselves with the minimum of fuss. One latercomer was allowed to make a leisurely fumble into the second row during one of Adrian Scarborough's speeches but there is always a cavalier approach to a preview. I daresay the press were no better behaved on the following evening.

This play is part of the Theatre Live programme and can be seen on 22nd April 2010

14 October 2009

Kings of Convenience at the Barbican

What a beautiful evening. Crying with joy is OK at a music gig, isn't it?

Taxi Taxi were so sweet and wonderful too. They made a load of t-shirt to sell. I resisted. How many headliners come on stage to introduce their support, anyway?

Spent time with a dear friend instead of going to the after party.

08 October 2009

Sea Wall by Simon Stephens

Alex - Andrew Scott

Directed by George Perrin
Lighting by Natasha Chivers

Seen at the Shepherd's Bush Library during it's tiny London run via Traverse.

I had almost given up hope of seeing this. Andrew spent the entire half hour before the show started, wandering around the library & it was all I could do to stop myself from kissing his feet.

He's the kind of actor who really stands up to watching in close proximity. To see him control the audience with a monologue like this was incredible. The piece is so carefully pitched with no extraneous nonsense and Andrew is so comfortable with his material and luxuriates in giving the audience wonderful chunks of digesting and thinking time.

The pacing of the emotional arc was extraordinary and so gratifying. I really loved this. Would that I had time to see it again.

There's an interview with Simon here.

Independent review from Edinburgh and good words from The Telegraph. The Guardian's Lyn Gardner has pretty much spammed her admiration all over the mother-site and who can blame her.

There's a link to the Festival that doesn't work any more so I am going to quote.....

Pray silence for an exquisite performance

Alex does not voice the cruellest words he ever spoke. We don’t actually hear the dreadful phrase he utters to his father-in-law. But we can imagine it. Playwright Simon Stephens is too subtle a craftsman to allow his central character to blurt it out; instead he pushes us carefully and confidently to the point where we need only fill in the dots.

The theme of the playwright, whose Pornography was named best play in the recent Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, is the impulse to believe in God and the more awesome prospect – as he would have it – that no God exists. The story told by Alex in this exquisitely realised 30-minute show from London’s Bush Theatre is an everyday story of young love, fatherhood and family bonding which Stephens booby-traps with a shockingly meaningless tragedy. Can the God we thank for life’s unfathomable beauty also be responsible for its inexplicable cruelty?

As theological arguments go, Stephens is not the first to ask the question, but he weaves it into the flow of his narrative so subtly – a phrase here, a fragment there – that you almost don’t notice when the theme emerges. Much credit for this must go to actor Andrew Scott who, under the direction of George Perrin, gives a performance with an authority you’d want to call dazzling were it not so undemonstrative. Wearing workaday T-shirt and jeans, he brings a beguiling sense of spontaneity to the script, as if he too were hearing it newly minted, finding pockets of humour and bucket-loads of charm in his conversational delivery.

He draws us compellingly into his breathtaking romance, the unexpected affection that grows for his oddball father-in-law in the South of France and the unconditional love for his daughter. All of which makes his change of fortune so much more brutal and the big questions about God that much more vivid.

A tiny little note about the wonderful venue was that there was an air-con thrumming away in my right ear & I almost wished I'd sat on the left flank so that I could see the trains rushing by in the background. It wouldn't have been relevant to the play but I liked the sense of the rest of the world still going on out there.

05 October 2009

Judgement Day by Ödön von Horváth
translated by Christopher Hampton

Woodsman/Deputy - Andy Williams
Fray Leimgruber - Sarah Woodward
Salesman/Detective/Platelayer - Jack James
Fray Hudetz - Suzanne Burden
Alfons - David Annen
Ferdinand - Daniel Hawksford
Anna - Laura Donnelly
Thomas Hudetz - Joseph Millson
Policeman - Jake Nightingale
Landlord - Tom Georgeson
Leni - Julie Riley
Kohut/Customer/Public Prosecutor/Pokorny - Patrick Drury
Child - Lewis Lemprereur Palmer
Child - Thomas Patten

Directed by James Macdonald
Designed by Miriam Beuther

Seen on the night of the post show talk at the Almeida Theatre. Took a seat in the front row of the circle & wasn't very comfy. Not even enough room for my silly stumpy legs and the railings induced back-bending agony all round. My mistake since I knew all this. I don't know why I booked that seat.

Michael Attenborough came on stage before the lights went down. We were told that Joe had been suffering with a very sore throat for 36 hours and I sensed hearts plummeting to the floor.

Michael took rather a long winded opportunity to tell everyone about the lack of luxuries in a theatre like the Almeida to wit, there are no understudies. I thought it was odd that he referred to the National Theatre in his gripe since it's funding is so transparent but what do I know? I certainly don't mean to in any way play down the struggle that these wonderful independent theatres have but I was confused by the example given.

The good news was that Joseph was going to appear despite feeling so poorly and with the sincere appreciation and thanks of a the mighty artistic director. The audience exhaled with relief and in the absence James Macdonald that night, I thought it was wonderful that Michael made the announcement. In the event, he hardly needed to as Joe performance was faultless.

First comment is about the set design and the inspired use of the train turning-house concept. The back wall of the Almeida, with it's bare brick and gentle curve always reminds me of the interior of the Roundhouse and when they swung the platform around at all angles, the image was complete and as it turned out, that was one of the inspirations for the set. One thing in favour of not being downstairs was the enormous amount of smoke used when trains entered the station but from where I was, the effect seemed wonderful. The lighting was glorious, making this a very stylish production.

An incredibly interesting piece investigating the nature of guilt and self-absolution but not necessarily in that order! The individual characters were well realised and performed with steady enthusiasm.

The post show talk brought a couple of areas of contention between the cast and audience in so far as many people felt there was an implied notion of incest between the brother and sister which the cast flatly denied any knowledge of. There was also a debate about whether one or two bells were heard as the train missed the signal. I didn't hear the first one but I thought Ms Woodward had said we didn't hear it because we were concentrating on the kiss, however one of my companions on the evening who had seen the play twice, said there was no first bell to be heard. Confused? You don't need to be. I think it was just a little company toy to play with. It may even have been a missed queue that night, for all I know!

A fabulous story, very well told but don't trust me - read.......The Independent, The Times and The Stage to link a few randomly.

For more glorious pictures, check out the Almeida Theatre website.

01 October 2009

The Power of Yes by David Hare

Ensemble - Julien Ball
Paul Hammond/A Hedge Fund Manager - Ian Bartholomew
The Author - Anthony Calf
The Chair of a Mortgage Lender/A Leading Industrialist - Richard Cordery
Howard Davies - Jonathan Coy
Ensemble - Mark Elstob
Ronald Cohen - Paul Freeman
John Moulton - Ian Gelder
Simon Loftus/A Northern Echo Journalist - John Hollingworth
Myron Scholes - Bruce Myers
A Financial Times Journalist - Claire Price
David Marsh/Tom Huish - Jeff Rawle
A Young Man at the Bank - Christian Roe
Masa Serdarevic - Jemima Rooper
Adair Turner - Malcolm Sinclair
Scott Rudman - Peter Sullivan
John Cruddas. MP/Paul Mason - Nicolas Tennant
Ensemble - Alan Vicary
Harry Lovelock - Simon Williams
Deborah Solomoan - Lizzie Winkler

Director - Angus Jackson
Designer - Bob Crowley

Seen whilst still in preview at the Lyttelton Theatre.

There's all sorts of info to plunder at the NT website and I'm still late enough with my notes to be able to link the What's On Stage review round-up. As with Poliakoff, there are critics who think they are being clever when they pull these men's work to pieces but they will have met their match with this one. A bald account of the banking crisis brought together with an accessible lightness of touch by allowing us to live through the research process with The Author. I wonder if there might be a much shorter companion production to go with this eventually, or if Mr Hare simply found the evidence too compelling and complex to put into a regular drama.

A staggeringly impressive cast guide us through this fact & opinion-heavy piece with ease. Simon Williams gallantly soldiered through with what sounded like the beginnings of swine flu. A few people fumbled and I had great issue with Anthony Calf's wardrobe since he was supposed to be playing one of the most stylishly dressed playwrights of our time but that didn't take away from his wonderful great tent pole of a performance.

The simple dictates of bringing the cases of the relevant real people to the stage made this piece male-heavy but I suspect that Hare was acutely aware of this and introduced some wonderfully tight female parts for the likes of Misses Rooper, Winkler and Price to balance the evening. Nicolas Tennant and Paul Freeman were underused but I don't see a way around that. Peter Sullivan gave us another chance to witness his deliciously comfortable portrayal of an American.

If I ever catch up with this blog, I may ad some photos. I found myself sometimes distracted by the set in an effort to see how they were projecting and synching it. It was one of those complicated things that looked very simple to the audience.

28 September 2009

The Fastest Clock in the Universe by Philip Ridley

Cougar Glass - Alec Newman
Captain Tock - Finbar Lynch
Foxtrot Darling - Neet Mohan
Cheetah Bee - Eileen Page
Sherbet Gravel - Jaime Winstone

Directed by Edward Dick
Designed by Mark Thompson
Seen at the Hampstead Theatre on a cheap Monday night. Celebs in the audience were Lee & Denise Van Outen (sitting uncomfortably near the stage) and a private celebrity who I shall forthwith refer to as 'Mr Axminster'.

It really helps if you go into this play by either knowing it, or knowing Mr Ridley's work and that was the only motivation I had for grabbing this seat at the last minute. He observes things through a wonky prism but presents them in a way that gives you the creeps when a sense of familiarity invades your brain.

This particular production was an overall disappointment to me because the considerable talents and complete understanding of the piece displayed so intoxicatingly by Messers Newman and Lynch, were dragged down to pantomime-style, skin crawling cheapness by the younger, less experienced members of the cast. A terrible, terrible shame.

Alex Newman should get an award for best presentation of crisp white underwear and very little else in an off West End production. Finbar Lynch is so perfect and works so beautifully with Alex that I never really wanted the other cast to interfere, though I had no complaint with Eileen Page's small but worthy part.

Here's a bunch of review links:-
The Stage.

27 September 2009

A Life in Three Acts by Bette Bourne & Mark Ravenhill

Bette Bourne

DIrected by Mark Ravenhill

Celeb in the audience - Fenella Fielding, of course.

This was a presentation of selected conversations between Mark and Bette. I don't know if I went on a bad night but I found Mark's interventions way too contrived - and this from a man I put on such a high pedestal. Bette was wonderfully entertaining but reverted to music hall style, audience goading a little more than I find acceptable these days. The audience lapped it up and I did have the sense that I was witnessing something wonderful and fragile.

and a performance that I am particularly annoyed to have missed as reviewed by the adorable Whingers.

I'm going to round these notes off with a little vid

19 September 2009

The Seagull Project by The Factory

Bailiff’s Daughter – Bailey
Teacher – Max
Servant – Faye
Brother – Jonno
Son – T’Evans
Girl – Katie Morgan
Bailiff’s Wife – Liz
Doctor – Simon
Bailiff – Paul
Actress – Fed
Writer – Alex

MC – Bedi
Thoughts – Pavli

You can find more comprehensive details about the cast here. In the Michael Frayn space at the Hampstead Theatre.

A contemporary interpretation of The Seagull in the style that The Factory have made their own. A charming by-product is that they write their own reports from the show.

I'm glad my usual theatre companion wasn't with me because her reaction to on-stage breakages is more invasive than mine and I was very disturbed by the glass fragments dispersed around the performance area tonight. A limp attempt to clear some of it was made but there were girls in sandals on the front row (stage level) whose toes were dangling right over a bunch of shards and it distracted me for much too long.

This doesn't yet have the brio of the Hamlet production and there was little of the casting games or prop fun to be had. It was all adequately handled and some easy laughs were wriggled out of the main characters but it fell a little flat for me. I may return to it a little further down the line.

17 September 2009

Only four more entries to catch up on....

but they were back in early to mid-August so I'm going to wander back to the film blog for a while to see what is fresh in my mind there. I will return.

Still to come:

Three More Sleepless Nights by Caryl Churchill
A Streetcar Named DesireBy Tennessee Williams
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Helen by Euripides

16 September 2009

Mother Courage by Bertolt Brecht
translated by Tony Kushner

The One with the Eyepatch & Ensemble- Anthony Mark Barrow
Soldier & Ensemble -William J Cassidy
The Regimental Secretary & Ensemble- Johannes Flaschberger
The Clerk & Ensemble - Jonathan Gunthorpe
The Chaplain - Stephen Kennedy
The Quartermaster & Ensemble - Youssef Kerkour
The Cook - Martin Marquez
Young Soldier & Ensemble- Louis McKenzie
Farmer's Son & Ensemble - Kyle McPhail
Farmer's Wife & Ensemble - Siobhán McSweeney
Swiss Cheese - Harry Melling
Farmer's Wife & Ensemble - Eleanor Montgomery
Older Soldier & Ensemble - Stephen O'Toole
Yvette - Charlotte Randle
Soldier & Ensemble - Guy Rhys
Eilif - Clifford Samuel
Mother Courage - Fiona Shaw
The Colonel & The Lieutenant - Roger Sloman
The General -Colin Stinton
Kattrin - Sophie Stone
Young Man & Ensemble - Morgan Watkins
The Army Recruiter, The Sergeant & Ensemble - Sargon Yelda

Director - Deborah Warner
Set Designer - Tom Pye

Seen at the glorious Olivier on what was originally going to the be the Press Night. It wasn't ready for the press (and how) but the good news is that we had a nice early start at 7pm. Fabulous seats improved by absentees next to us. Actor in the audience - Ryan Sampson, yes you - I spotted you!

It's so long since I've updated and I have forgotten the format I usually use. I am going to work backwards and do the things that are the most fresh in my mind. I know that I usually include some press shots but even when they become available, I shall be loathe to include them since the bloomin' photographer did his stills last night and completely disrupted a section of the fee-paying audience. Shameful scheduling there on the NT's part. It drives me crazy to see someone bobbing around as if there is nobody else in the room with a shutter clunking away in a Q & A situation but at a theatrical performance, it is inexcusable. I want to lose myself in a production but with all that going on, I found the first two or three acts fragmented and dull.

I will surmise that had I been able to get more exclusively involved in the production as it started, I may have embraced it more thoroughly. It felt like Warhorse without the brio and that was in spite of the incredible efforts from the lovely cast. Everyone gave so much to this but it still hasn't quite pulled together. I have no doubt it will be tighter next week but I don't think I could sit through it again. Stephen Kennedy's promotion to The Chaplain was extremely successful (though I don't know how Peter Gowan had been handling it) and Fiona Shaw is staggeringly charismatic.

The musical interventions were clearly made with great meaning but didn't communicate their intent to me and I doubt the circle had any idea what they were doing there. That said, the tiny little fella had an intoxicatingly rich texture to his voice that I could have listened to in a different setting until the cows came home. Don't know anything about the band yet but since the singer/pianist lists himself in the programme as Duke Special, there's a reek of pretension that I'm not keen on (unless it's mine own). Click either of the links for a download & you'll hear what I mean about the voice.

I just wanted to go round first with some oil and then with a spanner to tighten all the nuts. I'm sure it will settle into itself eventually. My advice might be to see it near the end of the run but there were three curtain calls and many people on their feet so what do I know? One thing I am completely certain of is that this auditorium is perfect for this kind of production.

15 September 2009

The Fugitive Kind by Tennessee Williams - Rehearsed Reading

Pete - Christian Contreras
Jabe - Nigel Cooke
Carl/Drake - Garry Cooper
Glory Gwendlebaum - Claire Foy
Texas - Nigel Harman
Gwendlebaum - Nicky Henson
Terry - Rory Keenan
Sylvia/Stage Directions - Lauren O'Neil
Chuck - Con O'Neill
Rocky - Robert Rees
Leo - Stark Sands
Abel/O'Connor - Paul Shelley
Mrs Finchwell/Bertha - Sara Stewart
Olsen - Benny Young

Directed by Róisín McBrinn

Seen as part of the Tennessee Williams season at the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden.

Spotted in the audience: Jeremy Herrin (but did he come to see Anton, Tom and Felicity the night before?)

Marks & Spencer let me down with their lack of toweling robes to dry myself on from the persistent torrential rain tonight but it soon evaporated.

This was a gorgeous lump of a play and produced here with levity and sensuousness at a level way beyond a rehearsed reading status.

Claire Foy is like a luminous liquid flowing around the stage and the rapport between Messers Harman and O'Neill was a joy to behold. Probably the most exciting part of the evening (and there were many of them) was my introduction to the work of a couple of young fellas I had not witnessed before. Rory Keenan is accomplished in his homeland and his comfort and confidence made him very relaxing to watch. There was another young man just starting out who will be charming casting directors all over town very soon, I'm sure. He was very nervous but he did the job and looked very cute.

The scenes between Claire and Rory seemed much more sexually charged because the actors rarely stood very near each other and had their playtexts on lecterns in front of them. It was all in the delivery and it had me dribbling.

Blissful evening

14 September 2009

A House Not Meant to Stand
by Tennessee Williams (Rehearsed Reading)

Cornelius McCorkle - Alun Armstrong
Stage Directions/2nd Man from Foley's/Officer/Ghostly Black Voice/Dr Crane - Obi Abili
Stacey/Young Joanie - Felicity Jones
Emmerson Sykes - Anton Lesser
Charlie McCorkle/Young Charlie - Tom Riley
Bella McCorkle - Alison Steadman
1st Man from Foley's/Officer Bruce Lee "Pee Wee" Jackson/Apparition/Young Chips - Tim Steed
Jessie Sykes - Una Stubbs

Directed by Jamie Lloyd during the Tennessee Williams season at the Donmar Warehouse. Seen on a steamy night in a good seat for the first half & moved to a better but scarier seat for the second, so that I could sit with my friend.

Faces in the audience: Greta Scaachi, Emma Cunniffe, Tom Mison and erm....gosh, who was the wonderful fella Emma came with, anyone?

I believe this was Williams last play and yet it could have easily been one of his earliest. It was formulaic, laden with metaphor and autobiography but seemed to plod around a bit.

The central family and their friends are as mad as a bag of spanners. Anton Lesser has another crack at trying to seduce Tom Riley's wife but unlike Ms Varma, young Ms Jones has God and she has him in spades. She probably gave the performance of the night simply because she had some real meat to get her teeth into but that's not to damn anyone else.

Poor Alun and Alison had such clunking great lumps to deliver, that were hard to keep engaged with, especially when the characters are not really able to be very physical. Their lighter moments were wonderful.

Anton gave his very, very best creepy and Una, her most delicious irritating - and I make both those comments with deep love and respect. Tom was reassuringly confident, comfortingly sane and ridiculously sexy though it turns out that Tim (well, Chuck) was always the better looking brother. Tim played his PeeWee with a nice edge.

What would this production have been without Obi leaping around the place and pulling it together? Much of his task was thankless in so far as he had endless stage directions to read but he brought a freshness and comedic flair that kept it all very light..........and he even went so far as to make laugh-out-loud moment from a lack of light.

All this on a balmy evening set around the lace balcony's of Streetcar's New Orleans set. Is there a better way to spend a tenner?

20 August 2009

A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams

A Young Man - Jack Ashton
Stanley Kowalski - Elliot Cowan
A Doctor - Charles Daish
A Nurse - Judy Hepburn
Harold "Mitch" MItchell - Barnaby Kay
Steve Hubbel - Gary Milner
Eunice Hubbel - Daniela Nardini
Pablo - Luke Rutherford
Blanche DuBois - Rachel Weisz
Ruth WIlson - Stella Kowalski

Seen in a brilliant seat at the Donmar Warehouse.

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Can theatre get any hotter than this? Elliot Cowan's body was buffed to within an inch of perfection to the point where I did actually find it distracting. Not good in an old woman.

19 August 2009

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Barnado/1st Gravedigger - David Burke
Francisco/Fortinbras/4th Player - Alan Turkington
Marcellus/3rd Player/2nd Gravedigger - Henry Pettigrew
Horatio - Matt Ryan
Claudius - Kevin R McNally
Osric - Ian Drysdale
Laertes - Alex Waldmann
Polonious - Ron Cook
Gertrude- Penelope Wilton
Hamlet - Jude Law
Ophelia - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Ghost/Player King - Peter Eyre
Reynaldo - Sean Jackson
Rosencrantz - Sean Jackson
Guildenstern - Gwilym Lee
Player Queen - Jenny Funnell
Cornelius/Captain/Priest - Harry Attwell
Members of the Court - Faye Winter/Colin Haigh/James Le Feuvre

DIrected by Michael Grandage
Designed by Christopher Oram

Seen during the Donmar's West End run at the Wyndham's Theatre

Once again, my notes seem to have been lost but I remember finding this a fun production.

10 August 2009

Three More Sleepless Nights by Caryl Churchill

Margaret -Lindsey Coulson
Frank - Ian Hart
Pete - Paul Ready
Dawn - Hattie Morahan

Directed by Gareth Machin and designed by Naomi Dawson.

Snuck into the early evening at the Lyttelton Theatre

I most certainly wasn't in the best frame of mind when I saw this but the performances were wonderful and the writing was tight and challenging.

09 August 2009

Helen by Euripides
in a new version by Frank McGuinness

Holly Atkins - Chorus
Philip Cumbus - Chorus
Penny Downie - Helen
Jack Farthing - Chorus
Diveen - Henry Theonoe
James Lailey - Pollux
Penny Layden - Gatekeeper
Fergal McElherron - Castor
Paul McGann - Menelaus
Rawiri Paratene - Theoclymenes
William Purefoy - Chorus
Ian Redford - Servant
Ukweli Roach - Messenger
Tom Stuart - Chorus
Graham Vick - Chorus
Andrew Vincent - Teucer
Musicians Phil Hopkins, Irita Kutchmy, Dai Pritchard

Directed by Deborah Bruce
Designed by Gideon Davey

Seen in the sunshine at The Globe.

A wonderfully energising production. Lost my notes but that much, I do remember with some great performances.

25 July 2009

The Observer by Matt Charman

Tony - Leo Bill
Police Officer/Obinna/Soldier - Daon Broni
Fiona Russell - Anna Chancellor
Saunders - James Fleet
Fabian/Henrik - Peter Forbes
Declan - Lloyd Hutchinson
Daniel Okeke - Chuk Iwuji
Kalifa/Madam Conteh/Waletta - Aïcha Kossoko
Muturi/Mr Sesay - Louis Mahoney
Aarya/Dr Daramy/Wink/General Okute - Cyril Nri
Edi/Judy - Isabel Pollen
Stenographer/Duduzile/Chimma - Joy Richardson

Director - Richard Eyre
Designer - Rob Howell

seen on a last minute, half-price email offer at the Cottesloe towards the end of it's run. I couldn't use the seat I'd booked because of the supposedly excessive endowments of the gentlemen in the seats either side of it whose gaping legs completely obscured the fact that there even was a seat between them. Fortunately, I was able to grab something more central further along the row.

I suppose I should check some reviews but Richard Eyre usually chooses pieces he can be passionate about and that's good enough for me. Anna Chancellor's performance and presence on the stage was remarkable. She was dominating, vulnerable and sexy all at the same time. She was absolutely radiant with little, or no make-up. James Fleet's role was sadly all too small. It was mainly expositional and whilst he was a joy to watch, I wondered how seductive the part had been to him.

Rob Howell rarely disappoints but what he does with these wonderfully clever drapes was a delight to watch. The versatility in their simplicity was very satisfying.

The script was taught, the cast were very fine and the whole production speeded along nicely.

An extract from the programme can be found here.

22 July 2009

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth

Pea - Jessica Barden
Lee - Tom Brooke
Ginger - Mackenzie Crook
The Professor - Alan David
Phaedra - Aimeé-Ffion Edwards
Marky - Lenny Harvey, Lewis Coppen
Wesley - Gerard Horan
Danny - Danny Kirrane
Tanya - Charlotte Mills
Dawn - Lucy Montgomery
Mrs Fawcett - Sarah Moyle
Mr Parsons - Harvey Robinson
Johnny "Rooster" Byron - Mark Rylance
Troy Whitwoth - Barry Sloane
Other roles ? - Greg Burridge, Dan Poole

Director Ian Rickson
Designer Ultz

Seen on the aborted Post Show Talk night, the week after press night at the Royal Court Downstairs
Celebs in the audience:- Nigel Harman, Con O'Neill, Hattie Morahan, Alex Wyndham.

I'm lazy and too tired to express myself any more adequately than the words you will find in the many rapturous reviews here.

My initial anger about nobody having the decency to even attempt an apology or notification that the post show talk had been cancelled (which left us £30 out of pocket again) was soon replaced with the euphoria of such a wonderful experience. It seems like this piece might be the culmination of all the years that Jez Butterworth has nibbled around his various themes with such invigorating events. This has everything and is at tight as a drum with gaspingly good performances from several of the cast.

As a keen follower of young Tom Brook's career, I was delighted that he held the audience in convulsions with no words for several seconds upon his entrance.

We also joined in the most encores I can remember at this theatre. Anyone still sitting was in the minority.

18 July 2009

A Doll's House by Ibsen
in a new version by Zinnie Harris

Nora - Gillian Anderson
Neil Kelman - Christopher Eccleston
Christine Lyle - Tara Fitzgerald
Dr Rank - Anton Lesser
Thomas - Toby Stephens
Annie - Maggie Wells
Emma- Leah Davies
Ivor - Ted O'Neil

Director: Kfir Yefet
Designer: Anthony Ward
Seen in the intimacy of the stalls on the afternoon of the last day of it's run at the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden.

With such an absorbing cast, I'm afraid to mistakenly shift the balance of credit however my first reaction is that engine driving this wonderful experience is Zinnie Harris with such a fresh and accessible reworking of the text. It would have been trite in the wrong hands but this cast slide around the dialogue with such ease and assurance that it's hard to imagine how it could ever be less than joyful.

I can't even single out a performance for special credit. Toby was sexy on his own and even sexier with Gillian, who became a little too shrill sometimes but nonetheless gave a pleasingly emotional performance. Christopher's gaunt and bleak portrayal of Kelman was as sinister as anything you'd want to see on such a tiny stage and Anton can do no wrong with his ability to pepper heartache through his composed facade. The thankless role of Annie was played with about as much nuance as you could hope to get out of it, to Maggie's credit. The kids were kids but they didn't jar so I cannot complain.

I had the feeling that there were a couple more weeks worth of exquisite performance left in this but it seemed as though we were allowed to think we'd seen one of the best they'd done in the run. It's a talent to give a gift like that to an audience.

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22 June 2009

When the Rain Stops Falling
by Andrew Bovell

Naomi Bentley - Gabrielle York (younger)
Simon Burke - Joe Ryan
Jonathan Cullen - Henry Law
Lisa Dillon - Elizabeth Law (younger)
Richard Hope - Gabriel York
Tom Mison - Gabriel Law
Phoebe Nicholls - Elizabeth Law (older)
Leah Purcell - Gabrielle York (older)
Sargon Yelda - Andrew Price

Directed by Michael Attenborough
Designed by Miriam Buether

Seen on the post show talk night towards the end of it's UK premiere run at the Almeida in our fave side (cheaper) seats but moving to the centre for the talk.

Very powerful, timey-wimey piece from a writer with an impeccable pedigree. Deepest regret is that in my desire to do the post show talk, I had to wait so long into the run before seeing it. Time-Out Sydney describes it as a 'theatrical Rubik's Cube' and that pretty much nails it.

There are some gorgeous nuggets of info, reviews & visual treats here.
In the same way as In a Dark, Dark House left me with a desire to analyse my thoughts and test them against time, I am left turning over the events of this play, which could also be described as a series of pleasingly related vignettes, to see what I might conclude a week hence. History relates that I rarely return to my notes for revision.

The post show talk revealed more about the provenance of the piece. It was amusing to learn that despite the fact that it is currently being performed in Sydney by Cate Blanchett's company, her filming commitments in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood meant that she had to see it here in London rather than her own gaff.
The original staging had fewer actors with some roles doubling up. I can see how that would have worked and even been a good device but I had no problem with the way this was staged here.
A couple of cast didn't take part in the talk but those who were there were entertaining, articulate and passionate. The optimum combo.

A final note to say that the incapacitation of the glorious Leah Purcell which necessitated her performing with a ski-boot and crutch, in no way detracted or jarred. It seemed completely integrated.

19 June 2009

a thought in three parts by Wallace Shawn

Summer Evening
David - Rory Kinnear
Sarah - Katherine Parkinson
Narrator - Stephen Dillane

The Youth Hostel
Dick - Christian Contreras
Helen - Daisy Lewis
Judy - Emily McDonnell
Bob - Andrew Garfield
Tom - Nicholas Burns
Narrator - Rory Kinnear

Mr Frivolous
Mr Frivolous - Stephen Dillane

This rehearsed reading was directed by Caryl Churchill downstairs in the Royal Court during their Wallace Shawn season.

Once again, I'd like to link a funny little website that has a few notes about the play from whence I gleaned this lovely quote
The 1977 London production was visited by a vice squad, and led to calls in the House of Lords to stop government funding for the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Andrew Gardfield was wearing self-consciously different socks. He's so out-there.
Katherine's voice is less annoying when she's doing the accent stuff and it actually seemed entirely appropriate in this case. Thought she was super and Emily McDonnell's kiddie voice is enough to test anyone so I was pleased that my aural apprehension was not founded.
As usual, I enjoyed watching the people who weren't performing. Stephen Dillane chuckled quite a lot and the others looked nervous, most of the time......and not without reason.
Nicholas Burns was underused but that's nobody's fault.
Rory still hypnotises me and I really don't know why. I want to pick him up and pop him in my pocket for later.
I've not been aware of Christian Contreras before but I shall certainly keep an eye out for him in future.
Hopelessly entertaining afternoon again. Flying in the face of 'No Sex Please, We're British' like thwack from a wet towel.

17 June 2009

Apologia by Alexi Kaye Campbell

Peter - Tom Beard
Kristin - Paola Dionisotti
Trudi - Sarah Goldberg
Simon - John Light
Claire - Nina Sosanya
Hugh - Philip Voss

Directed by Josie Rourke
Designed by Peter McKintosh

Bravely seen in unreserved seating at The Bush on the first night of it's previews with writer and director sitting a few feet behind us.

I'd love to return to this production later in the run because I cannot imagine many areas of tonight's show that could be improved upon. I see that they are still offering some seats at £9 which seems incredible.

The performances were so beautifully measured and they clearly must have enjoyed this wonderfully succinct and amusing text. There's so much I want to say about each individual right down to the smaller but most striking performance by John Light but it's really wrong to single anyone out from this staggering ensemble.

Once again, Alexi has crafted something with no spare, gratuitous fat. It's all just wonderful dialogue and thoughtful, uncompromising plot. I'm still in love.

Edited to add: Have a sift through the reviews here.

16 June 2009

A Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

Leontes -Simon Russell Beale
Florizel - Michael Braun
Mamillius/Perdita - Morven Christie
Paulina - Sinead Cusack
Old Shepherd/Time - Richard Easton
Hermione - Rebecca Hall
Polixenes - Josh Hamilton
Autolycus - Ethan Hawke
Camillo - Paul Jesson
Servant - Aaron Krohn
Antigonus/Shepherd - Dakin Matthews
Mariner/Shepherd - Mark Nelson
Lady in Waiting/Mopsa - Charlotte Parry
Dorcas/ Jessica Pollert Smith
Cleomenes/Bear/Shepherd - Gary Powell
Young Shepherd - Tobias Segal
Emilia/Shepherdess - Hannah Stokely

Directed by Sam Mendes
Set Designed by Anthony Ward

Seen by way of a birthday present in unexpectedly close proximity to the stage (row F being only 3 from front) at the Old Vic as part of the wonderful Bridge Project collaboration. Celeb in Audience - Raza Jaffrey.

As vibrant and perfect a production of this as I could ever wish to see. Simon Russell Beale is an actor of epic proportions which demands that his cast is chosen very carefully from the best around. I think he must be one of those actors that colleagues describe as generous because whilst his fearful and regal status is always maintained, he never completely steals anything from the other performers and I am convinced that he dips his feet in wax before each performance. How else could they look so perfect and cherubic?
I have to say I thought the balloon dance was horrible & it jarred with the rest of the production.
I sat next to a couple who's male contingent was the kind of pompous twat who smugly remarks upon the glaringly obvious about 90 seconds after it happens under the spurious pretext of having to explain details to his poor simple-minded wife. Where's my tazar?
We were asked to turn off our cellphones at the start. I know this is a bridge between the US and the UK but was that really necessary?
At one point there was a strange commotion in the audience that seemed to come from a school party. It was alarmingly prolonged & involved lots of seat banging.

It's a daft and much used device but the candles gave a wonderfully regal effect & there was a pragmatic mix of real and electrically assisted fitments.
I also enjoyed the use of silhouettes which could have been overplayed but seemed to just hit the right balance.
The oracle sequence is no doubt described elsewhere in great detail but I prefer to remain mesmerised and mystified.
The music was so perfectly judged and reminded me most achingly of Gabriel Yared.

There is a lot of free parking around the Old Vic if you arrive after 6:30 but it fills fast & I had to park at the side by the stage door. As I moved away, I saw Mr Beale dragging heavily on his Benson's trying to battle through the many patrons still spilling onto the street at the front of the theatre. He made his way unnoticed and unchallenged.

12 June 2009

Our Late Night by Wallace Shawn

Samantha - Megan Dodds
Jim - Mark Gatiss
Tony - Tom Hollander
Kristin - Jenny Jules
Lewis - Peter McDonald
Grant - Andrew Scott
Annette - Jennifer Tilly

Director - Tom Cairns

A rehearsed reading during the Shawn season at the Royal Court.

Here are some informative notes to be read from when this play was produced in London almost ten years ago. A sweet, old fashioned website but it still does the trick.

Gatiss perfectly cast because he was just doing what he always does.......really well.
Megan maybe just a little too stony & did she mean to fart as she bent over?
Not enough Andrew Scott but he had a great opening scene.
Tony's sexual conquest monologue was staggering in both word and performance.
Grant's disclosure was very uncomfortable but perfectly balanced by Tony's disgust.

I'm going to link a little site which has brief descriptions of all Wally's work.
For the second time, I thought I saw Joan Plowright making her way out of the theatre.
Sadly, there are rarely photos available from rehearsed readings.

08 June 2009

Aunt Dan & Lemon by Wallace Shawn

Aunt Dan - Lorraine Ashbourne
Father - Paul Chahidi
Flora - Rebecca Faulkenberry
June - Holly Goss
Lemon - Jane Horrocks
Mindy - Scarlett Johnson
Freddie - Ryan McCluskey
Andy - Martin McDougall
Jasper - Nathan Osgood
Mother - Mary Roscoe
Marty - Trevor White
Raimondo - Rene Zagger

Director Dominic Cooke
Designer Lizzie Clachan

Seen downstairs at the Royal Court during it's revival as part of the Wallace Shawn season. Mistakenly got a seat in the front row of the circle.

"My most intense memories really go back to my childhood, but not so much to the things that I did: instead I remember the things I was told"

We all remember a favourite aunty, uncle or grandparent, someone who, in our childhood, told us tales that made our toes curl and stories of wonder. For Lemon, it was Aunt Dan. A brilliant, intoxicating but dangerous woman who shared all the most intimate and daring secrets of her decadent, exotic adult world...

Aunt Dan and Lemon explores the frightening pathways of influence, the glamour of cruelty and the shadow side of nostalgia.

Running Time: 1hr 50mins, no interval

I can't say this play achieved what the last line of that quote from the Royal Court website implies that it intended (and I feel that should read 'shadowy' but I'm quoting so I shouldn't change it).
I was relieved that Ms Horrocks did not deploy her shrill missiles of declaration but I was not able to see where she was aiming to be. She was cute and warm but then chilling and ignorant. I'm pretty good at all of those myself but if I confuse people, they can walk away whereas this character was trying to communicate something to a paying audience.

I'm not sure where the fault lay and it didn't help that I was looking down at the stage rather than across or up, as I found myself following through with my downward glance into a fully closed eye position on more than one occasion. Some great slugs of text for the able cast to get their teeth into. Lorraine Ashbourne lit up the stage with what must have been exciting views in their time but now just serve as endorsements to the standard liberal mind. There were some of the cute set pieces you would expect from Mr Shawn but it didn't hit the spot for me. The press seemed to like it so perhaps we just went on a lack-lustre night. They only took one curtain all so perhaps we let the cast down too.

Harold Pinter Tribute at the National Theatre, Olivier

The great unwashed were allowed to join this celebration in exchange for £10 which was good value for this beautifully paced and moving evening.

02 June 2009

the rape of europe by Gregory Motton

Gengis - Kevin McMonagle
Uncle - Simon Paisley Day
Aunty - Penny Dimond
Lolo - Monic Dolan
Charlie/Dracula - Pearce Quigley

Join Gengis Khan on the eve of the 2009 European elections as he goes on his first trip to Brussels, the beating heart of Euroland. But democracy in the Euro-zone isn't quite what Gengis had in mind and his intensive education in EU governance transforms him into a very British freedom fighter.
Gregory Motton's hilarious and scabrous creation whisks us through the strange, devastating reality of Europe today. His previous plays for the Royal Court include Ambulance, Downfall, The Terrible Voice of Satan and The World's Biggest Diamond.

Director Ramin Gray
A random, rehearsed reading on a sunny afternoon at the Royal Court and no money exchanged hands.

With the very best comedic efforts to make this highly political message easier to digest, it still ran a bit too long and lacked consistency. The cast were wonderful in the most part though I felt Penny Dimond was out out of her depth with her strange look and wild eyes which were a little distracting. Ramin Gray called the scenes and acted as prop man & effects manager. He had an hilarious interchange with Pearce Quigley. Both Pearce and Kevin gave beautiful performances. There was a wonderful sequence where Pearce & Monica spoke their lines together that worked really well. There's something good here but it needs a little more work to engage a bigger audience for that amount of time. Wonderful use of the 'Grasses' sofa.
There were some young children in the audience and I can only presume they came to watch Mummy or Daddy. They were well behaved but must have been bored senseless. Later on in the bar, the place was swarming with young humans.

Bottom line is that everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and that goes a long way to making it fun for me.

29 May 2009

the hotel by wallace shawn (rehearsed reading)

Wonderful bit if clever nonsense & I am too lazy to type all the details so here is a clickable facsimile.
Part of the Shawn Wallace season and this was the first of five rehearsed readings. I had the advantage of sitting at the right angle to see the joyful, friendly tortoise both mouthing and laughing at his own words like a child at Christmas. This needlessly enhanced my enjoyment of the piece to levels that I hardly knew how to contain.

The next bit of joy, since I was not familiar with the text, came when having previously imagined that with a cast of 60 and a running time of just over an hour, no one actor would have much time on stage, it transpired that Benedict Cumberbatch was ringmaster and his deliciously dry interludes gathered the whole randomness of the vignettes together.

This cast clearly had a good deal of fun with the piece and most were off book as their lines were short. I would love to know how long they had to rehearse this because it could have been chaos in the wrong hands. Some Royal Court front of house staff and a couple of members of the creative team were also roped in. Using the Aunt Dan and Lemon set had it's advantages from the respect of all the entrances and traditional room setting but it must have taken a good deal of effort to stage this jigsaw of a production.

The bar was buzzing afterwards and various people dropped by to either see the reading or meet up with friends. Apart from the cast, we noticed Martin Crimp, Mel Kenyon, Hattie Morahan & Neil Tennant.

Fortunately, there are cheaper places to find the playtext than this.

28 May 2009

Dido, Queen of Carthage by Christopher Marlowe

Iarbus : Obi Abili
Singer/Lord : Jake Arditti
Aeneas : Mark Bonnar
Anna : Siân Brooke
Cloanthus : Gary Carr
Jupiter/Lioneus : Alan David
Juno/Nurse : Susan Engel
Ascanius : Freddie Hill (this night)
(Ascanius : Thomas Patten)
Dido : Anastasia Hille
Achates : Stephen Kennedy
Mercury/Hermes : Kyle McPhail
Venus : Siobhan Redmond
Ganymede/Sergestus : Ryan Sampson
Cupid : Ceallach Spellman (this night)
(Cupid : Theo Stevenson)

Director: James Macdonald
Set Designer: Tobias Hoheisel

Seen during the middle of it's run at the Cottesloe in the middle of a row towards the back of The Pit.

Extract from the programme for Dido, Queen of Carthage:

Dido, queen of carthage
First published in 1594, the year after Marlowe died. There are only three copies of this text in existence. The title page claims the play was first performed by Her Majesties Children of the Chapel, and was co-authored by Thomas Nashe. It’s unclear what Nashe’s role might have been, as the play is thematically and poetically almost a blueprint for Marlowe’s subsequent work, but totally unlike what we know of Nashe’s playwriting.

First play?
An adaptation primarily of Vergil’s Aeneid, which figured largely in an Elizabethan grammar school education. The script certainly has all the precocity of a first play by an ambitious young controversialist, from the moment of its opening stage direction: Here the curtains draw. There is discovered JUPITER dandling GANYMEDE upon his knee, and MERCURY lying asleep – a ganymede was Elizabethan slang for a male prostitute, and this scene is entirely Marlowe’s invention. Marlowe was born in Canterbury in 1564, the son of a shoemaker, and went to Cambridge on a religious scholarship funded by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The future atheist and fan of boys and tobacco seems to have learnt most of his Latin from the pagan poets, closest to his heart being Ovid – whose Amores he translated (published and immediately banned in the years after Marlowe’s death) – and who also in Heroides has Dido write a long letter to Aeneas telling him why she will kill herself.

Copyright James MacDonald 2009
When I heard about this production, the inclusion of Anastasia Hille was the hook-that-made-me-book and she did not disappoint. For me, she's the Tilda Swinton of the stage and she showed me things I had not seen her do before, which is always a thrill.

There was some deliciously amusing bits of staging and I think everyone had a lot of fun. I have seen very little Marlowe (unless you subscribe to the view that he wrote all of Billie's stuff). Why is that?
I am rather cross that all the press photos seem to have the yellow curtains so I can't show you the beautiful cobalt sea. I can't find a silly enough picture of Ryan Sampson, either. Oh - the kids were quite good in this, which is a godsend.

27 May 2009

Collaboration by Ronald Harwood

Pauline Stevens - Isla Blair
Paul Adoplh - Pip Donaghy
Hans Hinkel - Martin Hutson
Charlotte Altmann - Sophie Roberts
Richard Strauss - Michael Pennington
Stefan Zweig - David Horovitsch

Directed by Philip Franks
Designed by Simon Higlett

Seen for free on press night in the back of the steep, steep circle.

I must have missed something here. The stalls seemed to have thought it was wonderful but found it very ordinary. I trust Mr Harwood's words and the main cast are all very capable so I am going to lay the blame with the director and a bit of press nerves. I loathed the squeeling and I found the emotional scenes rather disconnected. The jumping around from set to set didn't work for me either.

What's On Stage review.

Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood

Helmuth Rode - Pip Donaghy
Lieutenant David Wills - Martin Hutson
Emmi Staube - Sophie Roberts
Dr Willhelm Furtwaengler - Michael Pennington
Major Steve Arnold - David Horovitsch
Tamara Sachs - Melanie Jessop

Directed by Philip Franks
Designed by Simon Higlett

Got a free ticket for this and thought I was coming to a preview. As it turned out I was filling a seat at the press performance. Had I been better dressed I could have ligged myself into the Sofra party with great ease. Sat up near the front of the Dress Circle but this is such a tiny theatre that the old vertigo kicked en route to the seat.

I loved what they did with the two short Pinter plays a couple of years ago but these are two longer Harwood plays and for my money, they were shown the wrong way round for the Press. I found the fourth wall thing tantamount to breaking the contract I made with them when I took my seat and the shrill squawking was embarrassing. Two or three good performances were let down by extremely mediocre and I don't blame the actors for this. The young couple were left hanging around with nothing to do like apologetic statues and with their office setting, they could have easily looked more natural. It was like bad musical hall at some points. I know I'm in the minority because it would never had made it's way from Chichester if it had been genuinely bad.

What's On Stage Review.