24 February 2009

Burnt By The Sun by Peter Flannery
(based on Mikhalkov & Ibragimbekov screenplay)

Vsevolod : Duncan Bell
Nadia : Skye Bennett
Little Girl/Pioneer Girl : Anna Burnett/ Floss Hoffmann/ Hattie Webb
Elena : Anna Carteret
Lidia : Rowena Cooper
Aronin : Marcus Cunningham
Maroussia : Michelle Dockery
Andrushya/Pioneer Officer : Michael Grady-Hall
Mironov : Colin Haigh
Pioneer Officer : Harry Hepple
Kotov : Ciarán Hinds
Mokhova : Stephanie Jacob
Ensemble : Anne Kavanagh
Mitia : Rory Kinnear
Ensemble : Victoria Lennox
Kolya/Pioneer Officer : Stuart Martin
Kirik : Tim McMullan
Olga : Pamela Merrick
Ensemble : Charlotte Pyke
Blokhin : Roger Ringrose
The Truck Driver : Tony Turner

Director: Howard Davies
Designer: Vicki Mortimer
At the Lyttelton in a last minute house seat at £ 10!

Eventful evening. Realised that David Hare is a fellow member of the 'secret free parking place' club in Waterloo. Caught Miranda Richardson running very late for Every Good Boy Deserves Favour but she made it in time. I laughed heartily at the latercomers monitor while I had a snack before my show. Jason Hughes was in the Benugo bar at the BFI.

Where do I begin with this one? Wonderful show and such a light touch from Mr Flannery. Performances were fantastic. I suppose I can see a few things that might adjust in the next few days as this was the first preview but I loved every moment. Set worked magnificently well too and all this for £10.

I suppose I should make special mention of the unendingly talented Mr Kinnear who sang, danced and dazzled with his wit and timing. I have longed to see Mr Hinds on the stage and he was everything I'd hoped he'd be. Dockers was like liquid porcelain with a double edge of sharp and heartbreaking delivery, Tim McMullan was gloriously funny & salacious.

A potentially grim piece glided across the 2 hours with ease and joy. I hope the cast had as much fun as I did.

I have spotted a trend:- Rory Kinnear + National Theatre = long haired wig in attempt to disguise himself from his mother.
Since I saw this in preview, here is a page of rehearsal shots to be going on with(click to enlarge) but I have since added some production shots. I should add some of the glowing reviews too.
Ciaran interview
Michael Billington @ The Guardian

and a wanky entry from The Guardian. Who says film fans and theatre fans are mutually exclusive?

18 February 2009

Black Beast Sadness by Anja Hilling & Translated by Philip Thorne(Rehearsed Reading)

Old Woman - Sharon Bower
Flynn - Bryan Dick
Oskar - Daniel Evans
Old Man - Geoff Leesley
Paul - Nigel Lindsay
Jennifer - Doon Mackichan
Martin - Frank McCusker
Miranda - Hattie Morahan

Directed by Simon Godwin
Part of the off the wall season.
Seen in the Royal Court downstairs around about tea-time.

Celeb in the Audience - Navin Chowdhry
A weekend trip away from the city descends into a few hours of unimaginable horror that change the lives of three couples forever.

I have seen this title (Schwarzes Tier Traurigkeit) translated as "Black Beast", "Black Beast Sorrow" and on the flyer they used "Sadness" but you get the idea.

A bunch of friends go for a picnic in a wooded area and light a careless barbecue which ends in disaster. We explore their relationships to each other on the way.
Jennifer used to be married to Paul but they broke up and he now has a baby, Gloria with his partner, Miranda. Oskar is Jennifer's brother and his partner is Martin. Jennifer has a new partner too - Flynn and he catches the eye of Martin. The partnerships get muddled in the the disaster.

Very sharp and witty writing performed with seamless grace. Frank McCusker is intoxicating and if anyone just thinks of Hattie in her tv roles they have missed the ethereal beauty of her stage presence. Tonight she was radiant.

This was originally going to be directed by Mark Ravenhill which would have been wonderful but I have nothing bad to say about Simon Godwin at all. A fabulous start to the evening.

The auditorium smelled of sweet tobacco. Russell Tovey and Luke Treadaway were wandering around the bar.

17 February 2009

Skin Deep by Armando Iannucci & David Sawer

Dr. Needlemeier a plastic surgeon - Geoffrey Dolton
Lania his wife - Janis Kelly
Donna his receptionist - Heather Shipp
Elsa his daughter - Amy Freston
Robert a villager - Andrew Tortise
Luke Pollock a Hollywood actor - Mark Stone
Susannah Dangerfield a reporter - Gwendoline Christie
Patient - Gillene Herbert
Donnalike - Sarah Blood
Robertalike1 - Nicholas Butterfield
Robertalike 2 Trevor Bowes

Directed by Richard Jones
Designed by Stewart Lang
Conducted by Richard Farnes

Seen in the second tier of Sadler's Wells on the first night in London.

Face-twistingly daft.
How can you resist a production with the motto 'Putting Right What Nature Got Wrong"' ? Even the is entertaining

Our seats were sufficiently far away that we were spared too much of the gory details but there really weren't any.
Two more links and the later takes you through the entire plot - though the meat of this piece is the dialogue and visual humour. I would love to know which word came to mind first when Mr Iannucci coupled 'supermodel' and 'twaddle'.

An hilarious evening best enjoyed as I did, with good friends.

16 February 2009

Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza by Caryl Churchill

Ben Caplan
Jack Chissick
David Horovitch
Daisy Lewis
Ruth Posner
Samuel Roukin
Susannah Wise
Alexis Zegerman

Director Dominic Cooke
Lighting Matt Drury
Sound David McSeveney

A short shimmy along the row to D14 after seeing The Stone in the Jerwood Downstairs.
Actors in the audience were Russell Tovey (currently in rehearsal for A Miracle) and Elliot Levey (currently in rep at the NT with England People Very Nice).

From the website
Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill is a ten minute history of Israel, ending with the bombing of Gaza. There will be no admission charge and a collection will be made for Medical Aid For Palestinians (MAP): Emergency Appeal for the People of Gaza, after the show.

Angry? Sad? Confused? Come and spend ten minutes with us.

It would be crass to say that Ms Churchill's plays seem to get shorter and shorter but she really does have a great talent for getting to the heart of the matter along the least line of resistance. Wonderful play-byte.

The Stone by Marius Von Mayenburg
(translated by Maja Zade)

Witha - Linda Bassett
Hannah - Loo Brealey
Wolfgang - Jonathan Cullen
Stefanie - Amanda Drew
Mieze - Justine Mitchell
Heidrun - Helen Schlesinger.

Director Ramin Gray
Designer Johannes Schutz

From the 'off the wall' season (....Germany & The Wall) at the Royal Court (downstairs) D6 on a £10 Monday ticket.

Less than half way through this I was wondering when I would be able to return in the 10p slips to see it again. New writing like this makes me as excited as a child at Christmas.

I think it's appropriate to put a quote from the RC webpage here:-

1935: A young couple buys the house from a Jewish family, and so the myth begins
1953: The couple's daughter discovers the stone
1978: The family returns to claim what's rightfully theirs
1993: The house is back in their possession

As a house passes from owner to owner, and from generation to generation, the secrets buried in the garden and seeping from the walls reveal themselves.

......reading that afterwards, I've now managed to introduce some confusion that I didn't feel before but I'll sort it out. That's the wonderful thing with a play like this. In it's simplicity lies so much to ponder. Very witty and poignant lines. Incredible performances from Linda and Amanda. The set was a sealed three wall-er so the cast approached from steps along the front of the stage. This leads me to note that the front row would be a perfectly comfy seat for this production, if anyone is wondering.
Funny little note though - on the night we saw it there was no stone used as a prop. Cupped hands with looks of awe and wonder but no actual stone. The set was by necessity (crossing so many generations) sparse but there were cups, a coffee pot, cakes, a box of letters & medals and a box with a wedding veil along with two tables and an axe but no sign of the eponymous stone.

I can't recommend this more highly and at the moment you might be able to cleverly incorporate a wonderful rehearsed reading and/or 10 minutes of delight from Caryl Churchill into your evening.

Edited to add that I couldn't resist seeing this again after the rehearsed reading two days later..........and the cast were happily reunited with the stone - a rather large chunky cobble. Somewhere in a Chelsea mews an ankle will be turned on a pot-hole!
I also noted that Frank McCusker stayed after his rehearsed reading to see this and on the 18th the circle smelled of fish paste.

15 February 2009

What's On Stage Theatregoers Choice Awards Winners' Concert and Presentation

The nominations and subsequent winners are here . and the press release of the actual concert show reads thus
Awards Concert
Tonight’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards Concert is hosted for the second successive year by James Corden and Sheridan Smith and will also include performances by Award nominees Elena Roger (Piaf) and Leila Benn Harris (Imagine This); Siobhan McCarthy (giving a sneak preview of the forthcoming Cat Stevens musical Moonshadow); The Phantom of the Opera star Ramin Karimloo; X Factor finalist turned Blood Brothers leading lady Niki Evans; I’d Do Anything competitors Samantha Barks and Sarah Lark; and American diva Kim Criswell; as well as Suranne Jones, Julie Atherton, Glenn Carter, Ray Shell, Jimmy Johnston and Jackie Marks.

The concert is held in aid of Whatsonstage.com’s adopted charity for 2009, TheatreMAD (Theatre: Make a Difference), which supports those living with HIV, AIDS and other long-term conditions. How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and The Sound of Music star Connie Fisher – a former Whatsonstage.com Award winner who was nominated this year for They’re Playing Our Song – will present on behalf of the charity. www.theatremad.org.uk

Other nominees and VIPs due at the Prince of Wales tonight include: Denise Gough, Douglas Hodge, Ella Smith, Jason Pennycooke, Joanna Page, Kevin R McNally, Lesley Sharp, Lesli Margherita, Linda Thorson, Lisa O’Hare, Lorraine Bruce, Malcolm Sinclair, Matt Rawle, Matthew Bourne, Michael Boyd, Michelle Terry, Nick Cavaliere, Patina Miller (the new star of Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act), Pip Carter, Rachel Tucker, Rafael Armago, Rolan Bell, Rupert Goold, Sheila Hancock, Steven Berkoff, Suzanne Shaw, Terry Johnson and Tom Piper
More Here and some videos here.

It was enormous fun and James Cordon was far better behaved under the watchful eye of Sheridan rather than the disasterous influence of Johnny Vaughan that was so cringe-worthy at the 24 Hour Plays Gala Night.

We didn't see too many of the interesting guests mingling but we had to wait for the wonderful Kevin R McNally do his photo call outside and then Eddie Izzard to his inside before we went to our seats. Ray Davies was there too!!!

I'm not sure I would bother to go again unless there was a really special reason but I am glad I went to this one.
I should have found some picture really.

13 February 2009

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn

The Teacher - Bronagh Gallagher
Sacha - Bryony Hannah
Ivanov - Toby Jones
Alexander - Joseph Millson
The Doctor - Dan Stevens
The Colonel - Alan Williams
Orchestra - Southbank Sinfonia

Directors - Felix Barrett and Tom Morris
Conductor - Simon Over
Designer - Bob Crowley

Seen at the the NT's Olivier in our new favourite seats virtually overhanging the side of the stage at half the price of the centre stalls.
I would so dearly love to see this again. The performances from the main cast are staggering. Toby is hilarious, Joseph is raw and heartbreaking, Dan is taut and dry (in a good way). The orchestra must pinch themselves every night that they are part of such a wonderful piece.

I have been loathe to take this out of the draft status because I can't find the right words. I am finally posting this nearly 2 weeks after I saw it. I watched the first 10 minutes again on a latecomers monitor the other night, just for the joy of it. I shall probably have to visit the archive to see it again.
For your further interesting reading, take a look at this bit from the Guardian and click around the NT link above.
Rehearsal & production - spot the difference.

I have now caught up with the reviews and they are mixed but many of the negative comments make me wonder if the press night was not as settled and fine tuned as when I saw it. I wanted to run on the stage and sit with the orchestra.

Berlin by David Hare

David Hare reading his own piece and directed by Stephen Daldry
Snuck into the early evening of the Lyttelton @ the National prior the regular scheduled performance of the day.

I could listen to Mr Hare read the telephone directory and he would deliver it with dry passion and relaxed, perfect diction.
There were moments of this piece that made me blush with their own self consciousness but if I insist upon putting someone on a pedestal, I can be forgiven for grabbing their toes and tipping them off balance from time to time.

So pleased I was able to see this........and at such a convenient time.

03 February 2009

Extraordinary Entry

I really should have done this for the ES awards too but here are the nominations for The Olivier Awards .

There is a great deal that pleases me here. I am amused to see That Face qualifies for awards again this year (though I'd like to have seen the room made for something else but see how quickly you redeemed yourself in my eyes, Mr Herrin?) and thrilled that La Cage does too. I am so pleased that No Man's Land and The Chalk Garden figure so well in performance but I have yet to quite understand the total adulation for Osage.
Delighted to see Kevin R in there....and Alexi Kaye Campbell is off and running which makes me feel very warm and happy. Flabbergasted that Female of the Species made it through........ annoyed that I never made the effort to see Fat Pig with it's original cast.........and similar emotions about not seeing Piaf while it was still at the Donmar. Bit surprised that 3 of the 4 Director noms are for musicals.....and for all the right reasons, Black Watch was staged like a musical. Is that category meant to read "Best Director of a wonderful ensemble" ?

I almost feel tempted to suggest who I feel should win but my inverted ego will not allow me......today.
Unashamed cut&paste from The Stage:-

The nominations in full are:

Best Actress
Deanna Dunagan for August: Osage County at the Lyttelton
Lindsay Duncan for That Face at the Duke of York’s
Margaret Tyzack for The Chalk Garden at the Donmar
Penelope Wilton for The Chalk Garden at the Donmar

Best Actor
David Bradley for No Man’s Land at the Duke of York’s
Michael Gambon for No Man’s Land at the Duke of York’s
Adam Godley for Rain Man at the Apollo
Derek Jacobi for Twelfth Night, Donmar at Wyndham’s

Best Performance In A Supporting Role
Oliver Ford Davies for Hamlet at the Novello
Kevin R McNally for Ivanov, Donmar at Wyndham’s
Paul Ritter for The Norman Conquests at The Old Vic
Patrick Stewart for Hamlet at the Novello

Best Company Performance
August: Osage County directed by Anna D Shapiro at the Lyttelton
Black Watch directed by John Tiffany at the Barbican
The Histories directed by Michael Boyd at the Roundhouse
The Norman Conquests directed by Matthew Warchus at The Old Vic
Sunset Boulevard directed by Craig Revel Horwood at the Comedy

Best New Play
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts at the Lyttelton
Black Watch by Gregory Burke at the Barbican
The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall at the Cottesloe
That Face by Polly Stenham at the Duke Of York’s

Best New Comedy
Fat Pig by Neil La Bute at the Comedy
The Female Of The Species by Joanna Murray-Smith at the Vaudeville
God Of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton at the Gielgud

Best Revival
The Chalk Garden directed by Michael Grandage at the Donmar
The Histories directed by Michael Boyd at the Roundhouse
The Norman Conquests directed by Matthew Warchus at The Old Vic

Best Entertainment
Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter at the Cinema Haymarket
La Clique at the Hippodrome
Maria Friedman: Re-Arranged at Trafalgar Studios 1

Best New Musical
Jersey Boys The Story Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe at the Prince Edward
Zorro book & lyrics by Stephen Clark, music by The Gipsy Kings, original story by Stephen Clark & Helen Edmundson, music co-composed and adapted by John Cameron at the Garrick

Best Musical Revival
La Cage Aux Folles, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, book by Harvey Fierstein, based on the play “La Cage Aux Folles” by Jean Poiret, at the Playhouse Theatre.
Piaf by Pam Gems at the Donmar and Vaudeville
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, based on the Billy Wilder film at the Comedy
West Side Story based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, entire original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins at Sadler’s Wells

Best Actress In A Musical
Sofia Escobar for West Side Story at Sadler’s Wells
Kathryn Evans for Sunset Boulevard at the Comedy
Ruthie Henshall for Marguerite at the Haymarket
Elena Roger for Piaf at the Donmar and Vaudeville
Emma Williams for Zorro at the Garrick

Best Actor In A Musical
Douglas Hodge for La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse
Denis Lawson for La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse
Ryan Molloy for Jersey Boys The Story Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons at the Prince Edward
Matt Rawle for Zorro at the Garrick

Best Performance In A Supporting Role In A Musical
Alexander Hanson for Marguerite at the Haymarket
Katherine Kingsley for Piaf at the Donmar and Vaudeville
Lesli Margherita for Zorro at the Garrick
Jason Pennycooke for La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse
Dave Willetts for Sunset Boulevard at the Comedy

Best Director
Terry Johnson for La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse
Des McAnuff for Jersey Boys The Story Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons at the Prince Edward
Emma Rice for Brief Encounter at the Cinema Haymarket
John Tiffany for Black Watch at the Barbican

Best Theatre Choreographer
Rafael Amargo for Zorro at the Garrick
Steven Hoggett for Black Watch at the Barbican
Lynne Page for La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse
Kate Prince for Into The Hoods at the Novello
Sergio Trujillo for Jersey Boys The Story Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons at the Prince Edward

Best Lighting Design
The Chalk Garden designed by Paule Constable at the Donmar
Ivanov designed by Paule Constable, Donmar at Wyndham’s
No Man’s Land designed by Neil Austin at the Duke of York’s
Piaf designed by Neil Austin at the Donmar and Vaudeville

Best Set Design
August: Osage County designed by Todd Rosenthal at the Lyttelton
Brief Encounter designed by Neil Murray, projections by Gemma Carrington and Jon Driscoll at the Cinema Haymarket
The Histories designed by Tom Piper at the Roundhouse
The Lover And The Collection designed by Soutra Gilmour at the Comedy
Marguerite designed by Paul Brown at the Haymarket

Best Costume Design
The Histories designed by Tom Piper and Emma Williams at the Roundhouse
La Cage Aux Folles designed by Matthew Wright at the Playhouse
The Norman Conquests designed by Rob Howell at The Old Vic
Twelfth Night designed by Christopher Oram, Donmar at Wyndham’s

Best Sound Design
Black Watch designed by Gareth Fry at the Barbican
Brief Encounter designed by Simon Baker at the Cinema Haymarket
Jersey Boys The Story Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons designed by Steve Canyon Kennedy at the Prince Edward
Piaf designed by Christopher Shutt, Max & Ben Ringham at the Donmar and Vaudeville

Outstanding Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre
The ensemble cast of Oxford Street, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court
The Royal Court Theatre’s production of The Pride, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
Clive Rowe for his performance in Mother Goose at Hackney Empire
Jo Newbery for the design of Scarborough, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court

Best New Opera Production
The Royal Opera’s Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera’s The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House
English National Opera’s I Pagliacci at the Coliseum
English National Opera’s Partenope at the Coliseum

Outstanding Achievement In Opera
Patricia Bardon for her performances in The Royal Opera’s The Rake’s Progress at the Royal Opera House and English National Opera’s Partenope and Riders To The Sea at the Coliseum
Feruccio Furlanetto for his performance in the Royal Opera’s Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House
Ed Gardner for conducting English National Opera’s Boris Godunov, Cavalliera Rusticana, Der Rosenkavalier, I Pagliacci, Riders To The Sea at the Coliseum and Punch And Judy at the Young Vic
Christine Rice for her performances in the Royal Opera’s The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House and English National Opera’s Partenope at the Coliseum

Best New Dance Production
Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal’s Café Muller/ The Rite Of Spring at Sadler’s Wells
The Royal Ballet of Flanders’ Impressing The Czar at Sadler’s Wells
The Royal Ballet’s Infra at the Royal Opera House
DV8’s To Be Straight With You at the Lyttelton

Outstanding Achievement In Dance
The company of the Royal Ballet of Flanders for their performances in Impressing The Czar at Sadler’s Wells
The company of the The Royal Ballet for their performances in Infra
Savion Glover, Marshall Davis Jr and Maurice Chestnut for their performances in Savion Glover’s Bare Soundz at Sadler’s Wells