25 March 2009

Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg

Walker/Ned - James McAvoy
Pip/Theo - Nigel Harman
Nan/Lina - Lyndsey Marshal

Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Gilmour

Seen mid-run in it's 2009 revival at The Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. Lovely half price seat in the middle of row L

Audience notables: Nick Moran, Stephen Campbell Moore, Liz White & another industry bod who shall not get a name check because I was so appalled by his behaviour. I think I also saw Hardeep Singh Kholi and Neve Campbell wandering around the foyer.

Silly Comment: How many Scots can you see doing an American accent in one day?

The first act is so superb that the interval seems like an intrusion. Sadly, the second act has at least ten minutes of self-conscious diatribe which does not serve the plot, or by this stage, the character development which means it brings one's overall impression down a few notches. It was a refreshing piece and I can totally see what Mr Greenberg was trying to do here but parts were rather clumsy and loose.

The cast put all they had and more into this and cannot be faulted in any way. You wouldn't have known that from the behaviour of the above mentioned industry person who really should have known better. He constantly made giggly remarks to his companion, so absorbed in his own ego that he ignored all the frustrated looks around him until the woman in-front gave him a fairly light-hearted glare to which he responded with schoolboy aplomb - antique gestures, if you will. He didn't stop his wittering then, either.

If he doesn't like the cast and wishes to disrupt the performance (for they surely would have been aware of his antics), that is one thing that he really should have out with them in private but there were innocent people sitting in that part of the stalls that may have saved and paid for a top price seat and quite possibly, a train fare or even an hotel stay overnight. I only paid half price and live around the corner so I can live with it but I felt so sorry for those around the jerk. I see him around town from time to time, perhaps I'll shout 'hey baldy, your flies are undone' next time I see him - his hairline is only receding but I am sure such a peacock will be deliciously vulnerable to such a comment.

A really entertaining evening, nonethless and a special mention for the simple effectiveness of the set design and for the near bursting performance from Nigel Harman. I was amazed and delighted when I saw him in The Caretaker and now I have etched a mental note to never pass up a chance to see him in a production of any kind. This is not to detract from his co-stars in any way. A wonderful threesome.

Billington, Spencer and the Coveney.

A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller

Louis - Antonio Magro
Mike - Enzo Squillino Jr
Alfieri - Allan Corduner
Eddie - Ken Stott
Cathering - Hayley Atwell
Beatrice - Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Marco - Gerard Monaco
Tony/Mr Lipari - John Moriatis
Rodolpho - Harry Lloyd
First Immigration Officer/Neighbour - Jonathan Janes
Second Immigration Officer/Neighbour - Philips Desmeules
Mrs Lipari - Julia Barrie
Submarine/Neighbour - Peter Basham
Neighbour - Abby Forknall

Directed by Lindsay Posner
Designed by Christopher Dram

Seen on a half price ticket in the middle of the stalls at the lovely little Duke of York's theatre on a shower dodging matinee. Too enthralled to notice any celebs in the audience
I've decided it might be fun to include Spark Notes in here from now on.
As I began to walk up St Martin's Lane I saw an almost impenetrable sea of school uniform that filled me with dread. The entrance was completely blocked by them because nowadays it is impossible to control them, I suppose. They seemed well behaved but just a little mindless. In the event, they must have mostly been in the upper galleries and it turned out to be a great audience with standing ovations and almost bemused smiles from the cast.

Accents sounded OK to my ear for the most part. Incredible performances from all and wonderfully staged. The set was simple and complicated at the same time. The lighting design deserves a note here. Allan's scenes were very noir which was visually satisfying and wonderfully practical for set dressing etc. The whole thing worked beautifully.

Some of the kids and even a few adults were genuinely shocked at the kissing which I found amusing and I don't think they got any of Eddie's innuendo (and I use that word in hindsight because it didn't even seem that oblique to me).. Harry's hair was frankly ridiculous but I know how horrid hair goes when it's in need of a fresh bit of blond dye! If I'm honest, it should have been a wig........or a blond actor. Harry was perfectly cast though.

This must be why there were so many kids! This is AA Gill's piece and the Billington is here.

18 March 2009

the pigeons by David Gieselmann
translated by Maja Zade

Robert/Francois Bertrand - Art Malik
Helmar Bertrand - George Rainsford
Gerlinde Betrand - Lesley Sharp
Silja can de Vries - Megan Dodds
Holger Voss - Con O'Neill
Natalie Voss - Lesley Manville
Dr Erich Asendorf - Tom Goodman-Hill
Heidrun/Libgart Reichert

Directed by Mark Ravenhill, this was the final rehearsed reading during the Off The Wall Season
There was frisson to the packed audience this afternoon and too many familiar faces to mention.

Helmar's father has disappeared. Now he is left alone to face Francois, his pigeon-breeding uncle, who has arrived to stake a claim in the family business.

When you are faced with such a accomplished cast it seems wrong to praise one more than the other but Tom Goodman-Hill's performance was priceless and would have been so embarrassing and dead in the wrong hands. Mr Ravenhill's dexterous command was everywhere but he had such amazing tools to work with and I couldn't help wondering if he'd wished his twins were as polished and experienced as this crowd.

The cast list was announced much sooner than any of the other readings so I did wonder if they had longer to rehearse and if they did, it certainly paid off as this piece relied on precision ping-pong playing. Everyone put so much energy into their part whether that be spent on restraint or excess.

I didn't find the website description very helpful....... Robert Bertrand runs a business and his close assosiate is Holger Voss. Holger is a mess and is being bullied by a subordinate, Heidrun.
Robert wants to escape the rat race and traumas of family life so he plans to disappear, effecting a pretense of leaving the business in the hands of a frightened and very unwilling Holger. It transpires that Heidrun is being paid to undermine Holger by Robert's son so that he can grasp control. She claims that bullying is only really a hobby for her - nothing to worry about!

Both Holger and Robert have feisty wives. Holger's is ambitious for him. Robert's is tired of him & dreams of Italy. They are both having a relationship with the company psychiatrist, Dr Erich Asendorf. He is the jewel in the crown and Tom gave an hilariously pitch perfect portrayal of this detached bafoon.

The seemingly spare part is the Dutch Silja who serves as a conduit to the final twist. Having first arrived at the house to 'upgrade' some software on the safe, Robert uses her to aid his new life (and name) with.............the pigeons and some cash stolen from the firm. Half the cast believe Robert & Francois to be one and the same person but a couple are convinced he is not(Francois never pronounces her name correctly) and that adds to the glorious confusion.

Con was spitting, Sally was twitching, Lesley S was staring, Lesley M was cutting. Megan was beautiful, George was relaxed and Art glided from Robert to Francois with a subtle precision that gave me palpation's. I am not going to mention Tom again because in the unlikely event that this blog is ever read by someone outside my family, it might go to his head. Who needs a set and props?

I would love to see this as a fully formed production but I hope I'll never forget this amazing reading.

13 March 2009

Owen Teale Masterclass

with Rebecca Adamson and Jack Bowman
Zoe Ambrose and Oliver Burton
Vicki Appleton and David Ward
Kellie Higgins and Giles Roberts

I am so cross that I didn't write about this nearer the time. It was a wonderful afternoon and Owen dealt with these young actors so gently but also charged them with energy. Hypnotic to watch.

Giles & Kellie were the most accomplished of these young people but Oliver and Zoe (thought I thought she said Nic) came a close second.

Jack was a weak link to Rebecca and laboured his Essex accent which seemed to grate with such a role. I am not sure if it was Jack or David who did not come as prepared as the others but Owen was so reassuring as he gave him his text to read from. I wonder if it was just nerves. I think it was Jack who seemed so scared and didn't seem to understand any of the words he was reading. No wonder he found them hard to learn.

Owen had them treating the lines in a variety of different ways and it was so interesting to watch him explore this text with them.

Macbeth: Act 3 Scene 2

12 March 2009

Wall by David Hare

Performed by David Hare under the direction of Stephen Daldry and wants regarded as a companion piece to Berlin.
Seen on the first night of it's very short run at the Royal Court downstairs.

Presented in the form of an eloquent debate couched around pertinent anecdotes, I found Wall even more powerful that Berlin.

There will reviews by more articulate and better educated people so I will just cover this by saying that this was more fascinating, mesmerising and engaging than any sermon I have seen in a church. By using a single performer in the blank, brightly lit three-waller that is downstairs for this season the image of this hypnotic man is momentarily burned on the retina after the performance ends until it finds it place seared into memory.

"There it is. Not just a wall. A wall would be a fact. But this wall is a philosophy, what one observer has called a political code for shutting up shop."

Since he first visited Israel and the Palestinian territories to write Via Dolorosa which the Royal Court presented over 200 times in the West End and on Broadway, David Hare has regularly been back in the region. Now he offers a searching 40-minute study of the Israel/Palestine separation barrier which will one day stretch 486 miles and be over four times as long as the Berlin Wall and in places, twice as high.

David Hare's Berlin, currently being performed at the National Theatre, looks at a place where, twenty years ago, a wall came down. Wall is about a place where, right now, a wall is going up.

"Of all British dramatists, Hare is the one who has always seemed to have the sharpest awareness of what is going on around him, which is what makes him such an eagerly sought-after journalist." Michael Billington

11 March 2009

The Uncertainty Of The Situation (Die Unsicherheit der Sachlage)
translated by Rachael McGill

Man/Man2/Policeman - Daniel Cerqueira
Jenny/Jules/Coffee Girl/Prostitute - Katherine Parkinson
Jan 2 - Jeff Rawle
Bjorn - Paul Ready
Jan - Andrew Scott
Robert/Editor - Samuel West

directed by Lyndsey Turner

Dumped by his girlfriend and abandoned by his friends, Jan finds himself on the streets, a witness to the extraordinary, terrible events unfolding in the city around him - events for which he starts to consider himself responsible.

Philipp Loehle's work has been produced by many of the German-speaking world's leading theatres. He took part in the Royal Court International Residency in 2008.

How good can life get when you get to see Andrew Scott giving a rehearsed reading twice in the space of seven days? On the face of it, two very different roles but ultimately, they have their cross-overs - certainly in the premise of the piece. Much better than the previous Off The Wall offering. Wonderful tea-time fayre.

10 March 2009

A Miracle by Molly Davies

Val - Sorcha Cusack
Rob - Gerard Horan
Amy - Kate O'Flynn
Gary - Russell Tovey

Director Lyndsey Turner
Designer Patrick Burnier

Seen upstairs at the Royal Court as part of their young writer's festival.

Take one baby and a mother who's not sure if she's ready. Add a soldier returned from war and a grandmother holding the fort. Mix in a landscape of flatness and a pinch of violence in the countryside and maybe, just maybe, you'll get a miracle.

A play about wanting a better life.

Wonderful piece of writing by a depressingly young woman with a glorious career ahead of her. Fortunately, her skill afforded her the use of a good director and wonderful cast which made this evening a complete joy. Happily, we chose seats that were comfortably far enough away from the sex scene.

You'll catch some reviews here:-

Telegraph, Independent, What's On Stage & The Times.

08 March 2009

The Olivier Winners.................

Can be found here.

This year’s star-studded Oliviers ceremony is hosted by James Nesbitt at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, with nominees, guest presenters and other VIPs confirmed to attend including: Lindsay Duncan, Penelope Wilton, Michael Gambon, Patrick Stewart, Derek Jacobi, Deanna Dunagan, David Bradley, Elena Roger, Ruthie Henshall, Denis Lawson, Douglas Hodge, Margaret Tyzack, Michael Grandage, Michael Boyd, Sonia Friedman, Sadie Frost, Imelda Staunton, Ian Lavender, Andrea Corr, Dominic Cooper, Sheridan Smith, David Hare, Pete Postlethwaite, Jason Donovan, Tom Chambers, Gareth Gates, Anton du Beke, Kevin Spacey, Jodie Prenger, Sian Phillips, Gillian Anderson, Rosalind Plowright, David Morrissey and Liza Goddard.

The speeches are here..
Shenton's View is here.
and there are some notes from the press room here.
In fact, there are a load of pictures and links here.
and more gossip.

07 March 2009

Wrecks by Neil LaBute

Edward Carr is played by Robert Glenister in a one man show directed by Josie Rourke and designed (for our extreme comfort) by Lucy Osborne.

Seen at The Bush Theatre in a room that resembled a funeral home from top to toe

A tour de force is the obvious comment here. Robert was devilishly charming while we all patiently waited for Mr LaBute to drop his twisted bomb - and he didn't disappoint. A glorious performance of a delicious drama.
From the website:

By Neil LaBute
10 February - 28 March 2009
Cast Robert Glenister
Direction Josie Rourke
Design Lucy Osborne
Lighting Hartley T A Kemp
Sound Emma Laxton
Edward Carr is an ordinary man; a doting father of four and a successful businessman. His world has been shattered by the death of his beloved wife JoJo. Through his grief, he picks through his past, piecing together the story of his life, like the wrecks of the cars he so lovingly restores.
A fiercely passionate and unflinching monologue about the nature of life and death, and what society will accept in the name of love.
Neil LaBute's previous plays include The War on Terror, Helter Skelter/Land of the Dead, The Shape of Things, The Mercy Seat, Fat Pig and In a Dark Dark House.
Robert Glenister is known to millions for his performance as Ash Morgan in the hit BBC drama Hustle and as the Home Secretary in Spooks. His extensive theatrical career includes regular performances for the RSC, National Theatre, Royal Court and West End.

Just popped back to add a couple of reviews like The Times and The Guardian.

06 March 2009

Stovepipe by Adam Brace

Andre/Grif - Christian Bradley
Alan - Shaun Dooley
Eddy/Harry - Niall Macgregor
Caroline/Masha/Sally - Eleanor Matsuura
Saad/Marty/Rami - Sargon Yelda

Directed by Michael Longhurst
Designed by Takis

Promenade performance seen in preview underneath the West12 Shopping Centre on Shepherd's Bush Green

There's more info at the NT (including a rehearsal video) and at the HighTide website.

Finally, I get my chance to see Shaun Dooley perform live. Britain's most underused actor who will hopefully soon get a double whammy from this and from his amazing contribution to the Red Riding films - especially the last one. He rightfully takes the lead in this and as such has the luxury of only playing one character. The NT's biog for Niall implies that I've not seen him on stage before but I feel sure I have.

This is a remarkable production and the press will be on fire with it next week. The Bush have sweetly turned one of the shopping centre units into a box-office-cum-bar. From there, 'participants' (or should I say delegates?) are ushered into the bowels of the building into what looks like a display and conference area for the rebuilding of Iraq. I was immediately confronted by a greeting from the breathtakingly beautiful Ms Matsuura and the rest of the cast wandered around in their suits discussing the exhibits with us until we were gently shown to a lecture area at which point, the main part of the performance began. I have not yet checked the playtext to see how much of this is scripted as opposed to directorial interpretation.

That the rave reviews have been pouring in since the first night of preview is testament to how hard the production team have worked to make this practically complicated piece work. As we are ushered or intuited to differently dressed areas of this stark space, there are people redressing the ones we have just left. An enormous amount of effort was put into a couple of areas which seemed to only be used for less than 10 minutes of the production. We end up where we started but what used to be the lecture area has been transformed into a funeral chapel and the audience spontaneous joins in with the hymn at the close of this sad adventure. It's an experience not to be missed. The performances (with all their wardrobe and character changes) were marvelous and seamless. The staging was outstanding (and a merciful about of in-sitting).

If I was being hyper-critical, as with the the Red Death sensation, whilst I realise one does have to technically 'promenade' around the from set to set, my old fashioned brain remembers promenade performances that made use of the pre-existing areas in which to play. My other gripe has nothing to do with the production really but throughout the show I was plagued by an annoying woman who thought she could spout her ego and opinions at me unbidden & also the noise of over enthusiastic students scratching notes on their pads. The joy of the promenade was that I could freely wander away from these irritations but they were tenacious, to say the least.

It was a day for theatrical memorabilia. This afternoon, I came away with a bag, tonight I came away with a funeral service leaflet and I later found that I'd still got my visitor badge with me that is issued upon arrival to everyone who attends 'the conference'.
I shall return with reviews and pictures next week but in the meantime, here is an interview with the writer.
Thoughts from Michael Coveney, Charles Spencer and the Evening Standard.

From The Bush website

By Adam Brace
A HighTide Production in collaboration with the National Theatre and The Bush
3 March - 26 April 2009
For every guy tryin to be a pro, there's a psychopath. And for every psychopath, there's a cowboy.
When a mercenary goes missing en route to Iraq, his closest surviving friend embarks on a hunt across the post-war Middle East.
Stovepipe is an indoor promenade performance at a location in Shepherd's Bush; audiences observe the unravelling of this original drama whilst being guided through five-star hotel bars, seedy brothels, and war-torn desert landscapes.
Stovepipe premiered at the HighTide Festival 08 and is an indoor promenade performance at West 12, The Broadway, Shepherds Bush W12.

The Bankrupt Man by David Lescot
Translated by Christopher Campbell

Woman - Gina McKee
Man - Nicolas Tennant
Designated Liquidator - Andrew Scott

A rehearsed reading, directed by Lisa Goldman at the Soho Theatre as part of the 'Paris Calling' season in conjunction with the French Embassy and the National Theatre Studio.

It's days like these that make you forget your cares. In this case it was all the more thrilling because of the short notice (to me). I didn't know this was happening until I took a moment to read a regular email from the Soho Theatre with slightly more attention. All this and a free canvas bag while stocks last!

A wonderful piece brought to life by the most amazing cast! Readings don't have any set rules and some are more physical than others. Gina was serene (even when she cleverly stifled her giggles at Andrew's reading), Nicolas put so much physical energy into his reading that I worried for his health and Andrew's performance was just as physical but his energies were used in an unnerving stillness. One might argue this was the harder task. Andrew was absolutely hilarious and his character was deliciously flipping from one stance to another. Nicolas's character had two essential personae which was a challenge he brought off impeccably. Gina's role was smaller but she was radiant.

As if this wasn't enough, we had a post-reading discussion. It was 'led' by a lecturer in modern drama and such is the habit of educationalists, she spent far too long telling us what she thought of the play and suffing her pre-amble with as many self-conscious references as she could so taking forever to get around to a salient question for the panel. Fortunately, the others were so interesting that she didn't completely ruin the event and we had a wonderful discussion.

A version of this was staged at the Edinburgh Festival and also in France, Portugal & Germany. I believe that Mr Campbell made a literal translation from which Traverse produced an adaptation but as the piece became more popular, he was invited to make his own adaptation for a reading in New York (BAM, I think).
I was reminded of the previous night when Mark Ravenhill dissed French theatre and I wanted to say "not so fast, young man".

05 March 2009

Over There by Mark Ravenhill

Karl - Luke Treadaway
Franz - Harry Treadaway

Directed by Ramin Gray and Mark Ravenhill
Designed by Johannes Schutz using the three-wall shell that was created for the previous production (The Stone)

Seen on the night before the press at the Royal Court downstairs slap bang in the middle of the middle of the stalls.
I saw the beautiful Sharon Maugham in the bar but she may have stepped into 'A Miracle'.

This should be subtitled Mark's wet dream, when siblings get dirty.
During the post-show discussion, Mark revealed that his relationship with his brother was so fraught that he found it easier to regard him as dead than deal with the pain and pull of him being a living relative.....at least, I think that's what he said/meant. I was alarmed at this thought because I can't grasp the concept of things being that bad with a a sibling but life deals us different experiences and Mark's work is always a joy. There's usually a degree of tenderness in the confrontational nature of his pieces which make them more palatable than an angry tirade might otherwise be. He is a wonderful contemporary debater and explorer and I doubt I will tire of him. He is also deliciously indulgent, which some may criticise but I delight in with what I imagine is vicarious envy.

I have an ongoing game with the Treadaway boys because I see them around town quite a bit but rarely together. I had worked out a method for telling them apart and tonight was the ultimate test, which didn't let me down. It transpired that it was rather late in the preparations when they decided who would take which role but if they'd shown me, a layperson the script, I could have predicted which way it would have gone - and that is the essence of how I tell them apart. It's not so much the way they look, it's to do with the individual personalities they project (regardless of what they are like in private).

So, I like the set, the writer, the directors and the actors but how do they work together. I really did love most of this production but if I'm honest, it felt like a really early preview. The sad thing about these very short runs is that the previews are so limited and something like this has to be perfect as it hits the ground. For everyone's sake, I hope they get it right for The Press. The overlapping dialogue and unfinished sentences were frankly very badly handled to my ear. When I think of how well the very young Oliver Coopersmith coped with this challenge in Mamet's Cryptogram at the Donmar, I felt sad that there were so many clumsy breaks. It's a very difficult thing to get right and I wonder if these boys need a bit longer at the craft before tackling a piece that demands so much of them. It's not enough to be shocking and brave, which they undoubtedly were. They need to have the text & it's delivery off pat first, surely?

The post show discussion was hilarious, by the way. Not least because someone from the audience concurred with a particular common experience that twins sometimes have! Mark spoke of how good interesting German drama is and dissed the French which it turned out....I was to recall later in the week (see Friday @ 3pm).

Seeing Luke covered in various types of runny food for thirty percent of the show was hard for a phobic like me to deal with but I was able to concentrate on Harry.

Over There by Mark Ravenhill

There are some spoilery production pictures here . and my dear friend pointed out that The Guardian had to print a correction because they named the boys around the wrong way in this article
Footnote: I found this piece interesting enough to see again during the last week of the run. A 10p standing ticket actually produced a seat in the centre circle amongst an hilarious audience who didn't seem to have a clue what to expect. I would have been annoyed if it was my first and only chance to see it but in this case, the hapless Americans behind us were so vocal with their amazement at what they saw. We had grunts and gasps and a preemptory "oh no, he can't be......." for all the world as though they were watching a DVD in their living room.
Sadly, though the boys had lost a little of the burr in their accents they still hadn't got the pacing to that organic stage that I had hoped for. It's not an easy thing to do but this play completely relies on it. The playtexts finally arrived for the last week of the run and this complicated piece is prefaced with instruction that specifically give the notation for overlapping text. That's overlapping kids. Not grinding to an abrupt halt so your brother can say his bit. Sweet boys but there are some areas they need to work on.

04 March 2009

Mrs Affleck by Samuel Adamson
from Henrick Ibsen's Little Eyolf

Flea : Josef Altin
Waitress : Cassie Atkinson
George Constantine : Omar Brown
Jonathan Mortimer : Phil Cheadle
Oliver : Wesley Nelson
Audrey Affleck : Naomi Frederick
Sophia Constantine : Sarah Niles
Rita Affleck : Claire Skinner
Alfred Affleck : Angus Wright

Director: Marianne Elliott
Designer: Bunny Christie

At the Cottesloe in what the box-office lad described as a lovely seat with great leg room. I had to move at the interval. Please read on.....

Despite my considerable efforts to avoid spoilers and reviews, the writing was somewhat etched on the wall when the repeated emails from the NT arrived pleading with me to take advantage of their bargain seats. Eventually, I got wind that this was a dog of a production but I will not let the opinion of the masses get in the way of me forming my own since Mr Adamson & Ms Elliott have never previously let me down and in the case of Southwark Fair, thrilled me to the point of bursting.

This is not the tightest piece of writing and much as I adore Ms Skinner, I think she may have actually been too harsh & squeaky to convey the delicacy I wanted to see in that role.
The biggest problem with the whole thing and one that must surely have had an impact upon any journalist's perception of the production is that by some ridiculous brain malfunction in the director/design department more that 60 per cent of the audience were subjected to spine twisting and contorting for the duration. The performance space is a 'T' shape and the only consistently good viewing point is from the base of the T.

Even though I had 'best seats' I could not comfortably watch half the action. If I had been able to turn my body sufficiently (which there is not room for in the tightly packed Cottesloe seats) my view would have been obstructed by the person next to me doing the same thing. I am absolutely staggered that this was not thought through a little better.
At the interval, I grabbed one of the many empty seats in the only tolerably comfortable & full vision area which meant I could give my full attention to the production. I love the things that can be achieved in versatile spaces like this but ill-conceived is my best shot at describing this one.

Angus, Claire & Naomi were giving the best they have and I cannot fault them. I just felt as though they might be wishing the end of the run would come sooner. Sarah Niles has a small but pivotal role and almost stole the scene. Costumes were lovely!

to the south seas by gherkin plane by Christophe Nussbaumeder
translated by Meredith Oakes

Think - Leo Bill
Minka - Kirsty Bushell
Herod - Shaun Dingwall
Grosch - Paul Hickey
Factor Owner - Jeremy Swift
Alex - Deka Walmsey
Marlies - Jodie Whittaker
Minik - Danny Worters

Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

A rehearsed reading as part of the Off The Wall season of new plays about Germany at the Royal Court and for the sake of the detail, the native title is Mit Dem Gurkenflieger in Die Sudsee
A searing parable of survival and necessity in a cucumber factory farm in southern Germany, as Polish workers come to the West in search of work.

I feel this might have been more enjoyable if more people had turned up to see it. A block of seats in the middle had been held back for the house and were unused so there was a gaping hole that my best efforts couldn't fill.

A very lovely cast put everything into this but it didn't have the brio and pace that I had hoped for. I am always impressed when Kirsty Bushell does a reading and am ashamed that I don't pay more attention to where I might see her in a full production. Danny Worters is coming along nicely now and deserves another crack at a big job. I am destined to effortlessly follow Jodie Whittaker around with no motive other than it always seems to turn out that way. There are several small additional roles which were filled by anyone who seemed to want to step up to the plate, regardless of gender. A wonderful team but the piece didn't set me on fire.

03 March 2009

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Orsino - Mark Bonnar
Curio - Norman Bowman
Sir Toby Belch - Ron Cook
Sea Captain - Ian Drysdale
Viola - Victoria Hamilton
Sir Andrew Aguecheek - Guy Henry
Valentine - James Howard
Antonio - Lloyd Hutchinson
Malvolio - Derek Jacobi
Maria - Samantha Spiro
Feste - Zubin Varla
Olivia - Indira Varma
Priest - Alex Waldmann

Director: Michael Grandage
Designer: Christopher Oram

Seen during the last run of it's production for the Donmar West End's residence at Wyndham's Theatre. M22

Where to start? It's all been said in the press which you can check here.
The women are stunning, the twins are clever. Guy Henry & Ron Cook were side-holdingly ridiculous. It would seem that we were treated to every talent in Zubin Varla's repertoire unless we also discover he is a financial whiz-kid.
A glorious and joyous evening with an attentive and thoroughly entertained audience.