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.