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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