27 March 2010

Ghost Stories by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

Mike Priddle - Nicholas Burns
Tony Matthew - David Cardy
Simon Rifkind - Ryan Guage
Professor Philip Goodman - Andy Nyman
plus whoever it was that plays the asthmatic boy that's not listed in the programme.

Directed by Jeremy Dyson, Sean Holmes & Andy Nyman
Designed by Jon Bausor

Seen regrettably too near too the end of it's run at the Lyric, Hammersmith in J5
I didn't spot any celebrities in the audience but was reunited with some long lost friends which felt even better

Just like The Mousetrap, the producers ask that not too much of the plot is revealed so that others may enjoy the full impact.

Sadly, much of the tension for this production is provided by unnecessarily loud noises surprising the audience from what is quite possibly the worst sound system I have ever had to endure in a theatre that charges for entry. I wish I'd seen this earlier in the run before the hype started because I expected too much of it. It had my three most detested ingredients - a noxious (and gimickly unnecessary) smell, bright lights persistently shone in one's face and noise that was intrusively distorted and painful. I ran out of digits to hold my nose, plug my ears and shield my eyes at one point.

That's all the negative stuff dealt with. I'm well aware that most of my gripes are personal to me and should not dissuade anyone else from seeing the show. The script, performances and set design were outstanding. Am I crossing a line if I say that this had me level pegging with the plot in every way that Shutter Island didn't? This is experiential theatre at it's best. The audience are silly, noisy and collaborative.

I wouldn't often bother to mention the programme but it's a treasure trove of dip-into delight, as is the website.

This deserves all the success it has enjoyed. If they can at least install a sound system that can cope with the volumes used, I would happily see it again..........but this time I'd wear a costume. It's a cult night out in the making. Drag your friends along.

I can't wait for the 10 year anniversary production.

19 March 2010

The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane

Diane - Tamsin Greig
Mitchell - Rupert Friend
Ellen - Gemma Arterton
Alex - Harry Lloyd
Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Gilmour

Seen towards the end of the run at The Garrick in a wonderfully central, half-price ticket...thank you!

A non-stop, laugh-a-minute, exhilarating joy-fest. The script was great, the cast were brilliant and the audience were amazing (except the dork next to me who took 30 second to catch up). The pace was perfectly judged, firing on all cylinders with just the right amount of breathing spaces for the audience to compose themselves. Getting applause from the cast is what makes theatre a totally satisfying entertainment. I was wonderful, dahling!

I have no idea what this little video achieves. I find it irritating until we get to the little bits from the cast.

18 March 2010

Ghosts by Henrick Ibsen
in a version by Frank McGuinness

Engstrand - Malcolm Storry
Regine Engstrand - Jessica Raine
Pastor Manders - Iain Glenn
Mrs Helena Alving - Lesley Sharpe
Oswald Alving - Harry Treadaway

Director - Iain Glenn
Designer - Stephen Brimson Lewis

Seen at the Duchess during the week before it's premature swan-song in a brilliant half price seat.

This was an evening but it felt like a matinee. It's hard to tell if posting early closing notices would have changed the atmosphere on stage but it certainly seemed to change the mood of the audience. The lack of expectation was palpable. There were a few too many drama students, apparently dragged there against their privileged wills, more concerned with who they were sitting next too and how much noise they could make with their bottles of drink.

The production is sour. It's wrong and I don't know why. I'm sure a quick scout around the reviews will tell me but I make a point of writing this without the benefit of anyone else's opinion. Early closing is an opinion all of it's own and I can't tell how much that influenced my reaction. Lesley and Harry could not have given more of themselves and I was almost ashamed to be part of an audience that laughed at their total commitment.

I'm going to be bold enough to lay some of the blame for this dull and unengaging production in the hands of Mr McGuinness but perhaps it was all too much for Mr Glenn. These are all good people so why didn't it work? It was my no means dreadful but when I think of some of the Ibsen I have seen in recent years, it saddened me.

03 March 2010

Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare

Ouisa - Miriam Lucia
Flan - Anthony Head
Geoffrey - Ian Redford
Paul - Obi Abili
Doorman/DrFine - Stephen Greif
Hustler/Policeman - Kevin Kiely
Kitty - Sara Stewart
Larkin - Steven Pacey
Detective - John Moriatis
Tess - Zoe Boyle
Woody - Paul Stocker
Ben - Michael Goldsmith
Doug - Ilan Goodman
Trent - Kevin Trainor
Rick - Luke Neal
Elizabeth - Sarah Goldberg

Directed by David Grindley
Designed by Jonathan Fensom

Seen toward the end of it's run at the Old Vic for zippo - absolutely no money exchanging hands here save the bus fare.

It would be rude of me to be ungrateful for a free ticket and I am certainly not that person but I can see why they wanted to put any old flabby bum on a seat.

This is the kind of production that really benefits from a complete lack of pre-cognition. I enjoyed the film and found myself deconstructing scenes when I should have been letting it just flow around me. The performance were beautifully crafted and the set was sympathetic. For some reason, I gave my mind the luxury of wandering a bit too often but it passed the time and I wasn't itching to leave.

02 March 2010

London Assurance by Dion Boucicault

Cool, a valet - Nick Sampson
Martin, a manservant - Richard Frame
Charles Courtly - Paul Ready
Richard Dazzle - Matt Cross
Sir Harcourt Courtly, Bart - SImon Russell Beale
Squire Max Harkaway - Mark Addy
Pert - Maggie Service
James - Simon Markey
Grace Harkaway - Michelle Terry
Mark Meddle - Tony Jayawardena
Lady Gay Spanker - Fiona Shaw
Mr Adolphus Spanker - Richard Briers
Mr Solomon Isaacs - Junix Inocian
Servants - Mark Extance, Prasanna Puwanarajah
Doctor's Daughters - Fiona Drummond, Laura Matthews

Directed by Nicholas Hytner and designed by Mark Thomspon.

Seen on it's first night of preview, I believe in the the glorious chapel of mirth that is called the Olivier Theatre. Mark Lawson was apparently in the audience though I didn't see him.

A quick glance a the character names pretty much gives you the plot but the execution is all in a production like this. Despite seeing this right at the start of the run, it romped onto the stage in a state of perfection that no doubt enabled the team to luxuriate in the pleasure of fiddling with each subsequent show for their own enjoyment.

If you can't get to London, catch it in a cinema somewhere on 28th June 2010 where it will be broadcast live.