29 May 2010

The Last Stand to Reason by The Pajama Men

Written and performed by Shenoah Allen & Mark Chavez plus their tireless musician, Kevin Hume at the Soho Theatre. I think I saw James Serafinowicz as I was leaving. Does that count as an 'audience notable'?

My first impression was that this show wasn't as tight as Versus Vs Versus but that may have been contingent upon the absence of the impact from seeing them for the first time and the hard-to-warm-up audience.

It's undeniably clever stuff, well crafted and presented. In a piece this long, not all of it's going to work at a consistently good level but I would never hesitate to see them again. Mark looks and performs as though Shenoah just drew him during a long period of procrastination, then got someone to animate him. I meant that as positively. He does things with his voice that most people would need sophisticated equipment to replicate.

A quick scoot around for reviews of the current show has been relatively fruitless. I was in a packed audience on the last night of a very short run. I'd hate to see them in a less intimate venue but surely they can support a longer run?

10 May 2010

The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard

Billy - Tom Austen
Debbie- Louise Calf
Max - Barnaby Kay
Annie - Hattie Morahan
Henry - Toby Stephens
Charlotte - Fenella Woolgar
Brodie -Jordan Young

The production is directed by Anna Mackmin, with designs by Lez Brotherston.

Seen during it's revival at The Old Vic.

A timeless piece of acute observation and honesty, beautifully constructed and punctuated with what are now the creme of nostalgic tracks.

The performances are wonderful and the shift in chemistry seamless and almost comforting. It's a terrible shame that the press photos don't include Ms Woolgar. It was such a joy to see her so relaxed in a contemporary role.

Telegraph, Times, Independent and Guardian.

03 May 2010

The Roman Bath by Stanislav Stratiev
Version by Justin Butcher

Ifan Meredith - Ivan Antonov
Bo Poraj - Vasilev MA
Rhona Croker - Martha
Lloyd Woolf - Lifeguard
Christopher Hogben - Deaf Mute/TV Assistant/Committee Member 2
Jonathan Rhodes - Banev/TV Director
David Schaal - Party Rep/Workman 2
Wendy Wason - Miss DiMatteo/TV Presenter
Richard Atwill - Column/Workman 1/Committee Member 1
Directed by Russell Bolam
Designed by Jean Chan

Seen on Press Night at the Arcola Theatre. Alan Corduner popped into the bar at the interval but I don't think he was in the audience.

I enjoy farce and slapstick when it's well written and performed - Boeing, Boeing is a good case in point.

This is a bit of a mess. It gets of to an awfully tortured start with a tv news crew. It has a worthy theme to explore but the characters are two mannered and audience aware. I'm sure the actors where doing the director's bidding but it dimishes the respect all concerned should have for the audience. This could have made as much impact and been far funnier if the everyone had performed with more commitment to being present in it. Bo Poraj seems to keep himself within the piece but even he started to despair towards the end. Lloyd Woolf's lifeguard was both well written and even though it was the most ridiculous character, his performance was the most consistently credible.

My notes on the night read something like: This needs some serious tightening up and then a load of waffle I can't read except a note about someone in the audience that looked like Joe Cornish in profile but was disappointing face to face. Proud to be an air-head.

Independent, Guardian and Time Out.

02 May 2010

Hurts, Given and Received
by Howard Barker

September - Jane Bertish
Sadavee 1 & 2 - Issy Brazier-Jones
Feltray - Suzy Cooper
Detriment/Stays - Alan Cox
Chorus - Libby Edwards
Bulow/Rib - Nigel Hastings
Chorus - Mark Lewis
Always/Umber - Peter Marinker
Alzarin - Richard Maxted
Glove - Penelope McGhie
Bach - Tom Riley
Chorus - Matt Schmolle

Directed by Gerrard McArthur
Set Designed byTomas Leipzig

A production from The Wrestling School and seen at The Riverside Studios during their Howard Barker Season. Notables in the audience were Tom Mison, Christina Cole and Jemima Rooper.

This play is probably the strongest and best formed of the three but for a tiny little theatre, the staging of the two main productions were fabulous.

Tom Riley's performance was so beautifully paced and energetic. I forgot how much as ease he puts me even when the text is challenging. The play is are like a ballet of words. This guy's prose moves around with a structure Twyla Tharp would have been proud of. Completely enjoyable afternoon/evening.

I forgot to mention the drool. Now, I was used to having this effect on men when I was younger but it seemed to me that Tom spent a full 20 minutes drooling. He also seemed to be pretty much dead on our eye-line and I could hardly look at him. It glistened in the spotlight and he almost gobbed on one of his fellow cast. What IS it with boys and their drooling games?Seriously, Tom is on stage with so much patter all the time, I have no idea how he manages to summon up that much gunk each night with no evidence of a crafty bottle to hydrate him. The things they teach you at drama school, eh?

He's certainly one of those young actors whose professional diary I like to keep in my locker, shall we say but the supporting cast were beautifully complimentary.

For me to justify revisiting a production is a rare treat but I can honestly say, with objectivity and no silly bias, that as I left the auditorium on Sunday, I deeply regretted not having snagged one of those freebie Time-Out tickets. This production invaded my thoughts all week.

4 Star review and analysis plus notes from them wily Whingers.

Slowly by Howard Barker

Bell - Vanessa Ackerman
Calf - Suzy Cooper
Paper - Megan Hall
Sign - Penelope McGhie

Directed by Hanna Berrigan
Set Designed byTomas Leipzig

From The Wrestling School at the Riverside Theatre.

A production from The Wrestling School and seen at The Riverside Studios during their Howard Barker Season.

Weighty performances from this outstanding cast. The stark but powerful design of the set and wardrobe burned into the desperate situation in which these woman found themselves. Not easy or light but admirable, for sure.

Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward
by Howard Barker

Narrator - Alan Cox
Atto - Nigel Hastings
Momper - Mirandar Cook
Windus - Jane Bertish
Slump - Deborah Penny
Portslade - Peter Marinker
Basin - Michael Sheldon
Cling - Richard Maxted
Loos- Stephen Omer
Onsee - Kristin Milward
Childlike - Chris Moran

The Proprieter
Architect - Vanessa-Faye Stanley

The Visitors
Ostend - Carolyn Backhouse
Doobee - Ross Armstrong

This was a rehearsed reading from The Wrestling School to start off a day of Barker productions. It took the form of a very physical reading. It was hard and chilling to watch but beautifully staged and performed.