11 June 2011

Emperor and Galilean by Henrik Ibsen translated by Ben Power

The Pagan Cantor - Jeremy Avis
Gregory - Jamie Ballard
Sintula - Matthew Barker
Ephesian Sailor - Tam Dean Burn
Eutherius - Simon Coombs
Ursulus - Richard Durden
Jovian - Daniel Flynn
Peter - John Heffernan
The Christian Cantor - Michael Henry
Fromentius - Chris Jared
Agathon - James McArdle
Maximus - Ian McDiarmid
Ammian - Simon Merrells
Publia - Carole Nimmons
Helena - Genevieve O’Reilly
Medon / Oribasis - Prasanna Puwanarajah
Myrrha / Macrina - Lara Rossi
Julian - Andrew Scott
Constantius - Nabil Shaban
Gallus - Laurence Spellman
Maurus/Hilarion - Alexander Vlahos
Sallust - Jack Whitam
Varro - Oliver Wilson
Persian Stranger - Sargon Yelda

Director - Jonathan Kent
Designer - Paul Brown

Seen whilst still in preview in a glorious standby seat within the beautiful auditorium of the Olivier.

If ever there was a production that would be hard to envisage being staged anywhere else it is this one. The drum and revolve were used to such incredible effect and put me in mind of the old productions of the 80's.

This is a long production but the first two hours before the interval flew by in a way I can't recall since Tony Hopkins gave his Lear here.

The performances were engaging from the very beginning and the sets were awesome.
If I had one criticism, and this may have been addressed by now, I would kill the invasive, monotonous drone of the insects in Athens. Perhaps the balance could be adjusted but it was beyond ambience. It really started to painfully grate.

09 June 2011

Rocket to the Moon by Clifford Odets

Frenchy - Sebastian Armesto
Belle Stark - Keeley Hawes
Ben Stark - Joseph Millson
Cleo Singer - Jessica Raine
Willy Wax - Tim Steed
Phil Cooper - Peter Sullivan
Mr Prince - Nicholas Woodeson
Ensemble - Lisa Caruccio Came, Dan Crow, Morgan Deare, Rendah Heywood, Leighton Pugh

Director - Angus Jackson
Designer - Anthony Ward

Seen on the last night of it's run at the Lyttelton after a wonderfully entertaining platform event.

Stunning, stockingless, ruthless in her youth, Cleo Singer arrives in Ben Stark’s dental practice and turns his married, humdrum world upside down. She promises passion, escape, if only he knew how. But Stark is not alone in his frustrated dreams and in those stifling, shared offices there’s rivalry over a woman discovering life, a woman who’s hungry for expression and for love. And she’s no pushover, she’s looking for the real deal.

Why don’t you suddenly ride away, an airplane, a boat! Take a rocket to the moon! Explode!

Written in 1938 by Clifford Odets, the American master of dazzling, acerbic New York repartee, Rocket to the Moon puts opportunity in the way of a quietly desperate man and waits.

None of you can give me what I’m looking for: a whole full world, with all the trimmings!

Passionate, amusing and luxurious performances from everyone involved. The cast were beautifully weighted against each other and chosen with great care and thought.

The set design was perhaps unnecessarily ambitious but a pleasure, nonetheless.

06 June 2011

Chicken Soup with Barley by Arnold Wesker

Ada Kahn - Jenna Augen
Hymie Kossof - Steve Furst
Bessie Blatt - Rebecca Gethings
Dave Simmonds - Joel Gillman
Prince Silver - Ilan Goodman
Monty Blatt - Harry Peacock
Ronnie Kahn - Tom Rosenthal
Sarah Kahn - Samantha Spiro
Harry Kahn - Danny Webb
Cissie Khan - Alexis Zegerman
Young Ronnie Khan - Charlie Cancea/Sonnt Ryan

Directed by Dominic Cooke, Designed by Ultz

Seen on a Monday night cheapie during previews of this revival at The Royal Court. Notables in the audience: Penny Smith, Mark Lawson, Joe Penhall

I love and respect Mr Cooke and he's coaxed some tour-de-force work from his cast and designer, Ultz but ultimately I am not convinced this script that was so passionately pertinent in it's time, can actually stand up, unedited in this day and age.

It's much too laboured and long. That's not a statement on the pace which was well metered. It just needs some carving to bring it in much closer to the 2hour including interval. The debate is held in a present that is tired and dusty in our contemporary minds. The effort from the cast cannot be faulted but their material needs to be more taught.