23 April 2012

All New People by Zach Braff

Charlie - Zach Braff Emma - Eve Myles Myron - Paul Hilton Kim - Susannah Fielding Special Thanks To David Bradley, Joseph Millson and Amanda Redman Directed by Peter DuBois and designed by Alexander Dodge. Seen in the last week of the run in good seat care of LastMinute.com at the Duke of York's Theatre

I have a few issues with this piece but since I wish to retain Mr Braff on the lofty perch I so happily made for him in 2004, I will conclude that I was unfortunate to attend on a rare 'bad night' and by bad, I must ask that you, the audience take some of the blame.
I know there's a good text in here. I trust this man to make me laugh and think in a carefully calibrated mind cradle. It was jarred by Ms Myles oddly faux, plumy accent, the likes of which has been used to better effect by Ms Paltrow, and the obnoxious tones adopted by Ms Fielding.

This is a beautiful, tiny, intimate theatre. There's no need to bellow and grandstand. Who can forget Mr Gambon's "Eh Joe" gently and captivatingly intoned here? The beauty of Mr Braff's text surely lies in part within the lovely laconic delivery I was hoping for but how could that happen with the entire cast having to do battle with The Loudest Projector In London?

The scenes projected from said seemingly steam-powered installation were beautifully cast and well metered. I thoroughly enjoy a bit of mixed media in the theatre but freeze-framing on the stage to allow for their interjection seemed too mannered and old fashioned. This sense was not aided by some of my neighbours feeling it was just the right time to check their glaring phones or break out, I kid you not, the meat pies from their noisy wrappers.

The male cast were certainly the most comfortable to watch and I'll always try to catch a live one from Mr Hilton but tonight seemed fragmented, almost as though the ladies didn't see the piece in the same way as the writer, or dare I even say the director. Lovely pop-cultural references seemed to be swallowed and lost on the audience around me so rather than a room full of conspiratorial strangers, I felt lonely and a tiny bit empty. I comforted myself by musing over the themes and set-ups seen here that also occur in Garden State. This boy has issues.

"That's pretty damn random of you, Largeman."

14 April 2012

Big and Small by Botho Strauss, translated by Martin Crimp

Lotte - Cate Blanchett
Old Woman - Lynette Curran
Inge/Karin - Anita Hegh
Woman/Meggy/Tent - Belinda McClory
Guitar Player/Boy - Josh McConville
Paul/Man with Shirts/Doctor - Robert Menzies
Fat Woman - Katrina Milosevic
Turkish Man - Yalın Özüçelik
Wilhelm/Offstage Lead Guitarist - Richard Piper
Alf/Jurgen - Richard Pyros
Girl/Josefina - Sophie Ross
Young Man/Albert/Man in Parka - Chris Ryan
Man/Bernd - Christopher Stollery
Old Man - Martin Vaughan

Directed by Benedict Andrews and designed by Johannes Schütz

My big theatrical cash outlay of the year, booked nearly six months ago in a moment of madness. Seen at The Barbican Theatre on press night, I had a good seat between a man with personal space issues and a lady with numeracy problems who should have known better since she was probably a journalist, judging by her annoying, scratchy pen.

Audience members of note: Martin Crimp, David Hare, Patrick Marber, Richard E Grant, Graham Norton, Tom Mison. I could go on.

I'm going to start by saying it was typically Australian disregard for propriety that allowed no less than four curtain calls, giving the show-offs in the audience a chance to get to their feet for a bit of grandstanding.

There are one or two overly showy moments in this piece but they're used to good effect.

Euan Ferguson's words in The Guardian give a pretty good appraisal.

It is long and seemingly rudderless but despite the mesmerising performance from Ms Blanchett, it feels like an organic ensemble piece, pirouetting around a glorious piece of set design that almost reaches Mnsr Lepage's level of ingenuity, simplicity and style.

I loved the proportions of the apartment building column and the simple, space transforming impression given by all those office desks. My geek button went right off at the sight of an Apple Classic sitting right next to a Stylewriter II. I have no idea why those pieces of paper were randomly falling from the fly but their faultless performance and the design honing clearly needed to achieve it was a joy to behold. Mention must also go to the glory and efficiency of Cate's varied wardrobe from the practical to the erotic. Nobody wears a Gaberdine like Ms Blanchett and to finally have it reveal what had previously been a pipe dream was gratifying.

The cast includes an adorably spry Lynette Curran and a tight group of fabulous theatre performers who slide in an out of their costume changes to impress a far larger troupe.

See it if you can and take a coffee back in with you after the half.