Friday, 30 January 2015
Thursday, 29 January 2015
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
Romeo and Juliet that suffered from its fear of editing out a single word, but this seems to now extend even to the company's own original writing: Leipacher adapts and directs Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr Ripley, a production with a lot of nice ideas and a stellar central performance; but a script that can't seem to accept that capturing a novel's every nuance isn't possible in a stage play. The adventures of Tom Ripley (Christopher Hughes) and their consequences therefore make for a disappointing evening.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Saturday, 24 January 2015
A Life of Galileo, which gloried in the enduring enthusiasm of the scientist even as his discoveries edge his life towards tragedy. So it's not too surprising if they now revisit the theme, going straight for the subject of Brecht's metaphor: The development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer sees the titular scientist, known to all as Oppie (Perennial Next Big Thing John Heffernan,) start as an enthusiastic, popular physics lecturer at Berkeley, whose students provide him with a ready-made pool of young scientists when a controversial new project comes calling. But long before America's involvement with the war in Europe, Oppie and his friends are concerned about the rise of fascism, and holding Communist Party fundraisers to help fight it.
Friday, 23 January 2015
the first play in the season is still playing at the theatre itself, Robert Icke's production has been located as near as possible to the real thing, in the Amber Suite in the luxury May Fair Hotel off Piccadilly.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Cock, it's taken a while for the companion piece, Bull, to make its way here (the premiere production was originally seen in Sheffield.) Both plays turn a bloody animal fight into a verbal sparring between humans that's not much less brutal; but where the first play looked at poisonous personal relationships, Bull takes us to a boardroom so cutthroat LdAlan Sugar would need a mop to clean up the blood after every firing. Thomas (Sam Troughton,) Isobel (Eleanor Matsuura) and Tony (Adam James) are a sales team in a company being downsized. One of them will be getting fired, and Carter (Neil Stuke) is on his way to make a decision. But the outcome seems inevitable long before he arrives, as Isobel and Tony have no intention of losing their jobs, and if it takes destroying Thomas completely, that's what they'll do.
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
You're Not Like the Others Girls Chrissy, so the prospect of Horton and director Omar Elerian teaming up again at the venue was one I'd been looking forward to. Of course, I don't expect writers to do the same thing in every show nor would I want them to, but if Islands is trying to be radically different it succeeds a bit too well - in that her last show was actually good. Horton plays Mary, a self-proclaimed god who, along with sidekicks Agent (John Biddle) and Swill (Seiriol Davies) form a holy trinity who launch a floating island, so they can stay away from the stinking Shitworld below, and keep all their cherries for themselves.
Monday, 19 January 2015
Sunday, 18 January 2015
Armstrong's War, which far too few people got the chance to see in 2013; in the meantime we can make do with the Finborough giving over its Sunday-Tuesday slot to another Colleen Murphy play. Pig Girl is a much darker affair though: In Zoe Hammond's design, to stage left and right we have a Sister (Olivia Darnley) on the phone to a Police Officer (Joseph Rye) about the disappearance of her troubled younger sister. She's not the first drug-addicted prostitute to go missing from Vancouver and rumours of a serial killer have been rife for years, but there hasn't been a single piece of physical evidence so the police can't even officially open an investigation. These phone calls to the police take place over several years, during which time a picture slowly starts to build of what's happening to the missing women.
Saturday, 17 January 2015
Friday, 16 January 2015
Thursday, 15 January 2015
The Merchant of Venice the first I'm seeing is a return visit to a production I saw some years ago; and like The Merchant it makes for quite a challenge for the future versions to rise to. Frantic Assembly revive their heavily edited, dance-infused version of the play which moves the action from a military encampment in Cyprus, to a violent gang based in a Yorkshire pub called The Cypress. The landlord's daughter, Desdemona (Kirsty Oswald) has secretly married the leader of the gang, Othello (Mark Ebulue.) The secret causes a fuss when it comes out, but it's soon forgotten in the aftermath of a conclusive victory over a rival gang, in which Othello's popular new lieutenant, Michael Cassio (Ryan Fletcher) plays a major role.
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Monday, 12 January 2015
Analog.Ue - have made me want to catch as much as I can. His latest piece - though originally staged in Manchester a couple of years ago - is a bit of a change of style. Tree is a two-man play, in which Tim Key plays a lawyer who, having not realised the clocks have gone back, arrives at a date an hour early. He's setting up a picnic in an unlikely spot his date suggested, by a large lone tree on a residential street. What makes the location even odder is that there's a man (Kitson) sitting in the branches; he claims to have been living there for the last nine years, in an attempt to stop it joining all the other trees in the street and being chopped down.
Sunday, 11 January 2015
Friday, 9 January 2015
Reptember season made me a bit more optimistic than I would normally be about a play I've never liked: This year's rep opens with Romeo and Juliet. Two leading Verona families have been mortal enemies for generations, for reasons nobody seems to even remember. When the Capulets host a party, Romeo Montague's (Christopher York) friends convince him to crash, in the hope that he might get over his unrequited love for Rosaline. It works, but only because Romeo quickly falls for someone else instead - his enemy's only daughter, Juliet (Clare Latham.) And unlike Rosaline, she's actually noticed he's alive and feels the same way.
Thursday, 8 January 2015
you can read my original review here - and this time it was my Christmas present to my sister. American actors A.J. Holmes and Billy Harrigan Tighe have taken over the lead roles of Elders Cunningham and Price, and Kevin Harvey has replaced Giles Terera as the Elders' guide to the Ugandan village, Mafala Hatimbi, but otherwise the main cast have all stuck around - although tonight Lucy St Louis was understudying Alexia Khadime as Nabulungi and doing a good job of it, with a powerful voice in the funny but touching "Sal Tlay Ka Siti." Although the show was never overlong in the first place, it now seems to have shed an extra 15 minutes from when I last saw it, making it zip past all the more speedily and satisfyingly.
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Fuente Ovejuna made my Top Ten shows of 2010; the current Elephant & Castle location was my Theatre of the Year 2014, so between the two I was optimistic as the company returned to do a Russian classic. One I didn't think I'd heard of, but as it turns out I recognised it as one that featured as a plot point in the Finborough's Silent Planet last month. Banned by the Soviets for its far-from-oblique metaphor, Yevgeny Schwartz's The Dragon sees the knight Lancelot (James Rowland) arrive in the small Russian village where Elsa (Jo Hartland) lives, and instantly fall in love. But inevitably there's a problem: The village has been terrorised for centuries by a three-headed Dragon (Justin Butcher,) who among many tributes demands a local beauty to eat every year. The day is tomorrow and the sacrifice will be Elsa, so Lancelot sets out to slay the Dragon.
Monday, 5 January 2015
The Play That Goes Wrong are spending the occasional Monday night off back at the Duchess Theatre, reviving their improv show Lights! Camera! Improvise! As the title suggests, there's a movie theme, and after Oscar (Jonathan Sayer) gets suggestions of genre, location and title from the audience, the rest of the company (Charlie Russell, Bryony Corrigan, Henry Shields, Nancy Wallinger, Henry Lewis, Dave Hearn and Josh Elliott) have to bring it to life. Tonight we got a romantic comedy called "Plenty More Fish," in which shy Gerald-the-man (Shields) has to declare his love for Susie (Wallinger) before she leaves her job at the aquarium at the end of the week. But he has competition from her ex, Tony (Hearn,) an alpha-male fishmonger whose seduction technique is inspired by an angry seagull.
Saturday, 3 January 2015
Love's Labour's Lost, which ended with the various couples separated as the men go off to the First World War. Love's Labour's Won has been set at Christmas 1918, with Leonato's (David Horovitch) home still being used as a makeshift hospital, his daughter Hero (Flora Spencer-Longhurst) and niece Beatrice (Michelle Terry) nursing wounded soldiers. But the War is over now and the house can start going back to normal with the arrival of a victorious regiment led by Don Pedro (John Hodgkinson) and including Beatrice's ex-lover and favourite sparring partner Benedick (Edward Bennett.)