Wednesday 31 October 2012
Tuesday 30 October 2012
Monday 29 October 2012
Friday 26 October 2012
Thursday 25 October 2012
Tuesday 23 October 2012
Monday 22 October 2012
Saturday 20 October 2012
Well I'll say right from the start that I thought The River was a very good play; but is it good enough to justify not just the faff, but the animosity the Royal Court has courted with its perverse marketing?
The Maddening Rain, but his new play could not have been written a few years ago, as it has a more epic scope that starts with the fall of Lehman Brothers and spends the next few years with a pair of investment bankers, reacting to some of the major financial events of the recent past. You Can Still Make a Killing does have strands in common with the earlier monologue as we see these people's personalities varying wildly depending on how much of a hold the City has on them at any given time. But here we start with Edward (Tim Delap) and Jack (Ben Lee) at the top of their game, and consequently as the most dickish City-boy stereotype, arrogantly throwing money around. With the start of the economic downturn Jack lands on his feet in a job with Sir Roger Glynn (Robert Gwilym) but Edward struggles to keep wife Fen (Kellie Bright) and their children in the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed.
Friday 19 October 2012
Thursday 18 October 2012
his 2007 production of Cabaret, which returns to London with all its grotesquery intact, plus a couple of star names in the leads. With it being just over a month since I saw I Am A Camera, it's easy to spot some of the major changes Joe Masteroff made to John Van Druten's play and Christopher Isherwood's original stories - most notably the conflation of Isherwood's character with that of Clive Mortimer, so now the outsider's view of Berlin is provided by Clifford Bradshaw, an impoverished, bisexual American wannabe writer. There's also a gentler, more emotional storyline to the subplot where landlady Fräulein Schneider makes concessions to the rising Nazis for an easy life, as well as the creation of a new lead character as we see some of the Kit Kat Klub where Sally sings, and its enigmatic Emcee.
Wednesday 17 October 2012
Tuesday 16 October 2012
second week in a row, I arrive at the National Theatre to see a show whose reputation precedes it, and not necessarily in a good way: During its preview period, Scenes from an Execution become notorious for the amount of people cutting their losses at the interval, and inspired newspaper articles about the rights and wrongs of leaving a show early. Writer Howard Barker is known for saying he doesn't think theatre should be an enjoyable experience, so I guess you could call it a success that so many people decided grabbing another drink/watching the Bake-Off/going home for a wank was a better use of their time than staying for Act II. But Barker's attitude about art having to provide something other than what its audience is necessarily looking for is also thematically at the heart of this play, the first of his ever to be staged by the National (their failure to do so until now has also, apparently, been a regular bone of contention with him.)
Monday 15 October 2012
Saturday 13 October 2012
Apparently the question "what would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had lived and grown older" is one that continues to haunt writers and actors. (I don't know why, the answer is "they'd have broken up within a fortnight." Oh shush, you know they would.) Ben Power doesn't quite attempt to answer this question: Instead he creates a new Romeo and Juliet out of the original words of Shakespeare's play.
Friday 12 October 2012
The Caucasian Chalk Circle sneaked into my top ten of 2011, so when I saw that director Tom Neill's next foray into Brecht would also be coming to Greenwich, booking was a bit of a no-brainer. This time Neill tackles perhaps the best-known of Brecht's plays, Mother Courage and her Children, using Lee Hall's translation. Anna Fierling, aka Mother Courage, makes war her business: She travels the battlefields of Europe with her cart, changing allegiances as necessary, selling food, drink, clothing and anything she can make a profit out of to the various armies. She's determined that she can make a living out of war without having to pay the price herself, but over the years she has to watch as all three of her children die either directly or indirectly as a result of the conflicts.
Thursday 11 October 2012
With Our Class, Eurydice and his take on Ghosts, Bijan Sheibani was shaping up as one of my favourite directors, with a talent for bringing out the best in what looked like unpromising subjects; but in the last year or so his name has been attached to more than its share of stinkers, especially at the National Theatre. Meanwhile Sebastian Armesto is an actor I like, but who also seems to have been plonked by the National into some of its more unremarkable, at best, stuff. So a production on the National's biggest stage, directed by Sheibani and starring Armesto would seem, to a superstitious person, to be some kind of omen of disaster. But just because mystical signs seem to be predicting a horrible doom doesn't mean you have to act accordingly, does it? So along I went to Damned by Despair, this year's final Travelex production.
Wednesday 10 October 2012
Lungs and One Day When We Were Young come together for the final play in Paines Plough's Roundabout season at Shoreditch Town Hall, The Sound of Heavy Rain. Where the other two plays are intimate relationship stories, Penelope Skinner's contribution is a drily witty pastiche, relocating the hard-boiled detective tropes of film noir from LA to the rain-soaked streets of Soho. Dabrowski (Andrew Sheridan) is a PI who spends his nights drinking to get over being dumped, when the dowdy Maggie (Maia Alexander) arrives at his office with a case for him. Her best friend and flatmate has disappeared, and the detective sets off to find the glamorous cabaret singer Foxie O'Hara. But the further he gets into the case, the more Dabrowski starts to suspect that Foxie may never have even been real.
Tuesday 9 October 2012
Monday 8 October 2012
Journey's End, which most recently popped up in the West End last year. His latest production sticks with the army theme but moves on both in time - to the mid '80s - and to a point after the front line, looking at the damage done to soldiers and what kind of life they can expect afterwards. Jonathan Lewis' Our Boys is set in a grim military hospital in Woolwich, where a trainee officer has been sent for a routine operation. Because of a shortage of private rooms, Potential Officer Menzies (Jolyon Coy) ends up in a ward with three regular squaddies, who resent having a "Rupert" in their midst. Ian (Lewis Reeves) has had severe head injuries in a bomb blast, and is in the middle of lengthy rehabilitation to get him walking and talking normally again. Northern Irish Meatloaf fan Keith (Cian Barry) is increasingly losing all feeling in his right leg for reasons, whether physical or psychological, that the doctors can't figure out. And Joe (Laurence Fox,) who seems the most mobile of the lot, is there for reasons that aren't revealed until later in the play.
Saturday 6 October 2012
in my original review two weeks ago if I might squeeze in the final performance, and the frantic comedy was something I thought might appeal to Evil Alex, who's pretty hard to match to shows (he says he's pretty open to anything, as long at it involves puppets having sex, and a song about racism; so he's been trickier to cater for ever since Avenue Q closed.) So I dragged Alex along, and when there bumped into my Twitter friend Rob, also seeing it for a second time, and also bringing someone along, another Twitter friend, Emma. So there was a decent group of us taking our place in (of course) the front row, and enough other opinions to confirm that I wasn't mistaken the first time in how uproariously funny Jessica Swale's production is.
Love's Labour's Lost. As one of Shakespeare's more verbally dexterous plays I found that silent treatment to have mixed results, but now in a new production at Southwark Playhouse' Vault they present a simpler story, devised by the company. A group of refugees is trudging through a frozen Russian forest. Exhausted, deaf Tamil refugee Tanika (Nadia Nadarajah) collapses in the snow, refusing her guide's (Graeme Brookes) attempts to give her food. As she appears to have given up, she flashes back to her earlier life in Sri Lanka with her family (Mouna Albakry, Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke) and English BSL teacher Edward (Matthew Gurney) who convinces her she needs to try and flee to London; as well as slipping into fantasies of her future life should she finally manage to complete her journey.
Friday 5 October 2012
Roundhouse and in Stratford. Paired with the revival of his Twelfth Night, Tim Carroll directs much of the same cast in a new production of Richard III, although this too uses the Original Practices techniques that I've expressed reservations about before. Mark Rylance plays the hunchbacked, withered-armed Richard Duke of Gloucester, brother to King Edward V and a few places down the line of succession to the throne. But the three people ahead of him are no obstacle if he kills them all, and once he becomes King Richard, his murderous insanity shows no sign of letting up.
Thursday 4 October 2012
Wednesday 3 October 2012
One Day When We Were Young, Lungs is a two-hander that condenses two people's relationship over a number of years into a one-act play, although here most of the focus is on one period of their lives. A young couple (Kate O'Flynn and Alistair Cope) are shopping in IKEA one day when Man suddenly brings up the question of whether they should have a baby. Woman is completely thrown by this and so begin lengthy discussions about the pros and cons of starting a family, and apart from how the pair of them will be affected, she also keeps coming back to the social responsibility of bringing a child into an already overpopulated world.