SIMON GRAY: Hello my agent! Simon Gray here. I've written a play called Japes, it's about some obnoxious, drunk intellectuals fucking.
SIMON GRAY'S AGENT: Well, you're Simon Gray, so that's pretty much what I'd expect. Shall we go stage it in a theatre then?
SG: Sounds like a plan.
(some time passes)
SG: It's Simon Gray again! Remember that play Japes?
AGENT: Yes, we staged it, on a proper stage, with human actors and everything. It was OK.
SG: Well, I was wondering what would happen if I changed a couple of words in the first three scenes - would the story turn out differently?
AGENT: Oh, well that's a wacky thought to have. Bye then.
SG: No, I actually wrote it! It's called Japes Too, and 3/4 of it is indistinguishable from Japes.
AGENT: Hmmm, sounds like staging that within a decade of Japes would be utterly pointless. How about a rehearsed reading? If we're lucky it might rain, and some students might come see it to stay dry.
SG: That'll do!
(some more time passes)
Saturday 31 May 2014
Friday 30 May 2014
Titus Andronicus last year, and now she takes one of that show's ingredients, Adam Lawrence, and gives him Shakespeare's biggest role with an even more striking concept applied to it. Hamlet is the story of a Danish prince whose father has been murdered by his uncle; he wants revenge, but he's held captive by various factors, not least of all his own contradictory thoughts. Ford takes Hamlet's metaphorical imprisonment and strips it of the metaphor: Her production takes place inside a prison, where Lawrence's Hamlet has just been incarcerated for an unspecified crime. His uncle/stepfather Claudius (Russell Barnett) hasn't so much stolen Hamlet's succession as King, as that of crime kingpin, and he and Gertrude's (Joyce Greenaway) interactions with Hamlet happen in the visiting room.
Thursday 29 May 2014
Tuesday 27 May 2014
Monday 26 May 2014
the main house, Southwark Playhouse haven't allowed their studio space to get ignored, and have brought one of their big-name creatives, director David Mercatali, to The Little. Another commemoration of the First World War's centenary sees Dalton Trumbo's novel Johnny Got His Gun adapted as a monologue by Bradley Rand Smith. Jack Holden plays Joe Bonham, an American soldier whose narration jumps back and forth, confusingly at first, between the day he left his small town to set off to war, and his current situation, incapacitated in some way in a hospital. As his thought processes start to clear a bit, we understand the full horror of his situation as he does: All four limbs have been amputated after an explosion that also deafened, blinded, and left him unable to speak; yet somehow, horribly, he's still alive.
Friday 23 May 2014
Thursday 22 May 2014
Wednesday 21 May 2014
Merry Wives of Windsor (half of whose cast seem to have been there tonight in support.) He performs Dead Party Animals, in which a teenage boy recounts a Friday night out in his small Northern town: from trimming his pubes shorter than he'd intended, to going to a club with his mates, right through to the consequences, of vomiting and hangovers. A thread that runs through the whole night is Emma, the sister of one of his friends and the reason he went out in the first place. As he tells us of his sweet attempts to grab her attention, though, there's some details he's keeping from the audience.
Tuesday 20 May 2014
a musical about piss? If you're the St James Theatre, it seems, you do it with a play that's really quite shit. Over at Out of Joint, writer Stella Feehily and director Max Stafford-Clark have discovered this exciting new form of political theatre from Russia called agitprop, which they've taken less than a century to bring to the UK. The destruction by stealth of the National Health Service is an incredibly disturbing subject that should be more honestly reported by the media, and one that deserves a lot better than Feehily's This May Hurt A Bit. The play feels so dated it has the opposite effect of what it intends: The topic is an urgent and current one, but the hackneyed attempts to bring it to the stage make the play, and consequently the subject it tries to highlight, feel like a museum piece.
Monday 19 May 2014
Sunday 18 May 2014
Saturday 17 May 2014
Friday 16 May 2014
Constellations, by using scientific hypotheses to structure his narrative. He now replaces quantum physics with neuroscience for his latest, Incognito. Paul Hickey, Amelia Lowdell, Alison O'Donnell and Sargon Yelda play numerous roles in three separate stories whose themes sometimes connect and spark: A young man in 1950s England, Henry (Yelda,) has brain surgery intended to stop his blackouts, but instead it results in a rare, debilitating form of amnesia that makes him a medical oddity. A couple of years later in America, Albert Einstein dies. Thomas (Hickey) carries out the autopsy, and in the process steals his brain. Using it to determine the physical source of genius becomes a lifelong obsession. And in the present day, neuropsychologist Martha (Lowdell) gets divorced; her fresh start in life sees her date a woman (O'Donnell.)
Thursday 15 May 2014
Wednesday 14 May 2014
Tuesday 13 May 2014
Monday 12 May 2014
Sunday 11 May 2014
Saturday 10 May 2014
Friday 9 May 2014
Thursday 8 May 2014
Wednesday 7 May 2014
last production of the straight play I saw felt dry, like it was simply missing the songs, but Headlong is the kind of company that exists to see things differently, and this new version quickly imprints its own identity on the play. It's the story of Melchior (Oliver Johnstone,) a nihilistic teenager at the centre of a group of friends trying, with limited success, to tackle growing up. The adults in their lives are no help, in fact whether they're putting undue pressure on their children or leaving important gaps in their sexual education, they're most often a hindrance.
Tuesday 6 May 2014
Monday 5 May 2014
Sunday 4 May 2014
Saturday 3 May 2014
Japes, about a ménage à trois that sees Anita (Laura Rees) married to Michael (Jamie Ballard) for decades while carrying on an on-off relationship with his younger brother Japes (Gethin Anthony.) Then there was Michael, a shorter piece which ditched the first act and retold the second from an ever-so-slightly different angle. And now there's the third (though written second) in Hampstead's series, Japes Too, which aims to follow the characters from the original play, but see how things might have turned out if certain details had been different.
Friday 2 May 2014
a fringe debut last year and now a smaller-scale UK tour kicks off in Greenwich (its history in That New York has similarly seen it bounce on and off Broadway for years.) Anyone who's been following this blog for a while knows Avenue Q is my favourite musical and, Hamlet excepted, the show I've seen more times than any other - tonight's visit was my thirteenth. For anyone who's somehow missed the fun, Avenue Q is the story of Princeton (understudy Will Hawksworth tonight,) who moves into the titular New York neighbourhood just after graduating from college, hoping it'll be the first step in finding his purpose in life. What he gets instead is a funny, rude and touching lesson in making the best out of what life throws at him.