Saturday, 17 March 2018
Friday, 9 March 2018
Simon Godwin's 2016 Stratford version was one I did want to see again, and I was far from the only person to be disappointed and annoyed when it was the only show in that RSC season not to transfer to London. The reason given was that the cast was unavailable, but as many of them were in other shows in the season, including Paapa Essiedu in the lead, there would probably only have been the need for a handful of roles to be recast. Well that omission has finally been rectified, as Essiedu returns to lead a tour of this relocation of mediaeval Denmark to modern Africa, with some of the original cast also joining him; more recastings have had to be made than would probably be the case if it had transferred straight away, but it's not in the least to the detriment of the production.
Thursday, 8 March 2018
at Southwark Playhouse in 2012. Well either Frecknall herself or Rupert Goold must have thought she had unfinished business with it, as she now makes her Almeida debut with… a production of the obscure Tennessee Williams play Summer and Smoke. In a small Mississippi town early in the 20th century, Alma Winemiller (Future Dame Patsy Ferran) is the local minister’s daughter, timid, bookish and prone to panic attacks, with a slightly affected accent – which she puts down to her father having spent time in England, but most of the town sees as further evidence that she’s pretentious. She’s been quietly besotted with her neighbour, the doctor’s son John Buchanan (Matthew Needham) since high school and, after some time away studying medicine, John has returned for the summer.
Tuesday, 6 March 2018
Saturday, 3 March 2018
That Menier production was so many different layers of weird* that my end-of-year review still features a category called The Pippin Memorial Award for Endearing Whatthefuckery‡. So, come December 2018, will Pippin win the award that's actually named after it? Well perhaps not, as Jonathan O'Boyle's production, first seen in Manchester, doesn't veer too wildly from the original framing device of a travelling group of mediaeval players plucking a boy out of the crowd to play the lead: Maeve Black's design is Victorian vaudeville, with old-fashioned magic tricks joining the song and dance to tell a story based, incredibly loosely, on one of Charlemagne's sons.
Friday, 2 March 2018
Ivo van Hove's tedious double-bill had me uninterested in seeing another Ingmar Bergman adaptation, but casting Dame Penelope Wilton* was enough to make me change my mind about Stephen Beresford's Fanny and Alexander. It's easy to see why this one suggested itself for the stage, following as it does a theatrical family through the eyes of its youngest members, Alexander (Guillermo Bedward, Kit Connor, Jack Falk or Misha Handley) and his younger sister Fanny (Zaris Angel Hator, Amy Jayne, Molly Shenker or Katie Simons.) Wilton plays their grandmother Helena, matriarch of the Ekdahl family who run a theatre and restaurant in early 20th-century Uppsala, Sweden.
Thursday, 1 March 2018
a bit of a disappointment, but for their second visit Simon Dormandy has struck more fertile ground with his adaptation of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. The story’s opening statement “one cannot be friends with the English” is challenged by Asif Khan’s Dr. Aziz, whose job puts him in the middle of two factions of the English in Chandrapur during the height of the Raj, represented by two young men who’ve embraced very different approaches to India and its people: Edward Killingback (Yeah!) Them Motherfuckers Don’t Know How To Act (Yeah!) plays Ronny, the new Magistrate who’s quickly embraced the prevailing attitude that India is there to be governed, its people there to serve. Schoolteacher Cyril Fielding (Richard Goulding) is another recent arrival, who firmly believes India is its people and wants to get to know them.
Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Saturday, 24 February 2018
Friday, 23 February 2018
Thursday, 22 February 2018
Dark Vanilla Jungle and Tonight with Donny Stixx, and the disembodied voices of Killer, he now puts two actors together to alternate telling six shorter stories. The twist to Angry is that the cast comprises one male and one female actor, but the speeches have been written to be gender-neutral, so at one performance the odd-numbered monologues will be performed by the man and the even-numbered by the woman – Version 1, “She Follows Him” – and at the next they swap roles – Version 2, “He Follows Her.” The latter is the version I saw tonight, with Georgie Henley’s Her opening the show with the titular “Angry,” a disappointingly one-note evocation of that emotion in which her character berates the audience first for staring at her then for ignoring her.
Monday, 19 February 2018
Rita, Sue and Bob, Too, the title of Dennis Kelly’s Girls & Boys gives away that he’ll be looking at the relationship between the sexes, and despite its sole cast member being female is ultimately a look at masculinity, and whether it is by definition toxic. Lyndsey Turner directs Carey Mulligan as the unnamed Performer, who for the most part narrates directly to the audience, starting with the story of meeting a man in an EasyJet queue and, after a shaky start, being thoroughly charmed by him.
Friday, 16 February 2018
The Flick obviously found an audience at the National as her latest, John - even the title now understated and cryptic - also comes to the Dorfman, and to me at least feels like something a bit more special even than the lauded last play. Elias (Tom Mothersdale) was an American Civil War geek as a child, so when a road trip home after Thanksgiving takes them near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he persuades his girlfriend Jenny (Anneika Rose) that they should stop off there for a couple of days so he can visit the historic battlefields. Already much less enthusiastic about trekking through freezing cornfields than her boyfriend is, when Jenny gets a particularly painful period she ends up letting him go out alone, staying behind at the bed and breakfast with its colourful owner.
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Sunday, 11 February 2018
Saturday, 10 February 2018
Out of Love, now Hasan Dixon gets to take centre stage in Brad Birch's Black Mountain. He plays Paul, who 's just arrived at a remote holiday home with Rebecca (Katie Elin-Salt.) The two are staying in separate bedrooms, an early indication that this isn't a straightforward holiday; they are, or at least were a couple, but he's hurt her and this is a last-ditch attempt to take some time together and talk over whether they have a future. He starts with at the very least the appearance of calm and optimism, she's spiky and curt with him but quickly starts to relax even as he goes the other way, becoming anxious and jumpy. This is because he's hiding the fact that Helen (Sally Messham) had stalked the pair to the side of a mountain.
Thursday, 8 February 2018
Long night's journey into tomorrow morning, more like.
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
the dead baby play we now get something that, though in some ways effective, in others comes perilously close to misery porn. Becky (Ria Zmitrowicz) and Anna (Rochenda Sandall) are sisters living on desolate land in the middle of nowhere. They come from a family of sheep-farmers, but after the deaths of their parents, and an infection that took out most of their flock, they have nothing left. Not knowing any other way of life they now steal a few pregnant ewes from other flocks they hope nobody will miss, and just about subsist on the money they get from slaughtering and selling the lambs.