Saturday, March 10, 2012
Despite projections and visuals which make the piece still feel a bit cinematic, it is the dialogue and the banter between the two men that are key. On one level, the play elaborates and enhances some aspects of the story going beyond what the film covers. But on another level it is also labours them.
The film seemed sharper and more credible. It is a pity that perhaps the stage version didn't re-imagine the story as a three-hander between George VI, Elizabeth and Lionel Logue. The focus of the stories blurs with the cast of supporting (and possibly) superfluous characters.Winston Churchill, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Stanley Baldwin seem to be a comic chorus to the proceedings. Walace and Edward come across as the usual Nazi sympathisers. Nothing is particularly subtle here, and various lines managed to elicit "ooh yes" from the mostly elderly audience...
It isn't Chekov but still it is all a bit of fun and an interesting footnote on historical events. It's currently playing at the Richmond Theatre and will move to London's Wyndham's Theatre later this month, where the revolve will no doubt be built into the stage, rather than giving the impression people are acting on a cliff.
Interval (Bertie) 'boo with @johnnyfoxlondon follows...
Friday, March 02, 2012
Thanks to the internet, you don't need to read a review but can watch the performance below. If you're pressed for time, I would recommend skipping to the monologue by a leopard slug, which comes in at 1 hour 50 seconds. It describes in graphic slimy detail slug sex and is disgusting and not for the squeamish. And I loved it.
Video streaming by Ustream
This is a series to watch for potential future playwrights and performers. Readings run until Saturday for now but more are to come later this year... It is worth a look and make sure you stay for the post show discussions as they are wonderfully entertaining and insightful about how the actors and writers grappled with the material and got it into shape...
They were encouraging audience feedback and tweets, but @johnnyfoxlondon and I prefer to boo...
Thursday, March 01, 2012
The Ladykillers, which is playing at the Gielgud Theatre is a surprise treat. Even if you are not familiar with the Ealing comedy with Alec Guinness, the tale of a sweet old lady who is up against a gang of crooks who are using her room to hide out following a heist near Kings Cross is a lot of fun and everything a civilised night out at the West End should be... Murder, heists, little old ladies, car chases and moulting parrots...
How some of the material translates to the stage is often a joy to behold. Actually it is all so enjoyable that you wonder if they took the pace a bit quicker, choreographed the action a bit snappier and occasionally broke the fourth wall it might even be funnier.
Still, everyone is so likable and the performances are wonderful. Particularly by Marcia Warren as Mrs Wilberforce, who creates a wonderful character that is equal parts daft and clever. And of course the production looks great. People have raved about the set and it is a sight to behold, and it gets its own applause on a number of occasions. You get your money's worth here, and the Gielgud's latest refurbishment gives the theatre an added touch of old fashioned glamour and the bar prices are reasonable too!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
All New People, written and starring Zach Braff is a play that takes place over 90 or so minutes in the dead of winter at a beach house on Long Beach Island New Jersey. Zach's character Charlie is staying at his friends beach house for a few days as he is having a bit of crisis at this point in his life. He is about to end it all, when a real estate agent walks in... Then follows a fireman, and then a high-class hooker his best friend arranged to cheer him up with.
The stage is set for a bizarre and off-beat set of stories and revelations from this collection of four unlikely people. There is a detailed discussion about scabies and debates about the merits of various intoxicating substances. Projections help with the back stories of the characters, but it works best when it is just some off-beat random discussions about matters of trivial importance. Or are they? Whatever the case, the action moves briskly and the laughs are fairly constant.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Shallow End currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse is an opportunity to revisit this satire on British media with recent events of phone hacking, arrests, resignations and enquiries in mind.
The play is set at the wedding of a media mogul's daughter, who has just brought a broadsheet newspaper and it about to take it downmarket. During the celebrations the axe is about to be weilded on the old guard as debates about about the future of a newspaper in the digital age.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Excellent Choice - a two-man show by Rob Hayes - is a brief and (ahem) palatable choice to start the evening. Part of the final week of the Vault Festival at the Old Vic Tunnels at Waterloo Station, it is a funny and dark half hour show that goes down very well. The theatre space being slightly damp and a former office within the National Rail archive only adds to its mildly creepy premise.
This short play is about a young man who visits a rather unusual rare wine shop and has some very specific requirements. What seems to be an ordinary transaction quickly becomes something different. The punchline is hilarious (although possibly offensive). To speak more about it would be to give too much away.
What holds it all together is two brilliant performances by Benjamin Dilloway as the customer (above left) and Jeff Rawle as the shopkeeper (above right). Apart from giving the production a bit of class, they play their roles in all seriousness and ignore the fact the other half of the room is full of the audience snickering...
An early evening or matinee treat for a fiver. See it this weekend before it finishes... Bemuse reactions with Adrian, who is from Melbourne and so not aware of the Leake Street phenomenon...
Monday, February 20, 2012
A passion for life (and music) is certainly a message loud and clear from this revival of Master Class, Terrence McNally's play about the original opera super star Maria Callas who is running a master class for aspiring opera singers. Inspired by the classes she ran at the Juilliard School in New York in the early 1970s, she alternates between being repulsed and intrigued by her students and then caught up in how their performances evoke memories of her past glories.
The play is an opportunity to see Tyne Daly on stage and she delivers a commanding performance as the no-nonsense diva. Dominating, witty with impeccable timing and occasionally vulnerable, her performance is something to be savoured. And it distracts you from being too bothered by some of the other quirks of the material such as occasional overlong scene and superflous characters.
Naturally anything about Callas is going to bring out her groupies en masse (including a variety of homosexual types), but you don't need to be gay or know much about opera to enjoy a story about making an entrance, getting a look and doing things with purpose. The play at its best is an education and an experience. Of course it could all end in tears and you lose your voice prematurely and die of a heart attack at 53, but never mind that. Don't miss it..
It is easy to appreciate the music of Berlioz, Ravel, Stravinsky and English Born composer Thomas Adès when it is the New York Philharmonic performing. Part of their residency series at the Barbican, Friday night was an opportunity to be wowed by some impressive musicianship and a passion for music.
You know you're in for something a little bit different when you notice that after taking your seats you're surrounded by various members of the brass section. This was for Adès piece Polaris which had its European Premiere and was a joint commission with the Barbican and New York Philharmonic. It was an intriguing and hypnotic piece, although depending on your proximity to the off stage brass may have swayed your views on it (as no doubt you would not have heard much else). The above video shot for its premiere in New York gives some context to it
The rest of the programme featured Joyce DiDonato in Berlioz’s song cycle Les nuits d’été which gave a delicate and light touch to the proceedings. The concert concluded Stravinsky’s brassy Symphony in Three Movements and Ravel’s mildly erotic (but definitely evocative) Daphnis and Chloe Suite No 2.
Naturally the audience wasn't going to let things rest there and two encores ensued. A great varied programme and a night to remember.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Like other companies, Silent Opera is about taking operatic masterpieces and adapting them into modern settings. What makes them unique is that they tap into the iPod generation and use headphones to place the performers and the music in real life and odd spaces. The former National Rail plans and drawings archive must fit the latter. With a mix of levels, false ceilings, grimy floors and porta-loos, it is a far cry from the Royal Opera.
One of the great things about London is the range of sensible and not so sensible events on offer at any time of the year. All you need is a decent London Guide to start planning things. A frosty Saturday evening seemed very appropriate to catch Snow Patrol's second of three sellout concerts at the O2.
Snow Patrol are best categorised as an alternative rock group from Northern Island via Scotland (where they originally formed), but they have evolved to be firmly in the mainstream fare and ensuring mega stardom. That isn't such a bad thing as an audience of 15,000 singing (surprisingly in tune) the chorus of their song Run is certainly an experience to take in. It is also amazing to see the glow from hundreds of camera phones across the venue recording footage like the clip above. Given you can't smoke indoors anymore, they are the modern equivalent of the lighter wave.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
This is the same company that presented the economic production of Troy Boy last year. Again by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, this new translation and adaptation moves the action into the heart of cosmopolitan East London. Well the part where there are dodgy burlesque clubs and marriages that still need to preserve reputations.
Moving and updating the actions opens up a whole range of possibilities. Sempre Libera now includes a lap dance on one lucky audience member. Since Anna Jeruc-Kopec who plays Violetta has a great set of legs to match her set of lungs, it came as no surprise when she started to get a good mauling by the audience... They can be funny like that in Highgate.