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Showing posts from July, 2013

Sex and violence: Private Lives

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Private Lives, currently playing at the Gielgud Theatre, is a sexy and bitchy night out at the theatre that is hard not to like. With a strong cast that brings out the sexual tensions and a production that enjoys lingering in the sophisticated smuttiness of it all.

The central premise is that two recently remarried divorcees meet while they are honeymooning and pick up where they left off. But they soon discover that while they can't live without each other, they can't live with each other either. It's morally wrong and the characters should be unappealing but you root for them anyway as they ditch their spouses and head off to Paris.

Site specific aimless wandering: The Drowned Man

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Site specific theatre has never seemed more pointless and inept than in Punchdrunk's latest outing, The Drowned Man. A large, cavernous space near Paddington Station is converted into Temple Pictures Studios. You are meant to wander through the spaces and discover the unfolding dramas that are inspired by the drama Woyzeck. These dramas are mostly about people on the margins of the film industry struggling to make ends meet and where high emotions that take people to the point of insanity. It could be spooky and imaginative and a little bit of fun, but instead it is executed so casually that the end product is dreary, aimless and confused.

Throughout four floors, the spaces are so large and empty, the lighting so dark that it all seems a little pointless and lacking any direction. It is all too big, too dark and too empty to be interesting.  With all the mazes and rooms with props it seems as if you have inadvertently dropped in on a fuck club on the night it is closed for hosing…

Power struggles and slow poisons: Simon Boccanegra

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Verdi's Simon Boccanegra is a great opera to get stuck into. It's full of rousing music and has a terrific story about internal power struggles, young love and family against the backdrop of the establishment of the first Doge of Genoa.

Everything has its consequences.  While Simon becomes the man of the people and crowned Doge of Genoa he discovers that his lover has died and their baby disappears. And that is just in the opening minutes of the prologue. The piece moves forward in time where young love, revenge and political intrigue take over amidst a plea for an end to internal fighting that is pulling a nation apart.

Gospel, poverty and all that jazz: The Amen Corner

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The Amen Corner, currently playing at the National Theatre is an uplifting and emotional play. Poverty, religion, hypocrisy, gospel singing and jazz feature throughout. But while it might be a predictable journey, what makes it special is the finely drawn characters and nuanced performances and observations about poverty, race and religion.

The piece focuses on fiery preacher Sister Margaret. As the play opens, she is about to go on a journey to Philadelphia to visit a congregation that needs her help. Yet her departure coincides with the return of her husband Luke and wayward antics from her son, who is staying out late with jazz musicians. Her congregation soon start calling on this hypocrisy and challenge her authority, which sets in motion a series of events that will pull Sister Margaret's world apart.