Sunday, 30 January 2011

16. Double Falsehood - Union Theatre

The obvious thing that springs to mind about Double Falsehood is, of course, the authorship controversy (my gut feeling of which is that if Shakespeare had a hand in the play, only glancing traces now remain – though if I go into why I feel that, this will go on I suspect for pages) but I suspect the reason so many of the reviews of this production have focused on this aspect of the play to the detriment of all others is that, otherwise, it’s incredibly difficult to know how to approach it.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

15. As You Like It - RSC at the Roundhouse

I must admit, having already seen six serious plays at this point, it was relief to get a comedy and this is a production and play that I'm exceptionally fond of and had already seen several times. Weirdly I've been finding it much more difficult to work out what to say about the plays that I've seen lots of time. I'm sure I had lots of random thinky thoughts when I first saw this a year ago but possibly my brain had melted from all the theatre, because I've been struggling to remember any of them.

14. King Lear - RSC at the Roundhouse

For me the RSC production won out in the battle of the Lears - though it didn't really feel like a fair fight - between the Donmar's bad audience, Jacobi's illness, my awesome seats at the Roundhouse, the fact that this is a repeat visit so I'm able to pick out details, an interesting behind the scenes type thing in the morning and that I come pre-programmed to be fond of the actors - it was practically a David and Goliath scenario.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

13. King Lear - Donmar Warehouse

The great and good have been trying to get tickets to this, so I knew my only hope was to queue up ridiculously early (though not as ridiculously early as planned as I managed to oversleep). Thankfully my experience of day seating, even in the cold of January, is that it's usually mostly fun. You tend to build an odd sense of community, you're rooting for each other and helping each other out and the people you're with are interesting. It's ace, even if like us you're a bit worried that the show might be cancelled. Luckily we were the first show Jacobi did after his laryngitis and I even managed to get a seat for it.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

12. Julius Caesar - RSC at the Roundhouse

Going to say upfront this one was an utter joy for me. It felt like I had the best seat ever. This is a play that works for me on a lot of levels and I haven't seen the production for well over a year, so it felt very fresh again - but also the improvements the long run has made feels almost immeasurable. The performances in particular are much stronger and it's made it into a really great production (possibly even my second favourite of this ensemble's Shakespeare's following Romeo and Juliet).

11. YPS Hamlet - RSC at the Roundhouse

Ah... sadly I feel I might have to woefully short-change Hamlet a little here as I've fallen far too behind on these things and I've been putting writing this one off (I've already written my Caesar review and the ones for both Lears as I sit here at 2am trying to write this). Not even sure why I've putting it off, accept the odd feeling that I don't have much to say - which is no reflection on how much I enjoyed the production as I really loved it. I think partly it's that seeing this again, didn't really give me any new revelations about it. It's like I have very little to add, so here is what I wrote last time:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

10. Three Sisters - Sovremennik at the Noel Coward

Bit of an odd one this and probably my least favourite plays I saw last week but I don't really regret going. It appealed to me for a few different reasons. Partly because a renowned theatre company coming over just to perform six performances was a little bit irresistible; partly because I'd had a very good experience last year with surtitled performances by the Belarus Free Theatre; partly because I'm generally interested in Russian theatre and mostly because I studied Three Sisters at school and somewhere in the numerous re-reads it suddenly gripped my heart and has refused to let go since. It's one of the few plays that always makes me cry when I read it and I've never gotten to see it live before.

Monday, 24 January 2011

9. Tiger Country - Hampstead Theatre

Ah, Nina Raine is fast becoming one of my favourite new playwrights, I love the way her mind works and the way she uses words - so when I spotted that she was doing a play at the Hampstead Theatre I couldn't resist going and checking the theatre out at the same time (I liked it an awful lot). Though Tiger Country isn't a match for her Royal Court hit Tribes, I still think it has a lot to recommend it and contains a lot of the elements I really love in Raine's work.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

8. Salad Days - Riverside Studios

This was something of a last minute decision based on everyone raving about it and I'm so glad I got the ticket - it was like compacted joy from the start to the very finish. Literally, even the programme was adorable and wee and came with a free postcard and made me grin and by the time it started I was already grinning from my head to my very toes. I love it when productions extend the experience, spill over into the rest of the theatre or engage with you in some way. For Salad Days they had the cast in graduation robes greeting you as the entered, giving you graduation certificates (I love free gifts!) and showing you to your seats. It was such a lovely touch.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

7. Hamlet - National Theatre

This was the second time I saw this production and I'm so glad I got to go back - not just because the first viewing was spoiled by being sat amidst the worst audience ever (I missed two whole scenes at the start of the second half) - but also because this production makes me think so much, that it makes my head want to explode. I have five pages worth of notes. Five pages! I will try not to write the ridiculous amounts that I want to about it (but I make no promises).

Saturday, 15 January 2011

5. The Glass Menagerie - Young Vic

I don't really know what to say about this one, it had many excellent elements which I'll discuss below and I can't pick out anything that didn't work for me but when I left the theatre I didn't particularly feel anything, it hadn't left me with any overriding emotion. Perhaps it was just that I was distracted by the presence of Greg Doran and Anthony Sher two rows in front of me (did I mention I love Greg Doran's brain?). Really though I think it's that, despite being excellently written and on the surface the ideal sort of family based drama for me, I didn't connect emotionally with the story.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

4. Twelfth Night - National Theatre


Having beeen interestedly watching everyones reactions to this online all week, it appears I may have been one of the few people to actually have really enjoyed it. Possibly this is because I lack traditional Twelfth Nights, the recent RSC one is about as traditional as I've seen; possibly it's because it's a play I have issues with (more below); possibly it's because I didn't overly like the last production I saw by Filter.

Monday, 3 January 2011

3. An Ideal Husband - Vaudeville Theatre

This production didn't quite work for me, though I struggled to work out why exactly. Possibly it was just that I found it a little slow and leisurely, the action actually takes place over a very short space of time but this never seemed to gain any momentum. Plus I wasn't sure if the production knew whether it wanted to be a farcical comedy or something more serious. Each time it seemed to be moving towards either end of the extreme it pulled back again fast. The sets were grandiose but I found them after a while repetitive. The costumes though were beautiful, I would love to own all of them. There were some great performances too, with all the lead actors shining at various points. Samantha Bond was beautifully coniving, Alexander Hanson superb in the moments where he lost control, Rachael Stirling as always divinely controlled and Elliot Cowan excellent, particularly when he addressed the audience directly. But for me the play was stolen by the utterly delightful Fiona Button who was lovely in Lip Service and just as lovely in this. So, not sure I liked it exactly but also certainly didn't dislike it.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Grand Hamlet-Off 2011

Sometimes an idea just pops into your head – a ridiculous, dangerous idea. Sometimes it’s more like it’s been forced into your head just by looking at your theatre schedule. Sometimes twitter suggested it. This is one of those times.

2. Romeo and Juliet - RSC at the Roundhouse


1. The Winter's Tale - RSC at the Roundhouse


The Phil Cumbus Guide To Poetical Espionage

Please feel free to move right on past this moment of silliness.