Tuesday, 14 June 2011

89. Three Farces - Orange Tree Theatre

One of the best things about seeing ridiculous amounts of theatre is that you start to find actors you know you can trust – that you know even if you hate the theatre, think the writing’s awful and that the direction is dire, will still give a good performance. Ed Bennett is one of those actors for me, never short of sparkling. The best thing about these actors is that they end up taking you to theatres and shows you might not have found otherwise. And thanks to Mr. Bennett’s appearance in Three Farces I’ve not only discovered the marvellous Orange Tree Theatre (can’t help but love a small, intimate, friendly theatre in the round) but also that Victorian one act farces are fantastic. I am not sure I have grinned so much for a long time.

Monday, 13 June 2011

88. American Trade - RSC at the Hampstead Theatre

American Trade was the third and final instalment of the RSC’s Hampstead residency and sadly I can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s lucky the long ensemble had New York to head off to as it would have been a shame to end such a marvellous tenure with a disappointing, uncelebrated and geographically peripheral end. As unfortunately American Trade suffered from the same problem as its two predecessors – interesting productions, strong performances but weak writing. Though not awful - like the other two plays, I thought there was great potential here but it may have needed longer to develop.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

87. Cardenio - Swan Theatre

If the promise of Gregory Doran and the Swan and theatrical ‘archaeology’ wasn’t enough, having seen Double Falsehood at the Union Theatre in January made Cardenio a must see for me. In the end though, the last of these I think proved more of a hindrance than a help and I’ve found myself increasingly unable to separate my thoughts about one from my thoughts about the other. Which has made it rather difficult to work out truly how I felt about this.

86. The Merchant of Venice - RST

Oh, Rupert Goold, you marvellous, marvellous man. In some ways it shouldn’t be a surprise (given how he completely rehabilitated Romeo and Juliet for me) that he would produce something just as magical with Merchant of Venice. But having heard that he had transported the story to Las Vegas, I couldn’t quite shake my doubts. Which only goes to prove that I must have more faith. Not only does the setting work, it fits perfectly; not only is it flashy and impressive and feels like an event but it marries that with a genuine cleverness. Transformative is the only word that I can think of, on every level this is transformative and I think I will be hard pressed to ever see the play as a comedy again.

Friday, 10 June 2011

85. The City Madam - Swan Theatre

I feel a little sorry for The City Madam, sandwiched in between two of the most impressive productions I’ve seen at the RSC it was bound to suffer somewhat by comparison. In the end though I couldn’t shake the feeling that whilst there were some wonderful performances, an interesting design and some funny set pieces – that the writing just wasn’t strong enough to stand up against Shakespeare. (Though truly who can? I occasionally get irrationally sad that there was a genius in the world and there isn’t anymore – I may be more than a little odd).

Thursday, 9 June 2011

84. Macbeth - RST

This is one of those productions that completely blew me away and I’m not sure if I’ve completely sorted out my thoughts and feelings about it yet (though that might partly be down to cramming so much theatre in to such a short time frame). It’s an incredibly clever production. Whilst Michael Boyd may not be as impressively flashy as Rupert Goold or as able to completely re-envision a play; I find his depth of understanding no less imaginative or magical and with Macbeth he has combined his cleverness and inventiveness with a strong emotional core and an intensity that left me shaken and shaking by the end. In fact my main problem with writing this review has been working out how to elaborate the wealth of interconnecting concepts and where to begin.

Monday, 6 June 2011

83. Much Ado About Nothing - The Globe

I hesitated about writing this up as we were treated to a rather unusual performance with Eve Best indisposed, but given that I’ve already wimped out with one “doctor’s note” for The Globe this year and that I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this – I thought I would go ahead (though given that everyone I know adored Eve Best, I might post an update when I finally get to see her). Anyhow, before the show started Dominic Dromgoole took the stage and explained that The Globe is unable to afford a full understudy programme but that in the best showbiz tradition the show would go on with Lucy McGrillis stepping up from Margaret to play Beatrice, script in hand, and with Charlotte Bevan, Head of Casting, taking her place.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

82. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - Chichester Festival Theatre

This was one of my more memorable journeys of the year, involving a panicked moment when I realised that the train was about to split off in two directions and finishing with my jacket heading off to Bognor Regis without me. Thankfully despite the stress, I enjoyed the production so much that I wouldn’t hesitate to head further afield, especially to Chichester, again.

Friday, 3 June 2011

81. Cause Célèbre - Old Vic

Given I’m not sure I’d ever seen a Rattigan play before this year, the centenary is proving to be a rather marvellous experience with Cause Célèbre keeping up the fine standards that Flare Path promised earlier in the year. And though both benefited greatly from beautiful, classic productions and excellent performances – I think it’s truly the writing that continues to shine.