38 posts categorized "Old Vic" Feed

My favourite plays of 2017...so far #midyearreview #theatre

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2017 is already the year that brought us Andrew Scott's Hamlet, Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman and my introduction to playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins and it's only six months in. There are a further nine plays I couldn't not include in my 'best of so far' list and that was with the bar set very high. I've still got Angels in America, Ben Whishaw in Against, Rory Kinnear in Young Marx and the awarding winning Oslo to come later this year, among many others potential theatre treats - the end of year list is already looking tricky to narrow down.

Anyway, here's what I've enjoyed the most in 2017 so far. Feel free to agree/disagree...

(In no particular order, because that would be too traumatic to do.)

1. Amadeus, National Theatre  This was supposed to be a 2016 play but I gave up my ticket for the early part of the run because of work pressures, good words from @PolyG made me rebook for January and I'm so glad I did. It was a play that unexpectedly floored me. It's returning next year and yes I've got a ticket.

2. Out Their On Fried Meat Ridge Road, White Bear Fringe theatre kicked off in fine style with this brilliantly warm, funny, odd, dark, misfit comedy that was the antidote to everything disturbing that was going on the world at the time. It transferred to Trafalgar Studios 2 and I got to enjoy it all over again.

3. Hamlet, Almeida  I've seen a lot of Hamlet's and there is usually something new in each but Andrew Scott's prince in Robert Icke's production made me look at the play with completely new eyes. Sorry Sherlock but this was a battle that Moriarty definitely won. It's transferred to the West End.

4. An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre  Was tipped off about American playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins and this is the first of his plays I've seen. It's a play I could write reams and reams about and reminded me why I love going to the theatre. Gloria, another of his plays is currently on at Hampstead Theatre, it didn't quite make this list but it is still really good.

5. Rotterdam, Arts Theatre  This was in my 'best of' list last year but after a stint off Broadway it's come back to London to the bigger Arts Theatre. It made me laugh, it made me gasp and it made me cry - all that even though I've seen it before and knew exactly what was coming. That's why it's back on the list. It's on until 15 July.

6. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Old Vic  It's possibly the only Tom Stoppard play I really like and this was a great production that was lively, entertaining, profound and melancholic . There was a brilliant rapport between the two leads - Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire - and David Haig as The Player was worth the ticket price alone.

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Review: Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire in the splendid Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Old Vic

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Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire. Photo Manuel Harlan

Joshua McGuire (Guildenstern), who has played Hamlet, is on stage talking to a Hamlet (Luke Mullins) - could Tom Stoppard have anticipated this when he wrote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 50 years ago?

Such career progression from tragedy to humourous meta theatre feels wholly apt for this existential play which explores fate versus self determinism. The two minor characters of Shakespeare's play are catapulted centre (back) stage and seem determined to cling to life when literary fate would have it otherwise. 

"There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said - no. But somehow we missed it."

Called to the Danish court by Hamlet's uncle, Rosencrantz (Daniel Radcliffe) and Guildenstern's 'job' is to determine what is wrong with the Prince - the problem is they are out of their depth. Unsure of what they need to do or how to do it they search for structure, rules - clues - to help. They talk themselves into and out of action, bide their time bickering and bury themselves in familiar games while the story of Hamlet plays out on the periphery, often sweeping across the back of a stage like a human curtain being drawn.

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REHEARSAL PHOTOS: Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Old Vic

Here they are, Daniel Radcliffe (Rosencrantz) and Joshua McGuire (Guildenstern) rehearsing ahead of the opening of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (the only Tom Stoppard play to date that I really like, but that might just be me). It's the Hamlet story told from the perspective the two minor characters and its very clever and funny.

It opens for previews at the Old Vic on 25 February and then runs until April 29.

 

 


Review: (But is it) Art, Old Vic Theatre

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ART Tim Key, Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Serge (Rufus Sewell) has bought a painting, it's five foot by four foot and is white. He paid a lot for it. His friend Marc (Paul Ritter) sees red and isn't afraid to let him know. His friend Yvan (Tim Key) is more diplomatic but that causes its own problems.

Is it Art? Well that's almost besides the point, it's more what it says about Serge in Marc's and Yvan's eyes and what that means for their friendship. Through a series of monologues and exchanges - which are humourously juxtaposed to emphasise the diplomacy/lies in their relationships - the strength and strains of their friendship is revealed.

Marc feels let down by Serge, Serge thinks Marc is arrogant and Yvan just wants to escape from the stress of trying to organise his wedding and therefore agrees with everyone to maintain the status quo.  Can their friendship survive the painting purchase?

This is a meatier play than the synopsis would suggest. Yes there are plenty of laugh out loud moments - the comic timing of the actors is razor sharp - but it also has a lot to say about the nature of human friendships particularly over time. It is a play that feels like a riotous watch but has darker notes which linger long after the actors have taken their bow. It is a play that entertains but also forces you to examine your own attitude towards friendships. It is a play about honesty that forces you to be honest with yourself - would you honestly admit which character you most identify with? It is also a play in which three men silently eating olives has never said quite so much.

Art is on at the Old Vic Theatre until 18 February and is 90 minutes without an interval. I'm giving it four and a half stars.

 

 


Rehearsal and promotional photos: Rufus Sewell, Tim Key and Paul Ritter in Art, Old Vic Theatre

The photo shoot for Art's promotional pics look like Rufus, Tim and Paul all had fun (see a behind the scenes vid here). There's also a bunch of rehearsal shots - really looking forward to this one and not just because of the opportunity to see Rufus Sewell on stage again. Ahem.

Art at Old Vic Theatre is directed by Yasmina Reza and opens for previews on Dec 10 and then runs until Feb 17, 2017. For more info head to the Old Vic website.

ART Fight-222-Landscape Tim Key, Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter. Photo by Manuel Harlan (1)
ART Tim Key, Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter. Photo by Manuel Harlan
ART Fight-243 portrait. Tim Key, Paul Ritter and Rufus Sewell. Photo by Manuel Harlan (2)
ART Tim Key, Paul Ritter and Rufus Sewell. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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Review: Glenda Jackson in King Lear, Old Vic

The stage at the Old Vic is being 'cleaned' as we take our seats and a few of the cast dressed in what looks like their regular street clothes amble around chatting. It is brightly lit and you can see spare lighting rigs at the side of the stage and there isn't much by way of set and props except a white screen and a row of cheap plastic chairs.

It feels like we've walked in on a rehearsal rather than a full blown production and this becomes a bit of problem once the play has started. While there are no scripts to be seen and the actors are definitely in full flow, the direction and sparseness of the stage make it feel, to use PolyG's words, like a glorified rehearsed reading.

4371After about an hour it kicks in although by that I mean it has its moments. Rhys Ifans lights up the stage as a super-hero costumed Fool although as a result his appearances feel all too brief. Harry Melling too feels compelling as Edgar in fact it is the scene where he sees his blinded father for the first time where I was most moved. It is interesting that director Deborah Warner has chosen to distinguish between Edgar and his brother Edmond (Simon Manyonda) by making one a fitness addict and the other a chocolate addict and it is the bad brother that is into exercise.

Jane Horrock's stalks the stage as the painted-on-jeans, high-heels wearing Regan and Sargon Yelda's Kent brilliantly switches between accents as his disguise which works really well.

But this is Glenda Jackson's show or at least it should be. She gives an energetic performance that belies her frail looking frame but it isn't enough to captivate and ultimately engage.

She is a bawdy King Lear, hanging out drinking with 'his' knights in fact this a bawdy production that crudely exposes the sexual innuendo and references. Bare flesh is exposed: Edmund bears his buttocks to the audience while masturbating over his plans to rob his brother of his inheritance, shirts are taken off for fights and and Edgar strips to his birthday suit and runs around, later wearing just plastic bags as pants (I noted the Lidl logo).

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Rehearsal pics: Glenda Jackson et al but where is Rhys Ifans? King Lear, Old Vic

Must admit I'd forgotten quite how starry the cast is for the Old Vic's King Lear - Celia Imrie, Jane Horrocks, Danny Webb etc - and there was me merely excited about Glenda Jackson and Harry Melling. One name I'd also forgotten about is Rhys Ifans who is playing Fool but is notable in his absence in the these rehearsal pics. Curious. The first preview is tonight and then it runs until Dec 3.

 

 


Comments and critics on Timothy Spall's The Caretaker, Old Vic

Timothy Spall (Davies) in The Caretaker at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan (5)
Timothy Spall (Davies) in The Caretaker at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan

People are kind enough to stop by this blog and leave a comment occasionally but my review of The Caretaker seemed to attract more interest than normal. The consensus of opinion from the comments seemed to be that the production is "dull and boring" - to quote one - although there was one person who really seemed to like it.

I too liked it, although it didn't warrant the long running time. In liking it I was accused by one person of fawning over Timothy Spall and raving about it because it was at the Old Vic. I don't think I did but I'm going to put that to one side because there is a whole separate post about how some people can't seem to disagree with others without sounding like they are personally affronted.

The play hadn't been seen by critics when these comments were written so I was curious as to whether it would divide opinion just as much. And  I think it is fair to say it hasn't gone down as a resounding success. There are more four star reviews than three star but there are three star reviews and it is interesting that the running time does get mentioned in a few:

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Production photos: Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays and George MacKay in The Caretaker, Old Vic

Official production photos have arrived for the Old Vic's The Caretaker starring Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays and George MacKay. I saw it last week and and found it challenging and rewarding. Set is pretty amazing too:

Daniel Mays (Aston), Timothy Spall (Davies), George MacKay (Mick) in The Caretaker at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan. (2)
Daniel Mays (Aston), Timothy Spall (Davies), George MacKay (Mick) in The Caretaker at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

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