46 posts categorized "Old Vic" Feed

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

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

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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Review: Timothy Spall in The Caretaker, Old Vic Theatre

3902It's raining heavily outside the Old Vic, it's raining inside too.  The stage is obscured by a slate roof onto which rain pours. As the lights go down the roof lifts up and back to reveal a junk-filled, tatty attic room.

There is a bed to one side and a bucket hangs from the ceiling to catch drips. There is one window and rain trickles down the outside. There are voices from the other side of the one door to the room and through it steps a man in a smart grey suit and an old man with wild, wiry grey hair and a tatty old-gent suit.

If you are going to see your first ever production of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker you might as well make it big budget production with actors of the calibre of Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays and George MacKay. First production? Shocking I know, the play has taken on almost mythical qualities because it's a classic I haven't seen. I've not read it either so I'm experiencing the play (and Spall on stage) for the first time.

He plays Davies, a homeless man, whom Aston (Daniel Mays) has rescued from a brawl. Aston lives in the room which is in a house owned by his brother Mick (George MacKay). He's doing it up for him, although he never seems to do much other than try and fix a plug or stare deep in thought. Davies talks without really seeming to say anything of any substance and Aston doesn't say much he just goes about working on the plug.

Mick, when he appears, talks a lot, fast and aggressively but again doesn't say much of any substance. They are all slippery, half-characters, you learn little of their history the irony being that Davies, the most loquacious, is probably the least reliable narrator. He says what he thinks people want to hear allies himself to whomever he thinks will let him stay. It is a tactic that doesn't reckon on family loyalty.

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Review: Ralph Fiennes is The Master Builder, Old Vic

Cw-9693-mediumIbsen's The Master Builder is rather an odd play and it's interesting that the premise it is marketed on isn't actually the bit I enjoyed so much.

The story is that Halvard Solness (Ralph Fiennes), a naturally talented but untrained architect, has become a great success but is worried that his days as the master builder may be coming to an end. He fears that younger, more talented architects will come along, like Ragnar (Martin Hutson) who works in his office. A young woman Hilde Wangel (Sarah Snook) arrives one day claiming to have met Halvard 10 years previously, when he made advances on her together with some outlandish promises (think trolls and castles in the sky).

But that is part of the play that I didn't like so much. I couldn't make out if Hilde was delusional or calculated and I'm not sure if she is meant to be either (maybe it is David Hare's adapatation?). I think the trailer interview with Ralph Fiennes talking about the play being a psychological thriller doesn't help. Reading up on the play afterwards Halvard has been described as a middle-aged man showing off in front of a young woman and that I get. But, in his work practices Halvard doesn't so much flirt with youth as block it, he manipulates his young book-keeper Kaja's (Charlie Cameron) feelings for him in order to keep her fiance Ragnar from striking out on his own.

Hilde brings with her a slightly fantastical element, perhaps she represents a younger, freer, bolder Halvard before life experience and tragedy shaped him? You can't really take her at face value because she is quite fanciful which is why I question whether she is delusional. But then Halvard's wife and his doctor friend fear he might have his own mental issues.

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