41 posts categorized "Old Vic" Feed

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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Review: Bertie Carvel is The Hairy Ape, Old Vic Theatre

The-hairy-ape-rehearsal-images-photos-the-old-vic-theatreSaw Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape for the first time three years ago at the Southwark Playhouse. That was a fairly straightforward production that used the small performance space brilliantly to recreate the cramped, noisy, hot belly of an ocean going liner’s engine room.

Really loved the play, the story of a man whose sense of place in the world is challenged and shattered in just the briefest of incidents.

On the vast Old Vic stage – now returned to its traditional proscenium arch layout -  the confines of the engine room is recreated using what looks a bit like a ship packing container. It is painted yellow and there is a barred door on one side giving it a cage-like feel.

The stokers are kicking back with a beer, sweaty and smeared in coal dust, testosterone levels are high. Every now and again you get a sense of the ship lurching with the swell as the men stagger in unison.

Yank (Bertie Carvel) sits slightly apart from the group but is listening, occasionally interjecting. It quickly becomes obvious that he holds some power, some authority over the other men. He can cut off the start of a song with a whip-like command that cracks through the room.

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Rehearsal photos: Bertie Carvel and the cast of Hairy Ape, Old Vic

Hot on the heels from playing Pentheus and Pentheus' mother in Bakkhai at the Almeida, Bertie Carvel will soon be seen as the muscular and fiery ship stoker Yank in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape at the Old Vic. Can't wait.

Bertie Carvel (Yank) - The Hairy Ape, Photos by Manuel Harlan (2)
Bertie Carvel (Yank) - The Hairy Ape, Photos by Manuel Harlan

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Review: Rob Brydon and other starry names in Future Conditional at the Old Vic

PosterMatthew Warchus' tenure as artistic director at the Old Vic kicks off with a new comedy about education and has a cast of many. Rob Brydon is the star name being touted on marketing material but in reality this is an ensemble piece.

Tamsin Oglesby's Future Conditional is essentially three plays in one, each with a separate cast, the action swapping between the stories with only two characters crossing over (one seen and one referred to).

In Brydon's segment he plays a teacher at a secondary school telling the story in a series of conversations with his class but for the most part you have to imagine what the pupils are saying because you only hear his side.

Through the teachers eyes we see some of the challenges of the classroom. Juggling the ultra bright and eager to learn Pakistani refugee Alia (Nikki Patel) with the disruptive Jordan who's got problems at home.

It is skillfully written and performed so that it is not just Brydon's physical and verbal reactions that are funny but also the imagined comments from the kids.

And while Brydon is no doubt a draw, for me at least the excitement mainly came from seeing Ben Lloyd-Hughes (see additional 6DS below). He features in a segment set around a Government think tank which is supposed to be advising on educational policy.

The group is a mixture of people from different backgrounds, state and private education with Joshua Maguire (another Stan fav) playing an Oxbridge graduate and ex-Etonian. The debate here is about equality in education and how you maximise the potential of children from poorer backgrounds so that they are on an level playing field with those from affluent backgrounds.

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Exciting casting news: Bertie Carvel to play Yank in Old Vic The Hairy Ape

Bit of a recent convert to the church of Bertie Carvel. PolyG has long sung his praises but he hasn't really been on my radar. I thought Bakkhai opposite my fav Ben Whishaw would be my first proper chance to see him in action but the TV adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell came along and suddenly my excitement levels about Bakkhai got ramped up (if that was possible).

Then yesterday I got the press release announcing he's playing Yank in the Old Vic production of Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape. It's a play that was already on my radar without any cast having seen a superb production at the Southwark Playhouse three years ago.

Now Bertie has been cast it suddenly gets really interesting. Yank is very much a manly man, reminds me a little of Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire. He's all muscle and testosterone but it is just a few words that knock him to the ground and challenge him in a way that he never predicted.

From the seating plan on the Old Vic website it looks like they are keeping the round stage format (hurray) which should work really well in making the audience feel like they are in the dark, hot, cramped ship engine room where Yank works.

Excited? Moi?

The Hairy Ape is on from Oct 17 until November 21 and is booking now. Five weeks before the start of the run £10 preview seats will be released for half the auditorium.