72 posts categorized "Theatre thoughts" Feed

That was August in London (and Stratford) theatre-land with a bit of a Hamlet theme

Hamlet
Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet, photo Johan Persson

* The lucky charms came out in August as it was announced that Tom Hiddleston would play Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh, for a limited run at RADA as a fund raiser for the drama school. The lucky charms were for the ticket ballot, the only way to see the production. My stars were aligned or at least @PolyG’s were. Can’t wait. (Production photos here on What's On Stage.)

* And while we are on the topic of Hamlet, Andrew Scott/Robert Icke's amazing production is due to be broadcast by BBC 2 next year. It opened at the Almeida earlier this year before transferring to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre and has set the bar high for Hamlets, so no pressure Tom/Ken.

* Another Hamlet related bit of news (kinda), Jonathan Slinger - a former RSC Hamlet  -  has been cast in Trouble in Mind at the Print Rooms at the Coronet.

* Stan-fav and RSC regular, Jasper Britton, is starring in a new Howard Brenton play, The Blinding Light, at the Jermyn Street Theatre from September 6.

* And still with the RSC, if you fancy a unique souvenir of a favourite production get down to Stratford on Sep 23 for the company's costume sale.

* Elsewhere, Samantha Bond and Richard Dreyfus have been cast in the Florian Zeller's play The Lie at Menier Chocolate Factory from September 14.

* Michelle Dockery has been widely reported as joining Brian Cranston in the Ivo Van Hove directed Network although there is nothing on the National Theatre website, as yet, to reflect this.

* The amazing Rachael Stirling has been cast in Labour of Love - and so has Tamsin Greig who is replacing Sarah Lancashire who has pulled out of the production. It opens for previews at the Noel Coward Theatre at the end of September.

* And this is particularly lovely casting news, Oliver Chris and Nancy Carroll will join Rory Kinnear in Young Marx, the inaugural production at the new Bridge Theatre which opens on October 18.

Continue reading "That was August in London (and Stratford) theatre-land with a bit of a Hamlet theme" »


Why I will review Tom Hiddleston's Hamlet

RADA-KBTC-HAMLET-CAST-Nicholas-Farrell-Ansu-Kabia-Lolita-Chakrabarti-Kathryn-Wilder-Tom-Hiddleston-Ayesha-Antoine-Sean-Foley-Caroline-Martin-Irfan-Shamji-and-Eleanor-de-RohanMatt Trueman wrote a piece for The Stage this week - 'What's the point of reviewing Hiddleston's Hamlet?' based on the fact that the Kenneth Branagh directed production is essentially an exclusive gig and a fundraiser.

I'll gloss over him referring to Tom Hiddleston as 'Hollywood's very own' - my view on this is reflected by some of the comments on his piece - and move on to why I will be reviewing HiddleHam. (Yes, I am extremely lucky to have a ticket, thanks to @polyg getting picked in the second round of the ballot).

I enjoy writing about theatre, it's nice to revisit the experience of seeing a particular play. It gives me time to properly cogitate on what I've seen and I sometimes discover something new I hadn't considered while watching. It's also nice to have a record of the experience and I do go back and re-read some reviews - Hamlets are always fun to revisit and compare.

Then there are the conversations I strike up with people who comment on what I've written, discussions I wouldn't otherwise have if I hadn't written a review.

And in the case of HiddleHam, it is an exclusive event, I know I've been lucky and there are at least two people out there who will appreciate reading what I have to say about it, as I would appreciate reading about it had I not got a ticket.

Is it the difference between being a paid critic and someone who is first and foremost an avid theatre fan?


That was July in London Theatre land with a bumper crop of announcements and thesp spots

Loot_460x375After a quiet June, July was a bumper month for announcements and thesp spots...

* The cast for The Divide, the new Alan Ayckbourn play, was announced. Clare Burt will be joined by Sophie Melville, Sian Thomas and Finty Williams. It opens at the Edinburgh Fringe this week (8 Aug) and then at the Old Vic from Jan 30.

* It was a month of former Globe artistic director announcements starting with Dominic Dromgoole who has announced an Oscar Wilde season at the Vaudeville Theatre including Lady Windermere’s Fan directed by Kathy Burke and A Woman of No Importance starring Eve Best.

* Then the Old Vic announced that Emma Rice’s production company, Wise Children, would have a residency at the Old Vic. The first production next year will be an adaptation of an Angela Carter novel. Goodie.

* Stan-fav Sinead Matthews has been cast in Loot at Park Theatre (picture) which also exciting because it’s been many years since I last saw a production of Loot.

* Much lauded on Broadway, the UK production of Oslo (National Theatre and West End) has found its leads: Toby Stephens and Lydia Leonard.

* This Christmas will see the battle of the stage Scrooges. Rhys Ifans is playing Scrooge in an Old Vic production of A Christmas Carol while Phil Davis is playing same character in the RSC’s version in Stratford. Already looking forward to compare and contrasts.

Continue reading "That was July in London Theatre land with a bumper crop of announcements and thesp spots" »


Up close and personal: Tales from sitting on the front row at the theatre

The front row is generally my favourite place to sit at the theatre for several reasons. I'm short so it's often the only place that guarantees an uninterrupted view and I don't like having heads bobbing into my eye line.  Being close also means I can see the whites of the actors' eyes, the sweat on their brow, the nervous tremble of their hands but most importantly their facial expressions - if you are sat further back you miss stuff.

And then there are the unexpected incidents that happen when you are sat so close. Stuff like a prop hitting you, landing in your lap or dropping onto the floor by your feet, or the splatter of blood, the flying sand and sugar glass. Then there is the eye contact you make with an actor, an actor squeezing by you to get onto the stage, shaking your hand or saying hello or speaking lines directly to you and an actor falling into your lap when they misjudge the edge of the stage (yep that has happened to me). I've also been blamed by a character when they farted and dragged up on stage to take part.

I watched enviously from row C when Caesar was strangled in an empty seat in the middle of the front row during the Donmar's Julius Caesar. 

While most performances go by without anything like this happening, there is always the chance that it might and it becomes a story to add to the story, an experience to add to the experience. I included some recent 'acquisitions' from my front row seats in my new blog banner, it's nice to give them an airing. (Click on the image for a bigger version.)

Banner explanation


That was June in London Theatre land...

92000-11June felt like a quieter month for announcements - or did I miss a load of stuff, please let me know if I did…

* The Donmar announced its next two plays with Christian Cooke in David Harrower’s Knives in Hens directed by Yael Farber and then Nikki Amuka-Bird is taking the lead in Ibsen’s The Lady From The Sea directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah.

* The Almeida’s fabulous Mary Stuart is transferring to the Duke of York's next year and then goes on tour.

* Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael has been cast alongside Stockard Channing in Alexi Kaye Campbell's Apologia at the Trafalgar Studios. Jamie Lloyd is directing.

* Young One (I’m showing my age, I know) Adrian Edmondson has been cast as Malvolio in the RSC’s Twelfth Night. OK it's on in Stratford rather than London but there will be a live broadcast on February 14.

* Anne Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham (pictured) will star in the UK premiere of Simon Stephen’s play Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle at the Wyndhams which is being directed by Marianne Elliott under the umbrella of her new, post-National Theatre, production company. There's a nice little intro video to the production on the website but don't scoff too loud when the Wyndhams is described as an 'intimate house', I do wonder what planet theatre people are born on sometimes.

Thesp spots

It was a shy month for thesps with only two spots: Simon Stephens and Dorothea Myer-Bennett were both at the Kiss Me press night.


That was May in London theatre-land - casting, transfers, an anniversary and another bumper crop of thesp spots

600Gloria_FINAL_landscapeSmall* Stan fav Colin Morgan has been cast with Game of Thrones’ Ellie Kendrick in Gloria at Hampstead Theatre which just happens to be my newest favourite playwright. So lots of excitement for that. Gloria will also be a 10 year theatre anniversary for me and Colin. I first saw him (and mentally tipped him as one to watch) when he played the lead in Vernon God Little at the Young Vic in 2007.

* Keeping up the Game of Thrones thesp count in London’s theatre land is Natalie Dormer who’s been cast with David Oakes in Venus in Furs at Theatre Royal Haymarket from October.

* Colm Meaney joins Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Apollo Theatre which opens in July.

* Arthur Darvill of Broadchurch fame has been cast in Hir at Bush Theatre which opens on June 15.

* James Graham (This House) has a new political comedy, Labour of Love, coming to the Noel Coward Theatre in September starring Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire.

Continue reading "That was May in London theatre-land - casting, transfers, an anniversary and another bumper crop of thesp spots" »


That was April in London theatre-land - cast announcements, transfers and thesp spots

Jam-main
Jam, Finborough Theatre

* Incoming from Broadway is new play Oslo about the Oslo Peace accords which will have a short run at the National Theatre in September before transferring into the West End

* Bertie Carvel is back at the Almeida, this time he's been cast with Richard Coyle in the new James Graham play Ink which is set on Fleet Street in the 1960s. Bertie is playing Rupert Murdoch and Richard is playing Larry Lamb.

* Stan fave Forbes Masson (loved him as the devil in Dr Faustus) will appear in Terror, Lyric Hammersmith which opens in June. The play is set around a court case and the audience gets to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

* The new Bridge Theatre's first season was announced which naturally generated a lot of excitement because Ben Whishaw is playing Brutus in a promenade performance of Julius Caesar, alongside David Morrissey as Mark Anthony and Michelle Fairley as Cassius. There were other gems in the season announcement too, Rory Kinnear is taking the lead in a new Richard Bean play Young Marx alongside Oliver Chris. (I wrote a piece on the new season and ticketing.)

Continue reading "That was April in London theatre-land - cast announcements, transfers and thesp spots" »


Bridge Theatre's first season - and what we know about London's newest venue

Are we excited about the new Bridge Theatre's first season which was announced today? Ben Whishaw, David Morrissey, Michelle Fairley, Rory Kinnear (in bouffant wig), Richard Bean and Barney Norris? I would say that is quite exciting.  

But I must admit that my excitement was tempered until I found out what sort of prices and seating the new 900-seat flexible performance space theatre would have. There was nothing on the website and initially I balked at paying £50 for membership, knowing so little - if decent seats were the usual West End prices then trips would be infrequent.

However, an offer came through for half price membership so it felt less of a gamble and actually it paid off because although ticket prices go up to £75 it's been possible to get reasonably positioned seats in the stalls for £25. For Julius Caesar you can go in the pit (presumably it's standing but you get real close to the action) for £25. For The Young Marx, which is the first play when the theatre opens in October, I got front row stalls for £25 and for Nightfall that price bought seats on the third/back row at the side of the thrust. Obviously the proof will be in sight lines when watching but as it's a new theatre, I'm hopeful.

If the first season is a taste of the type of work and talent involved and it remains possible to get decent seats for £25/30 then the Bridge Theatre might just become a regular haunt.

 


 


That was March in London theatre land - and a bumper crop of thesp spots

6a0133ec96767e970b01b7c8cb909f970b-320wi
Keith Stevenson in Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road, White Bear Theatre (c) Erika Boxler

* The Almeida's excellent production of Hamlet starring Andrew Scott is transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End in June.

* And...not to take away from Hamlet's success but putting the tickets on sale at midnight, on a Saturday for Almeida members was an odd decision not least because, if Twitter is anything to go by, there were glitches with the ATG Tickets website and apparently no customer services/tech support available to sort it at that time of night.

* One of my favourite plays of 2016 - Rotterdam - is transferring to Broadway. OK, so not technically London theatre but it was such a great play and production I’m really pleased to see it doing well.

* Back in London and fringe plays doing well, the excellent Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road, which I saw at the White Bear back in January is transferring to Trafalgar Studios 2 in May. Yep, I will be seeing it again because I liked it that much.

* Stan-Fav Simon Stephens is adapting The Seagull (one of the only Chekhov plays I actually like) for a production at the Lyric Hammersmith starring Lesley Sharp in the Autumn.

Continue reading "That was March in London theatre land - and a bumper crop of thesp spots" »


That was February in London Theatre land - theatre food and presidential celeb spots

3187725261_f691619f64_z* Following a successful run in Stratford Upon Avon in 2015, the RSC's production of Helen Edmundson's play Queen Ann is to transfer to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the summer. Romola Garai and Emma Cunniffe star.

* Paddy Considine has been confirmed for Jez Butterworth's new play Ferryman at the Royal Court (directed by Sam Mendes). It hasn't opened yet but buoyed by advance ticket sales a West End transfer to the Gielgud Theatre has already been announced.

* Skins and Game of Thrones star Hannah Murray is to head an all female cast of Posh at the Pleasance Theatre.

* The hot topic for theatre news sites and theatre tweeps was the Harold Pinter Theatre banning food during the performances of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf (and no ice in drinks less than 10 minutes before performance start apparently). Even the BBC did something on it with the well-worn opposing views. Personally, as someone who can hear the rustle of a sweet wrapper four rows away I heartily approve. But on a slightly more serious note, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a play of pin-drop pauses - you don’t want the tension and drama ruined by a rustle or clink of ice cubes. So while it pains me to say a blanket ban across theatre land would be a little unfair, I think for this particular production it is the right move.

Thesp spots: Richard Curtis was spotted at the Four Weddings and a Funeral staged reading at Hampstead Theatre, Andrew Lincoln watching Andrew Scott play Hamlet at the Almeida. Then a whole bunch of thesps at press night for  Ugly Lies The Bones at the National Theatre: Adrian Lester, Anna Maxwell Martin, Denise Gough and David Tennant. Quite a haul, I think you'll agree, but PolyG can top all of those, on her trip to New York she was at the theatre 'with' Barack Obama. Not sure that is ever going to be bettered.

Photo by Fiona Shields on Flickr, used under creative commons license