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August 2016

Review: Daniel Portman and Lily Loveless in The Collector, The Vaults

Daniel Portman and Lily Loveless in The Collector (c) Scott Rylander (5)
Daniel Portman and Lily Loveless in The Collector. Photo (c) Scott Rylander

Mark Healy's adaptation of John Fowles novel is set in the basement of a remote country house. This revival, directed by Joe Hufton, is being performed at The Vaults, underneath Waterloo station. You leave the daylight and head into the dark tunnels - could there be a more appropriate venue for a play in which a young woman is kept locked up in a windowless, damp room?

Daniel Portman who plays the gentle, kind and innocent Podrick in Game of Thrones plays the socially awkward Frederick Clegg who, helped by a big lottery windfall, decides to 'win' the girl he is obsessed with. Only his idea of winning her is to kidnap and lock her up in the specially prepared basement. 'Her' is Miranda (Lily Loveless) a middle-class art student whom his has admired from afar, shyness and social divide stopping him from approaching her. Today he would be called a stalker.

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Another knock out performance from Billie Piper in Yerma, Young Vic

Yerma-Sq326REVIEW: There was an occasional drip of water onto the stage during Yerma. It was a leak rather than part of the staging, an indicator of what was to come - the drip being to rain what a gun prop is to a gun shot. And, inadvertently, it was an appropriate omen for a play about a woman who wants children but whose difficulty in conceiving leads her down a dark and stormy path.

This is a contemporary version of Lorca's 1930's play by Australian Simon Stone who also directs. The subject matter transfers really well to the 21st century - in fact there is arguably more to explore around the topic given that IVF is now an option and couples can have tests to find out if there are fertility problems.

Stone's production is also contemporary. He puts the actors in a glass oblong like they are specimens trapped between pieces of glass for the audience to examine. The play is divided up into chapters with a black out for the very clever scene changes.

Billie Piper plays the protagonist - although she is never referred to by name - with Australian actor Brendan Cowell as her husband 'John'. They are a liberal, middle-class hipster couple. He does something which involves jetting off to client meetings and she's a journalist with a successful lifestyle blog. They buy a big house in a dodgy neighbourhood and she wants to fill it with a couple of kids.

They have the sort of relationship where they talk openly with each other about sex, teasing each other about their preferences. It is an openness and honesty that gets challenged and tested as she gets more desperate to have children. Turning to her blog to talk about her feelings adds to the strain on their relationship as does her sister (Charlotte Randle) getting pregnant and the arrival of an ex-lover. It adds layers of tension as she grows ever more frustrated with her and John's inability to conceive.

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That was July in London Theatre-land

Mary-Stuart_Juliet-Stevenson-and-Lia-Williams-photographed-by-Miles-Aldridge-700x455No treading the boards this month, lots of fringe theatre, really good fringe theatre (look out for a future post on what to see in London if you can't make it to Edinburgh)  and lots of celebs out and about, which is unusual.

* As someone who often books tickets in advance before the cast has been announced I do feel smug when someone 'popular' gets announced such as Mark Strong in Red Barn at the National. *Smug*.

* It's a shame the Almeida doesn't put its tickets on sale before the cast is announce and then perhaps there wouldn't be the usual website melt down. I'm already dreading trying to book for Juliet Stephenson and Lia Williams who were announced for Mary Stuart. They will alternate the roles of Mary and Queen Elizabeth by tossing a coin. Alternating roles is obviously the thing this year as they do something similar in the RSC production of Doctor Faustus. Very excited to see Lia and Juliet on stage together whichever part they end up playing.

* Thanks to Mark Rylance, @PolyG and I have some New Year's Eve theatre. There isn't always much on - last year was a case in point - but it is a nice way to spend the last night of the year when possible - previous trips have included Richard II at the Donmar and Mojo with Ben, Colin and Rupert et al. This year we'll be spending the evening watching Mark Rylance's new comedy Nice Fish at the Harold Pinter. We have a table at the back of the stalls which is going to be rather novel. Let's hope we can see something.

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Theatre hottie and girl crush of the month - July 2016 edition

I do have a crush on Jesse Eisenberg after seeing him in The Spoils which took me a bit by surprise; it must be something about seeing him perform on stage rather than screen. But then I popped along to see the 15 minute long Pigs and Dogs at the Royal Court which had the lovely Alex Hassell in it. He was on my hottie list in 2014 when he played Prince Hal in Henry IV and a runner up to Sam Marks in January and although it was only a brief performance, he still makes me sigh.  Here he is not quite believing the 10/10 score I've given him ;0)


Alex Hassell in Pigs and Dogs, Royal Court. Photo by Tristram Kenton



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