49 posts categorized "Hampstead Theatre" Feed

Review: Colin Morgan and Ellie Kendrick in Gloria, Hampstead Theatre (spoiler free and spoiler versions)

Colin Morgan in Gloria at Hampstead Theatre  photo by Marc Brenner (1)
Colin Morgan in Gloria at Hampstead Theatre photo by Marc Brenner

Spoiler free:

I work in an office and I work in publishing so there is definitely stuff to relate to in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins play which is set at the offices of a New York magazine. Naturally, there are some cultural differences, we don't tend to have cubicle workspaces here in the UK and perhaps favour a passive-aggressive tone rather than direct confrontation, but the tensions, annoyances and rivalries are pretty much the same.

What we get in Gloria is a portrait of human nature and relationships in a world of modern media, as told through the prism of office life, workplace tedium and ambition; and that portrait shows its true colours after a particular incident in the office.

Colin Morgan, Ellie Kendrick and Kae Alexander play editorial assistants Dean, Ani and Kendra at the magazine. They are young and ambitious, anxious to keep their careers moving. The presence of intern Miles (Bayo Gbadamosi) seems to bring out the best and worst of their ambitions, a symbol of just how far their careers have or haven't got. They measure their ambition in status: getting your own office and having an assistant and against what everyone else has or hasn't done - and how long they have or haven't done it.

The first half centre's on the morning after co-worker Gloria's (Sian Clifford) flat-warming party and the growing battle to write up the obituary profile of a pop star who has committed suicide. The second half is the fall out after the particular incident - more of which in the spoiler version below, but this is play probably best enjoyed knowing little of the actual plot.

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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.

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REVIEW Theo James, Emilia Fox and love and talent in the internet age - Sex With Strangers, Hampstead Theatre

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Emilia Fox and Theo James, Sex With Strangers, Hampstead Theatre. Photo Tristram Kenton

You meet a man. First impressions aren't great but then you get to know him a bit better and there are areas of shared interest. One thing leads to another and that first impression feels like a long time ago. Then, just as things are looking good, that this might be something more substantial than merely the physical you do a bit of googling and discover his online persona. He becomes a stranger again. Do you trust what the man in front of you says?

Laura Eason's play Sex With Strangers pits Olivia (Emilia Fox) a talented writer who is starting to think her career will never take off against a successful young blogger Ethan (Theo James) who seems to have the world at his feet. Olivia craves some of the success Ethan has while Ethan admires her talent.

There are two tensions at play. The nature of Ethan's blog presents a very different person to the one Olivia has got to know and Ethan insists that isn't him, its a persona, a part he plays. Then there is the success and recognition. Olivia finds the internet and social media to be overly exposing but Ethan knows its power. However, while the internet has ultimately brought him success and exposure he wants to be known for a different type of work, work with a little more integrity and depth. Could he be using Olivia?

Some critics have found the dramatic tension in the play under powered and I'd agree to a point except that in the final scene you could almost hear the audience silently debating which way things would go. In fact the ending was the prime topic of overhead conversations as I was leaving, so the play and production obviously does something right.

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Review: Wild Honey, Hampstead Theatre and the obvious comparisons with the National Theatre's Platonov

Chekhov's early, untitled play has had two airings this year; plays are like buses, after all. First to arrive, via Chichester, was the David Hare's adaptation at the National Theatre using the title of the protagonist, Platonov. And now Hampstead Theatre has revived Michael Frayn's version called Wild Honey.

Having really enjoyed Platonov, I had high expectations for Wild Honey particularly as Geoffrey Streatfeild was taking the lead. But it also means that comparisons are inevitable. There are slight tweaks in the plot but at the centre, you have the sharply intelligent Platonov who doesn't realise quite how discontent and boring his life has got until a former young lover Sofya (Sophie Rundle) reappears in his life, married to Sergey (Joe Bannister) a man he deems intellectually inferior.

He's newly married himself to a Sasha (Rebecca Humphries) to whom he is already growing indifferent. He prefers to spend time with the intelligent and beautiful widow Anna Petrovna (Justine Mitchell) and teasing the easily tormented, mousey scientist Marya (Jo Herbert).

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Review: The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism with a Key to the Scriptures and Socialism, Hampstead Theatre

FillWyI0MDAiLCIyNTEiXQ-richardListTony Piper's three tiered set is nearly as high as the title of Tony Kushner's play is long. It's three storeys of a stripped-back brown stone in Brooklyn: stairs, landings and fragments of rooms - a bed and picture on one floor and a desk and chair on another.

This is the home of the Gus Marcantonio (David Calder) and where his family have gathered to discuss his determination to end his life. Gus is a retired longshoreman, a union man and communist. His sister Clio (Sara Kestelman) - a former nun and Maoist - has been staying to keep an eye on him but has called the family together and with them comes the baggage of their own lives.

Pill or Pier Luigi (Richard Clothier) is a gay school teacher who can't quite seem to give up his young, hustler boyfriend Eli (Luke Newberry) despite his husband Paul (Rhashan Stone) moving them out of the state. Empty or Maria Teresa (Tamsin Greig) has a pregnant girlfriend but turns to her ex husband Adam (Daniel Flynn) for sex occasionally. Adam lives in the basement and is a realtor. And the youngest is V (Lex Shrapnell) an angry, heterosexual builder who doesn't share the rest of the family's left leanings.

On the one hand you get a family that bickers, argues and sometimes laughs but on the other hand it is a play that muses on how the shifting landscape of modern life is challenging some long held views and values. That somewhat over simplifies what is a three and a half hour long play that has plenty of meat but isn't necessarily always easy to digest.

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That was August in London Theatre-land (with a late addition)

9383745446_a248156e8f_zAugust always used to be a quiet month for theatre; it was as if everyone decamped to Edinburgh for the fringe. But even though the Royal Court still shuts up shop, elsewhere it just seems to get busier and busier. There is more fringe - and not just pre-Edinburgh shows - and more productions opening at the bigger theatres. As a result I ended up seeing 12 plays and yes I know there are people that see more than that each month but it's above my average.

* The 'hold the front page' story for the month (and possibly the year) was the announcement of funds to be made available to theatres to improve the ladies toilets. There is general under provision in the older theatres which means long queues and they are often so cramped and badly designed you have to be child-sized to get in and out the cubicles.

* The month was also notable for having only one steamy theatre watching experience and by that I mean the 'joy' of sitting in a non-air conditioned theatre on a hot summer evening with sweat trickling down your back while feeling sorry for the actors because at least you can wear shorts and T-Shirt. Yep thanks to Found III for that one.

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Review: Mike Bartlett's Wild, Hampstead Theatre

Caoilfhionn Dunne (Woman) and Jack Farthing (Andrew) in Wild at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey (5)
Caoilfhionn Dunne (Woman) and Jack Farthing (Andrew) in Wild at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey

Andrew (Jack Farthing) is alone in a nondescript hotel room. He's done something big, something which takes him from sitting in KFC with his girlfriend one week to hiding out in a hotel in Moscow the next. Sound familiar? It should, Mike Bartlett's new play at Hampstead Theatre was inspired by Edward Snowden, whistle blower and revealer of secrets that the powers that be never wanted revealed.

A woman arrives (Caoilfhionn Dunne) who may or may not be there to help him. Her identity and purpose is an enigma. There are hints that she is from a Wiki-type company - there are references to 'him' which imply Julian Assange - she is also calculated and manipulative. One moment she is his friend, one moment not. She teases, jokes, is personal, aloof and she claims to know more about Andrew than he knows about himself. There is something about her that is disquieting.

After she has left a man (John Mackay) turns up and from what he say, Andrew thinks he's also from Wiki but he claims not to know who the woman is. He is also difficult to make out giving chocolate with one hand while blackmailing with the other - never has someone opening a bag been quite so tense.

Bartlett's play is unnerving. It puts you in the shoes of Andrew, has you groping around for the truth of the situation, questioning who and what information you can trust. In a recent interview on Radio 4's Front Row he drew parallels with the recent EU referendum - how could people make an informed choice when they didn't know who or what to believe, when you can't put your trust in the people in power who can you trust?

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Production photos: Mike Bartlett's new play Wild, Hampstead Theatre

Very excited about seeing this one next week. Have always had a preference for Mike Bartlett's 'smaller' plays such as Cock, An Intervention and Bull rather than big production numbers like Earthquakes in London - although King Charles III is an exception to that. Wild has a cast of three and from these pictures looks like a fairly straightforward setting so it's already ticking a lot of boxes. It runs at the Hampstead Theatre until July 16.

Jack Farthing (Andrew) in Wild at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey (4)
Jack Farthing (Andrew) in Wild at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey
Caoilfhionn Dunne (Woman) and Jack Farthing (Andrew) in Wild at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey (1)
Caoilfhionn Dunne (Woman) and Jack Farthing (Andrew) in Wild at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey

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Review: Tom Burke in Reasons To Be Happy, Hampstead Theatre

Tom Burke (Greg) in Reasons to be Happy at Hampstead Theatre. Photos by Manuel Harlan.
Tom Burke (Greg) in Reasons to be Happy at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Manuel Harlan

There is a shipping container centre stage and in front of it a couple are arguing. The man is Tom Burke. I'm thinking: This is all weirdly familiar, have I seen this before? Turns out I have and I haven't.

It's not unusual for me to sit down in a theatre knowing little about what I'm about to see and Reasons To Be Happy was a case in point. It turns out (Poly filled me in at the interval) that Reasons To Be Happy is the sequel to Reasons To Be Pretty which I saw at the Almeida five years ago starring Tom Burke (and a pregnant Billie Piper).

The story of the intertwined love affairs between four friends - Greg (Tom Burke), Kent (Warren Brown), Steph (Lauren O'Neill) and Carly (Robyn Addison) - has moved on three years. Steph and Greg - the couple arguing at the start - are beginning to wonder if they can rekindle their relationship despite the fact that Steph is married and Greg has started a relationship with Carly.  Carly is a single mum having separated from Kent after he had an affair. It is a play about relationships and doing what makes you happy and it makes a love triangle seem simplistic.

Michael Attenborough, directed Reasons To Be Pretty and also directs this bringing with him the shipping container which opens to reveal different sets  - hence why I had a feeling of deja vu.

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Review: Double dealing spies in Hapgood, Hampstead Theatre

Lisa Dillon (Hapgood) in Hapgood at Hampstead Theatre. Photos by Alastair Muir.
Lisa Dillon (Hapgood) in Hapgood at Hampstead Theatre. Photos by Alastair Muir

Tom Stoppard likes his science. It's probably why the only play of his I've seen that I've really liked is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (see link below). I don't have anything against science it's just the way he uses it in his plays, I feel it often gets in the way, slows things down. Poly disagrees with me.

In Hapgood, Stoppard's 1980's set spy drama, the science is quantum physics. Russian physicist Kerner (Alec Newman) has been turned double agent by MI6 boss Hapgood (Lisa Dillon). When  his information drop to the Russian's at a swimming pool doesn't go according to plan there is suspicion that either Kerner's loyalty has reversed to his home nation or there is a double agent in the home team.

Kerner likes to explain how he sees things using quantum physics. His explanations are quite lengthy and often complex. This being a spy drama where everyone has poker faces and is under suspicion these, fortunately infrequent, interludes just halt the tension rather than add to it. There is less science in Hapgood than there is in Arcadia and that is a bonus here because, putting the science to one side, as a spy thriller it works well.

The opening scene  is a little disorientating - perhaps deliberately so. Set at the swimming pool a line of changing cubicles is used to pass briefcases between agents with towels being draped on the back of the door as a series of secret signs. Once Hapgood and her team start assessing 'the drop' and what went wrong it isn't immediately obviously what has taken place and who had responsibility for what. Those first impressions of each agent are frequently challenged as Stoppard arouses your suspicion about them all including Hapgood.

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