61 posts categorized "Old Vic" Feed

10th Birthday list: My favourite theatre curtain call moments

I love curtain calls at the end of plays. It's a revealing time when characters are shaken off - or not - when faces perhaps show the person underneath the acting mask.

Swan Theatre view from the stage
View from the stage at the RSC Swan Theatre. Photo Rev Stan

They can also be a time of japes, fun and banter.

From time to time over the past 10 years of blogging I've mention curtain calls, they even have their own category in my end of year awards on occasions, so I decided to compile a list of  my favourites:

1. Only on the last night of the RSC's Richard II could the King (David Tennant) and his deposer Bolingbroke (Nigel Lindsay) have a final tussle for the crown. It was 2-0 to Bolingbroke in the end, David Tennant's curtain call lunge to take the golden circlet from Nigel Lindsay was not quite fast enough.

2. Another last night, this time the end of the run was all a bit too much for the cast of Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Daniel Mays looked like he'd been crying backstage and Ben Whishaw and Rupert Grint were fighting tears.

3. And another last night...Mark Strong couldn't hide his emotions at the end of A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic but instead of tears, he mouthed a satisfied 'yes' while making a fist.

4. At the curtain call of cold war drama Anna, National Theatre, there was a polite request from the cast who held up a series of cards which spelt out 'No Spoilers'.

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10th Birthday list: Best play I've seen for each of the last 10 years (or the agony to choose list)

So this month Rev Stan's Theatre blog is 10 years old. My first post was 18 April 2010, it took a couple of weeks before I was to post again but the marker was in the sand.

Various theatre tickets

I had lots of ideas for fun theatre nerdery to celebrate but the lockdown has clipped my wings a little bit as many of them involved actually be at the theatre.

But not to let a decade of theatre bloggery go by without marking the occasion I've got a few other things up my sleeve for the coming few weeks/months.

And to kick things off I've compiled a list of my favourite play for each year I've been blogging (I did my 10 best plays of the decade back in December).

It has been fun revisiting my best-of lists but absolutely agony narrowing each list down to just one, as you will see.

I'm still not 100% happy but here goes:

2010

I initially chose The Pride, Lucille Lortel Theater, New York which saw Ben Whishaw make his Broadway debut alongside Hugh Dancy and Andrea Riseborough but then I realised that technically I saw that in February 2010 before Rev Stan's Theatre blog was born. So I've reluctantly decided it doesn't count.

So my second choice is Clybourne Park, Royal Court Theatre. It's a play that set the benchmark for uncomfortable humour and one which I regularly reference when talking about superb dark comedies.

2011

Jeez, this was a tough one. This was the year I saw Jerusalem, Much Ado with Tennant and Tate and Collaborators, National Theatre to name just three. But with much soul-searching I'm going to choose Flare Path, Theatre Royal Haymarket because it was so beautiful and warm and sad and I'll always remember Sheridan Smith's trembling bottom lip and a brilliant early performance by Matthew Tennyson. Saw it more than once too.

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Video: 60 Second review of Endgame at the Old Vic with Alan Cumming & Daniel Radcliffe

Here are my 60 seconds worth of thoughts on Endgame at the Old Vic, recorded when I got home from the theatre.

The bit I was halfway through saying at the end (the video was cut for Instagram) was 'Amazing...way with ladders'.

If you want more than 60 seconds worth you can read my full review here.

For more video reviews follow my Instagram account or YouTube channel.

And if you've seen Endgame, let me know what you thought in the comments ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️


Review: Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe in Endgame, Old Vic - stuffed dogs, ladders and a performance that resonates

I know when Alan Cumming was talking about crossing his character's 'wasted' legs on the Graham Norton Show a few weeks ago it was a joke but there was a small part of me that was waiting for it to happen when I went to see Endgame. 

Old Vic Endgame sign

There is humour in Beckett's play about master and servant locked in an endless routine of acid dialogue and 'activity', some of it physical some of it in the words.

But this isn't a roll-around in the aisles funny comedy. It's a Beckett play after all.

It's like an abstract, absurd Chekhov play about people who can see the escape route to their problems but can't seem to follow it.

There's an inevitability but Endgame's narrative is circular rather than linear.

Opposites attract?

Hamm (Alan Cumming) and Clov (Daniel Radcliffe) are opposites (who attract?) and it is something that is particularly apparent in this production.

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End of year review: My favourite theatre of 2019, a year of dazzling performances, wit, drama and tears

It's been tough but I've managed to whittle down my 'best theatre of 2019' list to 10 plays, well, one isn't actually a play but deserves a place nonetheless. So here goes, in no particular order:

Jon-tyson-1Mq4QQaVhis-unsplash
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

1. Downstate, National Theatre

A challenging, difficult play with humour and wit inflected with wisdom that carefully balanced entertainment without detracting from the seriousness of the subject matter.

2. Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre

I wasn't that enamoured with Jamie Lloyd's season of Pinter shorts and then came along Betrayal and it was utterly breathtaking.

The sparse script was layered with nuanced performances from Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox. What wasn't said screamed loud.

3. Seven Methods For Killing Kylie Jenner, Royal Court upstairs

This made a lot of what is on stage in London look stodgy and staid. A fresh and achingly contemporary play that cleverly and boldly tackled social media and what it reveals about modern society.

4. Hansard, National Theatre

One of those plays that get mentioned a lot in theatre conversations, this was an extremely witty and acerbic political drama/comedy which had an unexpected emotional punch.

I loved it also for its balance approached in scrutinising both left and right-leaning politics.

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Review: A Very Expensive Poison, Old Vic - feeling conflicted about this

I haven't felt this conflicted about a play for a long time.

A Very Expensive Poison running times

Lucy Prebble's' new work is based on a book by Luke Harding about the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

The play opens with Marina Litvinenko (MyAnna Buring) talking to a lawyer about getting justice for her husband in the face of a British Government reluctant to damage diplomatic relations with Russia.

We then jump back to when Alexander (Tom Brooke) first got sick, then back again further to his life in Russia. It threads together how the Russian ended up as a British citizen, a target for the KGB and the investigation into his poisoning

Gripping yarn

It's a gripping yarn but where I'm conflicted is in different styles of storytelling employed.

By turns, it is an edge of the seat thriller, witty satire and a Vaudevillian style farce and is the latter which sits uncomfortably.

The fact is a man died a prolonged, drawn-out unpleasant death in a state-sponsored assassination but many of the Russians of the play are presented as a mixture of 'Carry on the KGB'  and an Austin Powers movie villain.

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Review: Who won the battle of comedies - Present Laughter (Old Vic) or Noises Off (Lyric Hammersmith)?

London's theatreland is ripe for a good hearty laugh. I mean look at the state of the world, who wouldn't want to bury their head in giggles for a couple of hours?

Present Laughter Old Vic poster

And so we are spoiled by not one but two classic comedies both with stellar casts: Present Laughter starring Andrew Scott and Indira Varma at the Old Vic and Noises Off starring Meera Syal and Daniel Rigby at the Lyric Hammersmith.

But which one is best?

The two plays haven't just got comedy in common, both involve actors playing actors.

Andrew Scott plays Garry Essendine a stage star with his coterie of friends and staff trying to stop him making bad decisions - or are they riding on the coattails of his fame as he believes.

Drama off stage

In Noises Off Meera Syal is one of a troupe of actors touring the regions where the drama offstage threatens to overshadow that on stage.

What the play is most famous for is showing the same scene not only as it appears on stage but also from backstage. You get to see it three times in fact.

Both plays rely on running jokes and a lot of comings and goings, lots of doors, people missing each other and being kept apart.

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Review: All My Sons, Old Vic - a gripping emotional thriller (and a teary Colin Morgan)

All My Sons is a gripping play, a slowly unravelling emotional thriller with masterclass performances

All my sons banner old vic

Colin Morgan's Chris Keller has angry tears rolling down his face.

He's just discovered the truth about someone he holds dear, how he has lived with a lie - or was it, deep down, denial?. It is almost too much to bare adding to multiple layers of guilt he already feels.

Chris Keller in Arthur Miller's All My Son's feels like a character and performance Colin Morgan was destined to give and he gets to perform it alongside the exceptional talent of Hollywood giants Sally Field and Bill Pullman.

Secrets and lies

He is a complex character - as are all the Kellers - in a play about secrets, the lies we tell ourselves and in which Miller questions the price of the American Dream.

It is a couple of years after the war and Chris is working for his affable, humorous, peacekeeping dad Joe (Pullman) at his factory.

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National Theatre Live Trailer: Sally Field and Bill Pullman All My Sons, Old Vic - does it do the play justice?

Trailers for plays are generally a bit rubbish, aren't they? Film trailers give too much away and play trailers often tell you virtually nothing.

This trailer for the National Theatre Live screening of All My Sons at the Old Vic feels like a small step in the right direction - I wonder whether the fact that it will be shown alongside film trailers in cinemas to promote the event has focused attention on its purpose?

There is a hint of the story - family tension/marital tension - but if you know nothing about the play would it intrigue you enough to want to see it?

Or is the Old Vic and National Theatre Live relying on the star pull of Sally Field and Bill Pullman?

This is a play about truth, lies, love, loss and fatal decisions and you get little of that.

What do you think?

 


Review: The American Clock, Old Vic - not the sum of all its parts

 

Arthur Miller's Depression-era drama The American Clock isn't revived very often - is it unfairly overlooked?

There is a sort of central narrative following the once wealthy Baum family, who lose everything in the Great Depression and are forced to give up their Manhatten apartment and move in with relatives in Brooklyn.

This is peppered with vignettes showing events elsewhere in the city and elsewhere in America - farmers fixing foreclosure auctions to keep their farms, for example.

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