158 posts categorized "West End" Feed

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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All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre - rehearsal photos and day seat info

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Gillian Anderson and Julian Ovenden in rehearsal for All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre. Photography by Jan Versweyveld

Rehearsal photos and day seat information have been released for Ivo Van Hove's All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Opening for preview on Feb 2 and starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James, there are two options for getting cheaper tickets on the day of the performance.

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Pinter and misogyny post #metoo - was Pinter ahead of the curve or playing for laughs?

Last year saw the #metoo movement explode and finally expose the appalling behaviour women can experience, was Pinter ahead of the curve?

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Pinter Six of the Pinter at the Pinter season is the first that I can say I quite enjoyed but it didn't stop a nagging question I've had for a while: Was Pinter a misogynist?

I'm not alone as it was the first question in the post-show Q&A with director Jamie Lloyd and cast members Celia Imrie, Ron Cook and Abraham Popoola.

Pinter Six is made up of two plays: Party Time and Celebration both exploring similar themes (link to a review below).

They centre on two different groups of nouveau riche who are shallow in their obsessions for fine things and for all the bonhomie are isolated, disconnected and lonely.

Treatment of women

Both plays are funny and exposing. But they also have something else in common: The women are often not treated very well by the men.

They are derided, ridiculed or presented as ridiculous, nagging or stupid. If they have any purchase in their relationships it feels like it is being presented under judgement.

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Happy New Theatre Year: 9 plays I'm particularly looking forward to seeing in 2019

Starting off 2019 with plenty of theatre in the diary, these are the nine plays I'm particularly looking forward to seeing (in date order):

RG-3X9vs_400x400Kompromat, Vault Festival (23-27 Jan)

What the website says: Inspired by the still-unsolved 2010 murder of GCHQ agent Gareth Williams, Kompromat is a tense drama of double agents and our capacity for self-deception played out against a high-stakes game of love.

Why I'm excited: Having read an early draft a couple of years ago and then attended a rehearsed reading at the Arcola I've got a good feel for what this might be like.

Tartuffe, National Theatre (9 Feb-30 Apr)

What the website says: A scalpel-sharp comedy looking at the lengths we go to find meaning – and what happens when we find chaos instead.

Why I'm excited: Tartuffe is one of the classics I've long wanted to see, John Donnelly has done the adaptation and Olivia Williams is in it. I love Olivia Williams.

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, Young Vic (14 Feb-30 Mar)

What the website says: From Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis (The Motherfucker with the Hat), comes this critically-acclaimed dark comedy about the American justice system and the contradictory nature of faith. 

Why I'm excited: I loved The Motherfucker With the Hat when I saw it in 2015 at the National and I've been waiting for another Stephen Adly Guirgis play to hit London ever since.

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2018 theatre review: My favourite plays of the year (and my first six star play)

So I've published my favourite fringe plays list and my least favourite plays list, time now for my best plays of 2018 overall, gleaned from everything I've seen - large productions and small, commercial theatres, subsidised and fringe:

via GIPHY

Misty, Trafalgar Studios

A play which put the pulse back into the West End and as a result was a breath of fresh air.

A Monster Calls, Old Vic

I was nervous about seeing a stage adaptation of a much-loved book but the creativity with which it was staged combined with the performances meant I was an emotional wreck by the end. So much of an emotional wreck, I had to walk around for a bit afterwards to compose myself.

Queens of Sheba, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe

A play about the dual prejudice of sexism and racism encountered by black women that succeeded in being both angry, uplifting and empowering.

It left me feeling teary in a happy/sad/exhilarated way and ready to march if the call came.

There is another chance to see it at the New Diorama Theatre, Jan 30-Feb 3 as part of the Vault Festival.

Notes from the Field, Royal Court

It was an uncomfortable, seat-squirming, horrifying joy to sit and experience and I gave it an unprecedented six stars. Yes, six stars.

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Review: Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall - joyous, thrilling and fun

Circus 1903 is a joyous show it brings wonder, thrills and humour back to the circus.

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Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall. Photo Manuel Harlan


Circus 1903 is a journey back in time to the huge travelling shows of early 20th century America which unearths new levels of thrills and entertainment.

Who would have thought that good old-fashioned knife throwing acts, balancing, acrobatics and contortionists could be quite as breathtaking to watch?

Ringmaster Willie Whipsnade is the guiding force, he introduces the acts with a classic flourish, filling interludes with magic, humour and audience interaction which mostly involves children who have volunteered to go up on stage and help.

These segments are important moments of bubbling frivolity and laughter, a touch of lightness before the next thrills begin.

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Review: True West, Vaudeville Theatre starring Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn - quick fire dialogue and sharp comic timing

Harington and Flynn prove themselves agile performers with quick-fire dialogue and sharp comic timing.  

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Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn in True West. Photo Marc Brenner.

Kit Harington is no doubt the star draw for True West but it is Johnny Flynn who is the star in this new production of Sam Shephard's play of fraternal tension.

Harington plays Austin, a screenwriter who is house-sitting for his mother in Southern California.

He is using the peace and quiet to work on a script and meet with film producer Saul (Donald Sage Mackay) when Lee (Flynn), his estranged older brother, turns up unexpectedly.

Unlikely siblings

The brothers couldn't be more different.

Austin is neatly dressed and groomed - almost nerdy looking - professional, patient and law-abiding, the urban, sanitized 'west' to Lee's 'wild'.

The latter has been living in the desert for two months, wears dirty jeans, drinks beer like it's an accessory and has a pilfering past which makes Austin nervous about loaning him his car.

While their mother's house presents a respectable, domestic backdrop, the ever-present chirrup of crickets and nighttime howls of coyotes press up against the windows.

Resentments escalate

Sibling rivalry, resentment, and jealousy escalate when the meeting with Saul takes an unexpected turn.

Harington and Flynn prove themselves agile performers with quick-fire dialogue and sharp comic timing.  

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Tom Hiddleston returns to the stage - what are the chances of getting a ticket?

Screen-Shot-2018-11-15-at-10.27.14-e69c5d5The last time Tom Hiddleston took to the stage it was playing Hamlet to raise funds for RADA and tickets were only available to the lucky few who got chosen in a ballot.

Before that, he played Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse which has a mere 250 seats - although it was broadcast via NT Live which did mean more people got the chance to see it.

Third time lucky, perhaps, for the post-Loki Hiddleston fans as he's not only returning to the stage but this time it's a big West End Theatre. 

Bigger capacity theatre

He's appearing in Betrayal next year, which will conclude Jamie Lloyd's Pinter at the Pinter season  - and the good news is that the Harold Pinter Theatre has a capacity of nearly 800.

Tickets go on sale at the end of the month* no doubt generating a ticket-buying scramble (details via the official Pinter at the Pinter website).

Will it be as fast-selling as Benedict Cumberbatch's 2016 Hamlet at the Barbican which sold out in record time? The Harold Pinter is a smaller theatre than the Barbican which has a capacity of more than 1,100 but Betrayal is a less well-known play which may take a bit of heat out of the demand.

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Review: Pinter 3, Harold Pinter Theatre - appreciating but not connecting

The very style of writing and performance, the visual and audio references while serving to emphasise the thematic points of the piece equally serve to isolate any emotional connection.

Pinter 3 flyerA mournful/despairing tune is playing in the auditorium, probably Radiohead or Thom York. The stage - an almost entirely sideless cube - slowly rotates and the seated Tamsin Greig glides around with it.

The audience carries on chatting or studying their phones as is the way - nothing to see here, it hasn't started so we won't pay attention.

It feels appropriate given the themes that are to come in this, the third collection of Pinter's short works in Jamie Lloyd's Pinter at the Pinter season.

When the lights dim and Greig does speak from her seated position it is with the aid of a microphone, her voice soft, Irish accent, her words lyrical. 

Stark contrasts

It is a stark contrast to Keith Allen who sits next to her: loud, gruff and matter of fact. No microphone.

They talk but not with each other. There is a hint of past intimacy, a hint of pride, a confession and a sense of loneliness and unfulfillment.

Two people who live together but have lost a connection somewhere along the way.

Cover version conclusion

A slow cover version of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart concludes the piece which is titled 'Landscape'.

However, the very style of writing and performance, visual and audio references while serving to emphasise the thematic points of the piece equally serve to isolate any emotional connection.

It left me admiring the technicality of the performances and the skill of the writing but it didn't bring any twinges of empathy, in fact, it left me feeling as cold and unmoved as their relationship.

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Review: RSC's Don Quixote, Garrick Theatre - fun and poignancy but differing opinions on the 'musical' elements

Their adventures are vividly and cleverly brought to life utilising a variety of media including puppetry, acrobatics and wire work but it is the small, often background detail which richly elevates this production.

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Rufus Hound and David Threlfall in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan.

It's taken two years for the RSC's hit Don Quixote to make it to the West End with David Threlfall and Rufus Hound reprising their roles as the hapless knight errant and his squire.

Adapted by James Fenton it not only notches up the famous scenes from Miguel de Cervantes novel but the production design and direction find new niches of humour and fun.

It tells the story of Don Quixote (Threlfall) who, having read too many romantic novels, decides he is a knight errant and sets upon a mission to restore chivalry.

He takes with him illiterate farmer Sancho (Hound) to act as his squire and in the first half, we see them embroiled in a series of absurd scrapes brought about by Don Quixote's delusions and fantastical notions.

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