151 posts categorized "West End" Feed

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.

Rufus-Hound-and-David-Threlfall-in-the-Royal-Shakespeare-Companys-Don-Quixote.-London-2018.-Photography-by-Manuel-Harlan
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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Review: A Very Very Very Dark Matter, Bridge Theatre - does Martin McDonagh's new play measure up?

A Very Very Very Dark Matter is a fairytale of human ugliness and evil but it is also a toy that isn't working properly.

IMG_4103Martin McDonagh's new play is a (very) dark fairytale with colonial undertones.

Who else's imagination could put Hans Christian Anderson (Jim Broadbent), a one-legged black pigmy woman called Marjory (Johnetta Eula’Mae Ackles) and two bloody, time-travelling Belgian twins in the same story?

The question is whether it works.

McDonagh's Anderson is the antithesis of what you'd expect the writer of fairy-tales to be like but there may be a very good explanation for that.

Dark secret

He is self-centred, vain and politically incorrect, to put it mildly, and has a dark secret in the form of Marjory, whom he keeps locked up in a glass-sided box in his puppet-strewn attic.

Marjory is from the Congo, clever, sharp and capable, having survived the massacre of her people engineered by Belgian King Leopold II.

But she has more problems to deal with than merely being a prisoner, she is also a person of interest for the murderous twins.

Awkward laughter and guilty giggles

The dialogue is liberally sprinkled with swear words as well as the sort of lines that have you laughing awkwardly - or guiltily giggling as I did a couple of times.

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The shameless Ben Whishaw birthday post - my favourite stage performances

Shh, it's a rainy Sunday afternoon... it's Ben Whishaw's birthday so in 'celebration' here are the stage performances of his that are my favourites.

Ben Whishaw Hamlet programmeHamlet, Old Vic

Ok so technically I didn't see him perform it live but I have seen the V&A video recording a couple of times.

His Hamlet made so much sense. He was young, clever, inexperienced, fragile and at times immature and petulant.

Basically, he was a young adult thrown into an extraordinary situation and ill-equipped to cope. 

And he snot cried.

The full review is here which also includes links to related interviews and other tidbits.

Baby in Mojo, Comedy Theatre - now the Harold Pinter

Don't ask how many times I saw this, it was a lot.

It was a move away from the sensitive souls he's very adept at playing, something more akin to Sidney in the film Layer Cake. 

And I liked that, I like to see his versatility, his wilder performance side.

While underneath the surface there is a tragedy to Baby, he presents as someone wildly unpredictable and is dangerous as a result.

He also did a brilliant dance which was a mix of impish, wild abandon and menace.

Read my first thoughts plus links to more detailed reviews.

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3 London theatre stories that caught my attention this week - and some belated actor spots

Twilight-zone-ctt-480wx280h-15389888801. The Twilight Zone to get a West End run

I described the Almeida's Twilight Zone as 'sinister and silly fun' when I saw it in December last year and now it's getting a stint in the West End. It will run from 4 March to 1 June at the Ambassadors Theatre and even if you haven't seen the TV series (I hadn't) it's worth seeing if you want something a little surreal, silly and occasionally thought-provoking.

2. Joe McGann and Josie Lawrence star in US play

The Print Room in Notting Hill will host the first UK production of American literary icon Don DeLillo’s Love-Lies-Bleeding, starring Joe McGann Josie Lawrence.  Described as a perceptive and witty story, it's about a family trying to take death into their own hands and I admit that it had me at 'jet-black humour'. It runs from 9 November to 8 December, find details on the Print Room website.

 

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West End transfer: The Inheritance, Noel Coward Theatre - new production images

The Inheritance is an epic two part story of love, loss and life - think of it as this year's Angels in America. 

It is a playful play with laugh out loud moments but in a blink, it is full of pathos and tragedy. It is a play full of joy and heartbreak and for that reason alone I loved it*.

And now more people get to enjoy it as it's transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End and is booking until 21 January, 2019.

To whet your appetite here are the production photos from part 1 and part 2.

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Review: Foxfinder, Ambassadors Theatre - signs and symbols but lacking in thrills

Metaphors aside it is difficult to determine whether Foxfinder is supposed to be an atmospheric thriller or a surreal comedy

Iwan-Rheon-and-Paul-Nicholls-in-Foxfinder.-Credit-Pamela-Raith.
Iwan Rheon and Paul Nicholls in Foxfinder. Photo: Pamela Raith.

The Foxfinder of the title is William (Iwan Rheon) sent to examine the farm of Judith (Heida Reed) and Sam (Paul Nicholls) where the crop yield is below target.

In this parallel world of writer Dawn King's invention, it is a time of food shortages and foxes are the bogeyman, the 'source' of all the troubles being creatures with supernatural powers preying on the weak and wreaking havoc wherever they go.

But has William, who has trained for the job since a child, actually seen a fox?

Brexit metaphors

King wrote Foxfinder seven years ago but you can't help but see Brexit metaphors - a threat of food shortages and outsiders to blame for a multitude of ills.

Judith and Sam have had a run of trouble stemming from one date but, despite the obvious, they are fearful of the consequences of questioning the logic behind the Foxfinder's theories.

Who dares question the logic?

There is one person who does question the logic, their neighbour Sarah (Bryony Hannah), but getting caught denouncing the fox propaganda is extremely dangerous.

The set is cleverly designed overlapping interior and exterior to give the scope of the play's setting (see production photos below).

Paul Nicholls is particularly good as a man grasping an idea as a path to personal salvation and Bryony Hannah is fiery as Sarah.

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Review: Misty, Trafalgar Studios - Putting the pulse back into West End Theatre

A play that stimulates, entertains and enlivens and leaves you feeling like you've been at a gig

IMG_0079Arinzé Kene's play Misty has transferred to the Trafalgar Studios from a sell-out run at the Bush Theatre giving more people the opportunity to see a play that is unlike anything else you'll see in the West End at the moment.

Mixing form, media and performance style, there is a fictional tale told in verse - accompanied by Shiloh Coke on drums and Adrian McLeod on keyboards - about an incident on a night bus that has bigger consequences.

Recollections of a creative journey

This story is intercut with a series of conversations, voicemail messages and narrated emails that illustrate Arinzé's creative journey with amusingly blunt commentary and opinion from friends and family.

His creative journey is further coloured with comically surreal moments, juxtaposing voices, images and performance in unexpected ways that reminded me of the style of filmmaker Charlie Kaufman - think Being John Malkovich, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind etc.

Struggles with orange balloons

All I'll add is that when you are encased in a body-sized orange balloon, the struggle is real.

Peppered with humour and witty observation the play questions storytelling - what is the right story to tell and for whom - examines the impact of gentrification on communities and culture's place in society.

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Review: Aristocrats, Donmar Warehouse - a lot going on but not always a good thing

There is often a lot happening and sometimes it too easily diverts attention from the central narrative.

I'm watching the O'Donnell family's voluntary mute, aged uncle slowly peel away wallpaper at the of the back of the stage when I should be listening to whoever is speaking.

Later an imaginary game of croquet will similarly distract me.

ImageThis is my problem with Aristocrats, there is often a lot happening and sometimes it too easily diverts attention from the central narrative.

Family past its peak

Brian Friel's play is about a fading Irish aristocratic family with its domineering patriarch is on his deathbed, cared for by the eldest daughter Judith (Eileen Walsh).

The family has gathered for the wedding of youngest daughter, Claire (Aisling Loftus) with her siblings Alice (Elaine Cassidy) and Casimir (David Dawson) having travelled from homes abroad for the occasion.

Tom (Paul Higgins), a visiting American scholar, is interviewing the family for a research paper on Irish aristocracy and acts as an independent observer and, through his seemingly innocent conversations and questions, commentator.

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