77 posts categorized "Young Vic" Feed

10 plays from the past 10 years that stand out - for a variety of reasons (not necessarily overly worthy ones)

Here is a snapshot of my favourite theatre from the past 10 years. I say 'favourite', I've tried not to overthink it, these are simply the plays that stand out most in my memory, the ones I talk about if people ask.

Theatre tickets
Stan's growing pile of theatre tickets


The list is not about plays that broke new ground or changed the theatre landscape - there are plenty of those lists around already - rather these plays just had something in them that I remember fondly.

To say that it has been tough narrowing it down to 10 is an understatement but I get another go next year because my blog is 10 in April. (There, I spoilt the surprise.)

In no particular order (the links are through to my reviews):

1. After the Dance, National Theatre

This is a play that gets talked about in 'theatre circles' a lot. It had a uniformly standout cast and I can still remember Nancy Carroll's snot crying.

But it has a particularly special place in my memory for being the play which turned Benedict Cumberbatch into 'one to watch' for me.

I'd seen him plenty on TV but this catapulted him from jobbing actor to leading man potential in my eyes.

This was before Sherlock hit the screens and as a result, means I can smugly say 'well I've been a fan since before he played Holmes'.

2. Hamlet, Stratford and Hackney Empire

I've seen a lot of Hamlets, more than one a year, and while technically I did see Ben Whishaw's Hamlet for the first time in 2010, it was a recording rather than the live performance so it doesn't count.

Paapa Essiedu's Hamlet for the RSC was the first, since Whishaw's, where I really felt he was a student and acting his age, he was also the most likeable which made the play all the more tragic.

Setting the play in an African country and having Rosencrantz & Guildenstern as 2 of only 3 white characters was also genius because it put them out of their depth in so many more interesting ways.

When I saw it for the second time, in Hackney, a group of teenagers were so swept up in it they leapt up to dance at the end. I don't think there is higher praise than that really.

3. The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios

It's the play in which director Jamie Lloyd had James McAvoy unicycling around the stage wearing just his pants. Have no idea why that sticks out in my mind. Ahem.

The play was brilliantly bonkers too. Wish I could see it again.

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Review: Fairview, Young Vic - what stands out a few weeks after seeing it

Fairview certainly isn't a forgettable play. It's been a few weeks since I saw it but I'm only now getting to my review and while some details have faded others remain crystal clear.

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Photo: Rev Stan

Before I launch into my thoughts, I'll caveat this by saying there may be spoilers in this review, don't read on if that annoys you; I did toy with the idea of writing a spoiler-free version but would rather give free rein to my thoughts, on this occasion.

The closest comparison I can make for Fairview is the Almeida's Mr Burns a few years ago which I didn't get on with brilliantly.

And while it has elements that are problematic, I found Fairview more engaging and powerful than Anne Washburn's play.

It is set in the home of a black family where they are preparing for a birthday meal with their grandmother.

Too conventional?

The set felt a little too conventional for the Young Vic, compared to their usual fare and there was something a little soap-opera esque about the story.

But after a whole act of what looked like a standard family drama, setting up characters, tension and mystery, the second act takes on a wholly different tone.

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Review: Tree, Young Vic - spectacle and atmosphere but I wanted more digging around the themes

When it opened at the Manchester International Festival last month, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah's highly anticipated immersive production Tree was marred in controversy over authorship credits - to which both have responded.

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Cast members in Tree at Manchester International Festival. At the Young Vic from 29 July to 24 August. Photo: Marc Brenner.

It's now in residence at the Young Vic and interest remains untarnished if the long queue of people waiting for the doors to open is anything to go by.

Tree tells the story of London-born Kaelo (Alfred Enoch) and his journey to scatter his white mother's ashes in her South Africa homeland.

There he meets his white grandmother (Sinead Cusack) and black half-sister (Joan Iyiola) for the first time and sets out to discover what happened to his father.

Dance with the cast

The play opens with a club DJ playing music from Elba's own album and the audience is encouraged to dance on the low circular stage among the cast.

I did see one couple getting a selfie with Alfred Enoch - not sure if that is in keeping with the character of the piece or not.

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Review: Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, Young Vic Theatre - not a word wasted but staging is problematic

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train is gripping from start to finish, laced with black humour and a play that will have you questioning your reactions and beliefs.

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At the interval, I turned to Poly and said: 'This isn't going to have a happy ending is it?'.

How Jesus Hopped The A Train pans out isn't quite how you imagine, or perhaps it is but that's the genius of Stephen Adly Guirgis' writing, he has a way of twisting the way you look at things.

Set in a New York prison, Angel (Ukweli Roach) is awaiting trial having shot a cult leader 'in the ass' in order to rescue his brain-washed friend.

Holding a smoking gun

His lawyer (Dervla Kirwan) prides herself in turning around the most open and shut cases which is good for Angel because he's holding a smoking gun and his charge sheet is about to get more serious.

While spending his hour a day out of his cell, Angel meets Lucius (Oberon K. A. Adjepong), a notorious murderer fighting a transfer to Florida where he'll face the death penalty.

The play explores faith, justice and what it means to be good.

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I've given the theatres where I pay for membership an appraisal - how did they score?

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Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash


You know when you get appraised at work and scored on your performance? Well, I've done the same for the theatres Poly and I have 'friends' memberships for.

Essentially these schemes are ways of theatres raising money and in return, you get perks like priority booking.

Return on 'investment'?

We have memberships at the theatres we visit the most, which means we also buy a lot of tickets, so I wanted to work out what the return on our 'investment' is.

Are we getting bangs for our theatre bucks in terms of enjoyment, after all, you don't go to the theatre to be bored or miserable?

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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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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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From the archives: Colin Morgan's stage debut in Vernon God Little, Young Vic Theatre

It's a play I still remember fondly and I was right to think that Colin Morgan was 'one to watch'

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Colin Morgan in Vernon God Little, Young Vic Theatre, 2007

It's 10 years since the BBC's Merlin first aired, which I loved, but one of the reasons I started watching was because I'd seen Colin Morgan on stage a year earlier.

It was his stage debut as Vernon in Vernon God Little at the Young Vic in 2007. He was still at drama school when he was cast.

Rufus Norris directed (what happened to him ;0) and Mariah Gale was also in the cast and went on to play Ophelia opposite David Tennant's Hamlet.

There was no Rev Stan's Theatre Blog then but I did have a 'general thoughts' blog where I wrote about the play which I've reposted below. (Like to think my theatre writing has developed a bit in the past 11 years.)

It's a play I still remember fondly and I was right to think that Colin was 'one to watch' - my review may not come across overly enthusiastic but I was more restrained back in those days.

Reposted from Rev Stan's Other Stuff 8 June 2007:

Loved DBC Pierre's book when I read it a couple of years ago as it is clever and thought-provoking black comedy and thoroughly deserving of the accolades it received.

So I was curious to see how it was translated for the stage in this production at the Young Vic.

The book has many characters and many locations which must have presented a challenge for the production which ended up with just 10 actors. The stage sets and props were fairly minimal but imaginatively used.

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Playhouse Theatre transforming for Stephen Daldry's The Jungle + rehearsal photos

Preparations are underway for the West End transfer of the Young Vic's The Jungle directed by Stephen Daldry.

The Playhouse Theatre, where the play opens for preview on June 16, is being transformed in order to accommodate Miriam Buether's original set design from the Young Vic and the Dress Circle will be transformed in the 'Cliffs of Dover'.

Screens will also relay close up shots, live news broadcast-style, to bring a more intimate play watching experience in the larger theatre.

Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s play is set in Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp, the Calais Jungle, which in 2015, became a temporary home for more than 10,000 people. 

The cast is in rehearsal and you can see pictures below. For more details and booking go to the official website.

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The Jungle rehearsals. Photo by Marc Brenner
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The Jungle rehearsal. Photo by Marc Brenner

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Review: The Inheritance, Young Vic - an epic tale of love, loss and life but was it better than Angels?

It is a playful play with laugh out loud moments but in a blink, it is full of pathos and tragedy

The Inheritance at the Young Vic is this year's Angels in America - a two-parter set in New York about a group of gay men.

The Inheritance Young Vic Rev Stan InstagramI really enjoyed Angels but I wasn't bubbling over with the same enthusiasm for it that some had. So I approached Matthew Lopez's play with a hint of trepidation: it's a long play, would this be more of the same?

Angels sequel

You could describe it as a sequel to Angel's following the generation of men that grew up after the AIDS epidemic.

The Inheritance of the title in many ways represents the life and society that the Angels' generation paved the way for.

But the play is also heavily influenced by EM Forster's Howard's End examining class, entitlement and privilege and framed as an attempt to tell a story - EM Forster serves as a tutor and mentor at various points.

Truth and fiction playfully interweave the narrative, occasionally options for alternative dialogue is presented as if we are in a narrative brainstorming session - or viewing different perspectives.

Love triangle

But the essence of the play is a love triangle.

Eric Glass (Kyle Soller) lives in a protected rent apartment with his boyfriend Toby (Andrew Burlap) who is adapting his debut novel into a play.

Their group of gay friends often congregate at the apartment - Eric is a good cook and host but at one such gathering a young man, Adam (Samuel H Levine), turns up to return Toby's bag, Toby having taken his own, identical, bag in error.

Heartbreak and obsession

That encounter sends each on a journey that none of them could have foreseen, a journey of love, heartbreak, obsession, success and tragedy, a journey that makes and breaks them and forces painful introspection.

A journey that unfolds over six and half hours of theatre.

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