71 posts categorized "Young Vic" Feed

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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January theatre round up: Big (big) name castings, highs, lows and lots of actor spots.

The Inheritance Young Vic
Vanessa Redgrave joins the cast of The Inheritance, Young Vic

Theatre gets me through the dark days of January, here are my highlights from the new play and casting announcements, favourite things I saw (and the low moment).  And, thanks to the Julius Caesar press night, there was a bumper crop of actor, director and writer spots too...

* Forbes Mason, who will forever be known as the Lucifer in pants, thanks to Jamie Lloyd's Doctor Faustus, has been cast in the Almeida's Summer and Smoke which opens later this month. Did I mention how much I'm looking forward to seeing Patsy Ferran, who also stars, in that?

* Josie Rourke announced she is stepping down as artistic director at the Donmar Warehouse next year after eight years in the role. My highlights of her tenure, if you were to ask me for the first things that spring to mind, would be the Tom Hiddleston Coriolanus (incidentally my review of that is my most popular post and has been viewed nearly 15,000 times), the all women Shakespeare series and James Graham's Privacy. There are plenty of others but those are what stick most in my mind.

* Vanessa Redgrave (yes Vanessa Redgrave!) has been cast in The Inheritance at the Young Vic which opens next month. I could listen to her voice for hours. Also announced in the cast are Stan-fav's Kyle Soller, Michael Marcus and Luke Thallon plus a whole bunch of new names I’m looking forward to getting to know over a double play day.

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My best of theatre list for 2017 - with some rom-com, Chekhov and Christmas surprises

If you'd told me at the start of the year that there would be a rom-com, a Chekhov and a Christmas play on my best of list, I'd have laughed in your face. Just goes to show you should always expect the unexpected...here are my favourite plays of 2017, in no particular order and links are to my reviews.

An Octoroon - Orange Tree Theatre - publicity photo by The Other Richard
An Octoroon - Orange Tree Theatre - publicity photo by The Other Richard

Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre

Let's face it most rom-coms are a bit rubbish - they generally aren't that funny - but this tale of modern romance had me guffawing with laughter and I wasn't on my own.

An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre

This is a play that reminded me why I love going to the theatre and I could write pages on it. Thought-provoking, sometime uncomfortable to watch and yet it was still entertaining. It's transferring to the National Theatre in June and I'll definitely be getting a ticket.

Apologia, Trafalgar Studios

In my review I said: "Apologia is a play of sharp humour and depth that slowly breaks down the defences to reveal something raw and emotional. You will laugh and you will have a lump in your throat." It was also a great play for female characters.

Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road, White Bear Theatre and Trafalgar Studios 2

This odd-ball, misfit comedy was a breath of fresh air and it got a much deserved transfer so I got to enjoy it a second time.

Hamlet, Almeida

Up there as one of the best Hamlet productions I've seen, it made me see the play anew.

BU21, Trafalgar Studios 2

Writer Stuart Slade took real testimonies from terrorist attacks around the world and used them to create a story around a fictional attack in London. The result was an honest, awkward and funny piece that was also really clever.

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My theatre 'StOlivier' awards 2017

Step aside best actor/actress/play etc this is what was noteworthy for me in theatre land, in 2017.

Menagerie award The Ferryman was an award winning play in many way but for me it deserve an extra gong for fur and feathers - a cute little rabbit and a goose both made scene stealing appearances. Babies? Schmabies. Real, live animals on stage are the thing.

Exhibit A: Roman Tragedies, Barbican Theatre
Exhibit A: Roman Tragedies, Barbican Theatre

Event theatre and star studded audience award Ivo Van Hove's  six hour Roman Tragedies at the Barbican was an event for many reasons not least for allowing audience members to wander onto the stage between scenes and perch wherever they could get a seat. Photos, without flash, and tweeting (see exhibit A) were also encouraged. It also attracted probably the most thespy audience I've seen so far: Simon Stephens, Rupert Goold and Kate Fleetwood, Kyle Soler and Pheobe Fox, John Heffernan, Angus Wright, Jamie Lloyd, Ruth Wilson, Ian McDiarmid, Jonjo O’Neill, Jeremy Herrin and Leo Bill.

Best kiss When Paddy Considine and Laura Donnelly's characters kissed in The Ferryman, Royal Court it was so charged with years of repressed feelings it took my breath away and broke my heart a little bit.

Best spit - Not since I (probably) gave an award to the cast of Richard III for all spitting on Ralph Fiennes has their been a gobbing incident worthy of note but step forward Jasmine Hyde who spat so spectacularly on Harry Melling during Jam, Finborough Theatre.

Hottie of the month kinda lives on...these were my particular favourites in 2017: Theo James, Andrew Garfield, Douglas Booth and James Norton but if I had to choose one it would be Theo because I'm such a huge fan and it was the first time I've seen him on stage.

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10 plays I'm really looking forward to seeing in London 2018

Julius Caesar, Bridge TheatrePrompted by the Daily Telegraph's rather uninspiring and quite frankly lazy list of upcoming theatre treats - three plays which have already opened? Oh come on - here's my list of what I'm already really excited about seeing in the first half of 2018*.

1. My Mum's A Twat, Royal Court Theatre - Patsy Ferran, I love Patsy Ferran and this is the first of two plays she's doing in 2018 and it's a solo piece *insert big smile here*

2. Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre - Ben Whishaw playing Brutus alongside David Morrissey and Michelle Fairley and the chance to mingle with the Roman mob? Already booked to see it twice.

3. The Brothers Size, Young Vic - Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney who also penned Oscar best picture winner Moonlight (which I loved) and starring Sope Dirisu who was brilliant in One Night In Miami at the Donmar and the RSC's Coriolanus.

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Review: My Name is Rachel Corrie, Young Vic Theatre

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Erin Doherty in My Name is Rachel Corrie. Photo Ellie Kurttz

Rachel Corrie (Erin Doherty) is someone who cares. OK, so a lot of people care but they don't care to the extent of Rachel, to the extent where she actually does something and does something remarkable and life-threatening.

Based on Rachel's writings and performed with tireless energy, wit and compassion by Erin Doherty we meet Rachel when she is a child growing up in Olympia, Washington. She'd probably be described as a sensitive, slightly odd, slightly eccentric child - precocious even - she thinks a lot, is ambitious but in her passions and pursuits rather for a career. When her class is asked to write down what they'd like to do when they grow up, she writes a long list.

Through her teens her personality and passions blossom, she is admirable, quirky in an amusing, endearing and sometime irritating way. She volunteers, she talks to people, listens to people, her compassion grows until all the work she does isn't enough so she gets on a plane and heads to Israel. Once there she crosses into Gaza where she joins up with the International Solidarity Movement, a group of activists trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli soldiers. 

She wants to help the ordinary people, those struggling to live on day to day basis and she puts herself in danger in order to do so. She wants to help the innocent people caught up in the politics and devastation of war. Her humanity is met with humanity, the people she is trying to help, help her, take her into their homes and feed her when they have so little. It is a story that gives you faith in the human race while simultaneously making you despair at the injustice of the world.

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Review: Juliet Stevenson soars in Wings, Young Vic Theatre #YVWings

WingsWeb3PortraitJuliet Stevenson obviously likes physically challenging roles. The last time I saw her at the Young Vic, she was buried up to her neck for the duration of the play. In Wings she has much more freedom of movement but is suspended in a harness above the stage, only occasionally touching down for brief scenes.

It's a clever device for telling the story of Emily, aviator and wing walker, who suffers a mentally debilitating stroke. For an hour and 15 minutes we watch as she tries to make sense of her surroundings and then how she now views and interacts with the world.

At first she feels like she is in some sort of prison, unable to make out her hospital surroundings, the words in her head not sounding like quite like they should. Her memory plays tricks on her, she cannot determine what is real or what is a dream. She gets snatches of recollection of her life and language, physically representing her feelings as she floats above those trying to help her. Occasionally they pull her back down to earth.

When she is physically more able, the struggle in her head continues, finding the words and memories her damaged brain won't naturally recall. There is a therapy session with fellow stroke sufferers; when asked to point to their elbow one finger points to the corner of the ceiling - it's as if a part of the brain has not so much been disconnected but is slightly out of kilter.

Juliet Stevenson, looks completely at home on the wire moving with an elegance and grace that I'm sure belies the effort and difficulty. It works well as a visual representation of what Emily is going through - and what flying means to her. There is a sense of the freedom she feels when she is up in the air, a freedom she perhaps doesn't enjoy when on solid ground.

There are other moments of insight too but it feels that if the flying device was removed there wouldn't be quite enough in the play to properly sustain the narrative. I'm giving Wings four stars and it runs at the Young Vic until Nov 4.