80 posts categorized "Young Vic" Feed

Sunday theatre question: Have you seen a production design fail?

This week's Sunday theatre question is about when the production design of a play doesn't quite work. It perhaps distracts or gets in the way of the play or maybe makes performing unnecessarily challenging for the actors.

I've got a couple of examples that stick in my mind, one was a Shakespeare play at the Young Vic and the other was a classic Greek tragedy at the Donmar.

Both are memorable for the production fails rather than the performances or interpretation of classics.

Have you had a similar experience? Let me know in the comments.

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Happy 50th birthday Young Vic: A few of my favourite productions

The Young Vic is celebrating its 50th birthday and while I've only been visiting since 2007-ish, I've seen many fantastic and memorable plays there in that time.

Young Vic neon sign
Photo: Rev Stan

It's one of my favourite theatres, partly because of the variety of work it puts on, partly because the space is so flexible you never know what to expect and partly because it just has a cool vibe.

So I've been on a bit of a trip down memory lane and dug through my archives to pick out some of my favourite productions.

Happy Birthday Young Vic, hope to be back watching plays again soon...

Jesus Hopped The 'A' train, 2019

Genius writing by Stephen Adly Guirgis and the cast didn't waste a word of it. The play took you in an unexpected direction and left you questioning your thoughts and reactions.

The Inheritance, 2018

Aside from being an epic two-parter which is full of laughter and pathos, I also have a fondness for this play and production because I saw it on my birthday. (And I prefer it to Angels in America but shhh don't tell anyone.)

My Name is Rachel Corrie, 2017

A fantastic solo performance by Erin Doherty, and a story that simultaneously gave you faith in mankind and utter despair.

Yerma, 2016

Inventive staging, 'magical' scene changes, a contemporary spin on a classic that worked brilliantly - and Billie Piper.

A Song From Far Away, 2015

The first word that came out of my mouth after watching this Simon Stephens play was "fuck" - for good reasons.

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10th Birthday list: My 10 (ok it's 11) favourite stage actresses plus who I'd really like to see on stage more

While there might not be quite as many meaty stage roles for actresses as there are actors (is that changing?) the plethora of acting talent I've seen over the past 10 years made this quite tricky to narrow down. Hence the list of 11 rather than a neat 10 (and presented in no particular order).

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Patsy Ferran in My Mum's a Twat, Royal Court Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray.

I've also added a few names I've only seen once or twice but really want to see do more stage work.

Who would you add, let me know in the comments?

1. Imelda Staunton

Who can forget Margaret in Good People or Martha in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf? It's always a treat when she treads the boards.

2. Jade Anouka

She was the best Hotspur I've seen when Phyllida Law did her all-female Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse. She also did a fantastic one-woman show at the fringe (Chef) and I still remember the bit of subtlety she brought to Jamie Lloyd's lively production of Dr Faustus.

3. Patsy Ferran

Patsy, Patsy, Patsy. Have seen her in fringe productions, small studio theatres, one-women shows and taking lead roles in classics which have ended up in the West End (and winning her awards). So pleased to see her career taking off and can't wait to see what she does next.

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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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Theatre streaming: National Theatre announces four more brilliant plays to watch at home

When the National Theatre announced it was going to be streaming plays from its archive I had a wish list in my head of what I'd like to see or see again.

NT Live May June play streaming detailsAnd one of the ones that I really want to see again is Tom Hiddleston's Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse back in 2013.

It was a super hot ticket as the Donmar is such a small, intimate theatre - and TH was becoming a big-screen star then - and so I was chuffed to bits that I managed to get a pair of tickets.

The quality of the performances and the portrayal combined with the fact that I was sitting a few feet from the knee-level stage made this such a memorable production.

And then there is A Streetcar Named Desire starring the amazing Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster which was also on my 'love to see again' list.

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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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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.

Fairview Poster Young Vic
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.

Cast-members-in-Tree-at-Manchester-International-Festival-runs-at-Young-Vic-from-29-July.-Credit-Marc-Brenner-12-Custom
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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