Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Hytner’

Review – Great Britain National Theatre

Monday 4 August 2014

image+(36)“OZZY’S SNAKE ATE MY PUSSY” screams a tabloid headline on stage as you take your seat in the Lyttleton Theatre, pretty much setting the tone for the almost three hours of Richard Bean‘s new comedy Great Britain, about hacking scandals, the press and how it links to politics and police.

The production was unveiled at the eleventh hour once the phone hacking trials were concluded and opened to the critics without previews. You could say the press verdicts had to wait for the verdicts on the press. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Othello National Theatre

Monday 22 April 2013

othello_250_1We are not in the habit of issuing public service announcements but…

Check your tickets. Emily Mackay-ishly thinking to intimidate us by the use of quarter-hours, evening performances of Othello start at 7.15pm. Arrive on time so you won’t have to be guided to your seat in crepuscular gloom at the first suitable break in the proceedings. Goodness knows what it’ll be like at the upcoming Strange Interlude which starts at the even more intimidating 6.30pm. Just how long is it going to be? Anyone need a pair of tickets?

Anyhoo, as we departed the theatre (again the quarter, but this the one before 11pm) thoughts turned to the question of Adrian Lester‘s age and “Are Othellos – like policeman – getting younger?” Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Untold Stories, Duchess Theatre

Thursday 18 April 2013

untoldstories2013180There were uncomfortable shards of recognition at Alan Bennett‘s autobiographical Untold Stories.

Phil discovered that the contents of his kitchen cupboard are not dissimilar to those of Bennett’s parents: the long-forgotten ground white pepper, the glacé cherries (though not sitting in an egg cup), the container of cocktail sticks, and the stubborn dried up dribbles of food that need chipping at to remove, all lurking with other long-past-their-sell-by-date items way back behind more pressingly urgent comestibles.

And Phil’s mother is from Yorkshire too. Not that he’s suggesting his mother’s kitchen cupboards are anything other than immaculate. At last, here’s a show that gives you something to take away with you; that it’s time to consider a spring clean.*

The parallels in Cocktail Sticks, the second of this double bill of recollections, were sometimes a little too close to home and not just in the kitchen department. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – People, National Theatre

Monday 5 November 2012

These days new plays by Alan Bennett are cloaked in the kind of secrecy you might expect from a new Mike Leigh play or the latest Bond film.

But we’re not good at keeping secrets so if you don’t want to know anything about People we’ll just tell you that the running time is 2 hours 20 minutes we returned after the interval (it’s the new Bennett, why wouldn’t we?) and you can leave it at that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Timon of Athens, National Theatre

Monday 16 July 2012

So, on vellum then, not looking too promising. 

Rarely performed and generally considered to be one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, Timon of Athens has had just one outing on The Broadway, according to the gospel of St Wiki.

Apparently it was co-authored by Thomas Middleton and is incomplete. Who knows? (Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance probably).

Two of them writing together and they couldn’t finish it? Was there a more pressing stack of ironing? Sounds scarily familiar to us. Unfinished is a bit of a conundrum: might it go on forever or end abruptly in under three hours? TOA sounded a bit of a tease. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Travelling Light, National Theatre

Wednesday 18 January 2012

“Who knew the invention of cinematic grammar could be this dull?” pondered Andrew at the interval of Travelling Light. Indeed, one could almost leave things there and move on. But of course that wouldn’t be very Whingerish would it?

With a big canvas and a big subject the usually very reliable Nicholas Wright sensibly focuses on one aspect of the big screen by telling the tale through the eyes of one of the many Eastern European Jewish émigrés who played such a huge part in the development of motion pictures. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Collaborators, National Theatre

Monday 31 October 2011

Well, we never expected to use the words “madcap” and “Stalin” in the same sentence.

It was one of those occasions when it looked as though the Whingers’ theatrical planets were aligning auspiciously but then it turned out that they were actually on a collision course.

Prodding their entrails with a stick (metaphorically) the Whingers had come to the conclusion that all the signs were good: Alex Jennings, Simon Russell BealeMark Addy and Nick Sampson in a play by John Hodge (screenwriter of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave) with Nicholas Hytner at the helm.

Even the less promising portents of the Cottesloe Theatre and a “first play” failed to cast a shadow over the Whingers’ sunny outlooks and our usually voluble inner Cassandras were completely caught napping. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – One Man, Two Guvnors, National Theatre

Thursday 19 May 2011

In which James Corden appears to redeem himself with aplomb and the Whingers laugh at a Richard Bean comedy – and quite a lot.

Due to an administrative error the Whingers had a couple of spare tickets for Tuesday night’s first preview of One Man, Two Guvnors at the National Theatre – Richard Bean’s rewriting of Carlo Goldoni’s 1743 quasi -commedia dell’arte Arlecchino servitore di due padroni (as we like to call it) aka The Servant of Two Masters.

An appeal on Facebook to all 11 of the Whingers’ friends produced a flurry of messages citing the usual implausibly high incidences of hair-washing and sick dogs. But in between those messsages were a high number of declined invitations seemingly based an antipathy to James Corden.

It seems that some time since his History Boys/Gavin & Stacey days and yesterday, Mister Corden (channelling Harry Worth on the poster) seems to have rubbed some people up the wrong way.

But here, once more directed (or reined in) by Mister Nicholas Hytner, Mister Corden turns in a hardworking, confident – yet not cocky – and rather likeable performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Hamlet with Rory Kinnear, National Theatre

Monday 4 October 2010

There may be something rotten looking at the state of Phil’s fridge but – housekeeping aside – let it be never said that the Whingers were anything but fastidious, especially when it comes to self-improvement.

Well have you ever been to a performance of Hamlet with someone who had a degree in Shakespearean dramaturgy? Well, we did. On Saturday night. We acquired the services of someone called @kerrypolka off Twitter who patiently explained things to us, sometimes several times, over a glass of wine after the preview performance.

We think she was rather pleased with our progress and produced from her handbag some sample GCSE papers for us. Read the rest of this entry »

Deathtrap – The Opening Night

Thursday 9 September 2010

[Note: this is really not worth reading unless you were there. Sorry. It's mainly an aide memoire to ourselves]

Biggins must have had other plans. But gosh – even the Whingers had other plans. But happily the first preview of Blood and Gifts at the National got cancelled enabling the Whingers to sweep back to the Noel Coward Theatre for the opening night of Deathtrap. Happily Sir Nicholas of Hytner could now also attend and he did so with Samuel Barnett in tow.

And it seemed that everyone else in showbizzland had a gaping hole in their diaries too. Andrew’s alleged prosopagnosia was stretched further than some of the more “enhanced” famous faces on display. And his recognitions skills were not aided by the fact that he doesn’t do much in the way of telly so it was left to Phil to peer through his lorgnettes to fill in the blanks. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – London Assurance, National Theatre

Tuesday 9 March 2010

As Phil arrived at the National Theatre for the preview of London Assurance on Monday night Andrew appeared to be intoning a new mantra. “Boo-see-co, boo-see-co, boo-see-co,” he muttered smugly, trying each permutation on for size to see which would sound most impressive.

It transpired that Andrew had for once been swatting up: delving into the programme notes to gen up on Irish actor, playwright, adaptor, stage director, manager, producer and innovator Dion Boucicault and – in particularly – learning how that intimidating looking surname should be pronounced. Suddenly Phil was at it too, pursing his lips contorting his facial muscles and rolling it round his tongue. All that was missing was a mouth full of marbles. Anyone passing would have rightly supposed the Whingers had lost theirs.

If they got nothing else out of the evening at least these wannabe Liza Doolittles might, at last, be able to impress someone at a party (if Sonia Friedman ever invites them to aonther) with their ability to pronounce Boucicault.

They need not have worried about reclaiming something from the evening. It gives us great pleasure to announce that the National Theatre has climbed out of the very deep pit it dug for itself with all the Really Old, Like Forty Fives, the Nations and (dare we bring it up again) the Frams and is back on form, doing what it does best. And how. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett, National Theatre

Thursday 12 November 2009

The Habit of ArtPoetry not really being his thing, Phil had never, to his knowledge, read any W H Auden. Until last night, that is, when he read one of the celebrated poet’s works in the programme for Alan Bennett‘s new play the The Habit of Art. He’s none the wiser about the poem, poetry or Auden.

Andrew, on the other hand, is far more literary having delivered a triumphant yet moving rendition of Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast as a precocious eight year old to a presumably stunned audience at the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts.

Phil’s closest brush with poetry was at the National Gallery’s Sitwell exhibition when he was nearly mown down by Sir Stephen Spender’s wheelchair shortly after which in the gallery’s shop he got the chance to marvel at Lady Spender’s splendid ignorance of the logistics involved in writing a cheque. He did however, once appear in a school production of Benjamin Britten‘s Noye’s Fludde. Playing a wave. And he can still even sing Kyrie Eleison. And if you ask him very nicely he won’t.

All of which preamble brings the Whingers to their Monday night evening out at a preview of the most eagerly anticipated theatrical event of the year: the new Alan Bennett at the National Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Phèdre (or Phedre) with Helen Mirren, National Theatre

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Phedre_1490GadyLPhedre or Phèdre? The National Theatre’s website can’t seem to decide whether to opt for the grave accent or not.

And while we’re talking about the vacillations of the NT, when did The Royal National Theatre revert to being just a plain old National Theatre again? Nobody told us. Has Her Maj stopped popping over to the South Bank to get her fill of the classics or does she feel that with Helen Mirren DBE in residence no one will miss her?

Well it may not be Royal any more but the Whingers were feeling utterly regal and like proverbial pigs in a Caryl Churchill play last night when they arrived to see Ted Hughes’ version of  Jean Racine‘s Greek tragedy. For they found themselves with the prospect of an evening spent in the company of two theatrical Dames of the British Empire and a proscenium arch.

Yes two Dames! One either side of the proscenium! They were in Dame heaven. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – England People Very Nice, National Theatre

Sunday 15 February 2009

england-people-very-nice

Fu**ing Frogs!!!

..

Fu**ing Micks!!!

Fu**ing Whingers!!!

Mmmm, wasn’t fu**ing funny the first time, was it?

Did the repetition help make it funnier?

Well, if it did you might have died laughing by the end of England People Very Nice at the National Theatre on Tuesday evening. Read the rest of this entry »

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