Archive for June, 2008

Andrew’s Field Days

Friday 27 June 2008

It’s a common enough phenomenon in the performing arts that certain people just like to work together. As artistic and intellectual equals (albeit from different disciplines) they are constantly challenging each other in order to scale ever more inventive and creative heights.

They are symbiotic muses, if you will.

One immediately thinks of Roberto Rosselini and Ingrid Bergman, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Matthew Bourne and Lez Brotherston, Bill Kenwright and Jenny Seagrove, John Noakes and Shep.

Another example, in Andrew’s mind anyway, is the powerful artistic association that he has with theatre maker and blogger Andy Field. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Black Watch, Barbican

Tuesday 24 June 2008

The Whingers were quite prepared for Black Watch to confront them with the brutalities and the horrors of war but nothing had prepared them for the atrocity they faced on entering the auditorium: the National Theatre of Scotland’s production has converted the Barbican’s traditional(-ish) theatre into a traverse stage. Yes, the proscenium was still there, but the Whingers were actually sitting behind it or under it. They were very confused.

Now, regular readers will know that the Whingers oft-bemoan the absence of a proscenium arch and have been known to take an instant dislike to anything using “alternative” forms of staging: in the round, the square, thrust and – worst of all – traverse. So this was not a good start to the evening. Read the rest of this entry »

High School Tony Awards

Friday 20 June 2008

Don’t know how we missed, this. Thank you for bringing it to our attention Chris.

Blowings Off: What on earth is Greta Scacchi going on about?

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Welcome to “Blowings Off”, the West End Whingers’ exciting new round-up of who’s saying what on the Interweb. We will be publishing it every week when we can be bothered.

This week: What is Greta Scacchi on and where can we get some? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – 2,000 Feet Away, Bush Theatre

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Well, what kind of review can a production expect when it is advertised to start at 8pm, has unreserved seating requiring you start queueing at 7.45pm and finally admits you into the auditorium at 8.25pm without apology or explanation.

And  – even though it is only 90 minutes long – you get out at 10pm and have to find your way home from Shephards Bush.

It also features Ian Hart whose interview in The Times this week started thus:

Theatre fans, Ian Hart has something to tell you. “I hate theatre. I hate doing it. And it’s not the medium I wish to work in.” It gets worse. The 43-year-old firebrand actor, who is midway through rehearsals on Anthony Weigh’s controversial paedophile drama 2,000 Feet Away, hates you, too. “I hate the audience,” he says, over chicken Caesar salad in a South London café.

“I have a big problem with the audience. I don’t feel the desire to engage them. Which is what theatre is all about.”

So, it’s written by Anthony Weigh, directed by Josie Rourke and also stars Joseph Fiennes. Some people are quite good in it and the play’s OK in some ways. But it’s sold out anyway.

Queueing at The Bush

Half an hour of standing in this, then a play.

Review – The Ugly One, Royal Court

Wednesday 18 June 2008

In spite of many unsolicited entreaties, the Whingers have never considered having facial surgery.

Andrew and Phil have convinced themselves that their copious lines attractively describe lives fully-lived and display character. The many grooves and crannies have been etched into their faces over many years of impatiently sitting in darkened auditoriums (though not this particular evening – see below) watching bad theatre, learning of National Theatre running times and, just occasionally, from laughter. Read the rest of this entry »

Queen’s birthday dishonour

Monday 16 June 2008

More bitter disappointment for the West End Whingers this week. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s on in St Petersburg?

Monday 16 June 2008

Andrew popped over to St Petersburg last weekend to check out what was on. Not to actually see anything, obviously – just to look at the posters.

This one caught his attention. It seems to have 10 production photographs in it which is quite an achievement in a poster. It’s probably a farce judging by the buttocks. And it would seem to feature the cast taking their curtain call. All most curious.

Perhaps some day all theatre posters will look like this:

No. 13

At a guess, this was Vladimir Mashkov’s staging of Ray Cooney’s popular comedy No. 13 starring Avangard Leontyev and Yevgeny Mironov at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater.

But what a lot of words! Translation please, Mr Morrison.

A letter to The Guardian (as yet unpublished)

Saturday 14 June 2008

It is well known that facts are not our forte, but on this occasion we are fairly confident that it is Ray Shell’s memory which is playing tricks (Goodbye, cruel wind, June 12).

Mr Shell claims he went home after the first preview of Gone With The Wind “to read damning comments on a blog called the West End Whingers”. The first preview was cancelled so presumably he is referring to Saturday 5th April. We didn’t see it until Tuesday 8th April and were far too traumatised to type anything about it until Thursday 10th April.

While it may be comforting for Mr Shell to lay the blame for the show’s failure at the door of the blogosphere (i.e. the paying public) his comment that the cast “had doubts about the music and the length of the script” might well prove a more fruitful avenue of forensic investigation, as might his revelation that the 30 non-principals needed something to do “so we became narrators.”

For the record, we had no problems with the cast and certainly no beef with Mr Shell’s Pork.

Andrew & Phil
The West End Whingers

Review – Afterlife by Michael Frayn, National Theatre

Thursday 12 June 2008

To stage one verse play may be regarded as a misfortune; to stage two looks like carelessness. Or malice.

Yes, after the unpleasantness of Fram, the National has contrived to prescribe for the general public’s indigestion yet another unpalatable dose of doggerel in the form of Michael Frayn’s Afterlife. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Chalk Garden, Donmar Warehouse

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Now, let us think a minute… When was the last time the Whingers left a play yearning to get their hands on a copy of the “text”? Oh yes, we remember now… That’s right – never.

Until last night when the Whingers tripped happily out of the revival of Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse. Read the rest of this entry »

From today’s Times crossword

Monday 9 June 2008

1 across: Gershwin arrangement has people complaining ( 8 )

Review – The Revenger’s Tragedy, National Theatre

Thursday 5 June 2008

Just days before embarking upon one of their mysterious trips a few years’ ago (to Costa Rica, as it happens), the Whingers were thrilled to discover from their trip notes that one of their companions (“land only”) would be none other than Barbara Flynn.

They spent days planning how they would become instant best friends with the quality TV stalwart (Cracker, A Family at War, the milkwoman in Open All Hours) and would spend every evening of the two week tour regaling each other with showbusiness reminiscences and anecdotes and generally excluding all the other people on the tour.

Once they returned to England their bond – rather than dissolving as such friendships inevitably do – would become even stronger. They would be forever popping in and out of each others’ houses, meet up to go shopping and maybe even taking in the occasional (short) play.

When “Bar” (as they would affectionately call her) eventually published her memoirs (In Like Flynn maybe or possibly My Name Is Barbara But Spelt Properly) the Whingers would be surprised, delighted and – well – humbled to see that it was dedicated to they, her dearest friends.

Sadly it turned out to be a different Barbara Flynn; this one did something in IT in Dublin. The Whingers valiantly tried to hide their disappointment and – once they had forgiven her – condescended not to hold her entirely responsible for their crushed dreams and even to affect a degree of amiability towards her.

Anyway, in wistful remembrance of what might have been, the Whingers couldn’t resist a trip to see Barbara Flynn in The Revenger’s Tragedy at the National Theatre. And also, of course, to catch WEW Fave Rory Kinnear too. Excitingly, Kinnear will be in the 22nd Bond film: Quantum of Solace. He will play Bill Tanner who Phil is hoping will turn out to be a relative of Elsie Tanner. Let us hope it turns out not to be another crashing disappointment on the scale of the Barbara Flynn debacle. Read the rest of this entry »