Posts Tagged ‘Howard Davies’

Review – Children of the Sun, National Theatre

Friday 12 April 2013

Thrilling!rep_images_children-212x300

Now here’s a first and a SPOILER ALERT but as this was a first preview we cannnot guarantee it will happen again.* Pity.

Maxim Gorky’s Children of the Sun** may have begun with a whimper but it certainly ended with a bang: a stage explosion so intense it probably finished off a few senior members of the audience (obviously we survived to tell the tale). The heat could be felt several rows back in the stalls. The shock was so great, Phil let out an involuntary “Jesus!” and possibly a little wee. But even more excitingly – such was its impact – it set off the Lyttleton’s fire alarm.

Theatre doesn’t get much better than this.

This is what the audience left the theatre talking about. What more does one need to say? It’s tempting to stop here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review – The Last of the Haussmans, National Theatre

Tuesday 19 June 2012

You wait an age for a play about free-spirited people who behaved selfishly in the sixties and how their behaviour made lost souls of their offspring desperate to get their hands on property…

Well, you know the rest.

The Quink from the Whingers’ quills had barely dried from their uncharacteristically and almost unbridled rave about Mike Bartlett’s Love, Love, Love at the Royal Court and here they were again ploughing territory with spookily similar themes.

Expectations had already been running unreasonably high with Julie Walters, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory and Matthew Marsh in the cast. Imagine being the playwright Stephen Beresford and finding that lot in your first play The Last of the Haussmans – and on a proper National Theatre stage and not even tucked away in the Cottesloe. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Juno and the Paycock, National Theatre

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Proof, if it indeed needed, that a little learning can be a dangerous thing – especially in the hands of the Whingers.

Or to be more specific in the hands of Phil who “studied” Juno and the Paycock at school. Naturally this was when Sean O’ Casey‘s play was practically a contemporary work so he can recall very little of it. He remembers his copy of the play came in a green cover with a strange texture which made a very agreeable sound as you ran your fingernails over it. How comforting to hear of an education that didn’t go to waste.

And nothing would stop Phil happily entertaining Andrew with his one almost correctly remembered quote “That’s the last time you’ll blow the froth off a pint of mine Joxer Daly” as they arrived at the National Theatre. How apt it should be a line involving alcohol. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Cherry Orchard, National Theatre

Friday 20 May 2011

“You’ll get in a right mess listening to words” says the all-knowing elderly butler Firs in Andrew Upton‘s version of The Cherry Orchard. And he’s quite right, Chekhov produced an awful lot of them and then adaptor Andrew Upton threw in a few of his own.

But unlike the critics who have gotten themselves into a real old tizzy about it the Whingers were in an unusually forgiving disposition.

It is true that “bozo” and a few other anachronisms occasionally jarred, as did “crap” and “bollocks”. But Andrew was quite happy when Upton pushed the anachronisms as far as taking a swipe at Phil’s favourite TV show with the line, “There’s nothing more repulsive than Loose Women.”

But it was when landowner Ranyevskaya drawled “Don’t waste your time watching plays – I bet it wasn’t funny at all,” that the Whingers realised that Upton was inviting them into bed with him. Let’s hope his wife Cate Blanchett rolls over and is happy to spoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The White Guard, National Theatre

Wednesday 17 March 2010

To be perfectly honest the Whingers really weren’t looking forward to Mikhail Bulgakov‘s The White Guard which doesn’t really support our claim to approach every theatrical sortie with an open mind. Actually, “blank” mind is probably closer to the truth.

So why did we book tickets for it then, you might ask? To which our response would be: “mind your beeswax” or, if  we were in a better mood, “because if we only went to see things we knew we’d like we’d hardly go at all”.

We go to the theatre because we want to be surprised and the bigger the surprise the better. We want to enter a 3 hours plus (with two intervals) play with heavy hearts and come out raving about Jerusalem. And we want to drag our feet into the Lyttelton for yet another adaptation of an old Russian play and come out saying, “The National Theatre has come up trumps again! Hoorah for the National Theatre!”

Of course, these things don’t usually happen. Such occasions are rarer than hen’s teeth. But sometimes… Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Burnt By The Sun, National Theatre

Friday 27 February 2009

burnt-by-the-sun Obviously this was to represent a reassuring and long overdue return for the Whingers to somewhere more akin to their spiritual home and if not to the West End exactly, then at least to the bastion of generously funded proper theatre boasting safety curtains, scenery, proscenium arches  and all the other reliable trappings that make a theatre a proper place for theatre.

Yes, after 10 days wandering through the wilderness of the fringe, the prodigal Whingers returned on Shrove Tuesday to the National Theatre to see Burnt By The Sun, based on Nikita Mikhalkov‘s Oscar-winning 1994 film.

And how nice it was to be once again in a world of coat-checks, places to sit in the common areas and numbered seats with corresponding numbers on the tickets. And all in zone 1. We even smiled at the sight of the National’s airline-style signage designed to assess the suitability of one’s handbag for the auditorium.

And, indeed, Burnt By The Sun has almost everything you could want from a piece of theatre. Admittedly there was no Dame of the British Empire, but if you squinted (as Andrew does most of the time) at Anna Carteret you could make do.

But otherwise it was all there: the man hailed by the Whingers as one of London’s finest stage actors (Rory Kinnear), the woman who captivated the Whingers as Eliza at the Old Vic last year (Michelle Dockery), a revolving set (Vicki Mortimer), on-stage food consumption, a marching band, piano playing and tap-dancing, some history, a Channel 4 newsreader sitting behind us, a marvellously informative programme… And yet… and yet….

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Gethsemane by David Hare, National Theatre

Tuesday 11 November 2008

One of the many questions that Whingers get asked is: why do you go to see things that you’re so clearly not going to enjoy?

That and: “What do you think you’re doing with my wine?”

The answer to the former is that the Whingers are constantly hoping to better themselves. While this may seem to you to display a distinct paucity of ambition, the Whingers are committed to exposing themselves to as wide a range of cultural input as possible. It is their hope that theatre can expand their horizons, challenge their thinking and create new dreams for them to live. Very like Mr Barack Obama in this respect, the Whingers dare to hope for change we need.

Playwright David Hare is a case in point. Not known for his musicals, whodunnits nor lately for amusingly written parts for Dames of the British Empire (Amy’s View being the most recent we can think of) he seems, on the surface of it, to have little on his stall that might attract the attention of a passing Whinger.

Yet Gethsemane could so easily have gone either way; Andrew had been much moved by The Permanent Way, Hare’s verbatim theatrical piece on the privatisation of the railways; Phil had some good words to say about Stuff Happens (although Andrew fell asleep 15 minutes in and bailed out at the interval). Read the rest of this entry »