When Phil told his mother he was going to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour she asked, in all innocence, “What are they sucking?”
Quite a lot as it turned out. Perhaps that’s the gag. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew is on sabbatical but Phil is soldiering on to help you decide between the Merlot and the Marlowe and generally putting London's West End theatre to rights
Terrence Rattigan and egg-frying. That’s the double whammy it takes to get Andrew into a theatre these days. Of course we couldn’t have known about the on-stage cookery and (Spoiler Alert) it comes at the end of the play.
But was it real of faked? We weren’t entirely sure. The egg was definitely cracked. The gas appeared to be lit and butter (yes, butter – Andrew was thrilled) was put in the pan. The roar of the grease could be heard sizzling but there was no haze and from our row D stalls seats we could smell nothing. A brief post-show discussion with Circle-seated acquaintances convinced us otherwise. They claimed they got a whiff of Helen McCrory‘s egg. Read the rest of this entry »
Wasn’t expecting the Drum Revolve.
Phil saw a preview of The Threepenny Opera on the very day he’d received a begging letter from the National’s Artistic Director, Rufus Norris asking for contributions to the £350, 000 he’s trying to raise to revitalise the Olivier Theatre’s 40-year-old stage machinery which was then “cutting-edge technology” but is now “literally grinding to a halt”.
He assumed this was irony. Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s tale, in a new adaptation by Simon Stephens, has placed the story in pre-coronation London and features a raggle-taggle of beggars. One of the beggars, Rufus Norris, was not on stage, he was seated at the back of the stalls overseeing his production with NT ex-AD Sir Nicholas of Hytner. Read the rest of this entry »
In days of yore we would go to see practically anything at the National Theatre, even at the Dorfman (née Cottesloe), but we are getting more risk-averse as we grow older, so this becomes the fourth in our series of hoovering up the shows we’d missed first time around.
People, Places & Things comes with breathless rave reviews for Denise Gough, a recent Olivier gong for her and another for the Sound Design, whispers of a Broadway transfer, plus a title that has not only punctuation, but an ampersand, which could only raise our expectations to such absurdly vertiginous heights it could only prove a let down, couldn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »
If you’re having turkey for Christmas this year remember not to over-stuff it.
This offering at the National may serve as a timely reminder.
wonder.land is Lewis Carroll‘s Alice for the internet age but it overdoes things by cramming too much in and desperately trying to tick too many PC boxes. What comes across is overcrowded and by attempting to be au courant ends up feeling slightly dated.
Aly (Lois Chimimba) is a mixed-race teenager from a broken home, bullied at school and on social media and insecure about her physical appearance until she discovers an online world where she can create a new life for herself as an avatar, Alice (Carly Bawden). Imagine The Matrix with a touch of The Nether burdened with a dressing of unremarkable music and songs.
As a member of the audience you may find yourself wishing to create your own avatar and disappear into another world entirely. We certainly did. Read the rest of this entry »
Harley Granville Barker‘s banned-in-its-day (1907, revised 1926) “controversial masterpiece” Waste took us rather by surprise when we visited it seven years ago at the Almeida. It took us a while, but we eventually warmed to it rather unexpectedly.
The brevity of the title is not reflected in the running time of the play which comes in at nearly 3 hours and is somewhat talky and unlike our previous viewing doesn’t have much of a set to look at. Read the rest of this entry »
So many reasons why Phil might not have liked Jane Eyre.
It’s “devised by the Company” (under the direction of Sally Cookson), which means
adults actors indulge themselves playing horses, windows, flickering fires, dogs and, oh my word, scamper around pretending to be children.
Performed in what appears to be an adventure playground, or, more likely, the rehearsal set (Michael Vale), there are wooden platforms to cross, bars to swing from and ladders to climb (ad nauseam); no doubt it will look lovely when it’s finished.
Oh, and there’s an on stage band, so the cast break into song willy-nilly, thus adding to the running time, which is advertised as 3 and a half hours but actually comes in at a still hardly nippy 3 hours and 15 minutes. Originally a two-part, four-and-a-half-hour production at the Bristol Old Vic (who co-produce). Goodness.
Too add to this torment we are gifted a Rochester who sports a hipster beard.
But then again… Read the rest of this entry »
Can it be really be 26 years since Phil saw the original Royal Court production of Our Country’s Good after it transferred to the Garrick Theatre? Sadly it is. How time flies.
But time must have stood still for convicts exported to Australia in the 18th century. It took 8 and a half months in those days. Mind you it probably won’t stop Phil whingeing about the food, the lack of space or his fellow passengers next time he takes off on a long haul flight. Read the rest of this entry »
The play formerly known as a A Month in the Country by Turgenev now arrives dragged up as Three Days in the Country by Patrick Albert Crispin Marber which teasingly suggests it might be about a tenth the length of the original version.
Sadly it’s not of course. Though this pared down version does come in at a mere 2 hours 15 minutes which is one of the more positive things Phil has to say about it. But that’s slightly more than he can say about Mr Turgid-enough’s original which he saw over 20 years ago and suffered substantial ennui even though it featured the rather starry line up of Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Joseph Fiennes. Read the rest of this entry »
“Why are you going to see that?” asked a nonplussed Andrew when Phil mentioned he was off to see The Motherf**ker with the Hat.
“I’d heard of it. They did it on the Broadway with somebody famous” was Phil’s rather lame response.
Anyhoo, Phil did a little research, found out the star name he couldn’t remember was Chris Rock and then discovered that the National’s version featured Ricardo Chavira who was Carlos Solis in Desperate Housewives (Mr Eva Longoria in the show, for the uninitiated) and someone from Broadway recreating their Tony-nominated performance.
With Phil’s interest sufficiently piqued he then found himself on the horns of a dilemma. Would he throw caution to the wind and do The Full Shenton, putting the title in without the asterisks or go down the TFL advertising route and blank out the offending word entirely. Rather cowardly he opted for he National’s poster/programme/cast list version. He has Andrew to consider don’t ya know. Read the rest of this entry »
Two football-themed shows in two days, this despite Phil’s relationship to football being not unlike Andrew’s to Pinter (he’s dabbled with it now and again but generally eschews it).
Phil can raise a modicum of interest, once every four years, though he’ll be boycotting watching the next two World Cups if the host nations aren’t changed.
And if you’re wondering where the review of the other one – Patrick Marber’s The Red Lion – is, forget it. Phil and Andrew took a dive at the interval. It was so slow and uneventful he can only be bothered to mention that it begins with a rather protracted scene of a man ironing football shirts when he really should have been pressing the tablecloth from The Beaux Stratagem in the Olivier theatre next door. So you’ll have to make do with Andrew’s summary, “I can’t believe this was from the man who wrote Dealer’s Choice. Was it something he had lying around in the back of a drawer?”.
With football dominating the headlines for the last few weeks both shows have rather timely openings.
Anyhoo, if like Phil, you’re not overly familiar with footie here’s a glossary of terms to help you along. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Whingers went to see Dion Boucicault‘s London Assurance Andrew had done a little swatting up on how to pronounce Boucicault and had great fun intoning the playwright’s name ‘Boo-see-co’ ad nauseam. Similarly Phil discovered endless pleasure in rolling ‘Farquhar’ around his tongue.
For this was George Farquhar‘s “fabulous carnal comedy” The Beaux’ Stratagem with not inconsiderable help (we suspect) from dramaturgs Simon Godwin (who also directs) and Patrick Marber. Read the rest of this entry »
Phil conducted an experiment last night.
He was wired up to a blood pressure monitor for 12 hours yesterday. It’s something they do when you get old. This meant he was wearing it throughout the full 1 hour and 40 minutes of Everyman last night.
He hadn’t realised the machine would make a slight noise. So he piled up coats over the cumbersome device to muffle the sound, which made a low whirring sound every half hour as it kicked into action. Phil’s companion for the evening said he didn’t hear it at all. Of course, despite a lot of noise on stage, it only seemed to go off during the quietest moments.
Not really recommended. Worrying about it probably raised Phil’s BP even higher.
But does going to the theatre raise or lower your blood pressure? The results aren’t in yet but Phil has speculated on how the play may have affected his results:
Read the rest of this entry »
We should have known better.
Andrew was keen to see Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, not for its obvious significance – that it heralds Rufus Norris’ takeover at the National Theatre – but because a) it’s about the English Civil War, b) features one of his favourite actresses, Amanda Lawrence and c) he thought it only fair to give playwright Caryl Churchill a second chance.
The thing is, he had completely forgotten he’d already given Ms Churchill a second chance. He could only remember “the one with the floating sofas” as he succinctly encapsulated Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? Andrew had clearly expunged The Union’s Cloud Nine from his memory bank with no inconsiderable success. Read the rest of this entry »