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A Matter of Life and Death


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#11 foxa

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 07:31 PM

I agree with some of the above comments - there were sublime moments followed by absolute indulgence.  Liked Douglas Hodge and the main girl (sorry, lost my cast sheet), but too much of it was about witty staging rather than really good ideas.  That first scene when the airman and the radio girl are talking was just fantastic - my friend with me thought the first 15 minutes were fantastic, but that it never regained its momentum.

And for those of you with weak bladders - it's 2 hours ten minutes with no interval.



#12 milotindle

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 10:53 AM

The show opened on Thursday, and of the first crop of notices, Christopher Hart's in The Sunday Times of May 13th is the most accurate I've seen:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol...icle1777452.ece


#13 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 11:33 AM

QUOTE(milotindle @ May 13 2007, 11:53 AM) View Post
The show opened on Thursday, and of the first crop of notices, Christopher Hart's in The Sunday Times of May 13th is the most accurate I've seen:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol...icle1777452.ece


As soon as a review says how wonderful they thought the film was I skip it. As such the reviewer is reviewing their expectations and not the piece itself. Lazy, lazy journalism.

I enjoyed it very much and was thankful it wasn't a retread of a film you could watch on DVD, it made the piece very theatrical and visually effective, the message more compelling and, with its looser, more wide ranging influences, something that made you think and didn't just fluff up your preconceptions.

The idea that war and death is random and insensitive to love or anything else is a message we need much more than the comforting lie that love conquers all.

#14 armadillo

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 12:25 PM

I think I read that there are alternative endings though the press night had the same one I saw. Can anyone confirm or deny this (without too much spoilifying). And yes, I agree, Cardinal, that's it's lazy to review the film and does show a misunderstanding of the word 'adaptation').

It's a short run - is it touring?

#15 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 12:33 PM

QUOTE(armadillo @ May 13 2007, 01:25 PM) View Post
I think I read that there are alternative endings though the press night had the same one I saw. Can anyone confirm or deny this (without too much spoilifying). And yes, I agree, Cardinal, that's it's lazy to review the film and does show a misunderstanding of the word 'adaptation').

It's a short run - is it touring?


It changes every night apparently, the performance I saw was a coin toss by a member of the company. I read on a blog that another night the audience voted and on another that an audience member tossed the coin.

What was funny (if sad) was de Jongh ranting away aboout how they changed the ending and how awful it was to do that. The man clearly hadn't got a clue what he was talking about and didn't seem to want to engage with the idea of randomness of outcomes (or maybe he really didn't get it which is even sadder).

#16 armadillo

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 12:52 PM

Yes I read the De Jongh review - he got the ending I did (and a friend got the same on a different night which was why I wondered). When I saw it an audience member tossed the coin but audience voting would presumably get a different outcome. And it made perfect sense because there are really two different outcomes anyway.

#17 Cardinal Pirelli

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 01:05 PM

QUOTE(armadillo @ May 13 2007, 01:52 PM) View Post
Yes I read the De Jongh review - he got the ending I did (and a friend got the same on a different night which was why I wondered). When I saw it an audience member tossed the coin but audience voting would presumably get a different outcome. And it made perfect sense because there are really two different outcomes anyway.


Last night he survived, maybe de Jongh would have written a different review from last night's performance. Randomness of war/randomness of de Jongh, maybe he proved the production's point.

#18 musicals fan

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 10:39 AM

Isn't the essence of a play that it should have a dramatic point to make?

Was this play trying to make a different dramatic point from the one in the film?  If a "play" uses a film source it is bound to be compared to a film - just as a play derived from a novel would be, and to compare the two is not to say that the play should replicate the film.

Given the vast number of good plays available that could be performed, the National Theatre needs to justify putting on plays such as this compared with other good plays - and anyone here could provide a list of plays that used to be performed and which seem to be agreed are good plays and which no longer get put on commercially.

The National Theatre's remit , among other things is to select and present the "best" in theatre.  Would this play qualify?

#19 armadillo

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 11:08 AM

I enjoyed it and was bored by The Voysey Inheritance and The History Boys. Others undoubtedly have the opposite view. Hytner will never please anyone but surely, even if you didn't enjoy this, you must agree that it was an interesting and imaginative experimental piece. There will be plenty of more traditional works in the future (Saint Joan should please those people who complain that the NT haven't done any Shaw since My Fair Lady!). I certainly don't think it's the remit of the NT to only perform the 'classics'.

#20 milotindle

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 04:37 PM

QUOTE(armadillo @ May 14 2007, 12:08 PM) View Post
I certainly don't think it's the remit of the NT to only perform the 'classics'.


No, undoubtedly it isn't; but when an adaptor using the NT's resources tries to appropriate the classic status of an existing piece to justify their own work, and produces nothing new that's of artistic value, then they must expect to be taken to task. As another contributor says, and the critic whom Armadillo so summarily dismisses was pointing out, A Matter of Life and Death is a work of art very much of its time, and producing an adaptation for a different medium doesn't remove the obligation to capture the essence of that work.  Not only does this inept and crude adaptation woefully mishandle the period elements of the original, it captures none of the film's magic.  It also contrives to mangle its underlying message, changing an optimistic assertion of the power of love over death into a callow, generalised protest about the evils of war - and undermines even that attempt with facetious irrelevances like the fantastically irritating Conductors - Bottom and Magnus the Magnificent (if you've seen the film and wonder how they can possibly fit in to the narrative you remember, you have a measure of the crass misguidedness of Kneehigh's approach).  Nick Hytner's hissy fit in Monday's Times about the prejudices of male critics as against the more open-minded attitude of their sisters on the Sunday papers (Susannah Clapp in the Observer and Kate Bassett in the Sindy are the only national reviewers to have liked this production) is a sign the National is realising quite what a grade A turkey they have on their hands.  Let's hope it's humanely culled from the programme as soon as possible.




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