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Damned By Despair

spare tix 4th October

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#21 Lynette

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:09 AM

I'm not seeing this so I make my comment based on what you say, Mallardo and others, that it is a strange play to put on at the National. If you are gonna do a new version of an old not very good play, say so. Don't present it as equivalent to a Shaw and plonk it in one of the widest prosceniums in your capital city where tourists and theatre buffs alike come for the very best of what the  British National Theatre can offer.

Maybe our Nick has run out of time at the helm. Someone else might have a load of other stuff to show us. And what about some distinction between plays? At the Globe they have a read not dead category and in Stratford they did at one point do a Spanish thing and then make a distinction between what is on at main house and complimentary stuff at the Swan and new stuff at the Studio. Seems lately the three spaces at the National have blurred. Often you go and think , oh this would be better at the Cottesloe because it is untried or weak or daft. They seem to work against the spaces they have, not using them to their advantage. For example, the Hausssmans was an obvious Cottesloe. It was stretched like an elastic band in the Lyttleton. And everything looks overwhelmed in the Olivier unless they work the ups and downs and the roundabout. Really the Olivier is best for big musicals and when was the last one?

So I'm concerned with choice of plays and a policy behind the choice which makes the best of the spaces.

#22 foxford

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 11:57 AM

View PostLynette, on 06 October 2012 - 10:09 AM, said:

I'm not seeing this so I make my comment based on what you say, Mallardo and others, that it is a strange play to put on at the National. If you are gonna do a new version of an old not very good play, say so. Don't present it as equivalent to a Shaw and plonk it in one of the widest prosceniums in your capital city where tourists and theatre buffs alike come for the very best of what the  British National Theatre can offer.

Maybe our Nick has run out of time at the helm. Someone else might have a load of other stuff to show us. And what about some distinction between plays? At the Globe they have a read not dead category and in Stratford they did at one point do a Spanish thing and then make a distinction between what is on at main house and complimentary stuff at the Swan and new stuff at the Studio. Seems lately the three spaces at the National have blurred. Often you go and think , oh this would be better at the Cottesloe because it is untried or weak or daft. They seem to work against the spaces they have, not using them to their advantage. For example, the Hausssmans was an obvious Cottesloe. It was stretched like an elastic band in the Lyttleton. And everything looks overwhelmed in the Olivier unless they work the ups and downs and the roundabout. Really the Olivier is best for big musicals and when was the last one?

So I'm concerned with choice of plays and a policy behind the choice which makes the best of the spaces.

Leaving Damned by Despair out of it (which I haven't seen), I think the above is pretty unfair. I think this has been an amazing year for programming at the National, and the spaces have been used well: from innovative stagings in the Cottesloe to shows which manage have filled the Olivier in a variety of ways. Consider the below:

She Stoops to Conquer, Antigone, Misterman, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, Collaborators (which scaled up brilliantly), Curious Incident, London Road (altered from the Cottesloe but, taking on a completely different quality, successfully making the transition), Scenes from an Execution.

Add in People, The Effect and The Magistrate, all of which I think will be cracking, and the breadth of the offering this year hardly suggests that Hytner's running out of programming steam. Travelling Light and the Doctor's Dilemma were pretty creaky exceptions, but name me another theatre that's had a better 2012!

#23 Lynette

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 12:17 PM

Sorry you think my comments are unfair. Your list explains up to a point what I was saying. Two shows start in the small theatre then get promoted. Is this planned or opportunistic? Either way it downgrades the Cottesloe to a try out space when in the past it generated its own power with productions that were organically in that space and could not be transferred. ( mind you they transfer anything these days I suppose )
Often Lyttleton productions I think are designed for transfers: Two Guvnors for example.
You pin your hopes on the next three shows. Well, I'm with you there as I have booked for these.

#24 Honoured Guest

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 12:46 PM

Bijan Sheibani is an Asoociate Director of the NT and should be free to direct what he wants in the Olivier, if he can justify it to Nick Hytner. This play was one of the crowning glories of Stephen Daldry's tenure of the Gate Notting Hill so I refuse to believe that it's of no interest today. Thea Sharrock directed The Emperor Jones during her tenure at the tiny Gate and later directed the same play in the massive Olivier so that disproves the theory that each play is only suited to one theatre. If a play or production is "weak or daft", it shouldn't be staged at all by the NT!

#25 Lynette

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:53 PM

Yes I saw Emperor Jones. Proves my point about the staging: in the Olivier you need big staging to fill the huge space. The play didn't necessarily warrant it. And why put on a play that had already been staged recently on the fringe in the National Theatre? I think you have to make a very strong case for vainly repeating what you already done, in what is the publicly funded major theatrical space of our capital city. Obviously she did.

#26 Lynette

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:54 PM

Ps I can list weak and daft. But I know you can too.

#27 paplazaroo

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:19 PM

I saw this last night and it seemed to only have appeal as a museum piece. I found myself grateful that theatre these days is so much more free both in form and ideas, thank god we aren't subjected to religous propoganda like this on a regular basis. I wondered wether the last line was an attempt to dillute it's overtly catholic preachiness? Anyway I didn't really enjoy it, lots of people walked out at the interval, although the second act was a lot pacier. The first act dragged, some really bad ensemble acting and direction - the tarrantino references seemed too obvious.

Carvel was interesting, he flitted between solid idiosyncratic performance and camp, at times I felt like he was viewing it as his audition for a bad guy in a hollywood movie as Tom Hardy seemed to sky rocket after Man of Mode, but thats probably just me being cynical. The Paulo, Keenan double act felt like a dick and dom panto act at times, especially when lit in spots in front of the cardboard looking rocks, I could easily have believed Abanaazar was about to appear and tempt one of them into a cave for a lamp.

I'm a sucker for a good hanging in a play, this being the best thing for me in the recent JCS, this particular gallows scene was textbook obvious harness under shirt job. However the fire effects for hell were pretty incredible and I liked the little kid as well. Other little things I thought - Amanda Lawrence was underused, she's an amazing actress but was wasted in this and it was weird when she was trying to be seductive, for some reason the placing of her hand on her womanhood during this part didn't sit comfortably. End of act 1, why was Enrico's sidekick hanging from the top of the stage?

Overall, I certainly wouldnt pay to see it!

#28 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 05:36 PM

Given this a miss. Had tix for this evening, but transport problems got in the way. That said, an early night in front of the TV sounds much more appealing....



#29 dude-1981

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:07 PM

Well, glad I stayed for the whole thing, just to enjoy this in all its glory.

View Postpaplazaroo, on 06 October 2012 - 04:19 PM, said:

However the fire effects for hell were pretty incredible

That was the point I burst out laughing.  Dreadful, cringe worthy moment.

Any point where the father appeared on stage, the play just died.  I think that was the point in the first half where I fell asleep.  Singing child - dreadful.

My friend in the middle of row A had seven seats to herself after the interval.  Even before, the £12 seats were in no way full.

I do however know two people who liked this!  One of them might even come into this thread and say why (hello Poly!)
If, for some strange reason you care what I've seen, it's all here:

http://pcchan1981.livejournal.com/

#30 xanderl

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:22 PM

At least it's got 20 minutes shorter!
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage




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