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Privates On Parade With Srb

Grandage Season: Play 1

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#41 fringefan

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:11 AM

Oh dear, another one I missed!

#42 Abby

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:23 PM

Maybe I’m easy to please, but I really enjoyed this – the musical numbers were great (LOVED the Noel Coward pastiche in particular) and it has a lot of heart and depth. SRB was obviously fabulous and really giving an excellent, rounded, human performance, but there were some good supporting performances as well, particularly Angus Wright. Perhaps it has grown since some of you saw it in the early days?

I sort of get what you mean about it being dated, in that it’s set in a particular period that isn’t so relevant anymore, but that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment – if anything, I found it quite interesting to be in that post-war austerity period (again, particularly in the Noel Coward song). The casual racism/homophobia is jarring to modern ears, but I don’t have a prob with being reminded of how far we’ve come (in some ways – the misogynist way the sole female character was talked about didn’t feel so archaic to me...).

Overall, I’m not surprised by the good reviews – I came out feeling really buoyant!

Only one word of caution – the front row seats are terrible and it’s a disgrace that they are being flogged for full price when you can only see a third of the action. I normally just grin and bear that sort of thing but this time (encouraged by Lynette’s example!) I asked to be moved and the box office did it without a murmur. Thanks Lynette!

#43 jaqs

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

Saw this at the weekend from the back of the circle cheapseats, there were several empty and a few didnt return after the interval.
Great view (but zero legroom) and I'm excited to be seeing other things in the season from there.

This was a bit of a dud for me, it happened and the performances were fine I just didnt find it particularly interesting or amusing.

#44 art87

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:35 PM

Not for me this one. I don't think you can get away from the fact that it's so stuffed full of racist and homophobic jokes that it's just a rather unpleasant evening for the audience. 2 understudies (Flowers and Sylvia) who weren't quite up to the task last night didn't improve matters. Stalls pretty empty from row Q or so back, but pretty full forward of that. SRB very entertaining, but he's basically playing a panto dame, and I didn't feel there was much going on beneath the surface in the show or any of the actors' characterisations. Overall not dreadful, but not a great start to the season. I cannot understand the rave reviews at all.

#45 Angram

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:30 PM

Saw the matinee today and was pleasantly surprised after reading the largely lukewarm reviews on here. Very enjoyable, and Abby's post above pretty much sums up my thoughts. Art87 - the same two understudies on again today (seemed fine to me) and I disagree about "stuffed with racist and homophobic jokes", those were the attitudes of the time and here they're being held up for ridicule.
Looked full-ish to me, though three empty seats beside me meant I could "upgrade" (shuffle along) from A2 Royal Circle to a slightly less sideways view.

#46 art87

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:23 PM

Hi Angram. I perhaps was a little harsh on the understudies and for the most part they were ok (never more than that), but in the scenes where they were both on alone together the whole thing fell apart. The Fred & Ginger number was badly sung, clumsily danced and received an embarassingly lacklustre response on Tue evening.

On the point of the racist and homophobic jokes, perhaps the point was to hold up those attitudes for ridicule, but it means that every character is repellent as every one of them is offhandedly racsit, homophobic or mysoginistic at some point in the play. Which meant by the end I really didn't care for any of them.

And thinking about it, while the views may be held up for ridicule, the characters on the recieving end of the discrimination reiforce the stereotypes that the other ones spout. For instance SRB's character is a screaming cross-dressing queen, the other openly gay character is softly spoken and camp, and the one character who is not camp but is exploring his sexuality whilst having a girl back home is never given the chance to talk about it or explore it onstage. I'm all for challenging audiences views, perceptions and stances on issues through theatre, but for me this just didn't succeed at that.

#47 zahidf

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:01 PM

I saw this a couple of weeks ago.

Me and my friend thought it was terrible. Barely laughed, very dated, predictable plot twists. SRB was great as usual, but why he is wasting his time in this rubbish i'd never know.

#48 wickedgrin

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:07 PM

Disappointed with this apart from getting a bargain £10 day seat at the back of the circle - great view and value for money. Lots of empty seats in the circle though on Sat eve!

SRB was excellent of course - the play dipping whenever he was on. A showy part although I did feel Roger Allam found more depth in his portrayal at the Donmar. In fact I felt the whole thing - the play and the production not as good as the Donmar (10 years ago apparantly). The play of course has not changed - just my perception or memory of it or perhaps this production was not as good?

I felt the cast were just supporting SRB when in fact it is an ensemble piece with some very good parts. The acting I thought was very average or perhaps SRB is so good he makes the others look average? But the production was not funny enough or dark enough to make an impact. I am surprised at the 5* reviews - only 3* in my book.

#49 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:37 PM

Can't remember if I ever posted about this. I saw it on 15th Dec, so a week or so after press, and share the views of many on this thread. SRB is superb- the best performance I've seen from him I think. It's as if the role was written for him. But it sags whenever he's off-stage, and the play itself is firstly very dated, but also I felt awkward watching it. The casual racism, with the two silence Asian servants. Yes, Grandage made them have the last laugh which was a nice touch I thought, but it's so much a product of its time and I don't think in a good way.

That said, I adored some of the musical staging. 'Little Things' was one of the most enjoyable few minutes I spent in the theatre last year. The pastiche song, the tongue in cheek staging with the corn fields and blue birds. The production is certainly of a high quality; an evocative design, very well lit by Paule Constable. I was impressed by Angus Wright too, and Harry Hepple a stand-out in a reasonably small part. But the material is what lets it down, which is a great great shame. I suppose if you like this kind of v old fashioned fare, as I imagine Mr Spencer and Mr Billington do, then it couldn't be better.

Still, I'm pleased I saw it, but I hope the rest of the Grandage season is an improvement.



#50 Nicholas

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:40 PM

Did you go on the matinee or evening?  If the evening, where were you sat, and could you hear disruption after disruption after disruption?

Just realised I haven't put what I thought about this either.  Not much to add, but basically as I saw it there were three stories: SRB as SRB in a dress, Angus Wright trying to pull together a rag-tag bunch of non-troops and Sgt Flowers and his journey into 'manhood'.  Their quality depended on the performances; ergo SRB's strand, though flimsy, was brilliant, Angus Wright was very good and Flowers fine.  The script had moments where it knew exactly where it was and what it wanted to be and moments of complete flimsiness.  Overall I enjoyed it and thought it was more than the sum of its parts, but it wasn't five stars and it wasn't quite as triumphant as I'd have thought it might be.  For anyone who saw the Donmar version, how does it compare?




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