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NicholasMember Since 24 Sep 2012
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Posted Nicholas on 11 January 2014 - 01:34 PM
Being in seats B and C 1, we were both within touching distance of the stage (and during the interval I couldn’t resist) and thus when an actor would enter or leave through the central aisle they’d pass the steps right in front of me (thus the getting hit by costumes which are, as it happens, heavy!). There were a couple of moments when anyone from a lover to a murderer would crouch at the front of the stage and they could have shook my hand, they were directly in front of me, as close to me as was the person in seat C2. There are some other theatres where that's the case but, perhaps the light or the tone or whatever, I felt it here more than I do at Jermyn Street or the Donmar etc. May I ask what seat you’re in? If it says 1 you’ll be directly next to the stage, whichever row, and even if you’re further back you’ll probably feel very close. I can’t imagine anywhere in here won’t feel intimate, but especially the pit.
You mention neckache – C is a higher row than B – A is more central but quite low, D is high so no neck-ache but not central. In fact C’s a great compromise and will be my seat in the future if I get lucky. My brother, in B, did say in the interval his neck ached a bit but it wasn’t serious, I don’t think.
I will be fascinated to see what the very restricted views are like. There’s the pit, the lower gallery and the upper gallery (names might be wrong). The pit is central and oh so intimate but low - not problematically low though. The lower gallery is either facing the stage side-on or facing it centrally but a bit further back. The upper gallery are the same but higher so looking down. I imagine the very restricted views have heads, pillars in the way etc. I do hope you like it today, Mrs Lovett, and I hope you all going later do as well!
I'm rather enjoying the fact that no-one but me's been yet. For one brief glorious moment I'm the authority on something.
Posted Nicholas on 11 January 2014 - 12:45 AM
The mechanisms are astonishing - the way there are windows is truly fascinating, the chandeliers are an absolute asset that make the lighting here, well, it's not often I rhapsodise about lighting mechanisms so... It gets very warm, that must be said, but amazingly for all that fire (if there is such a thing as pyrophobia and you are a sufferer this might be somewhere to avoid) it only gets warm and not hot let alone boiling. The proximity is astounding. Whilst watching the play (more on that later) you would notice a tiny detail of an actor’s face suddenly as a candle would flicker nearby. I assume where-ever you are you are so extraordinarily close it feels, as my brother said, like you are almost actually within the action. I felt there was something almost cinematic about the way teeny details were, thanks to the proximity, magnified – you could focus on a face like a close-up, you could look at the whole stage like a wide shot (which you obviously can elsewhere, but far more intently here). I can tell you whether or not Gemma Arterton or James Garnon have fillings. As actors passed me their costumes hit me. The marks teardrops left in the make-up were highlighted. I have made prolonged eye-contact with twenty or so new people, which I haven’t when I’ve been in the front row of the Donmar or the Young Vic or other intimate buildings. It was like nothing else. So as a space for theatre, especially intense tragedy, it is brilliant.
But mainly, as a piece of architecture, it is a piece of art. The wood is beautiful, it is new, it is astounding. The painting, the details like that, are like the Globe but even more beautiful. Though this is an opinion I know others vehemently disagree with, the Globe always was one of my favourite theatres – I feel that the mindset I am in upon sitting down in the Apollo or the National or the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or the Jermyn Street theatre is always roughly the same detachment from reality and focus on and belief in the theatrics, whilst the mindset I am in upon entering the Globe is almost like getting into a character and that amplifies and changes the play I watch, whatever that may be. And I felt that upon sitting down here. If this is an extension of the Globe, it makes the Globe even more wonderful in my eyes. It is a thing of art. Wow.
Posted Nicholas on 09 January 2014 - 06:09 PM
Posted Nicholas on 01 January 2014 - 10:51 PM
Will this inconsiderate behaviour ever stop?
Haha! Was going to put the exact same thing myself, damnit! I can't believe Mark Gatiss wrote a script that condoned that sort of behaviour! If and when I see Coriolanus I might phone my brother up midway through one of his big speeches and show him what's what...
Posted Nicholas on 01 January 2014 - 02:51 PM
Posted Nicholas on 01 January 2014 - 02:49 PM
From Wikipedia: “The most famous Coriolanus in history is Laurence Olivier, who first played the part triumphantly at the Old Vic Theatre in 1937 and returned to it to even greater acclaim at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1959. In that production, he famously performed Coriolanus's death scene by dropping backwards from a high platform and being suspended upside-down (without the aid of wires), a death reminiscent of Mussolini's.”
http://hollowcrownfa...in-a-death-leap - a rather fascinating picture.
And if we’re talking about theatrical hangings, Matt Smith in American Psycho in those tight underwear seemed pretty well hung.
Posted Nicholas on 29 December 2013 - 03:18 AM
Lucky you. This board’s only got me laid figuratively.
Posted Nicholas on 26 December 2013 - 01:18 PM
- At one, it’s A Doll’s House. The greatest show I’ve ever seen. Twice.
- At two, in any other year number one, Old Times. That small idea of the swap added so much and means that on top of all the really troubling ideas Pinter raises Rickson adds something about performance and really enhances the confusion. Still haunting.
- At joint three, it’s The Scottsboro Boys. I still can’t articulate how I feel, it’s a mess of contradictions. But I still think about it happily whistling the songs and unhappily puzzling its ideas. I’ll never get this out of my head.
- And As You Like It, because I loved it and fell in love with everyone in it and have also listened to the CD about a hundred times.
Sadly, though for my money the top shows have been extraordinary (so many omissions!), the worst shows have been BAAAAAAD. I’ll keep it to a bottom three, as though I’ve seen bad things I’ve only seen three I found offensively bad.
- Worst, maybe the worst thing I’ve ever seen, American Lulu. Every aspect of this, from it being missold as a jazz reworking to its awful libretto to wooden performances to staging that looked cheap to a terrible working of the source material, was absolute shite upon shite. Not walking out of this shows I wouldn't crack under torture. It’s amazing that my best and worst shows (possibly ever, for both) were on the same stage.
- Peter and Alice. Terribly written – nothing but audiobooks of biographies. For my money the argument was “If you have an asexual pedologist adopt you after your two parents die before you turn eight, then one brother dies in a war whilst another is led to suicide, all before you turn twenty, you might be psychologically scarred. If a chaste paedophile takes a few photos of you then leaves you’ll be less so” – not that profound, certainly doesn’t need 90 minutes. AND BORING.
- A lovely adage – if you throw enough poo at a wall some will stick. Think of The Master and Margarita – a mishmash of styles and ideas, of anachronisms and recreations, of old and new, and how extraordinary that was – the best show of 2012, confirmed with hindsight. Alternatively, you’ll be left with a steaming pile of poo. Think of Edward II.
Posted Nicholas on 20 December 2013 - 01:39 AM
I love Harry Potter, genuinely absolutely love, and would happily see a stage version. This, however, seems like the least interesting point of anyone’s life in the story. As Harry’s wizardry doesn’t come from his upbringing but his genetics it can’t set up his story and thus it’s just a tale we’ve all seen a hundred times already of bullied boy eventually comes up good. This whole idea’s nothing new, of course – there was a Doctor Who play during, I think, the third Doctor’s time, there were adaptations of Dickens before the serialisations were completed and arguably this is just a more populist version of what the RSC are doing with Hilary Mantel. I reckon Harry Potter the play would be wonderful, if only for the staging, if done right. But Harry Potter: The Early Years?
Edit: I was just thinking of who could be in it and do it, and idly and idealistically I thought "Complicite would do one hell of a job - think what they'd do with the magic (and McBurney had a small part in the film)!". But then I thought "But the story's just a kid gets bullied in school before chance takes him elsewhere!" This part of the story's a footnote, and the half a chapter it occupies in the books is enough before we find the real story of a character's growth, of a great adventure and all that (don't scoff, some of us like it). I'm not sure a ) why it warrants two and a half hours of being staged and b ) what it'll add to the Harry Potter mythology. But I look forwards to either being corrected or at least reminded that prejudgement is a cardinal sin. We've got over a year, anyway, to see how this all develops.
Posted Nicholas on 19 December 2013 - 02:39 AM
I have one rather large issue that took time to get over. "Think when we talk of horses that you see them" says the prologue, and the set was clearly designed with that simplicity in mind (the prologue is just superb with what it represents in terms of theatrical conventions and limitations). However, there were times when my imaginary forces just didn't have enough to work with. A few fires and flags made a campsite, a few banners the French court, a few swords and sounds Agincourt - small, simple things conjure up worlds, as often is the case in minimal stagings. However, especially in Act One, I couldn't help but notice how big the Noel Coward theatre was and how little was being covered. When the set was just a wooden O I couldn't see much further than the wooden O, and I needed a little signifier to play upon my imagination and stop the stage being just a bare stage. As Much Ado suggested and this confirms, you just can't replicate the Globe. There was too much of nothing for too long. It's a small complaint but it ended up impacting quite a lot - once more unto the breach meant nothing when Grandage wasn't letting my imaginary forces conjure up a breach. My other two big quibbles are I'm not sure the integration of the chorus worked - I know what they were going for and I liked the idea, but seeing him there in a T-shirt just didn't gel for me. Also, especially early on, it lacked a certain vim and energy and I was a touch bored in a couple of scenes.
But overall I felt positively. I think it's a good take on the play. I think the cast's very good. Ron Cook's always a treat. Jude Law (who I've always missed in the past) is a very good stage actor. I think it could have been better, but I liked it rather a lot. Four stars is maybe about right.
Posted Nicholas on 11 December 2013 - 12:41 AM
Using existing songs to pull in punters? I’m not sure. I love Abba but can’t bring myself to go to Mamma Mia! I don’t like Depeche Mode but enjoyed it here (incidentally, Hip To Be Square is a GREAT tune to use as an alarm in the morning). I know people who like Duran Duran but the fact that Matt Smith sings just one of their songs with different lyrics is hardly going to make them buy a ticket. If a musical really captivates me I don’t care if normally I wouldn’t listen to that style of music because I go with it and I did that here. I really can't imagine people who wouldn't want to go to this buying a ticket to it because it "contains one of the songs of Phil Collins!"
Did it need to be, and work as, a proper musical? What constitutes a ‘proper’ musical? And anyway, I think so. The patter song Matt Smith has where he basically monologues in rhythm with the cast occasionally interjecting made me think of Harold Hill. Plus one reason I think it had to be a musical is because, if you’re going to go for style over substance, you want to make the style pretty bloody good, and the musical was.
As for it being style over substance, yes, it was. That’s only a bad thing if there’s no substance at all, and for me there was. What’s interesting is that lots of its themes – shallow lifestyles, consumerism, superficiality – don’t seem deep. What’s the deepest work anyone’s seen here on shallow lifestyles? If you can’t see the satire in there being a love song dedicated to a business card you’re not trying hard enough but it kind of begins and ends at that – it’s a love song to a font type, it shows how fickle these people are - and I don't see how more could have been done to deepen it. It’s not the most complicated of themes as it is and I don’t think it needed to be or could have been analysed further. To be honest I can see how three minutes of just that might be a problem for some people, and Reich, you’ve read the novel so you might know things that are present in the novel that give it depth that were absent here, so fair point, but I didn’t mind – for this medium, and for me, it had enough. I don’t mind style over substance as long as the balance is right for the work. Edward II was so much style that I forgot Marlowe was even involved, and though Grandage tried there was nothing to Peter & Alice other than two characters telling each other the substance of their biographies. I really would not have had this any other way. But that is just me. I can really see how these points would affect your viewing and it might come down to me not minding fickler studies of fickler themes but there we go.
Posted Nicholas on 11 December 2013 - 12:32 AM
Bar/restaurant is open before. I don’t know when the bar open if you want to go get a pizza beforehand, but it must be open at least an hour before the play for you to get your food ordered. I think food is just pizza (if memory serves one meat, one veg, £6), though there’s a fair choice of drinks. They all look nice, so I’d probably say take a punt on drinks if you like that sort of thing! I just find cocktails, though nice, hideously overpriced and didn't really like the idea of doing shots on my tod...
There’s no rush for seats when the doors open, but you might want to head in a fair bit of time ahead. I think I went in about quarter/ten to and the stalls were only half filled up. It’s unallocated temporary wooden seats (you might want to sneak a cushion in because they’re not the comfiest of things, though an hour and a half is fine). If you want a front row or specific seat I’d go in early but I’d say ten or fifteen minutes ahead should give you time to sit where you want. If you want food or drink before my advice would be head to Hoxton Hall much earlier than you'd normally get to the theatre so you can eat andd drink and then head in with time to spare. I think the view from the back would be no different to the view from the front. In fact, it’s quite intense and claustrophobic and I like being at least two or three rows away from the actors, but that’s just me. Because it's small I think you'd lose nothing at the back and I don't remember any pillars or anything that'd interrupt a view... I’m not sure how much helps but I hope it’s some good!
Posted Nicholas on 09 December 2013 - 12:37 AM
As for the ‘live music and hard liquor’… They’ve done things to Hoxton Hall to give it exactly the right feel – it’s not Punchdrunk/Secret Cinema but it’s dolled up just the right amount. The bar’s very 1920s and the seats are just wooden uncomfortable things. You can go buy food and drink beforehand (I didn’t see many restaurants in Hoxton, so either eat at Hoxton Hall or at home before you leave) in the bar where recorded music is played or go wait in the theatre where live music is played (nice jazz group). The O’Neill bit constitutes an hour and a half of the evening – my ticket said it goes on for three hours so I guess there’s another hour and a half of live music and hard liquor. You can, however, leave at any point. Being more solo than I expected I felt a tad conspicuous, I find drinking alone awkward, especially in public (I wish I could say that’s stopped me in the past) and it seemed relatively costly – I think £8.50 a cocktail and £3 a shot, and whilst they looked nice I thought £8.50 to spend on other things later would be nicer. I stayed to see the band start and then headed home (I don’t think I’d even be on a train back yet had I stayed until the end) – started 7, for me ended about 8:45. I don’t know what happens if you stay longer, maybe it theatrically comes to life – I’m quite certain I saw Ruth Wilson still in costume in the bar, so perhaps the ensemble keep performing (it might just be they want a drink afterwards, and they deserve one). I, however, and some others left not long after the play and I’m happy I did as just hanging around would have made me feel self-conscious. If anyone hangs around, please tell me what else happens – I think it is just jazz and drinks but you never know.
Overall, then, a thumbs up. Perfectly good plays given as good an approach as they could hope and, I’m sure, fun drinking afterwards if you want to hang around. Whilst watching I found them atmospheric and engaging and emotive, if not spiritually affecting pieces of work. On the way home I’ve enjoyed comparing them and finding links (there certainly are) but I’ve not come to any grand realisations, which is why I’m calling them slighter plays. Still, slight Eugene O’Neill’s hardly worth complaining about, and anything put together with this much coherence and talent is going to be worth watching. Maybe the same ensemble, in the same place, with the same approach to post-theatre drinking and jazz, but performing Mourning Becomes Electra or The Ice(wo)man Cometh would hit the heights of genuine greatness, but this is as great as these plays can be.
Posted Nicholas on 06 December 2013 - 02:05 AM
No. No. No. I’m a Doctor Who fan but there were moments where I could imagine myself as a ten year old girl madly in love with that zany man off the telly watching him do things to women, men and teddy bears and bursting into tears. It’s not explicit but it is adult and frankly a lot would go over a young person’s head.
One of my first thoughts in the interval was "Come press night, this will have some absolutely stinking reviews". I can read Quentin Letts’ one star (two if generous) review already. People walked out. In the interval what looked like the father of two fangirls said "That first half seemed like three hours". It’s going to be divisive.
I, however, loved it. Matt Smith is great – yes, some notes weren’t fantastic but I found that easier to buy into than a pitch perfect Patrick Bateman and in every other way he was offputting and disconcerting and odd and compelling and incredible. Frankly the weird shape of his head gives enough to the role (look at those ears – he’s clearly Adam Godley’s bastard child) but he is a fine fine actor and absolutely nailed it. From the second he came on stage like that I knew we were in for a treat – a treat others wouldn’t like but a funky and unusual treat. He really is a superb actor and frankly a superb enough singer.
As for the play, I’m unfamiliar with the source but I (and a few others, judging by the few but loud laughs this got) found it absolutely hilarious. The music works because it’s utterly ludicrous – the line about there being nothing ironic about their love of Manolo Blahnik just made me laugh typing it. It’s a flippant take on a flippant idea. As a genre of music (very 80s synth Giorgio Morodor-style) it’s not something I’m familiar with or listen to for pleasure but I thought they were good tunes – not catchy (though some are stuck in my head) but not meant to be, they suited the show. Harmonies and rhythms that did something just off what you'd expect which made you never calm. It’s a rollicking romp and it’s hilarious and it’s dark but not in a profound way and I loved every second of it. In years to come, it must be admitted, we won’t be talking about this in hallowed tones and after The Scottsboro Boys this isn’t exactly the most complicated dark affecting musical I’ve seen. It is not as a piece of art a five star show. However, as a satire and piece of entertainment it’s the best in London. I do love some dark satire and if anyone else does they should see it. I want to see it again – not because it’s hugely affecting and the best show I’ll see this year but because I had so much damn fun watching it. I genuinely can’t think of another way to say it. I’ve seen shows I would call lovely this year and this most certainly is not one – there are scenes that were as unlovely as a musical starring Doctor Who can be. But I LOVED it. Whatever is wrong with it (and at least one person here will absolutely hate it, so tell me all its faults) I couldn’t see. So much fun, absolutely raucous entertainment. Admittedly for a sick type of humour – there’s one scene in a club where there’s a cut which is there for exaggerated shock value where about three people (including myself) laughed and many more gasped – but there were probably under ten percent of the audience who laughed at these dark bits and I’m happy to say I was one of them. Not everyone’s cup of tea but absolutely mine. I LOVED IT.
Posted Nicholas on 04 December 2013 - 11:58 PM
Take it as read that the cast, the orchestra, the crew and the production as a whole is more than excellent.
Incidentally (spoilers), here’s how I read the woman and the ending. There was racial injustice in the 1930s, and that was truly terrible. We’ve progressed – we’ve got a black president. That means it just as easily could have ended with one of the characters playing Obama and it end with him swearing the presidential oath. But had we ended that way it would have suggested that’s that. To end with Rosa Parks – a symbol of defiance, racism and change – is to end on a question mark as opposed to a full stop. It’s all the more powerful for it.