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#297472 Nt 2014/15 - The Final Year

Posted Pharaoh's number 2 on 20 March 2014 - 09:18 PM

View PostROT, on 20 March 2014 - 07:25 PM, said:

There were a couple of 'what's happened to new playwriting?' articles in the wake of the Olivier announcements last week and their domination by musicals but they look premature to me.

The best new writing last year - and there was some v good stuff - was on in 'fringe' venues. ie those which aren't eligible for a Best New Play Olivier. Mind you, there were a few good new plays - at the St James and Hampstead for example - which were never recognised.  Judging the state of theatre just by the Olivier nominations is  big mistake. I'd argue there's a greater problem with the Olivier Awards than there is with new play writing in British theatre.

#293541 1984 At The Almeida

Posted DrP on 20 February 2014 - 02:38 PM

I really liked it but felt too much was on screen (which is sort of the point, I guess).

#275067 The Drowned Man - Spoiler Thread

Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 12 August 2013 - 09:48 PM

If you want to decode more then you might want to look at the following - http://templestudios...r.com/resources - the Facebook spoiler group is by far the most comprehensive analysis and links also to many of the articles written online.

It will probably be a pretty physical experience for people to get the most out of the narrative and you have to be on your toes and fit to keep up; following performers is only necessary if you want to have a narrative throughline though (it's also the most emotional way of experiencing it), otherwise you have the fragmentary dreamlike experience you allude to (which is fine). You can play the game differently, wandering around steadily in the space, but that's more for people interested in design.

Crash of the Elysium was a kid's show really, like a nice, not very scary, theme ride (with added Matt Smith), a few things stayed with me but it was really quite simplistic. It Felt Like a Kiss, the collaboration with Adam Curtis in Manchester a few years ago, was stronger but not particularly subtle. Their best linear show, in my opinion, was the most recent, 'The Borough' based on the same poem as Britten's opera 'Peter Grimes', an audio tour with unexpected performances as part of it. The script (by Jack Thorne) had all sorts of different levels which provided that extra richness.

I prefer the ludic/gameplay nature of their biggest shows personally, the more challenging to decode the better (lots more people like that via the above link). It's also a challenge to the FOMO (fear of missing out, that is), as you can't see or get everything; wondering if you should be somewhere else, or where someone else is. You aren't supposed to communicate, use phones etc for that reason. Sadly, I've seen at least one person desperately trying to text someone else because they got split up; theyre just doomed to failure I'm afraid.

Proper spoilers below, so even though this is a spoiler thread don't look if you don't want to know -


Which Edinburgh experiences have you done? You Once Said Yes was/is great although What Remains by Grid Iron was sadly undeveloped. I'm off to Edinburgh in a few days and the best new immersive show there is Our Glass House which is in London in November (booking via Camden People's Theatre).

#270692 The Drowned Man - Spoiler Thread

Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 28 June 2013 - 09:20 PM

For someone who admits to using a phone during a performance no rebuke is too strong...

#291699 Bad Behaviour At A Show

Posted Nev on 04 February 2014 - 06:43 PM

I had an interesting experience at The Light Princess a few weeks ago. I was on my own and sat in one of the cheaper front rows of the Lyttelton. Two ladies arrive and realise that their seats are a few places apart. One of them asks me to swap seats, to which I accepted as the seats were close anyway. I move my bag, coat and shuffle over to my new seat with my wine. Fine.

The lady sits down next to her friend. Two minutes later she comes back to me and says: "You look tall". I just looked at her. She then says "I want my seat back, the guy in front of your seat is really tall". I could hardly believe it! I just took my stuff and moved back to my seat, next to her friend (again).

Her friend then starts chatting away to me like nothing has happened! The guy on her other side had witnessed it all and had a good laugh. To make things better, the man who eventually sat down in front of swap-lady was even taller than the one in front of me. Theatre-kharma at its best!

#291815 King Lear - Nt

Posted steveatplays on 05 February 2014 - 07:25 PM

Magnificent before the interval, very good after the interval. The most furious production I've seen, with the rage and madness of all the characters building in tandem to an absolute fever pitch with Gloucester's blinding.

Anger is the glue that holds Simon Russell Beale's Lear together, avoiding the disjointedness you get with many Lears, where you can't believe that Lear's disowning of Cordelia is the behaviour of the same man that you see thereafter. Here his anger at losing his marbles never dissipates, so he always makes sense. Indeed, the demise of the fool is a brilliantly original culmination of this, and a much better solution to the fool's disappearance from the play than simply to have him hanging from a post as a pre-interval shock tactic.

Truly excellent production, good to see Lear done grandly, instead of the intimate shows we've often had in London. Great use of the Olivier stage, which never sucks up and spits away the drama the way it sometimes can (Cherry Orchard, I'm talking about you).

Absolutely wonderful loving knowing fool from Adrian Scarborough, and superb work by Stanley Townshend as an especially virile yet thoroughly charming And compelling Kent. And Anna Maxwell Martin imbues Regan with just the right amount of sadistic curiosity and sexual attention seeking (note the Miley Cyrus tongue curling) that suggests the exact moment a serial killer realises it's fun to kill people.

At the platform afterwards, SRB spoke of how his hand twitch was the result of his research into a specific kind of hallucination ridden dementia, which informs this performance, in a way research has never informed his performances before.

Overall, unforgettably brilliant. 4 and a half stars. :)

#288156 Coriolanus

Posted Ryan on 01 January 2014 - 02:41 PM

Well now, keep the Hiddlestoners away from me when I say that I think he's possibly the weakest link in the play.  Although he looks sensational and those buttocks of his squeezed into his tight trousers are worth the ticket price alone, I thought he just seemed a bit too posh and a bit too 'nice' in it to completely convince.  Having said that, the Bard just trips off his tongue and he does speak it beautifully.  I suppose it doesn't help that he's got the magnificent Deborah Findlay who outshines almost everyone else even when she isn't speaking.  For me, the revelation was Hadley Fraser.  I admit to having only seen him in musicals (and he's rather wonderful in them) but I've never seen him quite so masculine as he is in the play.  You could really believe he is a soldier and there's a great physicality to his performance.  I thought he was electrifying actually.

#288006 Michael Grandage Season

Posted The Glenbuck Laird on 30 December 2013 - 06:36 PM

Grandage season has finished hasn't it? Please, please, no more

#287852 American Psycho

Posted steveatplays on 29 December 2013 - 01:50 AM

I agree with Mallardo. Maybe we even attended the same matinee performance today. :)

This is wonderful.

Yes, the horror is mostly gone, most murders abbreviated, and even critical murders are mostly bloodless. Anyone who wants to relive the gory details of the novel will be sorely disappointed.

But the satire is glorious, hilarious, choreographed and corruscating.

The song and dance numbers are the best I've seen this year. It's hard to pick a favourite, but of the new songs, "You are what you wear" is like the most glamorous and caustic new song from Lady Gaga's "Artpop," and "Oh Sri Lanka" is a mini-masterpiece, in which Matt Smith's Bateman sings and dances his faux-concern for the suffering people of the world in one-upmanship and posturing that rivals Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch, who all ate lumps of cold poison for breakfast and worked 29 hours a day down the mill.

Of the golden oldies, co-opted into the musical, Tears for Fears' "Everybody wants to rule the world" aptly sets the scene of Hobbes' war of all against all, and Phil Collin's "In the Air tonight" perfectly captures Bateman's haunting transition away from designer brands towards the world of designer murder.

Indeed, haunting is the key word, for this musical plays like a fever dream, background projections shimmering at the edges, characters apparently copulating with sketches on walls, Bateman talking murder without anyone hearing him, suggesting nothing we see is real but Bateman's darkening interior dream world.

This Bateman is much more sympathetic than the Bateman of the novel or the film. Those Batemans were evil serial-killing unfeeling sociopaths. In the song "Not a common man," Bateman aspires to be like those Batemans, like Bundy or Gein, but he fails. Instead, Matt Smith's Bateman is an more of an everyman who realises that our whole world, and everyone in it (including himself), is worthless and meaningless. And Matt Smith's zombie-in-a-suit appearance and ordinary-bloke-singing-style make him perfect casting to imbue the otherness that allows him to see this below-the-surface existential meaninglessness that the other characters miss.

"If we get married" is a powerful song in this context, this musical's version of Peggy Lee's despairing "Is that all there is?," where Bateman tries to dream of a meaningful life, and realises he can never have one.

The first half critique of consumerism is simultaneously seductive (I have never wanted to taste so many exotic dishes or wanted to try on so many smart suits) and lascerating (the war for the best font on a calling card is hilarious).

The second half meanders a little, the transition from stabbing a rough sleeper in the stomach to being a mourner of all the meaninglessness in the world is somewhat inelegant.

But while this show may not be perfect, it is an incredibly meaningful show, with captivating choreography (perhaps better appreciated from the back of the theatre than the front) set to wonderful songs, both old and new. It is fronted by an actor at the top of his game, with great supporting performances from the likes of Gillian Kirkpatrick, Susannah Fielding, Cassandra Compton, Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Bailey.

This show deserves the West End and Broadway future for which it is obviously intended. 4 stars.

#287820 American Psycho

Posted mallardo on 28 December 2013 - 06:53 PM

How do you make a musical out of American Psycho?  THIS way.

I thought it was brilliant.  They got the concept just right.  The set, the clothes, the choreography, Rupert Goold's direction - his natural flamboyance was made for this material - everything works to perfection.  

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's book is masterful, not a weak or awkward moment in it.  And Duncan Sheik's score is everything it has to be. Recognizably the work of the composer of Spring Awakening yet with just the right techno-rock 80's blend, it absolutely captures the mood and the sound of the piece and, as a result, the outside music from the movie (Huey Lewis, et al) feels seamlessly interpolated.  Bravo to Mr. Sheik.  I'm buying the cast recording as soon as it appears.

If I have a slight reservation it's about Matt Smith's Patrick Bateman.  His singing I could overlook but, to me, he lacks the presence and charisma that made Christian Bale so compelling in the movie.  Unfair, perhaps.  But I kept wondering what it would have been like if, say, Ben Aldridge, who played Bateman's antagonist, Paul Owen, had been given the role.  

No matter.  When it was over I wanted to see it again.

#287665 What I Regret Missing 2013

Posted Ryan on 23 December 2013 - 05:06 PM

The only thing I regret missing this year was the chance to escape during the interval of 'Much Doodoo About Nothing' at the Old Vic.

#285976 American Psycho

Posted Nicholas on 06 December 2013 - 02:05 AM

View PostParsley, on 05 December 2013 - 11:36 PM, said:

Is it suitable for young persons?

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.

#285518 The Pajama Game

Posted Steffi on 03 December 2013 - 09:54 AM

This has been mentioned by someone in another thread already as far as I remember but I think Rosalie Craig would be great in this. Plus it'd be lovely to see her and Hadley Fraser share the stage.

#285422 The Pajama Game

Posted craftymiss on 02 December 2013 - 01:27 AM

I hope Eugene is in it, I thought he was superb and Polycarpou was hilarious

#284866 Michael Grandage Season

Posted popcultureboy on 26 November 2013 - 07:29 AM

View PostMrBarnaby, on 25 November 2013 - 11:40 PM, said:

I just wish Anna Christie had transferred instead and then all the people I know who say Jude Law can't act could go and eat their words!

Or you may have been eating yours. I really rate Jude Law as a stage actor, more so than as a film actor, but his accent in Anna Christie was just so terrible, I couldn't get past it. I said at the time that I wouldn't be surprised to find out they added the line "you're Irish, I can tell" to it, just so the audience knew where the hell he was supposed to be from.