Count me another who is glad that theatres don't accept cards for programme sales - what next, the ice cream seller having to faff around for people who 'don't carry cash' but who know perfectly well that it costs a lot more for organisations to accept cards and that every transaction takes longer.
I loved it actually, the staging is really quite superb when you think of the size of the St James Theatre. Jenna Russell is worth the ticket price alone and I think she's set out her stand for a go at Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd in a few years too. The other highlights? Marc Elliott looking like an absolute dreamboat and Richard Fleeshman's t-shirt which is obviously the front runner for Best Supporting Anything at next year's awards season!!
Wonderful production - very theatrical, very moving, many laughs too. Several of these added for this production - the Scottish names shouted out by the Gillie for example. All-round excellent performances, beautiful design (by Lez Brotherston). Packed house, very appreciative response, many standing for curtain call.
Highly recommended - fully deserving of a transfer.
Oh I think I worked with someone called Angie Dickinson years ago, so thanks for pointing out my error.
Nothing gets past your forum people does it!
I was genuinely intrigued as I wondered if Sandra Dickinson had her own understudy! She was something of a celeb back in the day so its surprising to see her being an understudy. Actually I'd be interested to see her as Madame Arcati!
A huge disappointment. A play so wrong on so many levels, hard to analyse! It was obsolete in its structure, three acts with two intervals and sooooo long. It wasted actors by having them appear in only one or two of the acts; it used too many actors and did not fully characterise any of the parts. It was a waste of talent, money and time.
There is a play to be written on the topic but this wasn't it. How anyone who must have seen Copenhagen, or An Inspector Calls or read E.M. Forster's novel, Howard's End not to mention all the other brilliant evocations of war and guilt, class and so on, could put together this undramatic mish mush I do not know. As a respected man of the theatre, Gill should have known better. And to direct it himself exacerbated the inadequacies where another director might have made a few useful suggestions like cutting, cutting, cutting. Walking an actor round a desk- several times - doth not a performance make. Having not one but three actors deliver very long, complex speeches and I mean long certainly doesn't. Hamlet's 'To be or not too be' speech is about as long as any speech ought to be and we all know it.
The acting of course was very good. I felt for them, especially Barbara Flynn who was shaping up to be a nice Lady Bracknell I thought. But even she couldn't hold it together.
Just to say that in the loo afterwards I overheard a young woman say that she understood the beginning a bit but not the end. If this is the kind of stuff the Donmar thinks will build them an audience they must think again. I expect they will be trawling the telly and the movies for stars to come to their rescue a la Mr Hiddleston. Good luck to them.
It is a sell out. If this is theatre for some people, then subsidised theatre is doomed. And if it is the best the Donmar can offer to examine WWI then we are all doomed.
I went to the matinee on Thursday, knowing nothing of the story or the score. It was fantastic! Can't recommend it enough. Such a good use of space at the theatre and a great sound from the cast and band. A thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours of theatre.
Noel Coward wrote the play in days and virtually no lines were altered. He was a stickler for the accurate delivery of his script. He would have had palpitations if he had witnessed this production.
There’s a line in Hay Fever that reads “You can see Marlow on a clear day, so they tell me” but which Edith Evans, in rehearsals, read as “You can see Marlowe on a very clear day.” Correcting her, Coward said “No, dear, on a very clear day you can see Marlowe and Beaumont and Fletcher.”
Judy Campbell, who toured with Coward in the war, got annoyed with him.
Campbell: Oh, I could just throw something at you!”
Coward: Try starting with my lines.
And bringing it back to Blithe Spirit, and Fletcher (Jessica), Claudette Colbert was fluffing her lines.
Colbert: Oh, dear, I knew them backwards this morning.
Coward: And that’s just the way you’re delivering them, dear.
Really enjoyed this although I did get a bit tired of the audience clapping every time Angela Lansbury came on (and left) and guffawing at almost every single line she uttered (even the ones she fluffed!). But it was great to see a legend on the stage. However, it really is Charles Edwards and Janie Dee's show (and rightly so). They are utterly superb, perfectly cast and ridiculously funny. They steal it away from La Lansbury et al without even trying (even though Dee fluffed her lines a couple of times). Charles Edwards in particular is an absolute dream - dreamily handsome and a real master of light comedy, he doesn't disappoint for a single second. I did feel Jemima Rooper was slightly miscast though (I preferred Ruthie Henshall from the revival a couple of years ago) and look out for the most hideous wig since Kim Cattrall in 'Sweet Bird Of Youth'! It’s unashamedly old fashioned entertainment but worth seeing for Edwards and Dee.
It was entertaining, I'll say that, but Mendes makes some very weird choices that to me don't cohere a complex play, but make it more diffuse.
By making Lear a Stalin-like dictator (of the kind that Albion has never ever had, so why bother?) the suggestion is that Goneril and Regan loathe him for that, not for any greed or shortfall in their own character. So for the first time ever, I felt sympathetic towards them. That is, until this reading falls to bits and they both act like monsters.
Secondly, why oh why would Kent keep up a spurious Irish accent when he's eventually only in the company of the mentally deluded? There's just no need, mate. That he even meticulously maintains it after the gob-smacking event Mendes imposes on the play is even more implausible.
Meanwhile, both Cordelia and Regan are overly RP. Love Anna Maxwell Martin though I do, why cast her if you want to depict Regan as a flashy tramp? She's a great actress but it's just too much a stretch to ask her to be a screechy sex-pest. I was thinking how good the brilliant Margot Robbie from Wolf of Wall Street would have been in this particular characterisation. And sorry, but if you're going to make Cordelia a plaintive Kate Middleton, it's a pretty tall order that we'd believe she might later be handy with a rifle.
Biggest gripe however is this: please, please can we call a moratorium on National Theatre productions of Shakespeare that evoke a present day setting with the same tired tropes every time: all the men in sleek Austin Reed suits; all the women in high heels; superfluous extras marching two-by-two round the front of the stage in army fatigues; helicopter noises overhead. Henry V had it. Hamlet had it. Timon of Athens had it. Othello had it. This has it. And whereas it works sometimes, it doesn't really here because who could believe five separate smart men from such a rigorous, upstanding world could all individually become such hapless wanderers in the pastoral second half? To buy what happens to Lear, Edgar, Gloucester, Kent and the Fool, Albion surely has to be a little bit eccentric to start with.
Not as wayward as the Young Vic production, and not as turgid as the Almeida's most recent one, but not a patch on the Donmar's.
I'm always keen to see, and support, new musicals or musicals new to the UK. Though there seems to be so much on offer (e.g. at the Finborough, Landor, Southwark Playhouse, Union, Waterloo East, Kings Head, Hope, Rose & Crown, etc, to name but a few) that it's hard to know which to choose and impossible to cover all.
10am BKL: To do list
Ring Keith Strachan... we need some more songs
Watch old X Factor tapes for anyone who looks vaguely right.
Book auditions for theatre school graduates who need work as ensemble.
Remember this one is an actor muso show, so they'll need to bring their own instruments
Email TDK, ask him to cobble together some more backing tracks for the bits they can't play.
Get old costumes out of stores
Book one week in a church hall for rehearsals
Send clip art to Poster people
Start rumour it'll be transferring to The Playhouse
I was also there last night. Lots to enjoy (large cast, decent size orchestra, score, set, choreography, it's beautifully lit, and every word was crystal clear) but there's only so far that can cover up the poor book. With not one but two relationships to follow there should have been lots to hold the interest but - sadly - there wasn't anywhere near enough. There's only so many times I can watch a set of beds being hauled onto the stage and soldiers dance around them. We jump almost immediately into the Karen/Milt affair but very little then happens to those characters for the next 2 and a bit hours, apart from a bit of romping in the sand & surf.
I liked Soutra Gilmour's crumbling concrete and rusty steel set but on the way out I then wondered why everything look so ruined for pre-war Hawaii. Is that how Hawaii looked, or is it supposed to represent Hawaii after the attack? If so, it seems a strange choice when 90% of the show is set before the attack.