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mallardoMember Since 05 Mar 2011
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Posted Lynette on Today, 01:12 AM
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.
Posted steveatplays on Today, 12:54 AM
The set will send Mr Barnaby scurrying to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory again to calm his nerves. It's basically a two dimensional background drawing of Venice, where the lack of three dimensions makes the water look like it's defying gravity. There's also percussion instruments and a piano in the centre back, and a staircase on either side of the instruments, allowing entrances and exits.
The central love affair is weak because Philip Lee as Renato Di Rossi shows no passion whatsoever, and because he sounds so very English. Indeed, there's a five year old in this who does a more convincing Italian accent than he does. Room with a View this is not!
It's a shame as Philip Lee is a lovely singer, and he sings "Take The Moment" beautifully. This should be Andrew Marvel's "To His Coy Mistress," pressing the urgency of living while you are alive. This should be Robin Williams jumping about, singing "Seize the Day," as he implores American tourist Leona to have an affair with him. Does Renato kneel before her here? Does he kiss her hand? Does he dance seductively around her? Does he smile and charm her? No, no, no and no. He stands about five feet away motionless and sings dryly at her. He doesn't even look as if he wants an affair. What was the director thinking?
Arthur Laurent's book is dated. Teenagers in Ibiza have more fun than these two wannabe lovers, there is too much talk, all guilt, no action.
That said, there are some lovely moments in this, particularly those that involve peripheral characters.
One of my favourite songs in this is "No Understand," in which American tourist Eddie (Matthew Kellett)) forsakes his wife, Jennifer (Rebecca Moon), and falls into the clutches of a lascivious restaurant proprietress, Fioria (Rosie Strobel). Where the central duo lack passion, Eddie and Fioria can't keep their hands off each other, but what makes the writing and blocking here so lovely is the young Italian waitress, who barely speaks a word of English and is taking English lessons from Eddie, consistently gets between the two, repeatedly singing that she "no understand." As the young waitress Giovanna, a hollow eyed Carolina Gregory manages to seem both very very gormless as well as very very savvy, creating a comic scenario of a twosome stifled from becoming but also threatening to erupt into a threesome.
I also loved it when Kellett's Eddie sang the hilarious Sondheim lyric to his wife "We'll build our house upon the rock of my virility," not a lyric from the Bible, to be sure.
In fact, I should have preferred if Kellett had had the lead role, as he evinced passion more convincingly than the lead, and Kellett and Moon did a great job with the song "We're gonna be alright."
Also lovely is "What Do We Do, We Fly?" which involves the whole ensemble swirling around declaring Sondheim's witty lyrics about hating planes, which rang true to me even today. I particularly liked gravel-voiced Richard Griffiths lookalike, Bruce Graham whining about the omnipresence of Doris Day, and Rebecca Moon's tightly wound delivery of Sondheim's verse about pesky children on planes: "The kid I noticed the first was the one who stood on my feet, the kid I hated the worst was the one who kicked my seat, there was one on the left who bit, there was one on the right who spit, there was one in the back I hit" lol!"
In Act 2, the women join together singing a beguiling Richard Rodgers' melody, "Moon in my Window," which featured an unconvincing projection of the moon, but which was otherwise luscious, with dreamy Sondheim lyrics about the moon waking the city up to life.
I should also mention that while I wasn't bowled over by the volume of lead actress Rebecca Seale's voice, playing Leona, she was easily the best actress in this production, convincing portraying smiling through loneliness, drunkenness, and joint equal in the comedy stakes with Carolina Gregory's Giovanna, both actresses having excellent timing. Without Rebecca Seale in the lead, this production would be unconvincing as well as bloodless. As it is, it is merely the latter not the former.
All in all, it's worth hearing this for the songs, but I was left wondering how amazing this might have been if the directing and acting team involved in St James' "Putting It Together" were also involved in this!
Posted EmiCardiff on Yesterday, 12:49 PM
I did have a strange thing happen to me watching it (I was still working as an usher then) and the final time I saw it I had the most extreme reaction to the content (which I won't spoil here but suffice to say fairly graphic) I was shaking for a good 20 minutes after. And I'm not normally one to be 'affected' that strongly by such things. Probably because a) I knew what was coming and I'd seen it something like 5 nights in a row. But still a very strange reaction.
Posted steveatplays on Yesterday, 10:29 AM
Lloyd is constantly underlining - the actors in rabbit heads illustrating just what Don't Be The Bunny is really saying. We don't need it.
Lockstock himself, as played by Jonathan Slinger, seems misconceived. Too smarmy and sleazy and overtly sadistic. Lockstock has to be a charmer. All the bad things he does are done with a fresh gleaming smile, not a leer. And what's with the bad New Yawk accent? The show is not set in New York so why do it?
And what's with the buckets of blood? Way too literal. Not only unnecessary but wrong.
I wish Lloyd had trusted his material more and not felt the need to add his own unhelpful flourishes. But the show is strong enough to survive them. And, despite my carping, I had a good time. Don't think I'd see it again though.
Glad you had a good time regardless. Like Freckles, this was the first time I have seen this, and I didn't know the book or music before I did.
For me, this was like falling in love, I loved everything about it. I have no other version of this to compare it to, and I would balk at a toned-down or sanitised version of it. And that includes loving all the extreme things Jamie Lloyd did to underline the theme, to make it gory and filthy and mean and in your face.
I am aware that the producers are saying this version is "darker" than the original version because they feel darker plays more to the British psyche. However, I personally doubt this justification. As a take on an apocalypse scenario, Americans are lapping up the TV show "The Walking Dead," which is very bit as dirty and filthy and mean and visceral as this, though it lacks the humour of this as well as the satiric critique of what we are doing to our world.
So I believe over-the-top is perfect for this material. Blood will be spilled in the future in bucketloads over resources, and so it should be in this. The contrast between the humourous book and lyrics and the extreme visceral visions of a bloody dirty apocalypse are themselves hilarious to me.
The image of humans with rabbit heads I took to be a vision of that apocalypse, referencing the doom-foreshadowing image of the rabbit-headed human in the movie Donnie Darko.
Whether Urinetown is New-York-of-the future like Gotham City is in DC comics, I have no idea. But I certainly had no problem with Slinger's New York accent, and I especially liked his sadistic glee. Surely this type of revelling in cruelty is going to be a prevelant coping strategy of the apocalypse, just as sadomasochism itself is a psychological way of coping with insecurity, so will revelling and making hay out of other people's misery be a hellish coping strategy of the future. I'm glad Slinger is leering, rather than gleaming in his smiles. Gleaming would indicate that he is an inhuman robot, who we can dismiss as unrealistic, leering is a sadistic sickness of the human mind we all recognise.
All the buckets and buckets of blood that will be spilled in the future by our descendants are reflected back in our faces here, for us to look at right now, as they should be.
Oh, I love this show, I love this show, I love this show lol!
And I do envy anyone who saw the original Broadway run of this, even if it was very different to what we are seeing now.
Posted Nicholas on Yesterday, 02:05 AM
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.
Posted xanderl on 07 March 2014 - 06:19 PM
Posted freckles on 05 March 2014 - 09:36 AM
My favourite when I saw it (from a similar gaggle of ladies) was "Oooh, don't take your coat off Joan, it's a bit nippy in here. I feel sorry for that poor girl, I hope she's got a heater backstage!"
Posted wickedgrin on 05 March 2014 - 09:16 AM
Woman 1 "do you think the ceiling is going to fall in"
Women 2 " it would be more exciting than the show wouldn't it"
Woman 1 "I'm glad Gladys didn't come she would not have liked the swearing"
Woman 1 "There's nothing scandalous about it now is there...."
Woman 2 "Ooooh no, I bet it's all going on today, it's just that we don't know about it, and wont do for another 30 years or whatever, the establishment - they're all still at it"!
Woman 1 "Yes look at that Patrick Rock"
Woman 2 "Who dear?"
Woman 1" Do you think that they (the cast) give their all when they know it's closing in a few weeks?
Woman 2 "Well that Christine Keeler gave it her all (cackles) but I suppose they hope to be picked up for something else - they never know who's watching"
Woman 1 "There are some nice songs aren't there... it's a pity he did not write them for a different show"
Woman 2 " But then it would have been a different show wouldn't it"
Posted peggs on 02 March 2014 - 07:13 PM
Normally loathe the fool and the look at this fool had made me more fearful but he actually made more sense that other fools i've seen and i liked how he ended up. Stanley Townsend good at Kent with that great voice of his and liked this interpretation of Edgar. Edmund weak I thought, seemed neither particularly scheming or attractive as a man.
Am not sure how much this 'Stalinesque' approach bought to it, in the Olivier having actual knights makes sense, you've got the space and it illustrates and backs up the sisters' complaints and also i suppose helps to show how everyone goes to lear Lear alone (almost). Satisfying eye gounging, as in it was suitably awful and rather a lot of fake blood sloshing around the place but fair enough.
I don't know, how likeable is Lear meant to be? He is a king and as such to some extent his followers (Kent, Gloucestor) surely follow as their duty rather than because they 'like' him or agree with his rule? Ian Holm's lear changed my view of what he should be, it blew out of the water the whole it's just a man who makes one mistake that school would have had be believe. Still I think the whole dictatorship feel is over done and probably distances Lear from the audience which won't help everyone.
Posted Adrianics on 28 February 2014 - 09:13 AM
I've only seen Evans in Ghost, and I have to say that lovely voice aside his acting really wasn't up to scratch, then again the material was pretty shoddy so maybe he's a lot better in BOM.
Creel and Gertner are both utterly amazing in their roles and for me more or less the definitive performances of the characters, so I kind of pity whoever replaces them because they have a lot to live up to!
Posted Orchestrator on 28 February 2014 - 08:38 AM
Posted Althea on 26 February 2014 - 02:40 PM
The piece itself is a surprise - cleverly satirical and very funny and in some parts shocking. Book of Mormon has a lot to thank this show for paving the way in 2001. If you love musicals you really should check it out as it offers a very different and refreshing night at the theatre. The St James has definitely come back from the debacle that was Tell Me on a Sunday (one of the shoddiest and cheaply put together productions I've ever seen) and hopefully this will set the standard for this brilliant venue.
Posted paplazaroo on 25 February 2014 - 12:31 AM
Posted steveatplays on 22 February 2014 - 10:04 PM
In Hayfever, Fleabag and Mydidae, Waller-Bridge was flawless delivering laughs.
In Mydidae, directed by Waller-Bridge's DryWrite theatre company partner, a play where two couples in a bathroom verbally flayed each other until violence broke out, Waller-Bridge's humour became an instrument of cruelty, so it was hard in some scenes to know whether to laugh, gasp or cry. However, the play itself was never cruel, as the cruelty sprang from self-hatred and guilt.
But "The One" (written and directed by Vicky Jones) is much crueller than Mydidae, and is more disturbing, as the cruelty in this play has at it's root sociopathy and sensation-seeking.
The central sado-masochistic relationship is between Jo (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and her former English Professor, Harry (played by Rufus Wright, who was David Cameron in The Audience). In fantasy, they see themselves as monsters, and the theme song of their love is "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera, which Harry sings to Jo more than once.
The play is a three hander, and Lu Corfield plays Kerry, who genuinely loves Harry. The question for Harry is "Who is The One for him?" The girl who loves him, or the girl who loves to torture him?
During the course of the play, I went from laughing my head off to being very disturbed. I'm all for healthy sado-masochistic relationships, where power exchange is a mutual expression of love through play acting. But Jo and Harry get off the most when they are genuinely hurting each other, or at least Jo does. This is a seriously unhealthy relationship, and a horrifying critique of selfish sensation-seeking.
I will watch Phoebe Waller-Bridge in anything, but I do hope her projects with Vicky Jones prove not to be all as sadistic and sociopathic as this one, as my laughlines were replaced with a great big frown. Intermittently hilarious, exciting, illuminating and unpleasant. 3 and a half stars.
Posted Latecomer on 19 February 2014 - 07:50 PM
A mass and jumble of ideas.....messy....a bit like life!
I liked the ending too!