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mallardoMember Since 05 Mar 2011
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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!
Posted steveatplays on 19 February 2014 - 06:35 PM
This is all about character, similar to Wesker's Roots in it's focus on a mother and daughter, but the relationship here is the polar opposite. In the Wesker, the women are very different and try to attract each other to their respective positions. In this, both are instrinsically the same, and like two positively charged sides of a magnet, repel the other away with feisty shows of independence.
These women are not friendly Facebook types, but they are ostentatious twitter types, who seek followers rather than friends. They do things their own way, and expect others to take it or leave it. Indeed, I have no doubt if these two working class women were alive today, they would each accumulate thousands of followers on twitter, and have next to no Facebook friends.
And like Wesker's Roots, the plot wheels turn slowly: mum moves out with a fancy man, girl gets pregnant and gets a gay friend to take care of her. That's it for close to three hours, minus ten minutes. So if you want a Ferrari of a plot, forget this, which is like taking the bus in rush hour.
But if like me, you like your character based comedy drama, where the comedy is as much an engine as the drama, this is fantastic. Both Lesley Sharp and Kate O'Flynn are unforgettable, pitching their self-obsessed comic needling and buoyant independent spirits just perfectly for the whole running time. The singing and dancing interludes emphasise the resilience of these characters, who despite trying circumstances will never be victims. As a sympathetic portrait of two very powerful very selfish and independent women who spar, yet have wells of barely admitted affection for each other, I loved this.
All 3 male supporting characters are great, Eric Kofi Abrefa is so smooth, it's like he's a dream. Dean Lennox Kelly is like a monied version of David Thewlis' wretched drunk on Shameless. And Harry Hepple is more caring mum than either of the women.
The Lyttelton is definitely too big, and I admire Hildegarde Bechtler's design for decorating the redundant left side of the stage with such picture postcard charm that the chasm of unused space is not distracting. But even in the front row, I felt like I was in the worst spot at the Royal Court Upstairs, a space that would have truly heightened the intimacy of a piece like this. On the plus side, at least a huge amount of people will get to see this rarely produced gem. 4 stars.
Posted AddisonMizner on 16 February 2014 - 11:25 AM
The cast offer THE best singing I have heard in a musical in a LONG time, and really bring this gorgeous score to life. Scarlett Strallen did a stonking job with “Glitter and Be Gay”, delivering the coloratura with aplomb. The chorus singing was particularly fine – “Make Our Garden Grow”, to my mind one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, was spine-tingling and well worth the price of admission on its own.
I would love to see this again, but can’t see it transferring to another theatre after the Menier run. It would need to be totally redirected and it would perhaps lose some of the magic that it currently has.
Posted Reich on 11 February 2014 - 02:38 PM
I miss Quiet and We are Woman. Plus I like My Love to feature Maximilian in drag! Scenes could be cut to make it clearer such as the Anabaptist, Candide as an actor etc … But I really like the rejigging of the songs for Venice as it has a much greater and dramatic impact … Candide as a stage production is such a puzzle so I’ll always have a little moan about what to include plus I’ll moan more if everything is included!
James Dreyfus, is the weak link in the production. He is the only person who has made the main part appear superfluous! … Interesting how the chorus take a lot of his lines. Also he is not in the show for the final week. I wonder why?...
But putting Martin’s professional pessimism aside, this is one of my favourite Chocolate Factory productions. I wish it was getting recorded.
Posted EmiCardiff on 01 February 2014 - 11:33 AM
I've seen it (ahem) 3 times now. (including the NT live broadcast) the first time I was really underwhelmed by Hiddleston, but impressed with the production and the virtually flawless rest of the company. The second time, whether I was in a better mood or whether he was just better I was more impressed with Hiddleston, however he still doesn't wow me. I don't think it's a problem with his acting ability more a combination of this not being "his" part or that the amount of hype surrounding him that skewed my expectations (I have several friends who are somewhat devoted fangirls)
Personally my highlight was Gatiss, as a big fan of his I was nervous to see how he'd fare in Shakespeare (I think I'm right it's his first professional Shakespeare) but he really wowed me, and I'm not one to be wowed just because I like an actor in fact I'm generally more critical! His and Findlay's performances made this production for me.
I do agree with the comment about Hiddleston in particular performing for the cameras on the broadcast-first time I've noticed actors doing so in an NT live too. Shame.
Posted Andromeda Dench on 31 January 2014 - 11:56 AM
I must admit I don't know many Slovenians or their theatre preferences, but I do remember seeing a very decent Slovenian production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Didn't understand a word, but still enjoyed it. And since Slovenia was also a part of Austro-Hungarian empire before WW1, and as such exposed to their operetta tradition, my theory why Croatia (and Slovenia) have good MT, while the rest of us ex-Yugoslav republics, which spent 500 years under decidedly anti-MT Ottoman occupation, don't have a clue, still stands.
Some more ramblings on this: I've asked for my mum's opinion on why MT has never really taken root in Belgrade (she's also an avid theatre-goer and both she and my dad visited London regularly to see shows during the affluent 70s and 80s) and, in her opinion, MT was always regarded as a lesser theatre form for ''unsophisticated working classes''. (Perhaps, something like Music Halls?) If you considered yourself an intellectual, you'd avoid it like a plague. Only ''edgy'' new shows, like Hair, were considered acceptable and would get staged at non-musical theatre venues.Then again, considering what passed as MT over here in those days (60s,70s,80s), I'm not sure I'd go and watch any of it either. However, Zagreb and their main MT venue Kazalište Komedija have always been a whole different story.
If I ever write that script and flog it to a Hollywood studio, we're sharing the profits (and using them to buy more theatre tickets - only premium seats + champagne in the interval + a weekend with cast members we fancy).
Aww, it's comforting to hear I'm not alone. But sometimes, when I think about it, it does seem a bit like an addiction - A trip to London is so bloody expensive, I've figured out I could spend a month backpacking around Portugal or Spain, and it would still cost me less than a week in London (on a budget), plus I'd be spared filling in 50 pages of the visa application form, answering questions along the lines of ''Have you ever belonged to any terrorist organisations and if so, which ones?'' (Oh, and it costs 100 EUR just to apply). Yet I still choose London...
Isn’t that odd, and a brilliant point about how theatre fans are seen.
Struck me that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to say “I’m going to Las Vegas to watch Amir Khan fight, then on to New York to see the Packers play the Jets” (I really am a fan of both boxing and American football); yet if I said “Going to see “Spiderman the Musical” and “King Kong the Musical” in the same places, the funny looks start (and not just from musical theatre aficionados...).
Indeed! Telling people that I'm off to Barcelona or Amsterdam or some other place I don't particularly want to visit but is generally regarded as ''fun'', is always met with enthusiastic reactions. But ''I'm going to London to try and get in the NT's 50th anniversary celebration'' didn't go down so well. So I keep going to Barcelona. The problem occurs when someone wants to see pictures or hear how it was. My sister, who actually visited Barcelona, had to give me a briefing on what I saw and what I liked in case someone really insists on details... Sometimes, all that sneakiness makes me feel like I'm doing something shameful or illegal!
Posted Andromeda Dench on 30 January 2014 - 01:54 PM
With such weird behavioural patterns, it's very difficult to find a partner, I must say.
At home, I mostly go to theatre with an actress friend or my sister. When they're not available, I go on my own, which is also considered a very strange thing to do over here for some reason. Oh yes - and real Balkan macho men wouldn't be caught dead at theatre shows - 80% of audiences over here are made up of women. The 20% accounts for sulking husbands/boyfriends who had to come but wish they were at home watching football. At opera, if you see a male audience member, he's either gay or an opera singer or both.
Something totally unrelated but interesting (well, to me) - people in the neighbouring Croatia actually have traditional appreciation for musical theatre. That probably explains the fact that some of Croatian MT performers have made it to West End (Zrinka Cvitešić and Jasna Ivir come to mind). I think it must be due to Austro-Hungarian influence as opposed to our Ottoman one, lol.
Posted paplazaroo on 30 January 2014 - 09:47 AM
Posted Nicholas on 29 January 2014 - 12:40 PM
Posted EmiCardiff on 29 January 2014 - 02:52 PM
I now have visions of a musical version of those 'Match.com' nights that seem to be advertised on tv a lot lately...
Posted EmiCardiff on 29 January 2014 - 09:22 AM
Even among my 'theatre' friends it's derided as the 'lesser' art form or that your taste is somehow lacking.
We really need to meet up and sort out who is who
Posted Andromeda Dench on 28 January 2014 - 10:55 PM
I have that problem in general, with friends not only with dates. People have no idea what I'm on about or, even worse, have completely misguided ideas of what MT is. Before the wars and economic (and every other possible) crisis struck, my city had very, very decent theatre life, even a passable opera house with singers who made international careers, but for some reason MT never moved from the obsolete 80s concept which was obsolete in international terms even in the 80s (something best described as musical revues). We simply have no creative teams (directors, choreographers, and most importantly - performers) trained for proper MT. Suffice to say that in our productions of A Chorus Line and Chicago no one can dance... (Un)fortunately, we have only one theatre that stages musicals and something like one new production every two years so it's not really a problem when dating someone who is not interested since there's nothing to see anyway.
When I went to see Scottsboro Boys in London this autumn, I was miraculously seated to a couple of young people speaking my language, and as it turned out, from my hometown but studying in London. When I addressed them, they looked stunned and said something like ''But... what are you doing HERE (at a theatre)??'' We were so happy to have met someone from back home who is interested in musicals, we all hugged after the show.
Good luck, aj, I'd totally date you.
Posted armadillo on 28 January 2014 - 02:41 PM
Posted Lisa S on 25 January 2014 - 11:16 PM
The critics have said explicitly what is new and different in the production and some have had a good old bash. Please do not read this post if you don’t want to see any spoilers, because I will defend some of that criticism in detail. They didn’t hold back in their reviews, so I won’t.
Please don’t read ahead if you don’t want to know some crucial information.
This production divided opinion, no doubt.
I have to say I loved it, despite the many things I didn’t like.
I’ll get my big gripes out of the way first and then get on to what I liked. The critics seemed to like Gloucester, Edmund and Edgar, all of whom I thought brought nothing at all. I never bought into the sub plot. Sam Troughton seems to get good reviews for being Sam Troughton.
I kept thinking, this sub plot will come alive in the next scene and it never did.
I didn’t like all three of them. I think Edmund is supposed to be a Nazi or something. He has a leathery Third Reich look, which is just so over-referenced it was pointless.
I saw a preview, but apparently Edgar’s genitals are now on show? That’s a change because I only saw a flash of backside and I thought they had handled it well not to overdo the nudity. I’m not sure what the genitals would add. He was just holding a cloth up in front of them when I saw it.
The opening scene I thought didn’t work on two points. The first was that there were too many soldiers on stage. That was very much, ‘we’ve got the budget, let’s show it‘.
I know it helps emphasise the public denouncement of Lear, but even so, it seemed to detract from the main event. Having said that, I was glad there were no TV screens, a heavy-handed touch I’m sick of seeing on stage with public events in modern dress productions.
The other problem is Lear has his back to the audience.
What we gained, I thought, was that we got to see the three girls; they really get delineated - and they have to.
And all three actresses were good. Cornwall and Albany worked, I thought. As did Lear and the Fool. So that’s a quite a good head count for a cast this size.
I liked the touch of having the Fool on stage in this opening scene sat behind Lear, because it connects him to events that make him sad.
In this first scene, I thought there was a little bit of: ‘We must not have cuddly Simon. No cuddliness.’
He can’t be cuddly, but you can slip the odd joke in at the start first scene. I remember John Wood did. What Russell Beale does get across, though, in the very first scene and ever afterwards is that this is a primal man, who becomes dangerously primal as madness sets in.
And when I say primal, he sits Regan on his knee, kisses her and has a dirty laugh. She gets a smack on the bottom. Later, he carries round a page three with him and rubs his loins. Mendes’ and Russell Beale’s Lear is never out of touch with his primal instincts - and it’s of huge significance as it collides with madness.
This is an elemental play about the relationship between parents and children. And what Mendes and Russell Beale delineate in the first scene comes back with echoes later on.
From the second scene with Lear, I really thought it hotted up. The relationship between Russell Beale's King and Scarborough's Fool is exquisite.
You absolutely believe this primal Lear needs this Fool as his foil. Here is this very manly man, who finds a male foil in this melancholy joker, who makes sense of his life for him from a male perspective.
From the storm scene, it’s just Rolls-Royce. I loved the storm scene. I didn’t think the ramp was an overstatement at all. I thought they avoided the cliché of water dripping all over the place, which isn’t necessary.
And then we got the mock trial scene. Which I loved.
And I cannot understand the criticism levelled at this playing of the scene by Charles Spencer.
Lear, by now, is completely mad. He interprets ‘Poor Tom’s’ misfortunes as attributable to 'Tom's' daughters.
So in the mock trial scene, they’re all sat on the mock 'judicial bench’, looking at the two 'accused’.
First up is the toilet.
Fool: Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
KING LEAR She cannot deny it.
The Fool heads off the ‘judicial bench’ and toward the toilet to say:
Fool: Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
Lear then looks at the next object. The Fool, being a fool, takes the rise by sitting on it and miming a caricature impersonation of Regan - who is delineated in the first scene as an ostentatious smoker. He sits and mimes her pompous smoking gestures to the audience. If the first object is mistaken for a daughter, so is the second - and it‘s now animated because the Fool is sat on it.
And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim
What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
He grabs a bit of scrap iron and lunges forward. Just as ‘Poor Tom’s’ misfortunes are viewed by Lear only through the prism of madness, so in this madman’s eyes, this object that is Regan, and this person sitting on it impersonating Regan, can only be interpreted as Regan and he picks up the cosh and he bashes the Fool’s skull in:
Arms, arms, sword, fire! Corruption in the place!
False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?
When you see the moment, he is emphatically out of control of these primal instincts (and we read about it in the newspapers every day - parents attacking children, mad people attacking other people as if they are a person who has given them grievance).
Lear’s unwitting killing of the Fool is a touch that sits beautifully in a play where so many people are mistaking people for other people.
It echoes exactly the opening scene where he divides the kingdom and can't see what's in front of him, only now he's totally mad.
I found the scene funny, then utterly shocking, and finally just appallingly sad with irony.
Having lost the female foils he held so dearly, how ironic that that should lead to him lose the male foil in his life who gives him so much - and at his own hand.
And when, at the end, the King says of the Fool ‘And my poor fool is hang'd!’, wasn’t it obvious that this Lear was deluding himself about his own earlier brutality when he said that?
There was a huge, guilty pause and a couldn’t-bear-to-face-up-to-what-he’d-done gesture before the word ’hang’d’ came out.
It wasn’t said by Lear with any conviction at all that the Fool had been ‘Hang’d’.
It was said as if to say: ‘Emotionally, this is how I’m dealing with the fact I’ve bashed his brains in.’
His primal instincts - love and hate of his children sitting so close to one another, the sexual undertones when he pulls he Regan on his knee, the rubbings of his balls, the page three he carries around with him in his bag. This is a man who is totally in touch with his primal instincts and having stepped over into madness what a tragedy it is.
In madness, his instincts are primal to the point of being murderous. In modern terms, it would, I suppose, be called murder with diminished responsibility. The curses cried in sanity, spill over into reality in madness.
People did laugh at Oswald’s death but a lot of other infamous laughter points were avoided. Nobody laughed at Lear killing the Fool. Nobody laughed at the eye gouging, which I thought was really well done in the wine cellar with corkscrews. Most of the deaths, in fact, avoided laughter.
The waterboarding just seemed like Luvvieland’s usual token love note to Islamic terrorists. I’ve seen too many waterboarding scenes.
I think it’s important that the first half is very long. It really helps if the eye gouging happens when the audience are focused and not at the start of the second half.
Even with the flaws, I found it a hugely rewarding evening.
Posted Latecomer on 25 January 2014 - 08:11 PM
As usual the excitement of being there got the better of me and I told the people next to me that it was my second time seeing the production, as I had loved it so much the first time. I told them it was fantastic and they were in for a real treat. I also generously advised them that it was quite hard to follow the dialogue for the first 5 minutes but not to worry, it was just like tuning in to Shakespeare and one soon tuned in and got relaxed into the flow.....the one next to me then sat making notes throughout the play.....yes, it was the director, Ian Rickson. After I had made some comment at the end (about how good it was that the tragedy was preceded by humour- it made it more shocking) he introduced himself (oh, I thought, that's why he was scribbling throughout) and I did that incoherent thing where I made absolutely no sense.....I may have said "oh and you are that man from the National" to his companion Rhys Ifans...he chuckled a bit. I ran away....
Still, can now claim to have shaken the hand of Ian Rickson even if he now thinks I am mad as a hatter....
And all the things I could have said...about Jerusalem, The River, Old Times etc etc
The play was in excellent shape, by the way.