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mallardoMember Since 05 Mar 2011
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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.
Posted mrkringas on 17 January 2014 - 10:03 PM
Posted Latecomer on 15 January 2014 - 09:36 PM
Full house today and very well received.
Exhausted watching it!
Favourite quote "champagne"
Glad I saw it and at curtain call...all those people, putting in all that work....for £12, picked up as they popped up on the website as returns. Splendid!
Posted Adara on 08 January 2014 - 02:25 AM
I've had several situations with an unprepared understudy on book. There was a subscription series in Los Angeles called "Reprise" -- they did partially-staged musicals in concert (in some of their earlier shows, everyone was on book, although they weren't for this one). I showed up for their "Threepenny Opera," only to learn that the regular Macheath was out sick, and the understudy would be on, although they'd never had time for an understudy rehearsal. They offered us the option of seeing the understudy (on book) or trading our tickets for a later performance. I will generally see the understudy -- you never know who is going to give that breakout performance (and you'll be able to say "I saw him when..."). I was amused with how they dealt with the problem. At one point in the play, Macheath offers a bribe to his jailers to let him out of the handcuffs. The jailer is supposed to take the bribe, but leave Macheath cuffed anyway. When the understudy was on, he couldn't hold his script when handcuffed, so, on this one occasion, the jailer could, in fact, be bought.
Posted Latecomer on 06 January 2014 - 03:28 PM
Posted Theatresquirrel on 05 January 2014 - 01:29 AM
BUT the production is wonderful, constantly inventive, beautifully, generously designed, intricately evocative of the style and swagger of European art and society in the early 20th century, and the cast work their (amply padded) socks off.
Can't believe I'm the first person in 7 pages of posts to mention the music: in the first half, there are beautifully reinvented excerpts from Wagner, in the second half all sorts of lusty, furtive surprises: I'd never heard anything quite like the headlong accordion that accompanies the sex scenes. It's so great having the musicians onstage throughout too, intermingling, and I laughed a lot at their final deed.
Also can't believe I'm only the second person in 7 pages to mention *that scene* in the snow. Yes, we've all seen white sheets used for snow before, but wow, never like this. How it starts is thrilling. The gestures, the music. So beautiful. I'll keep this spoiler-free, but the subsequent moment when a tree appears was utterly bewildering and captivating too. How Gina Bellman ends up in this scene too is gripping. And anchoring it all, Adam Godley is so vivid and sinister and endearing all at once in this sequence - and throughout.
As someone else here said, the choreography in the first scene too is as gorgeous as anything I've seen in the theatre in the last year. Not all scenes have the same punch, but they don't in any other play either.
It does have its shortfalls and occasional longeurs (I could have done with one or two fewer confessions at the end), but you can only blame the original play for that. But I can well imagine it had a real impact in its day - and has certainly influenced so many subsequent things which it now, in turns, seems to echo - so I applaud the National for staging it, and boy they've staged it in the most lavish and loving way imaginable.
No walkouts on my watch today. A hell of a lot of laughter, and folks whooping 'Bravo' at the end.
Judge for yourself, but I definitely think it's worth seeing.
Posted BGLowe on 03 January 2014 - 01:09 PM
My main problem lies mostly with the story. I am a 20 year old student studying Politics, so I have a degree of knowledge of the time/era and I had read a bit about the profumo affair. Prior to seeing this, I did wonder how he would make this story translate to the audience and interest them, however as ALW has a history of taking 'uncoventional' stories and making them work, I reserved judgment. I honestly have no idea what made him think this could work. Who exactly is he appealing to? The only market I can think he is trying to tap into is the Theatre-goer who likes a bit of seriousness, a bit of thinking, a bit of Sondheim if you will. The story to me just had no heart. I didn't feel anything for anybody. Keeler and Ward's relationship is just thrust upon us with almost no justification, in fact that seems to be a recurring theme of characters just thrust upon us. I also feel that the story really lacked the reasoning about why this was such a scandal and why it nearly brought the government down. They touch upon it briefly with Keeler and the Russian, but I think most people would come out it and think 'So what? Why did it really matter?' (I certainly did and I know the background). I can't knock the performers, they gave it their all with what material they had.
The music. I think perhaps it is something that could grow on me, and I did really like Joanna Riding and her song. But again, I just felt nothing for her. There was no character development with her as we'd just met her briefly before so I felt nothing when she sang. I can see me appreciating this music at home without the story, as opposed to on the stage.
Ultimately, it lacked any kind of heart of me. Equally, I didn't really appreciate the 'Ward is completely innocent' stance that this took; I think that is an overly simplified view point to take. On the other hand my mother enjoyed it far more than me, so maybe I am just not the audience ALW was appealing to. I'm very glad I went, but mainly so I know never to go again.
Posted mrkringas on 29 December 2013 - 10:37 PM
Carrie Underwood? Fine. Earnest and sweet. Nice to hear a different take on the score. Lonely Goatherd was great thanks to all that country yodelling.
Also confess to welling up when the Captain sings his reprise of the title song and reconnects with his children. For years I blithely ignored this show as "naff" - sure its saccharine but there is an important story here and its rightly provided generations with entertainment.
Posted Duncan on 29 December 2013 - 11:30 PM
Many people's brains are powered by movement of the jaw. If the jaw stops moving the cerebral cortex is deprived of oxygen and brain death occurs within about ten minutes.