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steveatplays

Member Since 20 Nov 2011
Offline Last Active Today, 08:03 PM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: A View From The Bridge

Today, 06:21 PM

When I saw the glowing neon floor of the set, the bathtub shaped glass prison walls around it, and the ascending and descending cage above it, I thought I was looking at the holodeck of the Starship Enterprise. This is like a futuristic shell, designed to hold the distilled essence of a human tragedy, as a lesson to Starfleet Officers, or anybody who cares to look and learn.

The production feels timeless, divorced from the Brooklyn brownstone that glowered over the Ken Stott revival, albeit still tinged with Sicilian values about honour and justice. And it feels religious, a place where even scheming lawyers remove their shoes before entering, because the drama is somehow holy. Like a parable, I suppose.

If Ivo Van Hove wanted to leave the actors to carry the full weight of the drama, he succeeds because of Mark Strong. That man scares me, I won't lie. When his Eddie Carbone made eye contact with me, I froze with fright. His physicality is primal, his eyes hawklike, always hunting.

And what he wants most, he can't have, which is his seventeen year old niece Catherine, played by a Phoebe Fox, whose thighs he can't stop stroking, and who is so childlike that she leaps into his bearlike arms and straddles her legs round his waist like she is 5 years old.

I could barely recognise Fox as the same streetwise trendy young English girl she played in The Acid Test. Her Brooklyn accent is spot on, so too her girlish mannerisms, and when when she falls for Luke Norris' blond, singing, sewing, dancing Rodolpho, she unleashes some of the worst gaydar ever in Uncle Eddie, who wins the award as the least likely character ever to be in the front row of a performance of "La Cage au Folles" singing along to "I am what I am." Eddie decides something "ain't right" about Rodolpho.

Nicola Walker is effective and moving, as a compassionate voice of reason, Eddie's wife, who can see conflict developing, but is powerless to stop it.

The drama that develops turns all "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly," when Van Hove stages the characters in a triangle, and has them using words and pauses like bullets. And make no mistake, Strong is the mirror image of Lee Van Cleef's villainous Angel Eyes in this scene, his eyes having been drawn to our attention by the play's Greek chorus, Michael Gould's forlorn Alfieri.

After this, there is a brief moment of longeurs, before the powerful resolution of one of the most starkly dramatic productions I've seen in a while. Grab the remaining tickets while they're there.

4 and a half stars. :)

In Topic: Urinetown

Yesterday, 12:49 PM

View PostPharaoh, on 15 April 2014 - 12:26 PM, said:

Jenna must've had something else on; I saw her in a Starbucks near Victoria at about 6pm.

She had lost her voice, but her coffee drinking skills were unaffected.

https://twitter.com/...743141724479489

Hope she is better now. :)

In Topic: Urinetown

13 April 2014 - 06:42 PM

A repeat outing for "Sunday in the Park with George?"

In Topic: The Vale Of Health (Simon Gray Rep Season)

11 April 2014 - 11:12 AM

Lynette, yes. Seeing "Japes Too" at the lone Saturday matinee. I do love my Saturday matinees lol.

Really looking forward to it now, especially as the programme (I borrowed Jamie Ballard's dad's programme) said that Gray considered "Michael" and "Japes Too" to be "twins."

In Topic: The Vale Of Health (Simon Gray Rep Season)

09 April 2014 - 09:18 PM

Wow. Caught "Michael" tonight, and loved it! Absolutely brilliant. A tour de force of acting. A better play, in my opinion, than "Japes!"

This exists in the same time-space continuum as "Japes," but where "Japes" is all "Brief Encounter," with the characters ducking and diving around each other, trying to do the right thing, this is like full on "Last Tango in Paris," doing the wrong thing. This is the deleted scenes from "Japes," drama drama drama, and indeed, so much tension is created, that the bitter humour is funnier, a literal relief from coiled tension.

The running time is only 80 minutes, without an interval to puncture the electric atmosphere, where "Japes" ran 2 hrs 30minutes, with a 20 minute interval.

It's hard to say if "Michael" would have had such an impact on me if I hadn't seen "Japes" first, as all the character building, that occurred in "Japes," is relevant here. But I do think that the play stands alone, as much of the character information dripped out in "Japes" is delivered here economically and cleverly.

This play begins and ends with Wendy, the daughter of the menage-a-trois of Neets and Japes and Michael, and consequently, her role and relevance to the story is foregrounded and realised to a far greater extent. This play does not span generations, but begins when Wendy is already 15 years old. Oddly, despite this play being more in your face and confrontational than "Japes," it is also more optimistic, due to a touching coda.

This is one of my favourite plays of the year, and it makes me feel sad to think that Simon Gray never lived to see it performed. I wish he had been there tonight.

Jamie Ballard's dad was sitting next to me, and I told him he had every reason to be proud, because Jamie's character Michael absolutely chews up his scenes in this play. His character doesn't feature much early on, as the other characters set the scene, but set the scene they do, and when he does appear, he delivers raw naked honest flawed human experience faultlessly.

For me, Laura Rees' Neets triumphs again. Her character provides the best, most intriguing, most fully realised role and performance by a female in anything this year. Absolutely brilliant.

Gethin Anthony and Imogen Doel also come up trumps again, with Doel making the most of her deeper integration into the story, and Anthony conveying Japes' thoughtlessness, where he previously showed us Japes' thoughtfulness.

Maybe I was just in a good mood, and noone else will agree, but for me, that was 5 stars.

I can't believe that play cost £5, and I can't wait for "Japes Too." :)