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Posted mallardo on 07 March 2014 - 11:18 PM
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. It's too heavy. It's a distraction. Or Lockstock and Little Sally tagging Bobby and Hope's sweet and funny Follow Your Heart duet, Lockstock with a smoke machine. It ruined the moment. Leave well enough alone.
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.
All of that said, act two is miles better than act one - as if Lloyd finally figured out how it goes. And most of the cast are terrific. I liked Richard Fleeshman's Bobby - he got it just right - although, as others here have noted, he was surprisingly underpowered vocally. Rosanna Hyland's Hope was a good match for him. She avoided the mugging others fell prey to. I also liked Karis Jack's nuanced and well sung Little Sally and Corey English's fervent Hot Blades Harry.
The Cladwell scenes did not work as well as they should but it wasn't the fault of a plausible and entertaining Simon Paisley Day.
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.
Posted Epicoene on 04 March 2013 - 02:31 PM
Posted Honoured Guest on 07 March 2014 - 03:05 PM
Posted mallardo on 01 March 2014 - 09:07 AM
Margie (with a hard G) doesn't. She gets fired from her job in a Dollar Discount store in the play's first scene, yet another setback in her luckless life. She has a retarded (offstage) daughter to care for, no health care, no money, no skills. She has to find work fast and how she goes about doing so is the play. For she turns to an old boy friend and fellow slum kid, now a successful Doctor with a home in fabled Chestnut Hill - the guy who DID have the luck.
And the table is set for drama.
Margie is a great character - desperate, feisty, abrasive, maddening, deeply caring, strong, and beneath it all, "good people", as they say in Boston. The role won the 2011 Tony Award for Frances McDormand and I'll be surprised if it doesn't bring the equivalent acclaim for Imelda Staunton who is breathtakingly wonderful here. This was only the 2nd preview and already she is so deeply embedded in the character, so nuanced, so funny - for it is a VERY funny play - so fierce and true and utterly heartbreaking. She totally embodies this complex and affecting woman.
The whole cast is excellent. Lloyd Owen is pitch perfect as Mike, the doctor not entirely comfortable with his roots and Angel Coulby is quite sensationally good as Kate, his sensitive up-market wife. She doesn't enter until Act Two which is basically a long three-hander in which Margie invades their suburban home and forces a confrontation with the past. It's a tour de force scene in every way and the centerpiece of the play, done to perfection here.
Jonathan Kent directs with a light touch, which is to say we don't notice his work - always a good thing. And Hildegard Bechtler's ingenious revolving sets keep the action flowing
As noted, this was the 2nd preview and if the timing was not quite where it should be in some moments - particularly in Act One - that will improve. It's an excellent play and this cast does it justice. And Imelda Staunton... Brava!!
Posted Deal J on 02 March 2014 - 10:02 AM
Posted Titan on 25 February 2014 - 04:26 PM
Posted popcultureboy on 14 February 2014 - 10:24 AM
Posted Lisa S on 09 February 2014 - 08:54 PM
'Anger is the glue that holds Simon Russell Beale's Lear together.'
Just at the natural ordering is breaking down in the world around him, so it is breaking down inside Lear's head. He is nothing more than a mish mash of primal rages: railing at his children, rubbing his balls, holding a page three picked up from the gutter, lashing out and so on.
I think you could also say that Regan's sadism in this show is also a primal blood lust. It is a very elemental show.
The breakdown of natural ordering that we see in this production is nothing new and very much with the grain of the text, but I don't think it has ever been done with such a strong psychological focus on Lear's state of mind.
As well as Russell Beale's portrayal of clinical dementia, there are directorial touches too, the hospital bed, the hospital gown, nurses on hand to inject sedatives in him.
I read another review the other day that said that event in mock trial scene was 'unwarranted'.
How is it 'unwarranted'? Lear, we are told, has just mistaken Goneril for a 'joint stool'. And this is after Edgar's Poor Tom has been told by Lear that his life's failings are down to some imagined daughters of Poor Tom's.
The loss of mind is in the text.
And then the line comes: 'Arms! Arms!'
Lear does just that. He arms himself.
It's only possible to do what is done in that scene because this character is mad and cannot necessarily be taken at face value, but it's not 'unwarranted'.
The words are in the text.
And it's consistently followed through later in this production. To this man with so little grip on what he is doing, a banana he holds is presented a 'piece of cheese'.
I may have recalled this wrong, but when Lear says: 'I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester', it was said like somebody drifting in and out of consciousness. Not sleep and awake, but just someone who slips in and out of natural consciousness about what is around him. That is very much a feature of clinical dementia.
Did anyone else hear it like that?
I cannot see what Russell Beale was supposed to do? Fax in a generic performance? Russell Beale is famous for bringing psychological insight into his Shakesperian roles and why shouldn't he add his stamp of creativity to his interpretation?
To change the subject entirely, I think that the theatre world could be more critical of psychology, which is, after all, a pseudo science and is abused almost every day of the week by social services units to take children away from parents.
A tacit quid pro quo is used for psychiatrists giving expert evidence: if you give social services the medical opinion they want, they will give you more work, ergo more money. It's the modern version of the Philomena story, only people don't see it that way because in fashionable opinion only religious people are flawed - never scientists.
To return to the subject, I think everything Russell Beale did in this show in giving this clinical account of Lear's madness is compelling, convincing and consistent. And I think where there are striking new elements - in this case, literally striking - I think the evidence is there in the text for Russell Beale and Mendes to justify that.
This is the first Mendes show I have seen since The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard. Wild horses could not drag me along to a James Bond film (unless Bond does an Edward Snowden) or that Charlie and The Chocolate Factory show, which really looks like a cheap cash-in on Matilda, but I see Alex Jennings is to be the new Willy Wonka, so I might have to go see that.
He's perhaps the only other actor in the same league as Russell Beale.
I look forward to - a long time from now - Alex Jennings' Lear. Those who saw his Hamlet will remember how influenced that was by psychological insight.
To finish on Lear, does anyone remember him in the infamously unactable part of Edgar in Robert Stephens' Lear?
It was the most stupid stage set: A massive map of England on the floor that gradually got more ripped up as the show went on and people walked all over it. The audience gassed like a drain when the eyes were gouged and all I can remember of poor Simon was that in the background was what looked like a Star Trek set with a sort of mound of would be earth on it. In the background a red sky and a suspended 'planet' shape (that cracked open at the interval to let out sand).
And I'll never forget Russell Beale walking over the mound, arms in Christ-like pose and looking like George Dawes with only a nappy on and no romper suit.
It was ludicrous!
Poor Simon - I will always love him to bits!
Posted popcultureboy on 23 May 2013 - 11:37 AM
Audibility was an issue occasionally, mostly because some of the songs are fast ("Strike That, Reverse It") and, as always with West End shows, I find, some of the ensemble numbers lack clarity.
Posted Epicoene on 05 February 2014 - 01:17 PM
Not sure if I ever saw Richardson, I think I did. A famous production of his was where he and Richard Pasco alternated Richard II and Bolingbroke. On paper this has always struck me as a bit of a gimmick but I recently saw a production photo of it which made the point perfectly clear - Richard II and Bolingbroke looked identical - same costume, same make-up, same hair, same everything - mirror images - pretty clever idea, huh ? (off topic but I know you like the play).
Posted Pharaoh's number 2 on 30 January 2014 - 12:07 AM
The 8 actors in this are all women, and when they appeared together on the giant staircase that is the set for this production, what most struck me, aside from the fact that they are excellent actors, is that 4 of them are Mike Leigh alumni: Marion Bailey who tried to cheer up the miserable Lesley Manville in Grief, Sinead Matthews who tried to cheer up the miserable Sian Brooke in Ecstasy, Claire Skinner who tossed miserable David Thewlis out of her flat in Naked and the woman cruelly branded "character face" in this production, Ruth Sheen.
And who was there the night I saw it?
Posted paultheatre on 28 January 2014 - 12:24 AM
Complete with original cast.
Posted alec_e10 on 16 January 2014 - 09:54 AM
I wouldn't say it was a proper musical. The songs all follow a theme rather than a random selection of Sondheim songs but no real plot or storyline.
I saw this show in Guildford at the end of last year and it is excellent
Posted Honoured Guest on 14 January 2014 - 12:02 AM
Dark. Except for a light.
My light. From my screen.
Light as I post how I am so bored.
So bored to death in the dark.
Dark. Except for a light.
My light. From my screen.
This is NOT the right play for this theatre.
Well, not right for ME in this theatre.
It's just too.
Dark. Except for a light.
Light. Less light. Low battery.