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exuberantlyblueMember Since 10 Mar 2012
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Posted exuberantlyblue on 23 March 2013 - 12:29 AM
Superb performances, though. If the play itself wasn't magical for me, the actors often were.Everett of course is phenomenal, but for me Cal MacAninch's quiet Robert Ross stole the show (a feat considering other actors on stage had certain show-stealing opportunities that Cal didn't). Freddie Fox was also quite good, which made me glad as I liked him in Hay Fever. And Tom Colley's, um, attributes may get the lion's share of the attention, but beyond that his easy friendliness was an effective foil to Bosie and Wilde in the second act.
Interesting audience as well - the intrigued feminine murmurs/sighs that swept the room whenever one of the three young men took their kit off threatened to have me in giggles. Particularly when Colley came back on stage dripping wet; the mass intake of breath and involuntary appreciative noises were hilarious. Plus my interval was jazzed up by the funniest, meanest pair of middle-aged ladies behind me: in fifteen minutes or so they dismissed Everett as "so ugly!" (who did they want to play Wilde, Brad Pitt?), his clothes as "shabby" ("I expected Wilde to be dressed so beautifully, but he's all crumpled and dirty"), the nudity thus far displayed as "not much" (said in the most disapproving tone!), and the young man who'd thus far bared all as "in good shape, I suppose, but hardly good-looking" (harsh!)
Theatre ladies aside, while I didn't love the play itself, I had an enjoyable evening and the acting was first-rate. The lighting and set were also great, with one exception - the fact that the drapings on the beds were SO HUGE, with those enormous canopies taking up like half the stage, was a bit strange to me. No doubt it was thematic. But the little sofa bed in particular having such an enormous canopy triggered my funny bone. The rest of the staging, though, and the lighting in particular, was lovely. Particular shout-out to the end of Act One with the lighting and the passage of time.
Oh, and sitting close to the stage is a good choice, if you can. You feel like you're right there in the room. The only drawbacks are when Bosie's running around in a sheet and then a towel and you're trying to avoid looking up said sheet/towel from your vantage point directly below.
Posted exuberantlyblue on 16 March 2013 - 11:53 AM
Posted exuberantlyblue on 16 March 2013 - 03:16 AM
~ Richard McCabe (Harold Wilson) is sublime. Terrific performance. I adored him.
~ Helen Mirren (the Queen, duh) is also great. Particularly in her scenes with McCabe, but with the others as well. She's on stage for pretty much the entire thing, and it's very much her show (obviously). I feel very privileged to have seen her act live.
~ Bebe Cave (one of the three Young Elizabeths) was luminous. Loved her, and her scenes with Mirren were spot-on.
~ On-stage costume changes!
~ State dress, absolutely gorgeous.
~ Balmoral set - divine.
~ The thing they do with the invisible window that gave me the shivers.
~ One very topical joke they must have inserted a couple weeks after opening. It brought the house down.
The not-so-good/slightly less good:
~ I just couldn't suspend my disbelief for some of the PMs, particularly the ones I knew well. Edward Fox (Churchill) was lanky and too young, which made his elder-statesman role fall flat for me. Nathaniel Parker (Gordon Brown) and Rufus Wright (David Cameron) largely had the accents/intonations of their characters down (although Parker's voice was too high, imo), but they just ... didn't look right. Gah. [For Brown I may have been spoiled by his portrayal by David Morrissey in The Deal, so your mileage may vary.] This may also be entirely my fault for sitting too close - maybe from farther away they would have blurred a bit at the edges and been easier to squint into their inspirations, but sitting in row C I couldn't get past the feeling that they were party-piece impressions.
~ I totally bought Mirren at most of her "Queen ages" - varying flavours of middle age and elderly - but her "new Queen" didn't work for me. I could tell she was working really hard at it - her intonations, body language, and carriage were different - but I just couldn't buy her as a 26-year-old new queen. It might have worked better to age the Young Elizabeth up and have her do that scene; I suppose that wouldn't have worked with it being the Mirren Show, though. (And also then the transition between Churchill & Eden wouldn't have worked, I guess.)
~ The butler/equerry fellow felt a bit over-the-top. Probably intentional. But he was shading on caricature.
~ One of the PMs felt entirely shoehorned in, which I think may have been the point but came across rather awkwardly.
~ Thatcher ... looking back, I'm torn. I think they did a decent job with her scene, and yet I couldn't help feeling like it wasn't quite as awesome as it could have been? I don't know how they could have bettered it, though, so it seems a bit unkind to criticise.
~ The programme is 4 quid and about 70% the exact same as the Book of Mormon programme, which was annoying.
~ No mobile phone announcement beforehand, which I'm unfairly blaming for the fact that someone's phone went off two rows behind me in the middle of a quiet scene.
Anyway, to sum up, it was an enjoyable evening and I'm glad I went - it was great to see Mirren being her fabulous self, McCabe was a revelation, I'm going to keep an eye out for Bebe Cave in future, and everything is better with corgis.
I kind of want a sequel with just Mirren and McCabe, though. Maybe the Queen and Harold Wilson could be zombie-hunters defending the UK from the invasion of the undead. Or I'd even enjoy an indepth exploration of the Wilson premierships - make it The Audience 2: The Greatest Hits, and give me 10-15 Queen & Wilson audiences. Ted Heath could show up and be the bad guy. Oh, and throw in the corgis, they're awesome.
Posted exuberantlyblue on 02 March 2013 - 12:57 PM
Posted exuberantlyblue on 01 March 2013 - 03:14 PM
I totally get you about the fourth wall. Seeing people behind the actors doesn't bother me usually (the Donmar's my favourite theatre, and the Young Vic Hamlet one of my favourite plays last year, and they both staged on three sides), but for some reason last night they threw me out several times. The one you've mentioned - the girl's reaction to having brawlers nearly land on her lap that made everyone laugh - was one, the woman sipping wine like she was in her parlour while Lady Macduff was being brutally strangled directly in front of her was another, but there were others too. Plus the fact that a few of them left at the interval meant that there were glaringly empty seats.
Like you said, great to sit in, I'm sure - although the front row of the normal seats would probably be nearly as neat, and not risk the view being obstructed - but really kind of a distraction for everyone else.
Posted exuberantlyblue on 01 March 2013 - 01:57 AM
I also like your version of what happened with the fire drill. I'm surprised they didn't make us all leave the foyer, though, if it was an actual drill - it was packed in there, and didn't feel entirely safe near the end (some smaller girls were getting shoved).
I agree with you about the witches. They fit the setting, I guess, but they didn't really do anything for me.
Posted exuberantlyblue on 01 March 2013 - 01:25 AM
Most of what I'd say has already been said - very gory, very intense, loooots of strobe lighting, great performances. As for Claire Foy, she wasn't my top favourite but I thought she held her own. One of the moments that will stay with me is when she leaned across a table to talk to her husband and in doing so put her hands straight down in the bloody slick that was currently on top of it. (In universe the blood wasn't real - part of a vision - but in the theatre it definitely was.) Eerie.
McAvoy does a really good job, I thought, although from Row M he wasn't completely recognisable, lol. But I've always thought of him as littler, somehow? And yet he inhabits that "bloody, physical warrior king" space entirely believably. If he didn't pull it off the play wouldn't work, but he does and it does.
The real standout performance for me was Jamie Ballard as Macduff - I see someone said he was "shouty" and maybe he was from close up but from Row M he was bang on perfect. Two women in the front row stage seats were surreptitiously wiping away tears.
Speaking of stage seats, they definitely get in on the action! I felt bad for one girl, she was just sitting there and then suddenly two fighting actors nearly toppled right into her lap. The look of terrified horror on her face made half the audience giggle (which kind of didn't work in the scene, oops). And then there was Lady Macduff's prolonged strangulation scene - with a lady in the front row contemplatively sipping away at her wine the entire gory time.
And yeah, five pounds for a programme. Highest I've seen in a while. It's got little blurbs about climate change turning Scotland into a wasteland and how art students and shoemakers can turn into mass-murdering dictators? Dunno, but it's not really worth 5 quid except for the collecting factor. Although at least one of the cast listed having received a WOS award.
Anyway, this isn't my favourite of Shakespeare's plays (and I'm not usually a big fan of gore) but I thought they did a great job with it. The porter scene didn't really work for me, but apart from that I liked their choices and didn't really notice any bad casting/acting.
Oh, one quick question - was what sounded like the fire alarm going off in the foyer for like 15 minutes before the show part of the experience? I.e., does it always do that, presumably to put you in the mood for apocalyptic scenes to come? Or was it just tonight?
Posted exuberantlyblue on 20 December 2012 - 12:34 AM
I was lucky enough to snag a front-row Barclays ticket two weeks ago, and I was looking forward to seeing this even though it had mixed reviews, because (1) I've loved all the Donmar productions I've seen [RII, Recruiting Officer, Making Noise Quietly] and (2) because Harriet Walter was in it (I've adored her ever since I saw her as Harriet Vane when I was a teenager).
The space is utterly transformed. I mean, I guess it's the same size, but I wouldn't have recognised it if you'd shown me a photo. Awesome set, very bare and with the dreaded plastic chairs (in the stalls - the circle has what looked like very comfy and plush red velvet benches). Actually, though, I found the plastic chairs perfectly comfortable. They're not flat, if that makes sense? I wouldn't be surprised if they were like "ergonomic" or something. My rear didn't get tired despite the 2 hrs w/out interval and my rear is ample.
As for the play itself, I really enjoyed it. Yes, it's a different sort of interpretation, but it worked for me. I thought all the actors were simply superb. Frances Barber as Caesar was magnetic in an uncanny way, which worked perfectly. Cush Jumbo as Antony was freaking awesome - hers was a minor role until after Caesar's death, but then she came alive. Carrie Rock as the soothsayer was appropriately odd and scary, particularly on a tricycle. Ishia Bennison as Casca was quite well done in a smaller but memorable role - I loved her dryness. Meanwhile, Clare Dunne was gorgeous and amazing - although I didn't really get why she doubled as Portia and Octavius Caesar? I mean, she did an excellent job as both, particularly as Portia, and the characters didn't overlap so I guess why not, but it was a bit strange. I loved her accent, and the scene between her and Brutus was one of my favourites.
And then of course then there were Brutus (Harriet Walter) and Cassius (Jenny Jules). Both of them were amazing. Walter played Brutus as a true troubled and conflicted soul - or rather played a prisoner playing Brutus! [More on that later.] Jules's Cassius was passionate to a fault, the perfect counterweight to Walter's Brutus and a master portrayal. Since the play centred on them - with the exception of the aforementioned tendency of Barber to magnetically draw all eyes whenever she appeared - they both needed to be thoroughly solid, and they more than were. I grant that I'm biased because I love Walter, but I still thought she was amazing, and Jules was a revelation.
The setting in a women's prison was an interesting touch. Shades of the Young Vic Hamlet, but different. For one thing, the actors in this break character at points, interacting with the framework in a way that the Hamlet didn't. This was a bit jarring the first time, but then I assimilated it and liked the extra touch it added. The simmering frustration and rage underneath some of the characters was an interesting added fillip, and it made the ending of the play work well.
And then of course there was the reason I'll certainly never forget this play - which I can't tell you. xD If you've been, you'll immediately be able to guess. Quite - well! (!!)
Everyone around me and on the stairs afterwards seemed to have really enjoyed it. Seriously enthusiastic clapping and some standers, and lots of talk on the way out about how great it had been. For some reason I'd expected it to have empty seats (which it didn't that I could see) and lukewarm reception, but this wasn't the case. The atmosphere was great.
Oh, one last thing - at least two of the people in the front row were I think genuinely new to the Donmar (I mention it because of all the talk about the Barclay seats and who they were going to). I say this because the woman in the couple spent ten minutes before the show looking at every person in the audience to try to find celebrities because "it's the DONMAR" (said in awed hushed tones) and obviously they would be everywhere. She was so happy with her date for managing to procure tickets. It was very cute.