Theatre

Having created lists of concerts I have attended, bands I have heard, galleries I have visited, etc, I overlooked theatre and dance productions I have seen.  Herewith a list, sometimes annotated, to be updated as and when I remember additional events.

  • Goethe and Christiane performed by One Night Stand Productions and eurus ops theatre company, written and directed by Joseph Prestwich, at the Bread and Roses Theatre, Clapham, South London, on Saturday 26 August 2017. This was an interesting and amusing new play based on Goethe’s life and his engagement with Italy. The staging and acting were both excellent. Webpage here.
  • Henry V by Cyphers Theatre Company at The Proud Achivist, on Sunday 25 October 2015, the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. Directed by Marcus Bazley, and starring Paul Anthony, Carmella Brown, William Holyhead, Dylan Lincoln, Rupert Sadler and Louise Wilcox. As before, this is an exciting and energetic production, and was again superbly acted. One had to fight hard to ignore the leaking sound of the fine ragtime and blues pianist in the bar outside.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at Tutu’s, King’s College London, 23-25 March 2015, directed by Luke James Boneham, and starring Joe Prestwich, Grace Farrell, Ally McDermott, Rosalia Mythos-Perris, Tom Marsh, Ben Dallyn, Emily Brown, Travis Alabanza, George Collecott, Akshay Sharan, Ioana Andrei, Aurelie Blanc and Jackie Edwards. This was a very good production. I particularly liked the detailed choreography of fast-paced, witty movement in the scene where Lysander (Tom Marsh) and Demetrius (Ben Dallyn) were both besotted with Helena (Emily Brown). Not sure if this choreography was planned and directed or was improvised by the actors – in either case, it was very good.image
  • Proof, a play David Auburn, at Tutu’s, King’s College London, March 2015, directed by Mathew Hodson and supported by the Faculty of Natural and Mathematical Sciences of King’s College London.
  • Great Expectations, at The Proud Achivist, February 2015, in a Cyphers Theatre Company production, directed by Marcus Bazley, and starring Chris Anderton, Victoria Hamblen, William Holyhead, Dylan Lincoln and Rupert Sadler (as Pip). Another superb production from this ensemble – fast, frenetic, fluent, folksy, feisty and fun.
  • Heels of Glory: A Drag Action Musical, by Tricity Vogue (writer) and Richard Link (composer), directed by Stephen Heatley, at Chelsea Theatre, London, January 2015. Some good music, and the henchpersons were choreographed well. But lyrics and words and comedy and plot and singing and acting and lighting could all do with some more work. OTOH, perhaps best to ignore my comments, as I’ve never really got drag.
  • Great Britain, National Theatre production of play by Richard Bean, directed by Nicholas Hytner, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 29 December 2014. I lasted just the first half, and would have left earlier if I could have done so without disturbing anyone. Not at all funny – there were perhaps just three mildly-amusing one-liners, none of them particularly witty or satirical, in the first half. Lots of swearing and explicit sexual innuendo (both verbal and physical), which I assume was intended to be funny. But who laughs at swear words and extreme male chauvinist displays of sexist insults these days? Who ever did, come to that? (In my entire life, I have never met anyone who laughed at Benny Hill, for instance, which may only show what sheltered upbringings modern Australians have.)The script had the feel of something written by someone in late middle age, trying his hardest to be down and dirty with the kids – and missing it completely. As an example: Why was the Police Commissioner’s secret gay lover half-Chinese and half-Welsh? I imagine such specific detail was intended to be funny. But it wasn’t funny, and no one laughed at it. Nothing was done with this detail (at least in the first half), so why was it there at all? It was as funny as saying he was half-Welsh and an architect, ie, not at all. Perhaps it would be funny to people who don’t know any Chinese people or any Welsh people, or people who don’t live in modern Britain. Perhaps Benny Hill would have found it funny.The actors did their best with a script that should have gone straight from paper factory to wrapping fish-and-chips. I have known a dozen people wittier everyday, all the time, than anything I heard here, and encounter similar people frequently. The average stranger in a British post office queue is funnier. And they do not have the luxury of writing their words in advance.Perhaps the play was funnier on another night, the night the critics went. Or perhaps I just wasn’t in the target demographic, since I was expecting to see clever political satire and sharp wit, rather than f-words, unfunny d-jokes, and stale, ham-fisted political commentary. However, no one around me was laughing either, so there must have been a lot of us from that wrong demographic there.
  • King Lear, at the Greenwood Theatre, by the King’s Shakespeare Company, directed by Freddie Fullerton, produced by Aja Garrod and Serena Grasso, and starring Steffan Rizzi (Lear), Lydia Fleming (Goneril), Bex Evans (Regan), Juliet Wallace (Cordelia), Matthew Aldridge (Gloucestor), Rupert Sadler (Edgar), Magnus Gordon (Edmund), Joe Prestwich (Fool), Tom Marsh (Kent), Benjy Cox (Albany), Will Holyhead (Cornwall/Old Man/Captain), George Colecot (Oswald/Burgundy), Andrew Marks (France/Knight/Servant/Messenger), Ally McDermott (Curan/Knight/Servant/Gentleman), and (as Knights) Marcus Bell, Charlotte Downes, Liam Flaherty, Ollie Harrison, Nessa Khurram, Mattho Mandersloot, Zack McGuinness, Holly Nicholls, and Tallulah Smart. This was a monumental production, intelligent, violent, and morally serious. December 2014.
  • Romeo and Juliet, by London Theatre Workshop, The Eel Brook, Fulham. Audience only a few more than cast, sadly. Some inspired performances, but felt like the troupe were still finding their feet with the play. Perhaps would have been better later in the run. Hard to discern what this production was for. Why another production of R&J? Why now? Why this way? A lot of knives, unnerving to those of us awake in the front row.
  • Henry V, at The Proud Achivist, October 2014, in a co-production of Cyphers Theatre Company and King’s Shakespeare Company, directed by Marcus Bazley, and starring Chris Anderton, Victoria Hamblen, William Holyhead, Dylan Lincoln, and Rupert Sadler.  This was a very impressive production, of high professional standard.  Who wouldn’t want to be an actor, when you get to run around in public like this, shouting and fighting? A superb production, fast-paced, clever, and witty. All the sound effects – seagulls, sailing ships, war drums, swells – were produced by the actors themselves, and transported us instantly. The costumes were cleverly and subtly colour-coded so that we could tell French from English characters played by doubling actors. Some nice public participation, such as asking audience members to donate coins for the welfare of incognito Henry’s soldier challenger. And some clever improv by Will Holyhead when an audience member handed him a kangaroo-laden Australian dollar coin. Who wouldn’t want to be an actor, when you get to engage in banter like this?
  • Blackshaw Theatre New Writing Night, 30 September 2014, Horse and Stables Pub, Waterloo, London. Five very good items tonight, especially Luca Vigano’s short play about a hit-man commissioned to kill his client, Slice of Death, directed by Stephen Bailey and starring Annie McKenzie and Oscar Porter Brentford.
  • Teh Internet is Serious Business, play about Anonymous and LulzSec by Tim Price, at the Royal Court Theatre downstairs, Sloane Square, London, 23 September 2014 (press night).   I recommend the play very highly.  As someone remarked afterwards, there can be few plays around that present C++ code through the medium of interpretative dance.   The play is fast, kaleidoscopic, witty, and visceral, and some scenes are very funny.  I think there are many possible explanations for the actions and evolution of Anonymous, and the play essentially presents just one narrative.   The one it presents is plausible, however.   It is also good in capturing the specific personalities and motivations of some of the LulzSec members, particularly Tflow and Topiary.
  • Solo for Two, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, London Coliseum, London, August 2014.
  • Blackshaw Theatre New Writing Night, 29 July 2014, Horse and Stables Pub, Waterloo, London.  Of the events featured this night, only Gravy, written by Harold Kimmel and directed by Christian Durham, was worth writing home about:   this presented a very funny NYPD investigation of the crime scene that ends Hamlet, with the Ghost and Horatio called in for questioning over the multiple murders, incest, and various perversions discovered.
  • Gulf, performed by Pivot Theatre Company, written by Jeff Scott and Alister MacQuarrie, directed by Charlie Kenber with music by Patrick Sale, at Camden People’s Theatre, London, July 2014.   The play explored relationships between a mother and her teenage daughter, the daughter and her school headmaster, the mother and her colleagues and a psychiatrist, and issues of pedophilia, teenage sex, and the internet.   I found the play confusing, especially with actors switching roles apparently randomly, and lots of scenes made no clear sense.  Perhaps the play was about too many issues and too many relationships to be adequately covered in the time.   I liked the  music, as music, but not sure it worked with the play.
  • Measure for Measure in Cabaret, by King’s Shakespeare Company, directed by Lauren O’Hara and music by Henry Keynes Carpenter, final dress rehearsal, London, July 2014, prior to participation in the Bristol BardFest.
  • London Student Drama Festival 2014, Teatro Technis, Camden, London, 21 June 2014.  Five short plays: 12″; Honestly (both Imperial College); The Parting Glass (UCL); Lizards (SOAS); Guilty Parties (KCL).  Best by far was the KCL entry, very funny and well acted, written by Alister MacQuarrie, who rightly won Best Writer award for second year running. SOAS entry was workshopped and showed it; could have done with more work.  UCL play was an Oirish drama about The Troubles – oh so serious, so overdone, its conclusions telegraphed ahead of time, with melodramatic acting, cod accents, two anti-minimalist sets leaving nothing to our imaginations, an upright piano, and enough actors for a Cecil B. De Mille epic, including even a 5-person Celtic band on stage:  Holy Mother of Mercy was this awful!    For reasons unknown, this insult to those of us of Irish descent won award for best entry.   And speaking as indeed such a person, why must any Irish drama be accompanied by Celtic folk music, as if Irish people can’t appreciate any other type of music?  Has no one heard of John Field, James Galway, or the Vanbrugh Quartet?   Even The Messiah had its first performance in Dublin!  Five centuries of English condescension towards Ireland embodied in one folk band onstage tonight.
  • Another Country, by Julian Mitchell, directed by Jeremy Herrin, at Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, London, June 2014.  A superb production of a play which imagines what events in an English public school in the 1920s might have led the Cambridge 5 to betray their country.  Rob Callender superb as the young Guy Burgess:  authentic, spirited, leopardesque, riveting.
  • Blackshaw Theatre New Writing Night, 27 May 2014, Horse and Stables Pub, Waterloo, London.
  • Trojan Barbie, by Christine Evans, by the King’s Players, King’s College London, under Holly Robinson (director) and Dan Bird (producer), in Tutu’s, KCLSU, Temple, London, March 2014.   Without question, one of the worst live performances I have had the misfortune to witness.
  • Copenhagen, by Michael Frayn, performed by Ria Abbott (Margrethe Bohr), Freddie Fullerton (Niels Bohr) and Tom Marsh (Werner Heisenberg), under Alister MacQuarrie (director), Aja Garrod (producer), and William Nash (executive producer) in the Old Anatomy Museum, King’s College London, Strand, March 2014.  Superbly acted and directed, this was theatre of a high professional standard, equal to any I have seen.    Another review is here.
  • Romeo and Juliet, by King’s College London English Literary Society, under W. Nash (director), at the Greenwood Theatre, London, February 2014.  An innovative, witty, and funny treatment, superbly acted.
  • The Tempest, by King’s Shakespeare Company, under Hannah Elsy (director) and Aja Garrod (producer), at The Rag Factory, Heneage Street, Brick Lane, London, December 2013.  Outstanding performances by Imogen Free (Ariel) and Max Funcheon-Dinnen (Stephano).   The modern touches worked very well, and brought the play alive.  Was a full house.
  • The Magic Flute, by English National Opera, directed by Simon McBurney, London, December 2013.  As always with this director, there were some stunning visual effects, for instance, the shoals of actors representing birds, each fluttering folded paper to produce a rustling sound.
  • Marlowe’s Edward II, by The National Theatre, London, October 2013.
  • Richard II, starring Eddie Redmayne and directed by Michael Grandage, at the Donmar Warehouse, London, December 2011.
  • Hamlet, by Schaubuhne Berlin, at the Barbican Theatre, London, December 2011.
  • Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, Liverpool, 2004.
  • The Elephant Vanishes, by Theatre de Complicite, Lincoln Centre, New York, June 2004.
  • Hamlet, by Calixto Bieito, in Birmingham, September 2003.

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