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Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

IMG_2845The play sounds a bit dry and  maybe a tad dull:

In 1993, in front of the world’s press, the leaders of Israel and Palestine shook hands on the lawn of the White House. Few watching would have guessed that the negotiations leading up to this iconic moment started secretly in a castle in the middle of a forest outside Oslo.  Oslo tells the true story of two maverick Norwegian diplomats who coordinated top secret talks and inspired seemingly impossible friendships. Their quiet heroics led to the groundbreaking Oslo Peace Accords.

But it is a great play, much funnier than expected, with dark humour and a thought-provoking ending.  And even though we know they shook hands it does not stop the tension building throughout.  Rod-Larsen and his wife enabled the delegations to meet in private to come to an agreement, which is quite an extraordinary story. The chief negotiators, Ahmed Qurie (Peter Polycarpou) and Uri Savir (Philip Arditti), create the best moments in the play.  But all the cast are very good and have to mention Toby Stephens as Rod-Larsen as his mum was in to watch the performance.  The ending is poignant as you realise how close they came to compromise and how far they have moved from that since – moving to discover the Qurie and Savir never lost touch.  It is tranferring to Harold Pinter Theatre from 2nd October so go and see it; deserved the Tony Award for Best Play that it received in the States.

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Olivia Williams (Alice) and Olivia Colman (Jenny) are quiteIMG_2751 believable as sisters in the Lucy Kirkwood play, Mosquitoes.

Alice is a scientist. She lives in Geneva. As the Large Hadron Collider starts up in 2008, she is on the brink of the most exciting work of her life, searching for the Higgs Boson.  Jenny is her sister. She lives in Luton. She spends a lot of time Googling.  When tragedy throws them together, the collision threatens them all with chaos.

This is a play that would work without the science and maybe that element adds in too many ideas.  But portraying Alice as a scientist caught up in her work, serves to make her seem inept at managing the relationships outside of her work where emotion is involved, with her disturbed son, her mother and Jenny.  Jenny is spoken about by Alice and her mother as being the not so bright one and she is much more emotional and angry due to the death of her daughter.  But she is the sensible one who manages the issues with her mother and nephew better than Alice.

There is humour in the play as well as tragedy and it is beautifully acted by the two Olivias.  Well worth the wait as I turned up a day early in error.

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Rob Drummonds’s National Theatre play starts with his guilt at not voting in the Scottish Referendum and IMG_0653then a story about meeting an activist, Eric, and is increasingly awkward relationship with him.   The central idea is around how a liberally minded individual can tolerate views that they believe to be wrong.  The audience is given voting handsets and we voted at different times on questions put to us eg. if there is a runaway train heading for 5 railway workers, do you divert it to hit and kill 1 lone railway worker on a different piece of track.  This escalates into would you do it if it was your child and then a Nazi.  But the final question was supposed to be dramatic but felt a bit vague around whether it is okay to abuse someone holding a differing opinion.  So a bit of let down at the end of 90 minutes.

It also felt a bit awkward – I not sure as to whether that was deliberate and supposed to be cheesy or whether it was just misjudged with Rob walking about and standing in spotlights.  And he does not have a raconteur’s skill and so it felt badly acted at points.  Not one that I would be rushing to recommend.

 

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Ink at the Almeida

DSCF2486Loved this play directed by Rupert Goold at the Almeida.

Fleet Street. 1969. The Sun rises.

James Graham’s ruthless, red-topped new play leads with the birth of this country’s most influential newspaper – when a young and rebellious Rupert Murdoch asked the impossible and launched its first editor’s quest, against all odds, to give the people what they want.

It is a great cast.  The leads, Richard Coyle as Larry Lamb and Bertie Carvel as Rupert Murdoch, are really engaging with Tom Steed as Bernard and Sophie Stanton as Joyce standing out for me. It is clear that Murdoch buys the paper to get back at the establishment and Lamb joins the cause as he is also outside the group due to being a northerner.  Lamb trawls Fleet Street looking for staff and then follows a very funny brainstorming scene as to what the paper should offer.  We go from knickers in a tin via a kidnap to page 3.  There is a lot of humour, some singing and dancing in the first act, and a wonderful set.  It switches from a Fleet Street basement to a printing press room  all swathed in cigarette smoke.

The whole experience was enhanced by finding myself sitting next to Kevin Spacey in the interval as I am a huge fan.

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Cracking play.  Great sets, great actors, soundtrack imageworked and a great dancing scene.  It seems very contemporary despite being written in 1993:

New York. A film studio.  A young woman has an urgent story to tell.  But here, people are products, movies are money and sex sells. And the rights to your life can be a dangerous commodity to exploit. Everyone has a story, but who owns it? What happens when a young woman sells her story to a film production company, only to see it falsified? (Almeida)

There is dancing, creepy moments, sudden violence, odd relationships and a blind taxi driver.  The last scene left me feeling oddly uplifted for all the strangeness that had preceded it.

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Just when you think you can’t see another version of the play to beat theIMG_1971 others, you do.  This one was fantastic – laughed out loud throughout.  Tamsin Greig as Malvolia (this is a key change to a female character) played it beautifully, sneering and contemptuous.  There is one point in the letter scene that you think she could tip over the edge for comic effect but she keeps the perfect balance, with disapproving looks at the audience.  The whole scene with Sir Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek, Daniel Rigby and Tim McMullan is so well acted, one like an aging rock star, the other a buffoon.  And Greig’s last moving scene is also well judged.  I’ve never seen Viola (a character allegedly in mourning) played in such an energetic and slightly predatory fashion and it works so well; Tamara Lawrance is excellent.  One strange scene in a nightclub with a drag queen but ignore that; the whole cast, the set, the costumes, the excellent musicians as part of the cast – all made for a great end to the week and raises the spirits. Quite simply fun.

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Limehouse at the Donmar

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One Sunday morning, four prominent Labour politicians – Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and David Owen – gather in private at Owen’s home in Limehouse, east London.  They are desperate to find a political alternative.  Should they split their party, divide their loyalties, and risk betraying everything they believe in? Would they be starting afresh, or destroying forever the tradition that nurtured them?

The actors in this Steve Waters play at the Donmar are terrific.  Roger Allam as Roy Jenkins is unrecognisable, Debra Gillett as Shirley Williams is quite scary in how much her small movements remind me of Shirley, Paul Chahidi as Bill Rodgers is great and Tom Goodman-Hill as David Owen is a superb charismatic bully.  Waters clearly sees the labour party today as being very much in the same position it was in 1981 with the left of the party dominating, divided over Europe and more concerned with in fighting than opposing Thatcher.   It is a moment in time captured in a Sunday kitchen in Limehouse and one that makes you think about what could happen now.

BBC Five Live Daily Interview on 10th March had the 3 remaining Gang of Four in the studio following them watching the play the night before.  Shirley did not recognise herself but did see her fellow gang members up there; the others pretty much said the same.  They thought the play did a good job of summarising discussions that had gone on over several months into one Sunday.  Interesting that both Shirley and Bill felt that the time could be ripe for another break away party within next couple of years.

Play is on until 15th April and well worth seeing.

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