Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Geoffrey Rush – Exit the King as King Berenger
Jeff Daniels – God of Carnage as Alan
Raúl Esparza – Speed-the-Plow as Charlie Fox
James Gandolfini – God of Carnage as Michael
Thomas Sadoski – reasons to be pretty as Greg
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Marcia Gay Harden – God of Carnage as Veronica
Hope Davis – God of Carnage as Annette
Jane Fonda – 33 Variations as Katherine Brandt
Janet McTeer – Mary Stuart as Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter – Mary Stuart as Elizabeth I
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish – Billy Elliot the Musical as Billy Elliot
Gavin Creel – Hair as Claude
Brian d’Arcy James – Shrek the Musical as Shrek
Constantine Maroulis – Rock of Ages as Drew
J. Robert Spencer – Next to Normal as Dan Continue reading “63rd Tony Award winners”
The Bridge Project is a rather ambitious venture: an Anglo-American theatre company formed specially for three years and performing 2 plays a year in repertoire, touring across a number of venues over the world. With Sam Mendes as director, it has attracted a very strong group of actors, who have already formed a cracking ensemble, and I had my first experience with them this week in Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic, the final stop in this first year of the Project.
The play has a new translation by Tom Stoppard, but given this is the first time I have seen it, I cannot really comment on its merits or otherwise, but the lovely lady sat next to me reassured me it was much more comic than than the last time she had seen it. It tells the story of the return of an aristocratic Russian lady, Ranevskaya, and her family to their hereditary estate since it is being sold off to pay for the mortgage. They are presented with different ways in which the estate could be saved and kept in the family, but the family do nothing and events overtake them as it emerges that their social status no longer affords them the protection that it used to.
I know there is a lot of Simon Russell Beale love going round at the moment and he is good as the upwardly mobile Lopakhin, but Sinéad Cusack as Ranevskaya is far and away the star of this show for me. The scene in Act III where she finds out the fate of the orchard whilst sat on her chair without saying a word, is simply awesome. She is dramatic without being melodramatic and maintains the aristocratic hauteur of this fading matriarch right through to the bitter end. Rebecca Hall is also excellent as the ‘plain’ adopted daughter Varya, she has amazing stage presence and a great stillness about her which makes me very excited to see more of her work, and Richard Easton is very funny as the manservant Firs. Ethan Hawke and Josh Hamilton also gave good performances, indeed the entire company seem very comfortable in the roles and with each other, and it makes me extremely keen to see further productions which can also display the strengths of this group of actors.
An interesting choice has been to leave the actors using their native accents, so there is a real mixture of English and American voices on show, but after five minutes, I didn’t even notice this difference, such is the force of the acting, it’s really not an issue.
It is a very atmospheric production, with some great lighting and I adored the opening to the second half. But I have to say that despite the first-rate acting, I am not a fan of the actual play: the fate of the Russian aristocracy just doesn’t interest me that much, and I felt that Burnt By The Sun at the NT dealt with it in a more engaging manner (by aligning it to a more interesting sub-plot as well). That said, this was a great opportunity to see a tightly-knit company working together so well, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the plays under the Bridge Project banner, starting with A Winter’s Tale in a couple of weeks.
Hmm, well this was an odd one. As part of the Wallace Shawn season at the Royal Court, this is a premiere of a play which has been 25 years in the writing, and features the playwright himself, alongside Miranda Richardson, Jennifer Tilly and Emily McDonnell in the intimate space upstairs at the Royal Court.
Grasses of a Thousand Colours is the memoirs of a scientist called Ben which covers the three, well four, major love affairs of his life, whilst the world around them collapses due to the negative impact of human meddling with nature. Miranda Richardson is superb as his wife Cerise, full of dreamy seductiveness and feline sensuality, Jennifer Tilly is also excellent as the statuesque New Yorker mistress Robin and Emily McDonnell is quietly strong as the subsequent lover. And the fourth love affair, well that is with Ben’s own penis with which he, and this play, is obsessed.
The main problem for me was with the structure of the play. It is full of interminable, rambling monologues from Ben which simply sap the life from the piece (and the audience), since they become increasingly obtuse and fantastical, as we slip further into this dystopian dream-like fairytale world, dominated by his sexual prowess and a cat called Blanche. The use of video clips at key points adds a slightly surreal note which in the end is pretty much in keeping with the play. Looking back, there does seem to be the material for a decent play in there, but some severe pruning is necessary.
On a practical note, with a running time of just over three hours, cushioned benches are just not sufficient as seating. Even if it had been the most engrossing play, the collective posterior of the paying audience deserves better as these seats are seriously uncomfortable. The only saving grace was that due to the rate of people leaving during the intervals, it was possible to spread out more and more in the later acts!
Essentially, this is just too long and self-indulgent to earn my recommendation, despite the unique opportunity to see talent such as Richardson and Tilly at such close quarters. It is directed by a long-time collaborator of Shawn, Andre Gregory, and one does wonder if someone brought in from outside might not have been more able to wield the knife to make the necessary cuts to make this more palatable. Oddly enough though, it has been rather well reviewed by many of the papers but I have yet to meet a ‘regular’ person who has been as effusive as any of the critics.
I am, by nature, quite indecisive, so the whole business of Top 5 Plays is fairly arduous for me, but this past month’s ranking was especially hard since there was just so much amazing theatre on offer. Nevertheless, I present the Top 5 Plays for May (slightly extended to 10 since I couldn’t bear not to feature The Observer which came in at #6)
1. When The Rain Stops Falling
2. The Pietà
3. A Doll’s House
4. The Last Five Years
5. All’s Well That Ends Well
6. The Observer
8. Madame De Sade
9. Les Misérables
10. F**king Men
and the Top 10 Plays of the year so far (slightly extended to 15)
1. When The Rain Stops Falling
2. The Pietà
3. La Cage aux Folles
4. A Doll’s House
5. Duet for One
6. The Last Five Years
7. Burnt by the Sun
8. Parlour Song
9. All’s Well That Ends Well
10. The Observer
11. Dancing at Lughnasa
12. Time and the Conways
13. His Dark Materials
14. Kafka’s Monkey
15. Tusk Tusk