Review: The Big Ideas- PIIGS, Italy, – Royal Court via YouTube

“I’m not saying this is the answer”

With the Italian edition of The Big Idea, it was actually the verbatim sections that I enjoyed the most. The reportage element used Twitter and Facebook conversations as a model, creating a punchy set of responses to a series of questions which felt more impactful than some of the other interviewing techniques, although predictably it does perhaps give less considered answers. But this lengthier technique was used later on to great effect in exploring just who was culpable for the state of Italian life and a self-reflexive sequence on how a way forward might be found. 

The two plays – They Were In My Field by Fausto Paravidino and Three Gifts by Anders Lustgarten – both failed to really engage me but I would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly why. Both took a slightly obscure slant on the the issue at hand and maybe I was just too tired, but it left me alienated for the whole shebang. And since it is my blog, I’m leaving it at that. Continue reading “Review: The Big Ideas- PIIGS, Italy, – Royal Court via YouTube”

Review: The Big Ideas- PIIGS, Ireland, – Royal Court via YouTube

“I had a completely ungrounded confidence, financially”

The Irish incarnation of The Big Idea featured Protest by Deirdre Kinehan, with its parents at a school meeting debating the ethics of austerity and particularly the effects that cuts in education threaten to make in their school. It’s quite an intimate piece, its concerns perhaps a little inwards –looking but for me that is where its strengths lie, in dramatizing the kind of everyday situation that people under austerity are facing. It isn’t all headlines news and high-profile decisions, but rather the slowly tightening screw of small cut after small cut taking over almost every aspect of people’s lives.

Following that was Kieran Hurley’s Belcoo, a less successful play for me, looking at the G8 protests, as fake shop fronts are erected in a Northern Ireland town and three people debate the ins and outs of plastic fruit. Again though, I found the verbatim pieces more fascinating than the dramatic writing itself, especially the Stephen Carswell section. There’s something truly educational about the staging of such brutally frank conversations about the financial crisis that works so much better than trying to dramatise it fictionally and it would have been good to see at least one play that was entirely based on this format. Continue reading “Review: The Big Ideas- PIIGS, Ireland, – Royal Court via YouTube”

2013 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Constellations by Nick Payne – Duke of York’s Theatre
The Audience by Peter Morgan – Gielgud
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens, adapted by Mark Haddon – National Theatre Cottesloe / Apollo
This House by James Graham – National Theatre Cottesloe / Olivier

Best New Musical
Loserville – Garrick
Soul Sister – Savoy
The Bodyguard – Adelphi
Top Hat – Aldwych

Best Revival 
Long Day’s Journey into Night – Apollo
Macbeth – Trafalgar Studios
Old Times – Harold Pinter
Twelfth Night – Globe / Apollo Continue reading “2013 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

fosterIAN awards 2012

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayKate O’Flynn, LungsLaurie Metcalf, Long Day’s Journey Into NightHattie Morahan, A Doll’s House
Helen McCrory, Last of the Haussmans
Cate Blanchett, Big and Small
Sally Hawkins, Constellations
Best Actor in a PlayLuke Treadaway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeRafe Spall, ConstellationsBilly Carter, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
David Suchet, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Hugh Ross, A Life
Dominic Rowan, A Doll’s House
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayNiamh Cusack, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLaura Howard, Lost in YonkersRuth Sheen, In Basildon
Nicola Walker, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Katie Brayben, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Open Air)
Fenella Woolgar, Hedda Gabler
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayPaul Chahidi, Twelfth Night (Globe)Charles Edwards, This HouseRobin Soans, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
Rory Kinnear, Last of the Haussmans
Cyril Nri, Julius Caesar
Olly Alexander, Mercury Fur
Best Actress in a MusicalCarly Bawden, My Fair LadyJanie Dee, Hello, Dolly!Caroline O’Connor, Gypsy
Anna Francolini, Victor/Victoria
Rosalie Craig, Ragtime
Jenna Russell, Merrily We Roll Along
Best Actor in a MusicalSimon Russell Beale, Privates on ParadeMark Umbers, Merrily We Roll AlongRichard Dempsey, Victor/Victoria
Julian Ovenden, Finding Neverland
Will Young, Cabaret
Dominic West, My Fair Lady
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalClare Foster, Merrily We Roll AlongBonnie Langford, 9 to 5Josefina Gabrielle, Merrily We Roll Along
Debbie Kurup, The Bodyguard
Helena Blackman, A Winter’s Tale
Laura Pitt-Pulford, Hello, Dolly!
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalMichael Xavier, Hello, Dolly!Damian Humbley, Merrily We Roll AlongAlistair Brookshaw, A Winter’s Tale
Stuart Matthew Price, Sweet Smell of Success
Ben Kavanagh, Boy Meets Boy
Oliver Boot, Finding Neverland

The 2012 fosterIAN award winners


Best actor in a play
Luke Treadaway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Best actor in a musical
Simon Russell Beale, Privates on Parade

Best actress in a play
Kate O’Flynn, Lungs

Best actress in a musical
Carly Bawden, My Fair Lady

Best supporting actor in a play
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night

Best supporting actor in a musical
Michael Xavier, Hello, Dolly!

Best supporting actress in a play
Niamh Cusack, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Best supporting actress in a musical
Clare Foster, Merrily We Roll Along

Best play
My Fair Lady

2012 Best Supporting Actor in a Play + in a Musical


Best Supporting Actor in a Play 

Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
All the pre-show buzz about the Globe’s Twelfth Night was around Mark Rylance’s Olivia and Stephen Fry’s Malvolio, perhaps unfairly so given its ensemble nature. But the breakout star was undoubtedly Paul Chahidi as Maria, a deliciously wry and finely-tuned comic performance that still ranks as one of the funniest things I saw all year.

Honourable mention: Charles Edwards, This House
If anyone can make you feel sympathy for a Tory politician, it was bound to be Charles Edwards. Bringing a gentlemanly honour that one can’t really imagine existing in today’s political classes, his performance stood out in a genuinely strong ensemble and the temptation to go and see it again once the show transfers to the Olivier is strong.

Robin Soans, Someone To What Over Me 
Rory Kinnear, The Last of the Haussmans
Cyril Nri, Julius Caesar
Olly Alexander, Mercury Fur

7-10
Kieran Bew, King Lear; Paul Ritter, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Jonathan Coy, The Magistrate; Tom Goodman-Hill, The Effect

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Michael Xavier, Hello, Dolly!
Another performer who had an excellent year, Xavier is becoming one of those actors who for me is a must-see in whatever he’s in – this year I went to Milton Keynes and Leicester for him (Soho was less of a trek…) and as the endearingly goofy Cornelius in this, probably my most favourite of musicals, he made sure it was more than worth the effort.

Honourable mention: Damian Humbley, Merrily We Roll Along
In one of the most strongly cast musicals anywhere in recent years, the whole character ensemble of Merrily… were of exceptional quality and in perhaps one of the less showy roles in the show, Humbley more than made his mark with a sterling rendition of ‘Franklin Shepherd Inc’.

Alistair Brookshaw, A Winter’s Tale
Stuart Matthew Price, Sweet Smell of Success
Ben Kavanagh, Boy Meets Boy
Oliver Boot, Finding Neverland

7-10
Stewart Wright, Swallows and Amazons; Anthony Calf, My Fair Lady; John Marquez, Ragtime; Adam Garcia, Kiss Me Kate

Review: Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Globe


“And all is semblative a woman’s part”

Mark Rylance’s much-trumpeted double-bill return to Shakespeare’s Globe this summer started with Richard III but it is now the turn of the belated second part to make its bow. Tim Carroll’s revival  of Twelfth Night, originally seen in 2002, largely uses the same all-male company and the same Original Practices approach of ‘doing it like it’s 1601’ for a short run – all sold out – before transferring into the West End. With a view to this, official press reviews will come from the Apollo rather than the Globe, so heaven know if this counts as a preview or not. Oh and in the interest of full disclosure and as heretical as it may be, I am not really a fan of Mark Rylance, just so you know. I do try to test my dislikes though, in the spirit of open-mindedness, something made much more palatable here by the £5 groundling tickets.

The choice of interpretation might strike a casual observer as typical for the Globe, even a little unimaginative, given the wide variety of Shakespearean re-imaginings on offer, but that would be underestimate the incredible level of detailed work that has gone on here at all levels. Liam Brennan imbues Orsino with a much greater deal of personality than is often granted to this lovesick Lord, making him a constant point of interest; Colin Hurley’s Sir Toby Belch reins in the boisterousness to construct a much more interesting character; Feste’s presence possesses an intriguing ambivalence in Peter Hamilton Dyer’s hands; and James Garnon makes one notice Fabian more than I’ve ever done before. Continue reading “Review: Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Globe”

Review: Richard III, Shakespeare’s Globe


“And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house…”

The last time I was at the Globe (for Henry V), I made the mistake of mentioning that I had never actually been rained on whilst being a groundling. This time round, for the opening night of Richard III, we made it to the second half quite dry but then the heavens opened and I was forced to use my delightful yellow poncho whilst proved little respite against a rather heavy and sustained fall of rain which made me long for the hard comfort of the Globe’s (covered) seating. This Richard III is notable for seeing the return of Mark Rylance to the theatre where he was Artistic Director for 10 years where this all-male Original Practices-exploring company will also take on Twelfth Night later in the season and then transfer both to the West End.

Given the tragic news just last week of the death of his stepdaughter, it is hard to know what to say or how to pitch any comments about Rylance. Though it is probably close to heretical to admit it, I’m not actually that big a fan of him as an actor, having found him too dominant a presence on stages before for my liking at least, but given that for once this is actually a play where that is the intention, I was willing to give this a try. Using the types of costumes and props that would have been available in 1593, Rylance sports a false arm complete with teeny withered hand (I jested at the interval that this is him saying ‘look, I can even do Shakespeare with one arm behind my back…’) and a rather muted demeanour as he limps and shuffles around the stage. Continue reading “Review: Richard III, Shakespeare’s Globe”

Review: Nation, National


“If you’re watching grandmama, look away now”

Sometimes I think there’s something to be said for just sitting down at the theatre, especially when it is a family show and just enjoying what’s front of you. I’ll be the first to admit that I have done very little of that this year but for some reason, and it wasn’t even the mulled wine, Nation at the National Theatre warmed my heart in a way I was not expecting.

The fantasy genre is one which is often hard to adapt to the stage, as the books are heavily laden with a rich level of detail, creating new worlds and mythologies, and there inevitably has to some degree of compromise between creating a coherent narrative for the timespan of a play but remaining faithful enough to respect the source material (and please the fans). And if one is being honest, there were elements of Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation of Terry Prachett’s story of two teenagers thrown together by a giant tsunami leaving one shipwrecked and the other without a home, that didn’t bear much scrutiny. But it was so swiftly directed that only the most curmudgeonly of souls would have dwelt on the plotholes. Continue reading “Review: Nation, National”