So much goodness! The National Theatre have just announced details of productions stretching deep into 2020, and with writers like Lucy Kirkwood, Kate Tempest, Roy Williams and Tony Kushner, and actors like Lesley Manville, Maxine Peake, Conleth Hill, Cecilia Noble and Lesley Sharp, it is hard not to feel excited about what’s ahead.
Following a sell-out run at Rose Theatre Kingston, the acclaimed two-part adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by April De Angelis is reworked for the Olivier stage by Melly Still (Coram Boy). When the most important person in her life goes missing without a trace, Lenu Greco, now a celebrated author, begins to recall a relationship of more than 60 years. Continue reading “News: the National Theatre announces 15 new productions for 2019 and 2020”
“A body without a head in a body bag just doesn’t turn me on”
Was no fan of Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s Bad Roads I’m afraid. Plays about war in the Ukraine will perhaps predictably be brutal but the experience of watching it doesn’t have to be the same way. Vicky Featherstone’s trailblazing at the Royal Court gets her a long way but it’s hard not to feel the programming has been decidedly mixed and something of a challenge. Too much, for me, in this case.
Running time: 23rd December
Booking until 95 minutes (without interval)
#1 in the National Theatre’s Queer Theatre season of rehearsed readings
“My God, I wanted three daughters like the Brontes and I ended up with a family fit for a Channel Four documentary”
There was a special currency for Sarah Daniels’ Neaptide being the opening play in the #ntQueer season as this 1986 drama was actually the first by a living female playwright at the National Theatre – an astonishing fact all told. And it is perhaps sadly predictable that Daniels now finds herself somewhat neglected as a writer, despite being prolific in the 80s and 90s.
Neaptide proved a strong choice too, a powerful exploration of the extent to which lesbian prejudice permeated society and institutions even as late as this, and indeed how little we’ve moved on – in some ways. Daniels presents us with three generations of lesbians and explores how they deal with working or studying at the same school when a scandal threatens to upturn all of their lives. Continue reading “Review: Queer Theatre – Neaptide, National”
Episodes, in order of preference
World Enough and Time
The Doctor Falls
The Eaters of Light
Empress of Mars
The Pyramid at the End of the World
The Lie of the Land
Top 5 guest spots
1 David Suchet’s Landlord was as perfectly written a character as befits one of our more superior actors
2 Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Kieran Bew and his astronaut in Oxygen was no exception
3 Nicholas Burns‘ malevolent Sutcliffe was a delightfully Dickensian villain
4 Another theatrical delight of mine is Anthony Calf, impressive as the pseudo-Victorian Godsacre
5 Rebecca Benson’s young Pict impressively led The Eaters of Light from the front, a perfect vessel for Rona Munro’s vision
Michelle Gomez’s Missy has been a brilliant breath of fresh air and whilst her decision to follow Moffat and Capaldi out the door is understandable, it isn’t any less disappointing. And perhaps the timey-wimeyness of the circumstances around her passing mean that maybe this isn’t the last we see of her…
Most wasted guest actor
I don’t what I expected from the reliably excellent Samantha Spiro in Doctor Who but I didn’t get it from her part in The Doctor Falls.
Gay agenda rating
With Bill onboard, A+!
“It’s something about my appearance that I can control”
The Women on the Edge session of the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival featured three works that were commissioned and developed from the 2015 festival held at the National Theatre. This just happened to include one of my favourite pieces from across the entire day – Camilla Harding and Alexandra Sinclair’s Man Up! Deceptively simple in its format yet deliciously complex in its subject matter, the pair give the lie to conventional gender norms and make a fabulously compelling case for the importance of recognising gender fluidity in society.
Their stagecraft is ingenious too, transformations subtly worked so that they were halfway complete before you clock exactly what’s going on. Judith Jones and Beatrix Campbell’s Justice has no such ambiguity about it, an emotionally bruising look at the lasting impact of the Cleveland child abuse scandal and the trials its victims face in trying to escape its shadow, in search of a truth, a resolution that might somehow set them free. Directed by Ros Philips, Claire-Louise Cordwell’s damaged warrior of justice is a brilliantly thorny part and contrasted well with Kathryn O’Reilly’s softer but no less fierce budding campaigner. Continue reading “Review: Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival – Women on the Edge”
“A decent woman never talks about two things: her age and her lovers”
Ensembles that offer multiple opportunities for middle-aged women of colour (apologies for the clunky description) are few and far between so I think it is important to acknowledge Indhu Rubasingham’s efforts in bringing The House That Will Not Stand to the Tricycle for that alone. That Marcus Garvey’s play turns out to delve into a fascinating and under-explored period in history thus feels like something of a Brucie bonus.
It’s New Orleans in 1836 and Lazare Albans has died. As mistress to this rich white man, the fiercely proud Beartrice has become wealthy in her own right and under the relatively liberal system of plaçage, she and their three daughters are free women and stand to receive a grand inheritance. But as Louisiana changes hands from the French to the Yankees, so too do the prevailing US attitudes towards slavery glower on the horizon and threatens the position of all people of colour in a state that had somehow bucked the trend in race relations.
Continue reading “Review: The House That Will Not Stand, Tricycle”
“Nobody knows us. They think they do. But they don’t”
As per the publicity image, Canadian playwright’s Adam Bock’s black comedy The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has aspirations of splashy cultural recognition with other North American fantastical worlds such as Carrie Bradshaw’s fabulously-affordable-somehow-even-though-shes-a-writer fashion-dominated New York, or the glossy lives of the spoiled uber-rich teens of Gossip Girl, but it achieves neither with a curiously unsatisfying clunk, possibly the first mis-step by Indhu Rubasingham since taking over the Tricycle.
It’s all so insubstantial, not in the way that the lives of the five spoiled sisters from Pitts…etc who now reside in New York are super-vacuous (though they are), but in the fact that Bock says nothing of any import about them. In their world, money says everything, except that it doesn’t really say a lot and being told money doesn’t buy you happiness is hardly ground-breaking stuff. Hints of more interesting stories do poke their way through in Trip Cullman’s production but at just over an hour, there’s no room for them to develop.
Running time: 75 minutes
Booking until 26th July