Review: Liolà, National Theatre

“This is a potato party” 

Expectations are a funny thing. Luigi Pirandello’s reputation as one of our foremost dramatists comes from his metaphysical musings on identity and self but his 1916 play Liolà comes from a very different place and so may leave you nonplussed if expecting something akin to Six Characters in Search of an Author. Instead, Tanya Ronder’s new version directed by Richard Eyre is a rollicking tale full of song and dance, set in a Sicilian village from which most of the men have migrated. The two that remain, Liolà and Simone, are surrounded by a veritable multitude of women with whom a number of complicated relationships are in place.

Ageing landowner Simone married the much younger Mita in order to provide him with the heir he desperately craves but five years of marriage have produced no children. By contrast, local lothario Liolà has knocked up at least three of the local girls and now has three children who are raised by his mother. But when he gets Simone’s young cousin Tuzza pregnant, she and her mother espy a scheme to play on Simone’s fears of childlessness and pass the child off as his own. But Mita and Liolà were childhood sweethearts and together they plot her own revenge.  Continue reading “Review: Liolà, National Theatre”

Review: The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Young Vic

“My world doesn’t revolve around your taste in biscuits”

In 2010 I set myself the challenge/allowed myself the luxury of seeing every single show that I wanted, and I can pretty much say that I achieved that. But as the end of year lists started to appear, one play kept popping up that made me think I perhaps ought to have overridden my instincts not to bother with it and taken it in: that play was The Beauty Queen of Leenane and the Young Vic have kindly decided to bring it back, with a three-quarters different cast to be sure, so that I could be dragged along to see it and find out if it was worth it after all. We attended the final preview that took place on 25th July.

Martin McDonagh’s 1996 play is set in deepest rural Ireland, in the mountain of Connemara where the scheming Mag Folan lives with the embittered Maureen, her 40 year old daughter and skivvy. Locked in a twisted familial bond, every single act whether making a cup of Complan or switching on the radio becomes a fierce battle of wills, but when a glimmer of escape for Maureen appears via the arrival of the handsome Pato on the scene, behaviour on all sides in pushed to the shocking extreme. Continue reading “Review: The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Young Vic”