Sunday, 29 September 2013

Last 10 things seen at the theatre: #042

26th August to 28th September.

List the last 10 things you saw at the theatre in order:
1. A Midsummer Night's Dream (Noël Coward)
2. Edward II (National; Olivier)
3. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Duchess)
4. The Bunker: Morgana and Agamemnon (Southwark Playhouse)
5. Much Ado About Nothing (Old Vic)
6. Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
7. All's Well That Ends Well (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
8. Candide (Swan Theatre)
9. The Sound of Music (Open Air Theatre)
10. Henry VI: The True Tragedy of the Duke of York (Shakespeare's Globe)

Who was the best performer in number one (A Midsummer Night's Dream)?
I'm not sure if I have a peculiar soft spot for this one particular character or if it's just that my favourite actors are very well fitted to play this one particular character, but Richard Dempsey was a simply marvellous Peter Quince. Also the combination of Richard Dempsey and Dream did lead to simply marvellous Victor/Victoria flashbacks.

Why did you go to see number two (Edward II)?
Have you READ this play?! It's brilliant! Also the cast are utterly superb, and having seen it once already, I was thoroughly inclined to pay further visits.

Can you remember a line/lyric from number three (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui) that you liked?
I believe there were many entertaining lines about cauliflower that made me chuckle awfully. However, I find it very difficult to focus on remembering lines of dialogue when there is a banjo on stage! Judging from the length of the neck, the number of strings, the shape of the head, the colour of the wood, the presence of the resonator, and what little I could make of the designs on the peghead and the head from my circle seat, I'm going to suggest it may have been a Deering Goodtime plectrum banjo, though whether it was a Goodtime 2 or a Goodtime Special is anybody's guess. Deering banjos are the BEST banjos.

What would you give number four (The Bunker: Morgana and Agamemnon) out of ten?
9! I'm SO sad I went to the final performance, I would have deeply loved recommending this to people. The whole cast were utterly superb, and could really teach more veteran casts (naming no names) a thing or two about pace, enunciation, emotion, and just plain ol' ACTING damnit.

Was there someone hot in number five (Much Ado About Nothing)?
Yes! Step forward Kingsley Ben-Adir, possibly the first hot Borachio in recorded history! I really don't get why Borachio is so infrequently played hot. Do directors suppose Margaret has such low standards? She may make bad life decisions on occasion, but when it's Borachio, I like to think she's simply misjudging his character, not just going for anything with a pulse damnit.

What was number six (Hamlet) about?
Oh, it was basically The Lion King with people.

Who was your favourite actor in number seven (All's Well That Ends Well)?
I'm not sure that I had one, you know. Sometimes, when I see a production of a play that is so close to perfect, I find it takes pressure off subsequent productions - having seen a perfect production, I'm no longer looking for the perfect production and can thus enjoy the production in front of me for what it is. And sometimes when I see a production of a play that is so close to perfect, I find it really hard to fairly watch the production in front of me without constantly harking back to the other. Mostly I'm really lucky and the first scenario happens; in this case, I'm sorry to say the second scenario won out. It's not fair, but then, perhaps if my expectations for this one hadn't been raised skyhigh, the first scenario would have happened after all. We'll never know!

What was your favourite bit in number eight (Candide)?
I really loved Susan Engel's monologue right near the end, but I feel I'd be misrepresenting myself if I didn't admit to an intense fondness for Candide's mode of transport when leaving El Dorado.

Would you see number nine (The Sound of Music) again?
I tried seeing it on a Wednesday evening right at the end of the run that got rained off. A strange determination came over me and I managed to rearrange my entire life, including my job, so I could attend the Thursday matinee, which thankfully stayed dry. So I almost sort of have seen it again. I'm not sure though - some of the characterisations were brilliant and really overcame the spectre of the film, whereas others fell rather flat. Also, I'm seriously considering not going to the Open Air Theatre at all next year, because I get really obsessive about checking the weather forecasts in the days beforehand, and frankly it's exhausting! I guess we'll wait and see what's on and who's in it.

What was the worst thing about number ten (Henry VI: The True Tragedy of the Duke of York)?
The very worst thing? That last year's vaguely disappointing Richard III means the chances of this wonderful company getting to complete the Tetralogy at some point in the future are effectively zero.

Which was best?
Well, clearly Edward II! It was SO much better than the first preview, and it was a pretty strong first preview, damnit! The Bunker was also excellent.

Which was worst?
Well, clearly Much Ado About Nothing! It really should have been SO much better than it was. What a disappointing afternoon out.

Did any make you cry?
Edward II, The Bunker, The Sound of Music, and Henry VI Part 3.

Did any make you laugh?
Mostly Candide, I reckon.

Which roles would you like to play in any of them?
Any of the Shakespearean ladies, especially Helena, Beatrice, or Margaret. Or Margaret, for that matter. I played Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music and that was a lot of fun, but I'd really love to be Maria one day, not least because I am the best yodeller I know. That's one area where Charlotte Wakefield fell down for me - she perfectly played the Maria that all the other characters talk about (I have often felt the dervishness of Julie Andrews to be somewhat overstated), but just didn't yodel as well as I can. I blame all that country music.

Which one did you have best seats for?
My Edward II seat was top! I think it was theoretically restricted view, due to Gaveston's entrance, so it was only £10, but because I went for the £10 seat on the edge of the block, I could see his entrance perfectly as long as I didn't mind twisting in my seat like a slinky suffering from hypertension. I also ended up with a wonderful Gallery 1 seat for Candide after booking a £5 standing spot then being "gently" informed by the usher that not all seats were sold so I could totally sit down if I wanted to.

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