Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Last 10 things seen at the theatre: #049

31st January to 15th February.

List the last 10 things you saw at the theatre in order:
1. King Lear (National; Olivier)
2. 1984 (Almeida)
3. The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable (Punchdrunk)
4. Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
5. The Taming of the Shrew (Courtyard)
6. Eternal Love (Cambridge Arts Theatre)
7. Oh, What a Lovely War! (Theatre Royal Stratford East)
8. The Light Princess (National; Lyttelton)
9. What the Women Did (Southwark Playhouse)
10. Fortune's Fool (Old Vic)

Who was the best performer in number one (King Lear)?
Oh gosh, I... I'm going to hold off judgement actually, because I have decided I am very against the circle of the Olivier unless it's something like Frankenstein which has precisely ZERO reliance on subtlety or nuance. The view is fine, but the performances need to be big. I won't have any stronger opinions on this production until I see it again from the stalls. (Though I will contradict everything I just said and say I reckon it might be Anna Maxwell Martin.)

Why did you go to see number two (1984)?
My policy of booking everything at the Almeida and worrying about it later strikes again! Good job, self!

Can you remember a line/lyric from number three (The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable) that you liked?
Surprisingly, yes! I'm on a roll with question 3! Which is even more surprising considering this show is mostly performed via the media of modern dance, semi-threatening mime, and enigmatic whispering. There is one character to whom I am exceedingly emotionally attached, and when I came across her, she was in the throes of serious amnesia and she did not know who she was or where she was or what she should do, all she knew was that bad things kept happening to her. But she decided she wasn't going to hide or cry, she was going to put the pieces together and go about reassembling her identity and her life even though she was in a terrifying place and situation. The point where I started crying was when she asked "will there be anything else, Mr Stanford?" (don't ask when I stopped, I'm not sure I have yet). The sheer courage in her determination to do the thing properly and completely just about broke my heart, because the circular nature of the show (combined with the repeat trips) meant I knew how her story was going to go. There's a huge difference between fearlessness and courage, and that line - in context - was perfectly representative of her courage for me.

What would you give number four (Wendy and Peter Pan) out of ten?
9! I am ALL ABOUT the courage of ladies in the face of danger and fear in strange yet oddly familiar places!

Was there someone hot in number five (The Taming of the Shrew)?
I am unashamedly attracted to Chris Jared's gloriously hirsuite Bianca. He should always wear low-cut purple things. Also he is Welsh, it turns out!

What was number six (Eternal Love) about?
What ISN'T it about! (I think it's about philosophy, sex, and love. Or alternatively an additional showcase for why Howard Davies needs to step back and let John Dove direct ALL the Howard Brenton plays from now on.)

Who was your favourite actor in number seven (Oh, What a Lovely War!)?
Sometimes - nay, quite often - a play will be announced. And you'll go "oh, that looks like it'll be good, but I don't think I can fit it in". And then they'll announce initial casting and you'll go "oh, they're good, what a shame I can't fit it in". And then they'll finalise the casting and there, right at the back, is an actor you've enjoyed immensely in other things. So you make time to fit it in, you book, and when the night comes you watch that one actor almost absurdly closely, because even though they're maybe not even particularly known among your theatre circle, you think they're great, and absolutely nothing they do during the show disproves your opinion of their greatness. TL;DR - Ciarán Owens.

What was your favourite bit in number eight (The Light Princess)?
I cannot tell a lie, I'm in love with the big climactic action sequence. Anyone who ever says "yes, but that's too complicated to put on stage" about anything NEEDS to see this sequence with its mid-air dragon battles and dam destruction before declaring ANYTHING too complicated to put on stage.

Would you see number nine (What the Women Did) again?
No, but if I was seeing something else at the Southwark Playhouse that finished before this play's second interval, I'd sneak in for the final part of the triptych, because it was brilliant. It was hilarious, and it was moving, and it had Simon Darwen in a kilt.

What was the worst thing about number ten (Fortune's Fool)?
Apart from the bit where I was originally going to see it at the beginning of the month but had it cancelled out from underneath me, nothing really. I think with Patrick Cremin as Kuzovkin the play ended up a little imbalanced, like a perfectly nice and normal Russian play with additional grandstanding from Richard McCabe. If that was how the play had always been, then I wouldn't even be mentioning it now, but knowing that Cremin was the understudy, one could tell how the power balance would have been more even.

Which was best?
I'm getting more out of The Drowned Man every time I go. And Eternal Love was well worth braving the M25 on a Friday afternoon.

Which was worst?
The first segment of What the Women Did. It just didn't do anything or go anywhere and the acting was very one-note.

Did any make you cry?
I wept a ton at The Drowned Man, nay, I SOBBED at The Drowned Man. I wept less but still quite a bit at Wendy and Peter Pan, and I welled up quite heroically at the third segment of What the Women Did.

Did any make you laugh?
Yes. Wendy and Peter Pan, Eternal Love, and What the Women Did (again, just the third segment) for sure.

Which roles would you like to play in any of them?
Insert usual "I'd love to be in Punchdrunk and also I'm fully open to all Shakespeare possibilities" response here. I was in Oh, What a Lovely War! at school, and while I remember which songs I sang, I don't remember any roles I played. It's quite weird.

Which one did you have best seats for?
I booked my usual favourite seats for 1984 and Fortune's Fool. I was quite impressed with my seat for Oh, What a Lovely War! too, and Wendy and Peter Pan. I'm getting to know the least restricted restricted-view seats AWFULLY well.

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