Curious Incident Aug.1st, ’15

…of the dog in the nighttime

london west end

I had no idea what the play was about. I just heard people rave about Wishaw, and its huge success.

The cast had changed a few times till I finally made it to a show, but I was not disappointed. Turns out the play is a book – the biography of a young man living with Asperger’s. A brilliant mathematician, incapable of relating to people in a way we, the non Asperger majority, are used to. Christopher, so the 15 year old boy’s name, lives alone with his father after his mother died. When he is suspected to have killed a neighbour’s dog he sets out to solve that crime, no matter what.

So between his school, where they don’t know what to do with him as he is far too intelligent for their lessons, his loving but hot headed father and the accusation the young man matures and finds himself a niche and the truth about what has been going on in the neighbourhood and in his own family. Because his mother is not dead at all – she had left the family as she was no longer able to cope with her child. Now she is writing letters to Christopher, letters his father keeps from him as he has told his son, that his mother died.

When the boy finally conquers his fears and boards a train to London to live with his mom (that doesn’t work out, btw., no surprise there) he realises that after acing his A-level maths exam years sooner than anyone else he’ll be successful after all, he’ll be a scientist and he’ll be in space.
Siôn Daniel Young is Christopher Boone and he is a brilliant talent. He shines both in his violent outbursts when everything is too much for him as well as in his simple pleasure just looking at the rain – because that rain is thousands of years old and comes from the stars. He makes the audience see the world through his eyes and it’s an amazing world to be in. His father, played by Nicolas Tennant, is a great counterpoint, his anchor in reality, who doesn’t necessarily understand him, but loves him unconditionally and fights for him even if the odds are against him. When Christopher’s trust in him is lost, it’s heartbreaking to watch him suffer.

One tip: do not leave your seat at the end of the play, there is another scene to come, even though I have to admit after seeing it: I would so fail at maths A-levels… LOL

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Elephant Man Aug. 1st, ’15

london west end

It’s with Bradley Cooper! A Must-see! ahem

well, it’s what I thought at the time.

I had seen the play before – years and years ago (10?) in Toronto with Brent Carver as Merrick and Geraint Wyn Davies as Treves. I apologise, I don’t remember the name of the actress. Then, Carver created a deformed outcast out of nothing but his contortions and yet made me cry when he slowly came to realise that his life was about to end, with no money to support him and an ever increasing illness that made even sleeping no longer restful. Carver made Merrick more human than everyone else on stage – he made him more human than any audience member! – and his decision to go to sleep one last time, after he’d finished the model of the cathedral, was heartbreaking and yet noble and probably the most human thing he could do…

So I really was incredibly curious how Cooper would work as the play had been incredibly successful on Broadway and transferred to the West End to a flurry of quickly selling out shows.

And he was good. Really. Alessandro Nivola was great as Dr Treves, even though I had the feeling they’d cut quite a few of his lines and Patricia Clarkson – she is magnificent as Mrs Kendall, the actress who befriends Merrick and after a lifetime of hiding behind roles and behind her actress-persona finally lets him see her real self, even her body, as he’d never seen a woman naked. It is her last visit with him – Treves is no longer allowing her to come, because ‘I don’t want her to see him die’.

Apparently this play was a lifelong ambition for Bradley Cooper. And hadn’t I seen Brent Carver in the same part – who is an amazing actor, hypnotising in his abilities to slip into character and to create theatre magic – I probably would have been truly impressed. Unfortunately for poor Bradley that wasn’t the case. So, yes, Cooper is incredibly good looking and his body is gorgeous. He twists his arm and leg in the most gruesome fashion and never lets go of the dreadful drooling mouth, which is impressive. But the significance of building the model of the cathedral synonymous to building his own life never really came across (plus some idiot fangirl actually took a photo with flash!!! during that scene, probably jerking him out of his character as it did with me and most of the audience in the front rows. giggling moron!!)

But maybe I’m just overly critical and jaded and whatnot. He did get his standing ovation though.  If I was to give out stars I’d give 3 out of 5. And I’m glad I saw it even if it was just to confirm that Carver was stellar when I saw him. 😉

American Buffalo May 25th, ’15

london west end

What will stay with you in this play is definitely the introduction of Teach into the group of two, Donny Dubrow (the owner of a junk shop) and Bobby, his drug addict help. Because Teach (played by Damian Lewis) enters the stage cockily, and utters “Fuck” with different emphases about 20 times, thusly complaining about some happenings during a game of poker, involving a woman he fancied. It’s a David Mamet play, full of fast dialogues, funny, if the actors are on top of their game, lame, if they aren’t. I can safely say that thank god, Lewis, John Goodman as Donny and Tom Sturridge were brilliant and drove the story of deceit and greed fast paced to its end.

Donny has sold a coin, an American Buffalo, to some apparent collector for 90 Dollars, having picked the price on the penny out of thin air just because his customer looked flush. The man paid without questioning it. So Donny now thinks this coin might be worth even more and 1. wants it back.Together with his helper Bobby, young, seemingly on something all the time and not too fast a thinker. They plan to rob the customer’s flat as soon as he’s off for the weekend, something Bob has found out as he had followed the guy. And they’ll have Fletcher with them, as they need someone who knows how to open a door…

When Teach hears about this, he cunningly convinces Donny to leave Bobby out of the crime and choose him as the second man as he’s faster, smarter, and needs the money. And that they also should take the whole coin collection and not just the one they sold. Reluctantly Donny agrees.

Fletcher doesn’t show up. Bob shows up with another American Buffalo and tells them Fletcher had been in a brawl and is in hospital, but they can’t verify the story, the hospital has no clue and Teach gets angry and hits Bob with an iron crowbar.

But it turns out Bob had said the truth. Fletcher is in fact in hospital (just a different one) and Bob had bought the coin from a shop, because he had lost their customer and hadn’t been able to follow him home. So to make up for the lost coin, he bought one to make up for his failure. Bob, on the verge of dying, apologises to Donny and they leave – not to rob anyone but to bring Bob to hospital.

In typical Mamet style it’s all about what the actors make of the play, as there isn’t much going on other than constant swearing and the deep desparation to get out of this life and making a better one, no matter how. Goodman turns out to be subtle and blatant and really quite impressive, busying himself in his junk shop and not getting a grip on things till the very end. Lewis paints the sly ratty schemer you have to hate to perfection and young Sturridge is just amazing being the odd one out, not understanding why all of a sudden plans pass him by, much like a little, hectic puppy being chastised for something it didn’t do. It was great to watch and a fabulous experience. I do regret that thanks to my murderous jetlag after flying in from Portland just the day before I opted out on stagedooring. sigh. well, can’t have everything 😉