True West Jan 8th, ’19

london west end

I’m shallow. I wanted to know if Jon Snow can act. Yes, he can

 

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The Model Apartment Nov. 22nd, ’18

theatre misc

 

Every decision you make, every turn you take in your life influences who you are  … and who everybody else who touches your life is. This play makes that clear, in the most painful, terrifying way possible. And you can still laugh about it.

Max (the magnificent Ian Gelder) and Lola (Diana Quick, superb) arrive in Florida. They came from New Yor, where they lived, a few days early, so their retirement home / apartment isn’t quite finished and they have to stay in a model apartment. Which looks like a fully functioning apartment, but isn’t . The fridge, the tv, the entertainment centre, it’s all fake.

But then, so is the life Max and Lola had been living. Both survivors of the holocaust, trying to make a new life in the US, came with baggage to the new country. Max had hidden from the Nazis in the woods. His baby daughter, his wife both died at the hands of German troups. As the sole survivor of his whole family he brings his child with him … in his imagination he dreams of her as this beautiful young woman who loves him unconditionally. Lola survived being held in a KZ and might embellish the importance of that by claiming to have been Anne Frank’s best friend there.

But that’s only one aspect of their lives. The other is Debbie (Emily Bruni), their daughter. Overweight, demanding, bullying, full of conspiracy theories that she got from her parents’s war stories, she slyly found out where they were retreating and followed suit. When  her boyfriend, drug addled Neil (Enyi Okoronkwo) bursts in, the four have to face their pasts in order to survive their future. But they can’t.  During their verbal and increasingly physical fights the model apartment is destroyed, just as their lives are. Debbie finally snaps and attacks her father. The police arrives. Lola leaves to enable her daughter because that way she can cling to her own trauma a little while longer. In the end there is only Max, dreaming of his lost daughter, his lost family, unable and unwilling  to reconnect with the real world but perpetuating his own trauma – that he survived while others died…

 

The acting was absolutely marvellous, the terrible trauma each and everone had to endure, palpable. I loved the sequences Ian had to do in Yiddish.  It was a tough play, with surprising laughs and perfect timing thanks to amazing acting.

The Wipers Times Nov 20th, ’18

london west end

In the trenches of Ypres, then at the Somme, half a dozen soldiers and officers write against the warnin the middle of a war that will encompass the whole world. With wit, irony and sarcasm they survive the terrors of bombs, and gas attacks, while making fun of the brass and work through their grief when yet another friend is killed. The thin paper gains both more pages and more readers, until it is a huge success.

Not after the war though. The two main contributers fail in real life, stepping out of journalism, leaving England for Canada and India.

The cast is absolutely brilliant. Sam Ducane and James Dutton are the main editors in the bombed out building that features as office space. Dan Mersh is the printer who makes it happen over and over again.

With song and dance, quips and faked letters and ads it is indeed a laugh a minute even when they suffer gas attacks and exploding bombs. It’s only on till Dec 1st. Go watchnit at the arts theatre. It’s definitely wort it.

The height of the storm Nov. 19th,’18

london west end

The Height Of The Storm
It’s an incredible play, cleverly done without an intermission to discuss it, showing  two daughters and their disfunctional relationships and their father in the aftermath of tragedy, their mother the glue to hold the family together and keep the father, obviously suffering from dementia, safe.
Only, is she…

The more the play progresses, the more it becomes clear that large parts of what is happening in that big house the father will not being able to keep is happening in the father’s imagination. His wife, engaging in quiet housework, makes him feel comfortable, the daughters, insisting he gives up the big house, not. There’s a brief moment of clarity, when he stumbles upon a card left in flowers. But to him it ends while sitting next to his wife, promising to not go before him. The light on her dims. He is alone…

Jonathan Pryce is amazing. Nuanced from slightly lost to desperately alone, from safe to scared and alone, he makes the part, shines in all of his helpless mourning.  It was a riveting show of range. Thank you…

Briefs at the Spiegeltent Nov.18th, ’18

london west end

I booked this show without actually knowing all that much about it, just wanted a show on Sunday as it would’ve been a shame not to have a show on sunday 😉

And oh what a show it was. A gorgeous Australian drag queen (my mom still thinks I’m playing the rugby over here) was hosting a brilliant crew of buff men, and their marvellous circus acts on the rope and the ring, with juggling balls and other awesome dancemoves. Think chippendales but all talented circus artists! We all boarded at UFO to another plane of enjoyment. Absolute brilliance. And in the middle of the gorgeous leicester square Christmas market.

Certainly a huge win (and yes, there was a split second of full frontal nudity as well, and yes, i am that shallow) 😉❤

 

 

 

Don Carlos Nov 16th,’18

theatre misc

 

Don Carlos at the Rose Theatre. The cast is amazing, the translation great, and works well with the pathos of Schiller’s play. Schiller – one professor calls him the German Shakespeare, which I think is a bit (overly) enthusiastic. But he certainly was a theatre man, with highly socialist/democratic views which had him investigated and at one point even fleeing authorities. He raged against the rule of crowned authoritarianism but lived just long enough to see the French revolution devolve into Napoleon being crowned emperor.

Don Carlos is about a crown prince who draws the short straw in everything in life except his birthright. He will inherit the Spanish crown, as soon as his father dies. He wants a peaceful future for the Netherlands , a country currently rebelling against the catholic Spaniard who’s oppressing them and is willing to negotiate,  but his father, the king, is sending troops. He’s in love with the French bride that was chosen for him and she loves him back, but his father, the king, steps in and marries her instead, having a daughter with her. It’s no surprise that the young man (I’m 23 and haven’t accomplished anything yet) rages against conventions. (Samuel Valentine is perfect for the part, down to the firy red hair he sports)

When the Marquis Posa, a freethinker, his former teacher/friend/mentor comes back to court, Carlos is already involved in desperate attempts to reconnect with his stepmother, whom he still loves, ignoring the fact that another strong woman, the princess Eboli, a concubine of his father, has set her eyes on him. She lures Carlos to a secret room, and he comes, thinking it’s the queen who wants to see him. Thus compromised, and found out by Eboli, his life and the life of the queen are in mortal danger.

And then it seems that his friend Posa, who shares his political views and understands his love for the woman who is now queen, has been instrumentalised by the king to spy on Carlos. Which of course sends the prince further into a downward spiral. What Carlos doesn’t realise is that Posa is trying to help and keep the prince safe from repercussions a jealous court has been planning. He manages to secure incriminating letters, sharing only harmless ones with the king, the one Eboli wrote amongst them. This leads to Eboli being despatched into a nunnery, and, because a jealous king needs a scapegoat, to Posa’s downfall. When the Marquis comes to explain every detail of his plan to the prince, he knows he lives on borrowed time. He has arranged for Carlos to flee to France, and to say a last farewell to the queen, who has been under investigation herself by the king. But just as Carlos urges Posa to join him, a shot is fired. The king himself has killed Posa, but reinstates his son as prince. He then seeks pardon for the murder from the head of the inquisition (also played by Tom Burke, which I thought was a cool idea, to see the two ends of the spectrum portrayed by the same actor, seeing the same kind of passion given to frighteningly different view points). They come to an understanding that’s chilling in its simplicity.

When Carlos uses his new freedom to meet with the queen, to inform her of his departure to France, another shot echoes. The queen falls, dead. The Prince collapses in tears, but is pried from her body by the inquisition to be taken away to an uncertain/certain future. The king prevails, his crown hollow.

As I said before, i liked the cast, esp. Darrell dSilva as king and Tom Burke as Posa (duh). I remembered the play as being a pathos laden – sorry – clunker, and was positively surprised by how relevant it was made  and of how much of Trump’s spiralling was incorporated into the portrayal of the king. Loved the monologue with which Posa seems to win over the ruthless regent (Sire, give people the right to think!) which of course is the heart of the play, made even more powerful because in the end everyone is punished for the things they dared to think.

I loved Valentine as Carlos. He had the perfect measure of rage and desperation, all of Sturm und Drang and never came across as hysterical or a drama queen. Both Alexandra Dowling and Kelly Gough (queen and Eboli) were great, though laden with the tall order to speak as fast as humanely possible which makes it a bit hard to actually understand a thing. Takes a while ti get accustomed to the speed.

dSilva is a wonderful – in a scary frightening as shit, crazy terrible way of course – king whose sole reason to live is holding on to the old ways. His portayal of the sheer mistrust that leads to murder is a fast spiral into madness. Brillinatly done.

Tom Burke. Yum. I’m trying not to be overly shallow, but of course his good looks help the portrayal of the hero. He is the quietly passionate philosopher, the herald of a future without repercussions, of a better way of living and a cleaner way of politics. Schiller with his way of writing invites great gestures and pathos but thankfully this Posa is one of subtlety, which makes his supplication in front of the king while demanding Gedankenfreiheit –  freedom to think – even more impressive. And while Iliked the cast, he’s the only one NOT to fall into the pathos trap. Thankmyou for that.

I was not overwhelmed by the lightless stage. It’s an interesting idea to place one spotlight on stage that glares i to the face of the poor actor who has to talk, but it is not an ideal thing. Loved the mostly empty stage, it gives your imagination a nudge and doesn’t clutter your brain. And i understand why the actors don’t like the empty space on the floor in front of the stage, where people can buy cheap pillow seats. While i understand the need for cheap seats – even in front of the stage -, I hate when only four people brave the hunkering down. Talked to an usherette, who rightfully remarked, when it’s a children’s play it’s packed. That’s right, but a play that starts at 8 pm and has only grown ups as audience (and a good dozen fled during intermission, obviously not up for the heavy lifting the play affords) should be given more seating right up front (they’re working on just that, btw)

Stage door… damn but Tom Burke looks fiiiine. Is all I’m saying

Professor Bernhardi Oct. 4th, ’18

theatre misc

Professor Bernhardi is one of the best known plays written by the Viennese dramatist, short story writer and novelist Arthur Schnitzler. It was first performed in Berlin at the Kleines Theater in 1912, but banned in Austria until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a result of World War I.

The story makes it clear why it was so controversial: jewish Professor Bernhardi bans a priest from the death bed of a young girl who had a botched – illegal – abortion, and has no idea that she’s dying of sepsis. She’s happy and thinks she’ll go home in a few hours. She dies when a nurse tells her that a priest wants to apply last rites.

Because of Bernhardi’s faith (even though he’s not an observant jew) and because he’s the director of the clinicum where a christian nationalist doctor is vying for his job the case is made public and politicised until the mostly jewish staff of the clinicum resigned in protest and Bernhardi is sentenced to two months in jail because the nurse gave false witness by claiming Bernhardi pushed the priest and even said priest spoke in favour of Bernhardi.

Two months later  Bernhardi is free and his students are in the streets, celebrating. His opponents are in power, both in parliament and in his clinicum, and he has stopped writing a book about his ordeal. The nurse has come forward and confessed to lying in court because her confessor told her so. Bernhardi lost his licence to practice.

The play is indeed as bleak as it sounds and was on point and very much in tune of the times in 1911 and – unfortunately – in 2018 as well. Antisemitism, xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise again and it seems we haven’t learned a thing from our recent history. Sigh

Now to the actors. It’s an all male cast except for the nurse, but the actress is only on for minutes in the first act and didn’t stay on for curtains. Probably because the play  is 3 hrs plus, partly because herbert föttinger (bernhardi) indulges in pregnant stares and equally pregnant pauses that were mostly annoying. Brilliant and brilliantly disgusting florian teichtmeister as Bernhardi’s nemesis who wins everything he fought for by using politics. Awful. Disgusting. Brilliant. Bernhard schir is the politician who turns to whoever, whatever suits him best. He’s one of Austria’s best actors and rightfully so. I recognised several politicians in his portrayal and his characterisations are flawless.

Two more mentions because they were good and good looking (yes, I’m shallow): oliver rosskopf as the Dr med whose patient died and nikolaus barton as Bernhardi’s son.