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James Kettle, The Life I Lead (Directed by Didi Hopkins and Selina Cadell; Park Theatre)

Earlier this year, Mile Jupp vanished from chairing The News Quiz — I wondered if he might be filming something, but I reckon he must have been rehearsing and touring this one man play. This brings him full circle for me, as I suspect I first paid attention to him with his stand up/one man show about gatecrashing cricket commentary. I don’t think I’d connected him with Rev yet.
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You made a first-class fool out of me

Christopher Hampton, A German Life (Directed by Jonathan Kent, Br/dge Theatre)

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I was going to London on the day that tickets for this went on sale and I did wonder whether the SouthEastern WiFi would be up to it. I was three thousand in the queue with fifty five minutes on board and got to check out just as we hit the tunnels around Stratford. I was lucky — this may well be the only time I get to see the legendary star of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and one of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads live.

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Peers vs Piers

Edward II (Directed by Nick Bagnall, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse)

I think this is the third production I’ve seen, although I had lost track of which came first — it was clearly Derek Jarman’s film of Edward II (1991), which is compromised by a compelling performance by Tilda Swinton as the cuckolded and cuckolding Isabella — whom you root for — and the treatment of the (spoiler) traditional execution at the play’s end. Continue reading →

Who the Hell is Alys?

Lucinda Coxton, Alys, Always (directed by Nicholas Hytner, Br/dge Theatre)

D5EA0553-E400-4DCC-BD19-426DEAB85513The Bridge has fallen into a pattern of producing three kinds of play: a premiere from a successful playwright, a Shakespeare blockbuster and an adaptation of a novel by a woman. This is the latter, from a novel by former Guardian writer Harriet Lane, a novel I confess I haven’t read.
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Life is Not a Dream

Martin Sherman, Gently Down the Stream (directed by Sean Mathias, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park)

GentlyForty years ago, Martin Sherman wrote the play Bent, which in its original version starred Ian McKellen (before he publically came out) and Tom Bell and was set in 1930s Berlin as Hitler was strengthening his power. McKellen’s then partner, Sean Mathias, directed a revival and a film version – although I have I suspect a false memory of seeing it on TV. Now Mathias has directed Sherman’s new play, which ranges across the last eighty years. It debuted last year with Harvey Fierstein in the lead, a production I wish I’d seen, directed by Mathias.

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Suite Caroline

Tony Kushner (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music), Caroline, or Change (directed by Michael Longhurst, Playhouse Theatre, London)

I was lucky enough to catch a day-long double bill of Tony Kushner’s extraordinary Angels in America at the National Theatre in 2017 and was intrigued enough to want to see Caroline, or Change at Chichester… but I’d only discovered it was on a day before it shut and evidently missed the transfer to Hampstead. A transfer to the Playhouse, Northumberland Avenue, seemed like a good bet and I would need to be in London on the day of one of the performances anyway.

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Sea Shantih Shantih Shantih

Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh, Anthropocene (Scottish Opera, Hackney Empire)

I’ve never really done opera – I went to a couple of modern renderings by something like the London Mozart Players and I dutifully download the semi-staged Proms as part of working my way through the season, but… I don’t get the conventions. And whilst I’m writing this with Górecki on my headphones, I don’t necessarily do modern music.

Anthropecene

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