So I managed a few theatre trips before lockdown — when I with the rest of the world switched to YouTube and National Theatre Live (some of which are chronicled here). The audiences at A Number and The Visit were notably thin, although bad reviews for the latter perhaps didn’t help. I also narrowly missed seeing the reworked A Dolls House, which was pulled as I arrived at Waterloo Station about two hours before curtain up.Continue reading →
Friedrich Dürrenmatt, adapted by Tony Kushner, The Visit, or the Old Lady Comes to Call (directed by Jeremy Herrin, National Theatre, London)
Slurry is a mixture of solids suspended in a liquid, but I guess we tend to think of manure. It’s also the name of a town in New York State which by 1955 is almost bankrupt. The trains rarely stop there, the factories have all closed and the bailiffs are circling.
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Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (directed by Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell, Piccadilly Theatre)
This is the American play, judging by the number of revivals — I’ve seen screen versions with Warren Mitchell and Dustin Hoffman and a stage version with Roy Barraclough. This transfer from the Young Vic is not the first African American version, and the shift between ethnicities seems remarkably smooth. There are hints in the direction of the Loman’s family past of slavery plantations and his wish to live the American Dream seems even more poignant, the dice even more loaded. His rejection by colleagues has a hint of unspoken racism, the brother’s line about going to Africa added resonance. Continue reading →
Martin Sherman, Gently Down the Stream (directed by Sean Mathias, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park)
Forty 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.
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.