All the Stage’s a World: 2020 Theatre

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.

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The Hand of Dog

Alan Bennett, The Outside Dog (directed by Nadia Fall, Br/dge Theatre)
Alan Bennett, The Hand of God (directed by Jonathan Kent, Br/dge Theatre)

bridgeI’m not sure that I ever saw the second season of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues and I certainly haven’t seen The Bridge’s TV remakes. Probably, I should. Continue reading →

Hard to Beat

David Hare, Beat the Devil (directed by Nicholas Hytner, Br/dge Theatre)

beat the devilSo, here we are again, but with a piece of theatre before a piece of theatre – a specific entry time (ignored in practice), some kind of thermal imaging camera to detect The Plague, an auditorium all but stripped of chairs, a stage with a chair and a desk and little else… Continue reading →

Home A Clone

Caryl Churchill, A Number (directed by Polly Findlay, Br/dge Theatre)

I hadn’t realised that this revival of a 2002 play was a one-act play — it’s a taut hour and change, written at the time of Dolly the Sheep. After the first Royal Court production with Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig, revivals seem to have gone for real life fathers and sons: Timothy and Samuel West, John and Lex Shrapnel. Here we have Roger Allam (who I think I saw at the RSC in about 1987) and Colin Morgan, mainly off the telly (but he was great in Benjamin). Continue reading →

Be Witched

C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (directed by Sally Cookson, Br/dge Theatre)

After last year’s slightly bizarre choice, the Bridge played it safe for the panto slot, with a classic children’s literary adaptation revived from the West Yorkshire Playhouse. They end up with a curious mix of Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz and The Lion King. My guess it was twenty years since I read the novel and I never warmed to Lewis, with or without Christian allegory. I’d forgotten the evacuation context, and rather like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang it feels as if it takes forever to get to fantasyland. I can see why they did a long train sequence to offer us some initial spectacle, but it seemed to last forever. Continue reading →

Well Met by Moonlight, Pride

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Director: Nicholas Hytner, Br/dge Theatre

Inevitably this is haunted. At one extreme, there is the Max Rheinhart film, with bunny rabbits and nature, at the other is Peter Brook’s circus and trapeze acts, of which little footage survives. Hytner is drawing on the latter, with his ringmaster Puck and Oberon’s attendant fairies dangling from and swinging around sheets. For that matter, Titania has her fair share of hanging around. Continue reading →

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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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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Heart of Very Very Very Darkness

Martin McDonagh, A Very Very Very Dark Matter (Br/dge Theatre, directed byMatthew Dunster)

If you’ve seen the same author’s In Bruges, you know what to expect: humour of the blackest hue, a claustrophobic central relationship and lots of swearing. And Belgium.

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