Monstrous Progeny

Mary Shelley, mucked about with adapted by Nick Dear, Frankenstein (Directed by Danny Boyle, National Theatre Live via YouTube)

Years ago, there was a series of documentaries on the gothic horror novel presented by Christopher Frayling – Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Each of these narratives have passed into public consciousness, far beyond those who have read them – often via plays – and, with the arguable exception of the last, in forms that corrupt the author’s original structure. Despite at least two great franchises – from Universal in the 1930s and from Hammer in the 1950s – Frankenstein adaptations are travesties of Mary Shelley’s vision.

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So Close

Caryl Churchill, Far Away (Directed by Lyndsey Turner, Donmar Warehouse)

Given that I’d seen A Number (and missed Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.), it seemed a good if indulgent idea to catch up with this revival of a 2000 play.

Indulgent, because it clocks in at about £1/minute.

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A Caller Calls

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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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 →

Don’t Cry Uncle

Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya (directed by Ian Rickson, Harold Pinter Theatre)

For a change from Norwegian theatre – though in practice Ibsen – I moved to Russian, and ponder whether I’ve seen this before. I’d seen The Seagull, and I think something at the Lace Market Theatre, but that may have involved sisters and orchards. I had no sense who Uncle Vanya was and whether he has nieces or nephews.
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The Peter Unprinciple

David Hare after Henrik Ibsen, Peter Gynt (Directed by Jonathan Kent, Olivier Theatre, National Theatre)

Several things occurred to me whilst waiting for this play to start: the auditorium was not much more than half full; I probably hadn’t been here since the Dench/Hopkins Antony and Cleopatra; and I had no idea what this play was about.

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Rosmer Home from Home

Henrik Ibsen, Rosmerholm (directed by Ian Rickson, Duke of York’s Theatre)

I thought I’d never seen any Henrik Ibsen — aside from The Master Builder and perhaps Ghosts on the telly — but I did teach A Doll’s House twenty years ago. Rosemerholm (1886) is quite a late play, but I’ll avoid saying much more until I’ve read the whole play — and I’ll discuss that in a less spoiler-free blogpost.

Rosmerholm
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Supercalimilesjuppisticexpialidocious

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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