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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 →

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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Sad Stories of the Death of Kings

William Shakespeare, The Tragedie of King Richard II (Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbons, Almeida Theatre, live relay)

So more bard — I have a vague memory of a Nottingham Playhouse production and at least one War of the Roses cycle, and of course Ben Wishaw played a rather fey version on the telly… Simon Russell Beale in contrast has an air of camp in what is a stripped down, eight person, single set, hundred minute version.

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Faustus Must Be Damn’d

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (Directed by Paulette Randal, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse)

img_7197I’d managed to forget that Pauline McLynn was in this as Mephistopheles — which is just as well as I would have been channelling Mrs Doyle. “Ah will you not sell your soul, Father Dougal? Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on… Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on…” It does make sense in retrospect — she brings a grotesquery to the role, as well as a cat who has got the cream (with or without tea), as she knows what is to come. There is also a moment when she licks the knife Faustus has used to get blood to sign with — and I’m reminded of Gary Oldman’s Dracula licking Keannu Reeves’s Harker’s cut-throat razor. There is even a physical resemblance.

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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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