We had such high hopes for this one. We love the Almeida. We loved Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train by the same author at the Donmar a few years ago…
…but this one didn’t really work for either of us. The acting was good, but the play left us cold and disappointed. Perhaps we were expecting too much.
The Almeida provides a superb stub that explains the conceit of the play and sets out the cast and creatives – here.
There’s a good Wikipedia entry for this play and production too. It states that the original off-Broadway production was reasonably well received, whereas the Almeida production was almost universally well received. I’m not so sure about more-or-less universal:
We returned from our trip to Barcelona, Northern Spain and Rioja a few days before Easter, having pre-arranged a small gathering for Easter Sunday. It seemed only polite to bring some amazing Iberico ham back with us, together with our new-found Rioja expertise.
Add to that some of those Lindt Easter Bunnies, without which it simply wouldn’t be Easter…and good friends of course…the result was a good fun gathering.
Not all that many pictures, but the pictures are on Flickr here. I think I took most of these – looks as though it was my camera this time anyhow.
Janie and I both carry fond memories of this play/production, although it was a long play and is the sort of play that we sometimes dislike.
Howard Brenton has a tendency either to pull off this type of history/personality play with aplomb (as he did with this one and the Ai Wei Wei one) or leave us stone cold, as he did with his play about drawing lines across India at the time of Independence.
Jeremy Irons isn’t my favourite; he’s always sort-of Jeremy Irons. But Jeremy Irons is sort-of Harold Macmillan, so that aspect worked.
One element of the play that I recall really working for me was the notion of the young Harold, played by Pip Carter, moving the narrative on, even in the later years when Harold was becoming an old duffer.
There’s a decent Wikipedia entry for this play – here – which also provides the links to the main theatre reviews (saving me the trouble), which were very favourable on the whole.
Having said that, Wikipedia’s critics list is short and perhaps selective:
Official London Theatre kindly archived its synopsis and list of cast and creatives, saving me a lot of typing. Thanks for nothing, RNT, which, with all its funding, provides far less past production archive than most half-decent fringe theatres.
This short break visiting several places in Spain emerged from a very simple idea; that it would nice to visit nephew Paul while he was temporarily living and working in Barcelona; a good excuse also to “take that town”.
Then we thought about our desire to see Santiago de Compostela after hearing the wonderful music in this concert…
…and our desire to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao…and we’d heard that Santander is nice…and also those wonderful reports we’d read about Rioja and the new boutique hotel and the Marquis de Riscal winery…
…the result was an out of character 10 day whistle-stop break. We wouldn’t do it at that pace any more, but we had a great time and there will be plenty of good individual pieces to dredge out from my trusty journal notes and brain, when I get around to it. Download/try to read my scrawl if you dare.
Barcelona, Northern Spain, Rioja March 2008 Journal Notes
Or if you are an itinerary-ista instead, here’s the itinerary, produced with care by Ultimate Travel/Kirker’s “Auntie Janet”: March 2008 Barcelona, Northern Spain and Rioja.
On 15 March, we went to the Guggenheim in Bilbao before setting off for Santander. We saw an excellent surrealism exhibition and more besides (programme retained). We took some good pictures of outdoor exhibits too.
Indeed we took a lot of photos for a 10 day break in Europe, divided into three mini Flickr albums
At Riscal in Rioja, we found this wonderful deli in the village…
…where we bought Iberico ham for our Easter gathering soon after our return. Not the most kosher idea we’ve ever had, but there you go.
My diary says “Wigmore Hall” for that Sunday, but no further details and (most unusually) no programme in my collection.
Further, we went off crack of dawn the next morning as we were due to take an early flight the to Barcelona – even in those days I don’t think we booked up stuff so tight.
So my guess is that we attempted to book that concert but didn’t get the seats we wanted; then planned our trip to Barcelona accordingly.
But if by any chance we did see this concert, it is written up very nicely on Intermezzo – here.
We are both very keen on Arthur Miller and thought we would probably enjoy one of his rarely performed early works.
We went to the second preview of this production, so possibly didn’t get it at its absolute best.
While we enjoyed the play and production, with some of its parable qualities reminding us of great Miller plays, I would suggest that the play is not a great Miller play and the production was not one of the Donmar’s greatest productions. The acting was superb, as we pretty much expect at the Donmar, the cast mostly unfamiliar folk to us.
The critics were somewhat divided in their opinions, even individually in some cases:
There’s a good Wikipedia piece about the play – here – which mentions the Donmar revival and others besides. It also provides a bit more analysis about the play.
We’re very fussy when it comes to the Donmar these days, as we find that Covent Garden location so awkward, but on balance we certainly felt that this was a worthwhile trip.