Rope by Patrick Hamilton, Almeida Theatre, 19 December 2009

We weren’t as keen on this one as we had hoped to be, given the synopsis and the fact that the Almeida was going through a purple patch at that time.

I’m not sure that Patrick Hamilton works for us on the stage – indeed we have recently at the time of writing (May 2017) passed up an opportunity to see one of his in the forthcoming Hampstead Theatre run.

We’re becoming an increasingly picky pair these days. We tend to avoid booking much in that pre-Christmas period also, now, given the nightmare journeys that often ensue at that time of year.

Anyway, here is the Almeida on-line resource about the play and production, which includes information, review links, photos and even a vid from the rehearsals.

It was of course an excellent production and very well acted. I think it was the play that didn’t quite do it for us. Janie and I like 1920’s and 1930’s styles generally, but strangely we don’t tend to like plays/the theatrical style of that era.

The reviews – mostly very good but not great – are mostly linked from the Almeida resource – here’s that link again.

For some reason British Theatre Guide doesn’t usually make it to those links – Philip Fisher makes good points in this review, not least that the play is quite long compared with the much vaunted Hitchcock film version.

Skimming the reviews reminds me how very well acted and produced the piece was, it just wasn’t really our type of piece.

Still, we’re both glad we caught this production; I have little doubt that this production is as good as it gets for Rope.

Fragments – A Worcester Ladymass, Trio Mediæval, Wigmore Hall, 13 December 2009

Trio Mediæval, the Bananarama of high quality mediaeval singing, bowled us over with this concert in late 2009. Three Scandanavian sopranos who sing beautifully and look like they are having fun doing so.

This is what we saw:

I have managed to find, on YouTube, a fragment of Trio Mediæval singing some of these fragments, albeit singing them somewhere other than the Wigmore Hall.

It should give you an idea of what we heard:

After the concert I bought their album, Words Of The Angels – we listen to it quite often it is so lovely.

Janie and I were not yet daunted by the dread of going up west that close to Christmas (to be fair, Sunday evening is probably as tolerable as it gets), so we booked this concert for mid December and I’m so glad we did.

A very memorable and enjoyable evening; we also enjoyed a Monday off  work the next day.

Red by John Logan, Donmar Warehouse, 5 December 2009

The more cynical reader/theatre lover might imagine this play/production having been designed for a Broadway transfer from the outset.

A two-handed, short play about the artist Mark Rothko, with an all (both) star cast and Michael Grandage directing.

Indeed, had it not been for the fact that the subject matter interests us both and that the stars in question (Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne) are both stars we like, we might have given this one a miss. We were falling out of love with the Donmar Warehouse by then.

But this was a very interesting play and it was superbly done, so we are very glad we went to see it at the very start of its transatlantic journey.

No on-line resource from the Donmar – they are far too busy arranging West End and Broadway transfers for that.

It got mostly very good reviews, but not universally so:

It did well on transatlantic transfer too – here is Ben Brantley from the New York Times the following spring.

But back to London during chilly December 2009, Janie and I were really taken with the preview we saw, which is the bit that really matters. It has also made us look at Rothko works slightly differently since. We’re still not sure about their meditative qualities though.

Finally, here is an extracts package from Playbill from the Los Angeles transfer – sadly without Eddie Redmayne by then, but still you get to see Alfred Molina as Rothko: