No One Will Tell Me How To Start A Revolution by Luke Barnes, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 23 September 2017

Interesting and entertaining play, this.

Hampstead resource on the play/production can be found here.

It is the tale of three sisters from a self-confessed chav family which moves to a posh town for the sake of the girls’ education.

It throws up a great many issues about class, families, aspirations and the like.

The problem with it is the extreme nature of the plot. I’m not sure where this posh town might be, entirely populated by such snobby, middle-class people that this trio of roofer’s daughters are so utterly different from all of their peers.

Still, the story provides a vehicle for those pertinent issues and a vehicle also for three very high energy and vibrant performances by the actresses.

Weird set with the audience separated into four quadrants while the stage formed a cross formation covering most of the room, allowing the girls plenty of space for their performances.

It’s a short play (100 minutes without an interval) which suited us well. Janie had bought one of those crispy Gressingham duck things for the weekend and it seemed a shame not to roast and eat it when we got home.

Kiss Me by Richard Bean, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 29 October 2016

Unusually we return to the same theatre two weeks in a row, but this time to see a premier of the downstairs play, Kiss Me by Richard Bean.

After the busy end to our week, we were rather relieved to discover that this was a short play – 70 minutes without an interval.

The play is set in the 1920’s. A young WW1 widow has arranged a liaison with a young man through a mysterious doctor who helps women with deceased or damaged husbands to get pregnant, through the services of this young man. It is a strange scenario, but there is some evidence that some sort of arrangement or arrangements of this kind did happen at that time.

The liaison is supposed to take place within strict parameters regarding lack of intimacy and information sharing, but inevitably in the play the parameters soon break down and so the play becomes a more conventional love story, albeit within an unconventional scenario.

It was a little difficult to buy into the conceit of this play lock stock and barrel; the woman’s motivations in particular seemed confused, the man’s a little hard to believe as stated. Still, the acting was good and the play did cover some interesting points about sexual mores, class differences and of course sex discrimination in that era. The young man basically has so many more choices than the woman.

Here is a link to the Hampstead resource for this play/production.

In short, we enjoyed the play and we enjoyed our Mohsen Persian supper too.

 

The Argument by William Boyd, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 19 March 2016

We love the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs. We love the upstairs too, of course, but we really have seen some cracking stuff downstairs.

This piece doesn’t really make the cut as “cracking stuff”. I enjoyed it more than Janie did; she found swathes of it irritating.

There’s not a great deal of plot. Young couple, compulsive arguers about nothing, fall out proper when the shrewish intellectual snob of a wife extracts a confession from the strangely timid yet BSD husband that he has been having an affair with some trollop through work.

Then wheel in the best friend of each spouse plus both of her parents and watch every plausible pairing (and some implausible ones) argue. Some scenes were genuinely laugh-out-loud funny; others were a little “smug sitcom” for our taste. What little plot there is progresses quite slowly and predictably.

It was good to see Michael Simkins (aka Fatty Batter – one of the funniest cricket books I have ever read) on the stage. Last time I saw him in person was at a county cricket match at Lord’s 10 years or so ago; he was with Michael Billington and we three chatted very pleasantly for a brief while.

Plenty of good acting on show, as is pretty much always the case down there at Hampstead. Indeed, in some ways it was the high quality of the acting that irritated Janie. The characters were all unlikable and the actors did a terrific job of projecting that unlike-ability. It is difficult for a play to work if you really don’t care much for any of the characters.

Still, we enjoyed our evening and in some ways the slight disappointment was based on the very high expectations we have now when visiting the Hampstead Theatre – what a huge leap forward from a few years ago when the whole place was in the creative doldrums. Edward Hall has done and is doing a cracking job there. We look forward to seeing the new Neil LaBute upstairs there in a few weeks’ time. I think we saw Mr LaBute himself crossing the Finchley Road while we were on the way to the theatre; quite possible as that upstairs show is still in preview. There’s another fellow we haven’t seen in person for a decade or so.

 

Lulu by Frank Wedekind, Gate Theatre, 18 June 2010

This was a really powerful production of a fascinating but shocking play about a femme-fatale; but is she the abuser or the abused party? Janie and I were both affected by this piece and spent ages debating the play’s points afterwards.

Superb production in our little local gem The Gate. What luxury it is to be able to pop round the corner and see a cast and production of this quality.

Here is a link to The Gate’s resource on this play/production.

Here is a search term that finds you other resources and reviews.

Here is the YouTube trailer for the production:

I think we picked up some Turkish food from Manzara (late lamented by the time of writing in 2017) afterwards and stayed at the flat.