Heather by Thomas Eccleshare, Bush Studio, 11 November 2017

This made it two out of two excellent short plays at small theatres this weekend, after the stunning Suzy Storck at The Gate the previous night.

This one, in the Bush Studio, was a two-hander with just a table, two chairs and two mikes as props. It was extraordinary how much “magic” the excellent performers manage to get out of that low-key set.

The play is about a reclusive but massively successful author of children’s fiction.

The Bush resource on this play/production is comprehensive, explaining the play, production etc. – click here.

Here is a link that will find you reviews and things – click here.

Deservedly good reviews and another short play/production that deserves a wider audience than The Bush Studio – I do hope it gets a transfer and/or tour.

Below is the trailer:

Afterlife by Michael Frayn, Lyttelton Theatre, RNT, 7 June 2008

This one didn’t really float our boat, although it should have done. Michael Frayn, wrote it, Michael Blakemore directed it, Roger Allam was starring in it, the full forces of the RNT were behind it…

…but it didn’t work for us.

It is basically the story of the turn of the 20th century German/Jewish impresario Max Reinhardt, retold as a morality play.

We saw a preview and wondered whether the production was not quite ready when we saw it, but the reviews seemed to share our reservations:

…you get the idea. A real shame.

As is the RNT’s wont, no on-line archive resource (inverse correlation between organisation’s size/budget and its ability to do sensible things on-line blah blah), but there is an Official London Theatre stub – click here.

 

Never So Good by Howard Brenton, Lyttelton Theatre, 22 March 2008

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.