I don’t normally go for adaptations of my favourite novels, but something told me this would be well worth seeing and also that Janie would like it. I was right on both counts. It was probably down to the fact that Simon Stephens was adapting it and also the stellar-looking cast and creatives boasted.
It was a fabulous evening of theatre. This adaptation deserved the plaudits it received in the press and the many transfers and re-runs that have followed.
There is even a Wikipedia entry to document the play’s progress – click here.
…and so on.
From our point of view, this was a cracking night at the theatre. It was also darned close to the 20th anniversary of our very first date, in August 1992, which happened to be at the Cottesloe. There’s cute for you.
I remember we were really looking forward to this play/production.
Transfers from the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in the US are usually top notch, as are Cottesloe productions.
In many ways this was top notch; a well written, well-acted, well-directed piece about suburban America. It just didn’t really light up.
Perhaps we had been spoilt too recently by Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park – another mid-west suburban play…
Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, Royal Court Theatre, 4 September 2010
…or the harder-hitting Neil LaBute’s we’d been enjoying the last few years.
We enjoyed our evening but had been (perhaps unfairly) half-expecting to be wowed, which we were not.
Mixed reviews from the critics – click here for a link.
Below is the RNT trailer – not very revealing…
…this Steppenwolf vid explains more:
I recall Janie and I both really enjoying this short, unusual, imaginative piece, written and performed by Inua Ellams.
I think it pleased us more than it pleased many of the critics, many of whom found the piece lightweight compared with its big themes of globalisation, the fashion industry and anti-gay prejudice in Africa.
Here is a search term that finds the reviews and stuff.
Below is a link to the trailer:
We found the piece entertaining and thought-provoking. That was enough for us.
I think I liked this play more than Janie did.
It was a fictionalised…somewhat fantasised account of encounters (which did occur to some extent in real life) between the writer Mikhail Bulgakov and Joseph Stalin.
We were blessed with Alex Jennings as Bulgakov and Simon Russell Beale as Stalin, with Nicholas Hytner in the director’s chair.
In truth, I don’t think it was a great play. It was a very good idea for a play with some very good scenes within it, but as a whole it didn’t quite work for me as an entire play.
But there was enough really good stuff going on to please me plenty, on balance. Whereas I think Janie found it a little drawn out and confused/confusing.
The reviewers were more with me (on the plus side) than with Janie (on the “a bit muddled) side – click here for a search term that finds the reviews.
Below is a link to the trailer:
…and the following vid is an interview with John Hodge, the playwright:
I don’t think we’d been to the theatre on Boxing Day before…nor have we (to date) since.
But the timing worked for us and we thought, “why not?” We are very keen on Mike Leigh’s work generally. Also we wanted to make amends for the involuntary hoo-ha, in front of Mike Leigh’s very eyes, last time we attended one of his plays – a few months ago – especially as he had been so nice about it:
Ecstasy by Mike Leigh, Hampstead Theatre, 18 March 2011
But unfortunately, we didn’t think all that much of Grief.
It had a fine cast including several of Mike Leigh’s regular stars, headed up by Lesley Manville.
The play had been developed in ensemble – the Mike Leigh method if you will. But, to us, it seemed rather dated and lacked sparkle this time.
It got somewhat mixed reviews – click here for a search term that finds them.
Below is a sort of review vid about the play/production:
We saw this play/production in preview and I clearly remember both of us saying immediately afterwards how much it reminded us of Arthur Miller’s style. Unsurprisingly, that was also the verdict of the bulk of the critics.
We also thought it was a very good play and an excellent production…the critics were largely still with us on that aspect too.
Here is a search term that should find you all the reviews and other on-line resources you might want for this one.
Here is the trailer and interesting chat about the play/production:
Janie really isn’t into Shakespeare, but Twelfth Night is a play close to my heart, having “done it” at Alleyn’s for the Dramatic Society in 1978.
Twelfth Night, Alleyn’s School, 12, 14, 15 & 16 December 1978
Ever since, I had been keen to see productions of Twelfth Night when they came around. Further, this production with Rebecca Hall as Viola and possibly a last chance to see a by then 80 year old Peter Hall directing…Janie said yes.
In truth, I don’t think this was the best Twelfth Night I have ever seen. It was of course very well acted, directed and produced, but it was a little old-fashioned in style for my taste; it felt like the sort of Shakespeare production I might have seen at the National 20-25 years earlier. I guess I should have expected.
It certainly didn’t do anything to improve Janie’s view on Shakespeare. I explained how much better it was done in the hands of Alleyn’s schoolkids in 1978 and Janie said she could understand exactly what I must mean.
She wasn’t humouring me, was she?
“After all,” said Janie, you are practically a reincarnation of The Bard, are you not?”
Anyway, here is a link to a search term that finds reviews and other resources on this production. The reviews are a little mixed; mostly suggesting that it was a good, but not great production, which I think sums it up pretty well.
Having missed out on War Horse (didn’t fancy it even after the rave reviews) we thought the subject matter of this one might interest us more and is very much up Neil Bartlett’s street.
This interview with Neil Bartlett explains his side of it:
To some extent it worked; the story across the decades was engaging. But the puppets didn’t really work for us. While we can recognise the incredible skill involved, it seemed, to us, to detract from the drama.
This search term should find resources and reviews aplenty for any deep divers who might want to search on from here.
This link takes you to a short film that shows some of the major puppet scenes, to give you an idea.
This production of an early Eugene O’Neil was twinned with a production of an early Tennessee Williams, Spring Storm, which we went to see a few weeks later, click here.
Janie and I are partial to a bit of Eugene O’Neill; almost as partial as we are to Tennessee Williams. While this early play is not one of O’Neill’s great plays, like the Williams, it shows all the signs of an emerging great playwright and was a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre.
A very strong cast and production from a regional source; the Royal & Derngate Northampton, did great service to both productions.
The critics loved both; this search term – click here – will find you the reviews and stuff; mostly for both but some for this play specifically.
As on the prvious visit to the Cottesloe, we probably got some food from Shanghai Knightsbridge, “May’s”, afterwards. Either that or shawarmas.
We’d been on a relatively poor run at the theatre for six months. This was more like it!
This production of an early Tennessee Williams was twinned with a production of an early Eugene O’Neil, Beyond The Horizon, which we went to see a few weeks later – click here.
Janie and I are partial to a bit of Tennessee Williams. While this early play is not one of his great plays, it shows all the signs of an emerging great playwright and was a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre.
A very strong cast and production from a regional source; the Royal & Derngate Northampton.
The critics loved it; this search term – click here – will find you the reviews and stuff; mostly for both but some for this play specifically.
We probably got some food from Shanghai Knightsbridge, “May’s”, afterwards. Either that or shawarmas.