Suzy Storck by Magali Mougel, Gate Theatre, 10 November 2017

This was a very affecting piece. An unusual piece of writing; brilliantly acted, directed and produced.

Another mini triumph for The Gate Theatre since Eileen McDougall took over as artistic director recently. We also much enjoyed The Unknown Island – click here – recently – indeed for Suzy Storck we found ourselves again inadvertently at The Gate on a Young People’s night. Must be some sort of type-casting for me and Janie.

The story is a shocking one, about a young woman entirely dissatisfied with her life, suffering from post-natal depression and getting neither help nor sympathy from her man, mother or anyone else.

All of the acting was top notch, but particular praise goes to Caoilfhionn Dunne, who we saw in another stand out performance not so long ago in Wild at The Hampstead – click here.

“Caoilfhionn” is pronounced “kay-lean”, btw, an Irish shibboleth of a name if ever there was one.

The Q&A afterwards was attended by Theo Solomon and Jonah Russell. Young People’s night was not so heavily populated with young people this time. It was a very jolly mixture of people who stayed on for the Q&A and who asked sensible questions of the team, hosted by Daisy Cooper from the Gate’s production team.

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

Here is a link to a search term for reviews and stuff – the reviews are deservedly very good indeed.

This piece and production really does deserve a wider audience, both for the quality of the drama on show and for the issues covered in a shocking yet subtle way. I do hope it gets a transfer.

Below are links to four YouTubes: the show’s trailer and then a fascinating three-part interview with the extraordinary director Jean-Pierre Baro:

The Unknown Island adapted from a short story by José Saramago, Gate Theatre, 29 September 2017

Ellen McDougall is the new artistic director of The Gate and this production is a great start to her role.

Based on The Tale Of The Unknown Island, an allegorical short story by Portugese writer José Saramago, four actors enact the piece. It is a very simple story with many-layered themes; to some extent the unknown island is an individual’s capacity to explore personal horizons, to some extent it is an allegorical tale about bureaucracy, leadership, power and colonialism.

Sounds heavy but honestly it isn’t. It is a one hour piece full of fun and little coups de theatre. There’s even a tiny bit of audience participation…but not of the “embarrassing pick on one person” kind.

Here is a link to The Gate’s resource on the play/production. The production has deservedly had superb reviews, links to which can be found in this resource, saving me the trouble.

Janie and I thought we were the oldest people in the audience…

…turns out I had inadvertently booked for “Young People’s Night” – it was simply the only Friday evening we were available!

Still, we are young at heart.

There was a short Q&A session after the show for Young People’s Night. As we were honorary young folk by then, Janie and I stayed on, finding the discussion interesting.

But back to the play/production – it is most certainly well worth seeing; for the story, for the production and for the quality of the performances, all four performers being excellent.

At the time of writing (the next morning), this production still has a week to run; Janie and I would thoroughly recommend it. Hopefully the piece will transfer and allow a wider audience to enjoy this thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable production.

Diary Of A Madman by Al Smith after Gogol, Gate Theatre Notting Hill, 29 July 2016

I rather liked the idea of this modern adaptation of Gogol’s magnificent short story, Diary of a Madman, set in modern Scotland.

This show is going to Edinburgh in August and then running at The Gate Theatre in September, but we booked for one of three previews at The Gate, which we thought would be a good way to see the production.

The play and production certainly had its moments, but also had some longueurs. Perhaps these will be ironed out between preview and main show, but the preview ran for some 90 minutes and I suspect that 60 to 70 would work better; there is certainly at least 20 minutes-worth of material, mostly earlier in the piece, that is surplus to requirements and made the play seem slow.

But it was very well acted and there were some lovely ideas in there. The bar scene towards the end was a wonderful mixture of anarchic, comedic and suspenseful drama. Some of the topical humour about referenda should play well, especially in Edinburgh.

Here’s a link to the Gate resource on the production. Too early for reviews at the time of writing, but perhaps not at the time of reading.

Janie particularly enjoyed the pea soup followed by “Big Al” pasta dish at Chez Clanricarde after the show.

 

The Chronicles of Kalki by Aditi Brennan Kapil, Gate Theatre, 9 January 2015

Janie and I went to see this play/production during the hiatus between mum’s death and the funeral. Mum would have wanted us to go ahead with the theatre visit, that’s for sure.

I remember the show being quite magical and fun. Not deep and profound; but a modern telling/adaptation of Indian mythology. It was a good evening at the theatre.

The Gate Theatre has preserved an excellent resource on this production – click here. Why there seems to be an inverse relationship between the ability of arts organisations to put up excellent archive resources on the web compared with their size and scale is a discussion for elsewhere.

Perhaps if we had been more in the mood for challenging theatre we’d have felt more critical too – as it was, Janie and I both enjoyed the escapism of it and some good acting by a young, talented cast.

I think I served up a splendid Big Al pasta dish and salad when we got home, but really my memories of that week are all a bit blurry.

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.

The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy, Adapted by Nancy Harris, Gate Theatre, 5 November 2009

A rare visit to the theatre on my own. I was keen to see this thing and Janie was struggling to find the time for it, so I just went midweek – on the opening night. Hardly a shlep, is it, from the flat to The Gate?

It was very good indeed. More or less a one man show for the excellent Hilton McRae.

The Gate, being a tiny theatre with hardly any money, obviously has a much better online presence than the big boys, so the on-line resource on this play/production covers many of the bases for me – here.

…as was I. A rare miss for Daisy and I could have made her suffer for it but I didn’t. I told her that she probably wouldn’t have liked it as much as I did.

To get an idea of this productions unusual style, here is a rather tasty little promo vid that the Gate put together for this production:

Nocturnal by Juan Mayorga, Translated by David Johnston, Gate Theatre, 8 May 2009

The details for this play/production are set out at OfficialLondonTheatre.co.uk – click here.

I only vaguely remember this creepy play/production. It had a fine cast and I think we felt that it was all very well done but we found the play a bit impenetrable.

It was a shame, really, as it was almost a very good play/production, but there just wasn’t enough to grab hold of in the play.

State of Emergency by Falk Richter, Gate Theatre, 7 November 2008

A short dystopian piece about lives in a gated community in some future or remote authoritarian place.  Here is a link to The Gate’s stub on this piece.

We have done this sort of play on a Friday evening at The Gate before (and since), because it is sometimes so convenient to see them and stay at the flat on a Friday, but heavy/dystopian drama is not my first choice of activity for a Friday night.

Anyway, beyond our temporal reasons for being unsure about it, the critics also seemed unsure:

The acting was top notch and as always we marvel at the way they manage to turn that small space above a pub into a proper space for drama. But Janie and I concurred with the reviewers about the play.

Not sure whether I cooked or whether we grabbed some Turkish food from the (now late, lamented) Manzara. As I’d delivered my Gresham lecture the night before and (it seems) gone off early on the Friday morning to see clients, I’ll guess the latter and jolly tasty it will have been too.