Hangmen by Martin McDonagh, Royal Court Theatre, 10 October 2015

We were really looking forward to this. While we were unsure about McDonagh’s earlier work, such as The Cripple of Inishman, we absolutely loved The Pillowman and had been hoping to see another new play by him.

We certainly were not disappointed by this play/production. It had us gripped from the start. It is a shocking, at times hilariously funny black comedy about the last hangmen in the UK. The mixture of cunning plot twists and traditional comedic devices works brilliantly. Great cast, great production, what’s not to like?

The Royal Court stub – here – covers more or less all you need to know, including links to the myriad of rave reviews this production justifiably received. 

The production earned a major west end transfer, deservedly.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon adapted by Simon Stephens, Cottesloe Theatre, 11 August 2012

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.

A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee, Almeida Theatre, 7 May 2011

A stellar cast for this Edward Albee revival.

Here is a link to the Almeida resource for this production.

Of course it was wonderfully well acted and the production was excellent, but I recall not being too enamoured of the play. It was quite long and wordy. I think you are supposed to feel trapped by the play, much as the characters are trapped in their circumstances.

On the whole the critics loved it – here is a search term that finds reviews and stuff.

I have also found an interesting vid that shows how the Almeida team transformed the place from The Knot Of The Heart into A Delicate Balance:

Spur Of The Moment by Anya Reiss, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 3 August 2010

A rare visit to the theatre on a Tuesday evening.

We were invited, as friends of the Royal Court, to a pre theatre reception and a chance to see this play by a young writer coming through the young writers’ programme.

In truth, we don’t need much encouragement to support the young writers; we go to a lot of the young writers stuff upstairs anyway.

But it was nice to be asked.

We enjoyed the drinks. Got tapped up by the development people just a little and then enjoyed the play.

Not the most sophisticated play ever to come out of the programme, but the piece has some real punch and is most impressive when you consider that Anya Reiss was only 17 when she wrote the play.

Here is a link to the Royal Court resource on this play/production.

The critics were almost universal in their praise for Anya Reiss – here is a link to a search on relevant reviews and stuff.

Mrs Klein by Nicholas Wright, Almeida Theatre, 24 October 2009

We both really enjoyed this play/production about he psychoanalyst Melanie Klein.

I had seen the original production of this play at The Cottesloe back in 1988 and really liked it.

Janie and I are keen Almeida-istas;  I guessed that this would be yet another really good Almeida production and that the play would be to Janie’s taste. Add to that a superb cast – Clare Higgins and Nicola Walker are two of our favourites, plus Thea Sharrock (formerly at The Gate) directing…

…what could go wrong? Nothing. This was a great production and Janie did really like it.

As usual, there is an excellent Almeida resource about the play/production – click here – with information, pictures and reviews.

The reviews were nearly all very good and the very good ones are accessible in full from the above resource.

The Girlfriend Experience, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 20 September 2008

We really liked this play. It was funny and interesting.

It’s one of those verbatim theatre jobbies. Alecky Blythe went round talking to prostitutes at “the parlour” and pulled together a play about them based on their own accounts.

Intriguingly, the cast listened to recordings as they delivered their lines, to add a particular type of authenticity to the verbatim method.

It worked for us, anyhow.

Perhaps the Royal Court are starting to put up archives going back this far, but for now this one is merely a stub – click here.

OfficialLondonTheatre.co.uk has more – click here.

Harper Regan by Simon Stephens, Cottesloe Theatre, 19 April 2008

So there’s more to Uxbridge than the cricket ground.

Seriously, Janie and I both really liked this play. Simon Stephens is one of our favourite playwrights these days and this one worked really well in the Cottesloe for us.

The eponymous lead is a big part; Lesley Sharp is a correspondingly big part actress who was able to deliver big time on this play/production.

Very shocking in parts and also very moving.

Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco, Royal Court Theatre, 6 October 2007

I’ve liked this play for almost as long as I can remember; certainly since school. Janie and I saw a quirky production of this at the Lyric Hammersmith years ago, but I thought this version at the Royal Court, translated by playwright Martin Crimp might have a bit extra. It did.

Benedict Cumberbatch was a young actor on the “one to watch” list in those days; now (writing in 2016) one might pay good money to avoid him – simply because of extreme overexposure to his manifest talent, you understand.

The above link (or click here if you prefer) takes you to the Royal Court archive, which has the who’s who and excellent reviews, saving me time and effort. But the absence of Michael Billington’s name in the Royal Court resource led me to suspect that Billi-o didn’t like it and I was right – click here for his review.

Philip Fisher in British theatre Guide (also unmentioned) did like it – click here.

 

 

The Hothouse by Harold Pinter, Lyttelton Theatre, 28 July 2007

We really enjoyed this play and production. It is a rare example of a Pinter comedy, which he wrote during his heyday in the mid 1950s but I don’t think it got produced until a fair bit later.

Being Pinter, the line between comedy and tense psychodrama is a thin one. Indeed, plays like The Caretaker, The Birthday Party and The Dumb Waiter are sinister yet have plenty of humour in them. The Hothouse has plenty of humour yet is sinister; it is set in an anonymous government run mental institution. Say no more.

This was a superb cast and production. Stephen Moore, Finbar Lynch, Leo Bill and Lia Williams the standouts. For once, the awkward depth/shape of the Lyttelton stage could be used to good effect for an institutional look.

It was pretty well received by the critics on the whole: