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.

Red by John Logan, Donmar Warehouse, 5 December 2009

The more cynical reader/theatre lover might imagine this play/production having been designed for a Broadway transfer from the outset.

A two-handed, short play about the artist Mark Rothko, with an all (both) star cast and Michael Grandage directing.

Indeed, had it not been for the fact that the subject matter interests us both and that the stars in question (Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne) are both stars we like, we might have given this one a miss. We were falling out of love with the Donmar Warehouse by then.

But this was a very interesting play and it was superbly done, so we are very glad we went to see it at the very start of its transatlantic journey.

No on-line resource from the Donmar – they are far too busy arranging West End and Broadway transfers for that.

It got mostly very good reviews, but not universally so:

It did well on transatlantic transfer too – here is Ben Brantley from the New York Times the following spring.

But back to London during chilly December 2009, Janie and I were really taken with the preview we saw, which is the bit that really matters. It has also made us look at Rothko works slightly differently since. We’re still not sure about their meditative qualities though.

Finally, here is an extracts package from Playbill from the Los Angeles transfer – sadly without Eddie Redmayne by then, but still you get to see Alfred Molina as Rothko:

 

 

suddenlossofdignity.com by Zawe Ashton, James Graham, Joel Horwood, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Michelle Terry, Bush Theatre, 8 August 2009

I don’t remember a great deal about this one, so perhaps it wasn’t the hilarious romp the Bush production resource suggests that it must have been.

Interesting list of young playwrights collaborated on the piece, though; James Graham in particular having shot to playwright stardom relatively quickly since.

I don’t remember hating it – but I do recall that curates egg feeling about it. “Sounded better as an idea than it turned out to be as a play” was probably Daisy’s verdict.

 

 

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.

On The Beach by Steve Waters, Bush Theatre, 25 April 2009

This play was part of a double bill of plays about climate change known together as The Contingency Plan.

We only fancied the first part; On The Beach.

The Bush was still above the pub on Shepherd’s Bush Green in those days.

It was well acted and produced, but we both found the first play a bit long, ponderous and not entirely plausible. We didn’t seek to book nor did we regret not having booked the second part.

On the whole the double-bill was reviewed jointly, so our take is only partial:

Dimetos by Athol Fugard, Donmar Warehouse, 21 March 2009

I’m a bit of a fan of Athol Fugard, but this one didn’t quite hit the spot the way many of his plays have done for me in the past. Daisy felt the same way.

It is a revival from 1975 – a selling point to me as I thought Fugard was writing brilliant stuff during that period.

A great line up too, with Jonathan Pryce in the lead role and Douglas Hodge having a go at directing…

…it just didn’t work for us.

As for the critics:

In A Dark Dark House by Neil LaBute, Almeida Theatre, 29 November 2008

This was a very troubling play by Neil LaBute – as his plays so often are. At the Almeida, as LaBute’s plays so often are.

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

The acting was terrific but we didn’t get the same wow factor from this one as we sometimes do with LaBute.

Good LaBute but not the very best LaBute was our verdict. But we were still discussing the issues deep into the weekend.

 

Mountain Hotel & Audience by Vaclav Havel, Orange Tree Theatre, 15 November 2008

It seemed like a good idea when we booked it. Here ‘s a link to the rubric that enticed us, along with the cast and creatives information.

We’d had previous experience of Vaclav Havel’s plays, so shouldn’t have been surprised to find the absurdity a bit lame and the drama weak.

In particular, I thought Audience (about a playwright stacking beer barrels in a warehouse) tame.

So what do we know?

Still, we enjoyed our Don Fernando dinner afterwards and never feel completely let down after an evening at the Orange Tree.

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.

The Female Of The Species by Joanna Murray-Smith, Vaudeville Theatre, 12 July 2008

We don’t much go for West End productions, but this one does read like a Cottesloe, Royal Court or Hampstead type production, despite landing in the West End straight from its original Australian production.

The play is a comedy, loosely based on a real incident in which Germaine Greer was breifly kidnapped by a deranged “fan”.

Thank you, Official London Theatre, for all the details about the production – click here.

Janie and I saw this on the Saturday of the Lord’s test, with Lord’s tickets in our hand for the Sunday and with me having been at Lord’s on the Friday, enjoying a long weekend…

…Eileen Atkins, Anna Maxwell Martin, directed by Roger Michell…what could possibly go wrong?

Not a lot, really. It was funny, yet also quite forgettable. Only by skimming the above OLT synopsis and the reviews that follow does it start to come back to me. A bit like the test match really, seems like I was having that sort of weekend:

Still, it was worth seeing and for sure a notch or three above the usual West End comedies.