The Heretic by Richard Bean, Royal Court Theatre, 19 March 2011

After the previous evening’s debacle at Hampstead

Ecstasy by Mike Leigh, Hampstead Theatre, 18 March 2011

…it was a very pleasant surprise that Janie felt better and confident enough to try the theatre the very next day.

A very interesting play about climate change, questioning orthodoxies and asking awkward questions about the links between the politics, science and personal beliefs around climate change.

A search term that finds the mostly good reviews and more besides can be found by clicking here.

Not sure what we did afterwards – probably got Janie home to bed pdq.

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.

The Priory by Michael Wynne, Royal Court Theatre, 28 November 2009

I recall this one as being a bit Alan Aykbournish – a gang of thirty-somethings on retreat in the country for New Years eve. What could possibly go wrong?

A slight set of Royal Court details and links about this play/production can be found here.

We quite enjoyed it, while agreeing that we normally seek plays with a bit more oomph and have seen a lot of plays a bit like this one in our time.

Of course it was well acted and well produced – the Royal Court hardly ever misses one of those beats.

Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 28 March 2009

We enjoyed but were a bit disappointed by this one.

We had absolutely loved That Face, Polly Stenham’s first play, so had eagerly awaited this one for two years.

Tusk Tusk was another play about a dysfunctional family with an addled mother (absentee mother this time) and several wild kids as the result.

It felt a bit like more of the same to us, which was a shame because we (perhaps unreasonably) expected more from Polly Stenham on the back of her stunningly good first play.

Still, some excellent performances from the youngsters (this must have been the first time we saw the excellent Bel Powley, for example) and the usual Royal Court quality of production, even when the play is being done upstairs.

We saw the Saturday preview before press night.

I have found some super Pete Jones Productions photos online – presumably from opening night – click here.

The Vertical Hour by David Hare, Royal Court Theatre, 2 February 2008

This was a really good play/production. It was only on at the Royal Court for a short while – so we felt we’d got ourselves hot tickets for this one. Unusually for a David Hare, this one had started in New York 15 months before.

The Royal Court Stub has all the details and the full text of lots of reviews.

The usual suspects all loved it. As did we; great cast, super play.

Statement of Regret by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Cottesloe Theatre, 22 December 2007

We really loved Elmina’s Kitchen and also enjoyed Fix Up, both by Kwame Kwei-Armah when we saw them at the Cottesloe, so we thought this one would be a “must see”.

In truth, Statement of Regret was nowhere near as strong as the other plays, although it was worth the trip. This one was about a black think-tank on the brink of folding. Interesting subject matter but the play was a bit all over the place.

Even Michael Billington struggled to like it, even though he wanted to, here.

Philip Fisher in British Theatre Guide agrees – lots of interesting stuff but not a coherent play, here.

Still, Ricky in NYC really enjoyed it, here, and who are we to disagree?

That Face, Polly Stenham, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 19 May 2007

This turned out to be one of the hottest tickets in town for a while.  We didn’t realise it when we booked it.  We see a lot of productions upstairs and often enjoy plays there by young/as yet unknown playwrights.

Indeed, we normally see them early in a run, but nephew Paul had arranged to stay and said he’d like to go to the theatre with us, so we chose this play as “youthfully suitable” and so booked for a few weeks into the run.  Thus, by the time Paul came down to stay, he knew we’d got him a surprisingly hot ticket.

That Face – for Royal Court stub including several reviews click here – really is a super play and this was an excellent production.

Polly Stenham is a very talented young writer, although we now have the hindsight to wish that she had moved on from this “chamber play about dysfunctional families and damaged youngsters” genre – her subsequent plays so far (several years on) have all been echoes of similar. Still, this one subsequently transferred to the West End making Polly, at 21 by then, the youngest West End debutant since…maybe ever.  Michael Billington gushed – click here.

The whole cast was brilliant, but Lindsay Duncan stole the show, as you might expect.

Nephew Paul was very taken by the whole thing.  We had to explain that we don’t always pick quite such winners, especially when we go for the smaller stages and unknown writers.