Experience by Dave Florez, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 28 January 2017

Janie and I love the Hampstead Downstairs and this was yet another little gem down there.

Not for the fainthearted, this play.

It is about sexual surrogacy, which is one part of a three-way therapy treatment for people who have issues with sex and/or intimacy. The other two parts are client and therapist.

It should come as no surprise that the play is a three-hander.

But this play is about a somewhat controversial, experimental use of surrogate partner therapy with offenders.

Is the result a compelling 80 minutes of drama? You bet.

Superb cast, well directed.

Here’s a link to the Hampstead resource on the play.

If you are able, go see for yourselves, don’t take our word for it.

Cracking, it was.

Light supper of shawarmas afterwards; an inexpensive night out, but still a cracker.

 

Deposit by Matt Hartley, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 27 March 2015

This was a good play, very well acted and produced. Another feather in the cap of the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs.

Housing crisis again, but this time two couples decide to live on top of one another for a short while to save enough for the deposits that will progress both couples to the dream of their own home.

There were some plausibility issues with the economics of this scenario, especially in London. “Do the math” as our US cousins might put it.

Still, it was good thought-provoking stuff.

Janie liked it less than I did, but she was in the process of coming down with something, to such an extent that we ended up having to cancel our dinner with Gary and Margaret the next day – a very rare level of poorliness for Janie.

Excellent resource about this play/production on the Hampstead website – click here.

No formal reviews but lots of comments, mostly very positive, on the site.

Preceded by nosh at Harry Morgan, although I seem to recall Janie eating little because she was already feeling less than special in herself.

The Arsonists by Max Frisch, Royal Court Theatre, 3 November 2007

After an aborted evening at the Hampstead Theatre the night before, this was a much better theatre experience for us.

I have liked this play ever since I read it, hundreds of years ago…well, soon after doing Andorra by Max Frisch at school. This production at the Royal Court Theatre, performed in rep alongside Rhinoceros which we saw a few weeks earlier, promised a fresh translation and another chance to see up and coming young star Benedict Cumberbatch before he became too famous to watch.

We both really enjoyed this production. It isn’t one of Janie’s favourite plays, but the translation and production were indeed fresh. Will Keen was excellent as Biedermann.

Most of the major reviews were highly favourable and are reproduced faithfully on the Royal Court stub for this production – here.

Charles Spencer in the Telegraph thought it tailed off – here. Sarah Hemming in the FT was also less than sure – here. Philip Fisher in British theatre Guide missed the epilogue – here – (I thought its omission was a good thing, on balance).

 

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.