While We’re Here, Barney Norris, Bush Studio, 20 May 2017

Janie and I were very excited about this visit to the Bush – the first since the major refurbishment and our first visit to the new Studio.

We really like the way they have refurbished the bar, library and garden/yard to utilise the space so much better. Still a friendly vibe, too.

We bumped into my friend Nigel from the health club, who had popped into the bar with his girlfriend, Candice, ahead of a visit to the flicks around the corner.

The play was excellent. A short, two-hander of a chamber play; very touching and moving.

It is described in the Bush resource on this play/production – here.

Very understated, yet lots going on about loneliness, lost love and how people’s lives can pan out.

Only a short run at the Bush but I do hope the play goes on to do well.

In the spirit of trying new things, we also tried Vietnamese food from Tem Tep in Church Street, which we’d been meaning to try for a while. Pretty good; we’ll try some more dishes from there for sure.

Low Level Panic by Clare Mcintyre, Orange Tree Theatre, 25 March 2017

This made it two in a row theatre visits to see all female affairs, the previous visit being Scarlett at the Hampstead Downstairs – click here – earlier this month.

Unlike Scarlett, though, this production is a revival of a 1980’s play. Indeed, a quintessentially 1980’s play. It’s a three-hander.  All three actresses performed their roles very well.

Here is a link to the excellent Orange Tree on-line resources about the production, including reviews and stuff.

Lots of excellent reviews up there, mostly four stars. Of course, the Orange Tree only puts up the best ones with stars, so I add these only for balance:

Several of the reviews discuss feminism 1988 style and debate the extent to which things have changed since then – very much the conversation Janie and I had over dinner and the next day.

Anyway, Janie and I both really enjoyed our evening at the theatre and our Don Fernando grubsie afterwards.

 

The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 20 February 2015

Janie and I thought this was a really excellent play/production; once again the tiny Hampstead Theatre Downstairs proving to be one of the hottest tickets in town.

Sinéad Matthews is a very special up and coming actress. We first spotted her more than 10 years ago, in The Wild Duck at the Donmar, when she was but a nipper. I don’t think she only does plays named after species of fauna. We have subsequently seen her in Giving, again at the Hampstead Downstairs – click here.

Mercifully the Hampstead now has a good resource for each play/production – click here for The Wasp – as that downstairs space eschews formal reviews and I somehow mislaid the little leaflet thing they give out by way of a programme.

In a way this play is a classic revenge tragedy played out in modern terms in the present day. Perhaps some aspects of the coincidence seemed unlikely when you think deeply about the plot afterwards, but as the story plays out the evening was captivating.

Janie and I like these short plays – 90 minutes or so without an interval – when they are done well such plays/productions keep us gripped from start to finish and we feel thoroughly satisfied afterwards…sans bum ache.

The Wasp deservedly got a West End transfer later that year, but Sinéad Matthews didn’t transfer with it. Nevertheless:

I am pretty sure that Janie and I preceded our Friday evening trip to the Hampstead with a meal at Harry Morgans, so we got home early and thoroughly satisfied that evening.

The Author by Tim Crouch, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 26 September 2009

I only vaguely recall this one. Experimental theatre, with the cast sitting among us as the audience.

The Royal Court has only left scant details up – click here for those.

Tim Crouch himself is a little more forthcoming on his site – here.

Here are some rehearsal and preview extracts from the Royal Court:

Tim took this play to Edinburgh the following year – here is a two minute extract:

Post modern in a “theatre about theatre” way. An attempt to shake up the complacency of audience members like us.

It seems to have worked better on critics than it did on us:

Le Cirque Invisible, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 22 August 2009

We went to see Le Cirque Invisible with Anthea and Mitchell.

Here is the Official London Theatre blurb about the show.

I recall a beautiful summer evening, enjoying drinks on the SBC terrace etc. I recall that the others liked the show more than I did. Of course it is clever and skillful, but I fins acrobatic/gymnastic performance only does so much for me.

Lyn Gardner in The Guardian didn’t like it.

Here’s a good snippet which gives you a reasonable idea:

I can’t for the life of me recall what we did afterwards. Janie and I both thought, at first, perhaps we went to Hix, but I’m now pretty sure that was another time, after we four went to a dance thing at the Barbican. Perhaps we decided not to eat afterwards on this occasion or just ate light on the South Bank.

Factors Unforeseen by Michel Vinaver, Orange Tree Theatre, 16 May 2009

This is one of those rare plays about the workplace; in this case a suntan lotion business. The impecunious Orange Tree is one of the few theatres with solid production stubs going back as far as 2009 – click here for all the details on this one.

As is often the case with workplace plays, this one didn’t quite work for us. The stage was incredibly busy – a huge cast for the tiny Orange Tree. The humour didn’t quite translate/make the grade either.

Still, it was well acted and did provide some interesting points for us to discuss over a Don Fernando Spanish meal afterwards.

 

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.

the caravan by Liam O’Driscoll, Mimi Poskitt, Ben Freedman, Royal Court, 28 February 2009

We absolutely loved this unusual and superb production.

We weren’t in the theatre downstairs, we weren’t in the theatre upstairs. Janie and I were in a caravan with six other audience members and the cast.

It was about the floods that were/are affecting so many UK citizens.

Read about it on the Royal Court site here.

Official London Theatre explained it well, with a super picture, here...

…and here.

Verbatim theatre. When it works it really works.

the caravan was only 35-40 minutes long, but this short piece has lingered long in our memories. Not much bowls us over these days, but this production really did.

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.

Faces In The Crowd by Leo Butler, Royal Court Upstairs, 25 October 2008

This was a very memorable, very intimate play.

The set was effectively a small studio apartment which we, the tiny audience, was observing from above. You really almost felt you were in the apartment with the couple. And the couple were discussing very intimate stuff.

Official London Theatre maintains a basic resource on this production – click here.

Janie and I took Charlie (Lavender) with us to this one, which I think she enjoyed very much. We’re struggling to remember what we did for grub on this occasion; we think we possibly ate at the Royal Court itself.

Definitely more plus than minus for us.