Parliament Square, James Fritz, Bush Theatre, 16 December 2017

Janie got far more out of this one than I did. It’s only fair to say that the critics tended to agree with Janie rather than me.

Here is a link to the Bush Theatre resource on this show.

The story/scenario is an interesting and potentially moving one. But I struggled to put aside the foolishness of the protagonist; the way she went about her protest being destined to fail in so many ways. I even struggled to suspend belief and roll with the plot line.

It was very well acted and the sparse design/setting, performed in the round, suited the piece very well.

This search term should find you reviews and stuff – click here.

Here’s the trailer:

 

Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Hampstead Theatre, 24 June 2017

We’re on a bit of a roll at the moment; this was another very interesting piece.

It is a bit difficult to describe this play without spoilers – indeed the Hampstead Theatre staff we spoke to were bemoaning the fact that some of the formal reviews contain spoilers. Janie and I always avoid reading the reviews before we see a play/production, so it wasn’t spoiled for us and I’ll try not to spoil it for you.

The first act is a fairly conventional office politics satire set in a magazine publishing house; well acted and with some delightful vignettes. One ranting speech, towards the end of that act, by the chief fact-checker (played by Bo Poraj) will live long in our memories. Still, such office satires have been done many times and we have seen plenty to know that we are not wild about the genre…

…but…

…there is a pivotal moment at the end of the first act which reassured us that the second half of the play would be quite different.

Indeed, the second half was far more interesting and progresses, through two more, shorter, acts, in intriguing ways from the slow build of the first act.

Here is a link to the Hampstead Theatre’s resource on this play/production. 

Gloria has deservedly had good reviews from all the majors. It was a great success in its native USA and should do well in the UK too – at the time of writing the Hampstead run has already been extended and a West End run surely beckons.

Go see it.

Janie and I rewarded ourselves with some Chinese food from Four Seasons afterwards.

My City by Stephen Poliakoff, Almeida Theatre, 24 September 2011

Janie and I are partial to a bit of Poliakoff on the stage, which is all too rare these days, so we were had been very much looking forward to this one.

Super cast too – and at the Almeida.

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

Tracey Ullman has tremendous stage presence. The conceit of the play – an old primary schoolteacher wandering around London telling stories about the place – sounds great.

Yet, in truth, this play was not quite top drawer Poliakoff in our eyes. It was revisiting many of his themes and styles, but perhaps without hitting the heights that earlier works hit. Perhaps it is the familiarity that detracts from the sense of excitement.

We had a very enjoyable evening at the theatre, but concluded that Poliakoff is probably, now, doing his best work for TV rather than for stage.

I think the reviews pretty much concurred with our views. Here is a link to a search term that should find most if not all of those reviews.

 

 

Polar Bears by Mark Haddon, Donmar Warehouse, 8 May 2010

By the time this play was announced, I had read and thoroughly enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime.

So Mark Haddon’s name was a big draw for me.

The Curious Incident centres around autism, whereas Polar Bears centres around bipolar disorder.

Polar Bears was fabulous cast (Richard Coyle and Jodhi May in particular), beautifully produced, etc., but by gosh was it depressing and predictable to watch the inevitable tragedy unfold.

It is a short play – “just as well”, I recall Janie and I agreeing – I also recall us agreeing that we were pleased to have seen it but couldn’t exactly recommend it.

This search term – click here – will lead you to reviews and stuff.

It didn’t put me off from booking the dramatisation of The Curious Incident a couple of years later, thank goodness – click here for my notes on that evening – which was cracking theatre – perhaps thanks to Simon Stephens combining with Mark Haddon that time.

But unfortunately Polar Bears was a continuation of a somewhat lacklustre six months of theatre for us at that time.

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: