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.

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

This double bill was part of a Vaclav Havel Season that autumn at the Orange Tree.  We only attended this one evening.

Vaclav Havel is one of those writers that you really want to like and there are always some very clever lines and some interestingly weird scenes in his plays.  Yet somehow Havel never quite seems to work for me or for Janie.

Still, we enjoyed the evening.  The Mountain Hotel one was a typically Havel peculiar mix of people thrown together in a hotel garden being absurd together.  I think we even considered sneaking away a half time, but stayed to see what the second play was like.  Audience is a short quasi-autobiographical piece about Vanek, who works in an absurd beer factory.  It did not motivate us to return and see the other short Vanek plays later in the season.

It was all very well acted and well directed; David Antrobus is an Orange Tree regular and is reliably good.

You can read all about it, including who played whom and stuff, here.  Someone at the Orange Tree is doing an amazing archiving job; I am grateful to them.

Michael Billington, a long term Orange Tree fan, is polite but clearly didn’t much like the evening either.

Philip Fisher in the British Theatre Guide is more upbeat about the evening.

Ian Shuttleworth’s FT piece can still be seen archived here.

Chains by Elizabeth Baker, Orange Tree Theatre, 24 November 2007

Truthfully, I recall very little about this one. No doubt Sam Walters was wandering around like an expectant father on the night we went; a production directed by his wife, Auriol Smith and starring their daughter, Octavia Walters. Although we were past the preview stage, so perhaps Sam wasn’t there that night.

Anyway, here’s the helpful Orange Tree stub about it.

Michael Billington in the Guardian, as usual with Orange Tree stuff, loved it, here.

Philip Fisher in British Theatre Guide is reasonably impressed but observes that there is a lot of dull chit chat, here.

The Standard suggests that it is interesting as social history but lumpen as drama, here.

I have a feeling that we found it a bit lumpen too. We tended to with Orange Tree pieces from that period, often observing that Sam’s reluctance to use an editing pencil on Edwardian revivals is a bit of a disadvantage. A shame really. Especially as so many of my great aunts and uncles made that trip to Australia 100 or so years ago, the subject really is of interest to me.

Still, we no doubt still enjoyed our evening and no doubt rounded it off with Spanish food at Don Fernando, as most often we do after the Orange Tree.


Once We Were Mothers by Lisa Evans, Orange Tree Theatre, 13 October 2007

My recall of this one is extremely sketchy. I vaguely recall the scenarios, as set out in the Orange Tree Archive – click here. I remember the cast being a collection of Orange Tree regulars and a few new faces. I remember the play not really fitting together – it was basically three separate stories, merely linked by being essentially mother and daughter scenarios.

Michael Billington wasn’t too sure about it – see here.

John Thaxter in British Theatre Guide quite liked it – here.

We’ll have dined at Don Fernando afterwards, that I can say for sure.

The Years Between by Daphne Du Maurier, Orange Tree Theatre, 15 September 2007

The Years Between is a 1940s period piece by Daphne Du Maurier. Orange Tree Theatre stubs from 2007 are a bit thin on detail, but here’s a link to the stub.

I remember this play seeming a bit slow and dated, but it did hold our attention and the acting was very good.

Nan, John Masefield, Orange Tree Theatre, 5 May 2007

Very Orange Tree, this one.

Written in the Edwardian era.  Set 100 years or so before that.

Janie is usually unenthusiastic about these period pieces, but we have been supporters of the Orange Tree for a long time and tend to get withdrawal symptoms if we reject all of the period stuff.

Mostly Orange Tree regulars in the cast.  Auriol Smith directing, Sam Walters hovering around like an expectant father (we were there very early in the run).

Here’s the Orange Tree Archive to tell you all about it – click here.  Didn’t realise the archive went back this far – pleasant surprise to find this.  Even some headlines from the reviews – well done Orange Tree.

It was a very good production, this.  One of the better ones there.  Kate McGuiness was especially good in the lead.

Michael Billington was generous with his praise, but he does have a soft spot for the Orange Tree – click here.