As usual for the Almeida, we booked this as soon as it was announced because it sounded very interesting and we normally enjoy the Almeida stuff.
We normally go to a Saturday preview or an early Saturday in the run; this time we couldn’t do those dates, so chose a Friday two or three weeks into the run.
The play/production has had universally good reviews, which sounded like good news, but in truth this play did not really do the business for us. A shame, because the cast were superb, seemed very much a team, the design was stunning and there were some excellent coups de theatre and some very good lines. But the play just didn’t work for us.
To us, the garden was a rather clunky metaphor for that section of the English elite that hankers back to bygone glorious times. A dramatist’s reaction to David Goodhart’s The Road To Somewhere. The plot, limited though it was, contained one or two rather predictable twists that were well-signalled in advance and very clumsily explained in arrears.
As King Charles III is Mike Bartlett’s Shakespeare pastiche play, Albion is his Chekhov pastiche. Janie liked neither; I had more time for the Shakespearean style of the King Charles III one (to be Ogblogged in the fullness of time).
We’re not averse to Mike Bartlett – we loved Game and we loved Wild. Bartlett can have such an original voice, I’m not sure why he falls back on pastiche. Janie points out that his pastiche ones seem to be way more successful with critics and the transfer market than the more original ones.
“Most of the theatre audience is naff,” says Janie, with her trademark subtlety and tact.
In truth, the Almeida audience the night we saw Albion was dreadful and irritated us. Older on average than the Saturday night crowd, they seemed especially and unnecessarily elbows-out pushy at the bar and in the queues for tickets/entry. Janie was especially irritated by the woman sitting next to her who took off her shoes and then held us up for five minutes at the start of the interval trying to put her shoes back on her ever so smelly feet.
I had spent an hour before the show saying goodbye (workwise) to Ian Theodoreson at his leaving drinks in The Barley Mow. A shorter play would have probably suited me better on the night. But we have both turned up to theatre after longer, harder days than this; in truth this play/production just wasn’t to my/our taste.