Kiss Me by Richard Bean, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 29 October 2016

Unusually we return to the same theatre two weeks in a row, but this time to see a premier of the downstairs play, Kiss Me by Richard Bean.

After the busy end to our week, we were rather relieved to discover that this was a short play – 70 minutes without an interval.

The play is set in the 1920’s. A young WW1 widow has arranged a liaison with a young man through a mysterious doctor who helps women with deceased or damaged husbands to get pregnant, through the services of this young man. It is a strange scenario, but there is some evidence that some sort of arrangement or arrangements of this kind did happen at that time.

The liaison is supposed to take place within strict parameters regarding lack of intimacy and information sharing, but inevitably in the play the parameters soon break down and so the play becomes a more conventional love story, albeit within an unconventional scenario.

It was a little difficult to buy into the conceit of this play lock stock and barrel; the woman’s motivations in particular seemed confused, the man’s a little hard to believe as stated. Still, the acting was good and the play did cover some interesting points about sexual mores, class differences and of course sex discrimination in that era. The young man basically has so many more choices than the woman.

Here is a link to the Hampstead resource for this play/production.

In short, we enjoyed the play and we enjoyed our Mohsen Persian supper too.

 

The Heretic by Richard Bean, Royal Court Theatre, 19 March 2011

After the previous evening’s debacle at Hampstead

Ecstasy by Mike Leigh, Hampstead Theatre, 18 March 2011

…it was a very pleasant surprise that Janie felt better and confident enough to try the theatre the very next day.

A very interesting play about climate change, questioning orthodoxies and asking awkward questions about the links between the politics, science and personal beliefs around climate change.

A search term that finds the mostly good reviews and more besides can be found by clicking here.

Not sure what we did afterwards – probably got Janie home to bed pdq.

House Of Games by David Mamet, Jonathan Katz & Richard Bean, Almeida Theatre, 11 September 2010

We are big fans of Mamet and also big fans of the Almeida, so Janie and I were really looking forward to this one.

We indeed got a fabulous production, wonderfully well acted, directed and produced. But we were less sure about the piece itself.

Of course with Mamet you get more twists and turns than a country lane. Of course you get even riper language than an expletive-filled debate at our place after Janie and I have both had a bad day. And of course, with Richard Bean in the driving seat for the play script itself, you get some lovely stage devices and coups de theatre.

But the piece itself, based on a 1980’s Mamet film script, seemed surprisingly slight and it was unusually easy to predict the twists. I suspect the film worked better, but I haven’t seen it.

Still, with Alleyn’s School alum Nancy Carroll heading up a pretty impressive cast, plus Django Bates providing the atmospheric jazz music, it was an entertaining evening to be sure. Janie enjoyed it thoroughly, but also claimed she let the plot wash over her.

Here is a link to the Almeida resource on the play/production. 

Sceptics might not trust the above resource to link to all the reviews – quite rightly, as the reviews were mixed. Here’s a helpful search term for your own deep dive – click here.

If you’d like to see the trailer, click below – it’s pretty cool:

England People Very Nice by Richard Bean, Olivier Theatre, 7 February 2009

Janie and I really liked this play/production, well summarised on the Official London Theatre site – click here. It is basically about migration to/through London from the late 16th century until today.

It’s a slightly show-bizzy play, with some of the humour being a little obvious, plus some singing and dancing thrown in. Which doesn’t sound like our sort of play. Yet, there was an interesting enough narrative line and some fabulous performances to keep us interested throughout.

We saw a preview, so were unaware, when we discussed the play/production afterwards, how much it would divide the critics.

Quite a mixture of opinions. Mark Espiner’s analysis of the reviews from the Guardian might help – click here.

A very memorable show for me, which is an element of praise indeed. Olivia Coleman and Michelle Terry were standout performances among many good ones.

I wonder how the piece would come across to me now, in our Brexity times (writing in April 2017) – would my sense of humour still be in tune with it, or should I say would the play’s sense of humour now be in tune with mine?