Beyond The Horizon by Eugene O’Neill, Cottesloe Theatre. 19 June 2010

This production of an early Eugene O’Neil was twinned with a production of an early Tennessee Williams, Spring Storm, which we went to see a few weeks later, click here.

Janie and I are partial to a bit of Eugene O’Neill; almost as partial as we are to Tennessee Williams. While this early play is not one of O’Neill’s great plays, like the Williams, it shows all the signs of an emerging great playwright and was a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre.

A very strong cast and production from a regional source; the Royal & Derngate Northampton, did great service to both productions.

The critics loved both; this search term – click here – will find you the reviews and stuff; mostly for both but some for this play specifically.

As on the prvious visit to the Cottesloe, we probably got some food from Shanghai Knightsbridge, “May’s”, afterwards. Either that or shawarmas.

Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams, Cottesloe Theatre, 15 May 2010

We’d been on a relatively poor run at the theatre for six months. This was more like it!

This production of an early Tennessee Williams was twinned with a production of an early Eugene O’Neil, Beyond The Horizon, which we went to see a few weeks later – click here.

Janie and I are partial to a bit of Tennessee Williams. While this early play is not one of his great plays, it shows all the signs of an emerging great playwright and was a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre.

A very strong cast and production from a regional source; the Royal & Derngate Northampton.

The critics loved it; this search term – click here – will find you the reviews and stuff; mostly for both but some for this play specifically.

We probably got some food from Shanghai Knightsbridge, “May’s”, afterwards. Either that or shawarmas.

Really Old, Like Forty Five by Tamsin Oglesby, Cottesloe Theatre, 30 January 2010

We were very keen on the idea of this one and booked a preview.

We are glad we did; the play was enjoyable, agonising and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Partly about the domestic and interpersonal aspects of ageing, the play also takes on questions of government policy around ageing, including social care and the potential for robots to provide same.

I make it sound a bit “everything but the kitchen sink” on the topic, because in a way it was, but in a good way. The themes do more or less come together into a coherent whole and there is an element of comedic romp about the play which allows room for some forgiveness.

It was pretty well received on the whole – a rummage through the reviews and materials yielded by this search term should satisfy your curiosity if you remain curious.

Excellent cast, well directed, well produced…

…what do you expect from the Cottesloe?

Pains Of Youth by Ferdinand Bruckner, Cottesloe Theatre, 7 November 2009

What a grim evening of theatre this turned out to be.

The only ungrim thing about the evening was bumping into George Littlejohn and his good lady in the foyer before the show and then again in the interval. I have known George since 1994 when we met, for reasons that will only be explained to you if you click here, at the 1994 inaugural Accountancy Awards. Only click if you find pompous awards funny; don’t click if you take them seriously.

The play is about young upwardly mobile Viennese trainee doctors in the 1920’s, who should have been among the most happening people on earth were it not for their unfortunate juxtaposition with time and space (i.e. 1920’s Vienna) and their existential angst.

Janie and I hated the first half of the play and resolved not to stay for the second half. I’m not saying that it was either going to be members of the cast, or us, or a mixture of those two cohorts, but suicide was clearly on the cards during the second half. We made absolutely certain it wasn’t going to be us.

Unfortunately for George and his good lady, they had some sort of connection with someone involved in the production, so they stayed for the second half. We wished them luck as we waved them goodbye.

The irony of the bad straplining of that last piece will not be wasted on George Littlejohn, who was at one time the editor of Accountancy Age, no less, but has since managed to exceed even those giddy heights.

Despite their ordeal, sticking out the whole evening, I am pleasantly surprised, indeed delighted, to report that both the Littlejohns seem hale and hearty at the time of writing (January 2017).  Janie and I ran into them both again at the Curzon Bloomsbury on New Year’s Day 2017 – click here, which triggered this memory and hence this write up.

The Power Of Yes by David Hare, Lyttelton Theatre, 17 October 2009

We were not overly impressed with this play.

David Hare is very good at burrowing around all manner of interesting topics, but I suspect he was too far away from his spheres of knowledge and understanding with the financial crisis.

Hare almost admits as much, as the narrator of the play is a somewhat perplexed author.

So to me, Hare was making the obvious points about the financial crisis well enough, but there was little dramatic tension and no new insight in the piece.

Janie liked it a bit more than i did, but I suspect that she got more out of it, being less steeped in the financial crisis in the first place.

I’m glad we saw it, but this is second division work from a first division playwright. There was little a good cast and production could do to save it.


The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi, Cottesloe Theatre, 18 July 2009

We saw a preview of this new play/production, as oft we did at the Cottesloe.

There is a strong resource on this play/production – click here. It is basically a stage adaptation of Kureshi’s novel about anti-racism and radical Islam.

Tanya Franks was in it, which was one for the NewsRevue alumni “where are they now” department.

I don’t remember much about this play, which is not a great sign. Perhaps my mind was on the Ashes match unfolding at Lord’s that weekend, but more likely, if the reviews are anything to go by, this was not a classic.

Oh well.

The Observer by Matt Charman, Cottesloe Theatre, 6 June 2009

After a rare Friday night marathon with Wally Shawn at the Royal Court the evening before, we went to the Cottesloe the next night to see another affecting play.

Here is the stub for The Observer.

It is basically about election observers in a West African country getting its first taste of democracy.

We found it interesting and thought provoking. We were a bit “theatred out” by the end of it, but that was as much Wally Shawn’s fault from the night before as anything else. I’ll guess we went to May’s (Shanghai Knightsbridge) for some Chinese food after this one. We had many issues from the two evenings to chat about over dinner and the rest of the weekend.

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?

The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh, Cottesloe Theatre, 11 October 2008

Janie and I both profoundly hated this play/production.

We normally like Irish plays, even if they are a bit silly. But this one seemed to us to be silly to the point of not having any point at all.

If you read the rubric, still available on the Official London Theatre site along with production details – click here – you can see why we booked it. Sounds interesting. Potentially really good.

Oh well.

So, as the whingers say, what do we know?

Afterlife by Michael Frayn, Lyttelton Theatre, RNT, 7 June 2008

This one didn’t really float our boat, although it should have done. Michael Frayn, wrote it, Michael Blakemore directed it, Roger Allam was starring in it, the full forces of the RNT were behind it…

…but it didn’t work for us.

It is basically the story of the turn of the 20th century German/Jewish impresario Max Reinhardt, retold as a morality play.

We saw a preview and wondered whether the production was not quite ready when we saw it, but the reviews seemed to share our reservations:

…you get the idea. A real shame.

As is the RNT’s wont, no on-line archive resource (inverse correlation between organisation’s size/budget and its ability to do sensible things on-line blah blah), but there is an Official London Theatre stub – click here.