The March On Russia by David Storey, Orange Tree Theatre, 7 October 2017

Back in the late 1980’s. when I read a heck of a lot of plays as my “commute fodder”, I remember wanting to like David Storey’s plays but never enjoying reading them. I wanted to like them, because I knew his son, Jake, at University, which was as close as I got to actually knowing a playwright back then. But I always found the plays themselves naturalistic to the point of being dull.

But I had never seen a David Storey performed and now he has died and Daisy liked the sound of this one and it is supposedly one of his most autobiographical ones and it was the Orange Tree…

…so off we went.

I’m going to guess that this is about as good a production of a David Storey as one might find. Excellent cast, fine young director in Alice Hamilton, whose work we have enjoyed before. (Although German Skerries,which she also directed, was a naturalistic, dull, late 20th Century play which sent us to sleep.) Plus, the Orange Tree “in the round” treatment suits this type of naturalistic chamber play.

This production of The March On Russia has had excellent reviews – quotes, links and other resources about the production can be found on the Orange Tree’s site – here.

But I did find the play dull. It was borderline for me whether we stayed on for the second half, but Daisy guessed, correctly, that the drama would unfold in a rather more interesting way second half. I’m glad we stayed. I’m glad I’ve seen a David Storey. Neither of us will be rushing back to see another of his, though.

We debated this and more over a delicious Spanish meal at Don Fernando after theatre, as is our habit post Orange Tree, making the evening as a whole worthwhile and enjoyable.

Yen by Anna Jordan, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 23 January 2016

This extraordinary play and production completed our January hat-trick of marvellous but grim plays; the first being You For Me For You by Mia Chung, the second being The Rolling Stone by Chris Urch.

Before we set off, I looked up the details on the Royal Court website and called them out to Janie.  “It won the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2013,” I said…

…”hold on a minute, I thought The Rolling Stone was promoted as having that same prize, the same year.  What’s going on?”

Turns out, this wonderful (relatively recent) Bruntwood Prize is run biennially and is awarded to four winners each time.  So they had both won  in 2013.

Yen is in some ways even more troubling than The Rolling Stone.  It feels more “on our own doorstep” (not that proximity should make the issues and human suffering any more alarming) and had extraordinary intensity and sway of emotions.

The young cast’s acting was simply superb, Ned Bennett’s directing once again takes the breath away.  In short, this play/production deserves all the plaudits and rave reviews it has already received and more besides.  You’ll find those here in the helpful Royal Court area.

Janie found this play/production so troubling she said she didn’t sleep so well that night.  Very unusual; she is pretty robust and we’ve seen a lot of troubling plays in our time.  So this is not for “people of a nervous disposition”.  But if you like your drama strong, raw and top notch, try somehow to get hold of a ticket for this one if you can.