Theatre trotting in November

1 Nov

I know, I know, this blog has been uber neglected in the last couple of months and I have no excuses apart from I have been really busy work wise, and then I was away on holiday for the most part of last month and the lack of Simon Russell Beale in any of my theatre outings is definitely affecting my desire to review anything I have seen. I will however review certain productions in retrospect, especially the ones I really enjoyed like Rigoletto and Inherit the Wind.

So my favourite month has come and what has it got in store for me? I had to give up The Habit of Art which fellow theatre trotter, A Younger Theatre kindly agreed to see anyway so the ticket didnt go to waste, and based on his initial reaction, it is a must see. I will likely see it sometime next year as tickets have now sold out until the January run.

9 – Mrs. Klein, Almeida

I booked this mainly for Clare Higgins, whom I have come to admire since I saw her play Ma Costa in The Golden Compass. And then of course I saw her a couple of times at the National in Major Barbara, A Slight Ache/Landscape and recently, All’s Well that Ends Well.

12 –Nation, Olivier, National Theatre

I have never read a Terry Pratchett novel, who knows maybe after seeing this I will?

19 – The Priory, Royal Court

My sister Shi who lives in California LOVES Rupert Penry-Jones, alongside other British actors which I will not name here or she will be accused as a player. I told her that she is living in the wrong country but did she listen? No…. Anyway, I know for a fact that she will hate me for seeing this play without her. Oh, did I say I have front row seats? Hihihi

28 – Pride and Prejudice, Richmond Theatre

I love anything Jane Austen. I just cant help it! Anyway, until Austentatious makes it to the West End, I will devour any piece of Jane Austen that is out there. Haven’t been to the Richmond Theatre either so that should be something to look forward to.

30 – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Novello

Another West End Whingers outing of this Tennessee Williams’ classic. And an all-Black cast. Wow!

If you happen to be theatre trotting on the same plays and dates, please dont be a stranger and say hello.

Theatre trotting in October

29 Sep

Would you believe it but I actually saw ALL six productions that I booked in September? Not to mention the Michael Ball concert I saw at the Royal Albert Hall. I suppose I liked the good mix of shows and also because it didn’t leave me too exhausted to miss any of them. I even saw one of the productions twice! (Clue, it’s a musical!) I can’t believe time has flown and we’re nearly towards the end of the year!

October also looks promising- a couple of plays, a musical, even two operas! It will also be a little bit special as a friend who is visiting from Seattle will join me in two of my theatre outings. So without much ado, this is what I will feast my senses on next month:

1 – All’s Well that Ends Well, Olivier, National Theatre

I already saw this way back in May and absolutely enjoyed it. The Evening Standard had a 2 for 1 deal for just £10 and it’s also the same evening that they are doing the NT Live Performance so I couldn’t resist! I’m also dragging my pal Sue along with me. But we have to be there on time though as audience have to be seated by 18:45.

3 – Othello, Trafalgar Studios

I organised a Shakespeare outing at the Globe in August to see Romeo and Juliet, in my humble opinion the play was just about right, it was far better than Troilus and Cressida though. I was tasked to organise another outing this time to see Lenny Henry’s take on Othello which has already done a UK tour and current stop is London.

5 – Annie Get Your Gun, Young Vic

Not a West End Whingers outing of this Irving Berlin musical starring Jane Horrocks.

8- Turandot, London Coliseum

The first time I saw Turandot, which was in 2006, I was mesmerized. I was also in love and I thought it cannot get any better than this. I have seen a few more opera since but so far, nothing has beaten this Puccini favourite where the music soars, it feels as if you were being flung into the heavens. I’ve loved most productions the ENO has produced and I am sure I will love this version too.

12- ENRON, Royal Court Theatre

Okay, I adore Samuel West since Persuasion and this will be the first time I will see him perform on stage. I went to see Harley Granville Barker’s Waste at the Almeida last year which he directed and the man was a genius! It was one of the best plays I saw last year. I do like to see more of his work as much as possible and with all the accolades ENRON is getting, it’s now West End bound at the Noel Coward Theatre after this run, I am already assured of a fabulous evening.

20- Rigoletto, London Coliseum

It’s my very first Guiseppe Verdi of a much loved classic. My friend Carmi who will be in town is going to join me. I think this will be a first for her, so better make a good impression!

25- Inherit the Wind, Old Vic

I LOVE Kevin Spacey. That’s the only reason you need to see any production and after glowing reviews from fellow theatre trotters the West End Whingers and JohnnyFox, I am so psyched to see this play. Equally thrilled is my friend Carmi who is also a huge Spacey fan. Did you know he is also on Twitter? Follow @KevinSpacey.

Right, your turn!

Theatre review: Love’s Labour’s Lost

25 Sep

LLL thumbnail

Plot: The King of Navarre and his courtiers have forsworn every kind of pleasure. But a visit from the Princess of France and her lovely entourage soon has this all-male ‘academe’ tearing up its own rulebook.

Shakespeare’s celebration of the claims of young love is a festive parade of every weapon in the youthful playwright’s comic arsenal – from excruciating cross-purposes to silly impersonations, drunkenness, bustups and pratfalls. It’s also his most joyful banquet of language, groaning with puns, rhymes, bizarre syntax, grotesque coinages and parody.

I’m on a mission to watch as many of the Bard’s plays as possible and as of this writing this is just my 12th Shakespeare play as opposed to fellow theatre trotter LondonTheatreGoer who has seen all of it that took him 18 years. I really wanted to see the RSC’s version last year with Tennant as Berowne and felt letdown that only Hamlet made it to London, and even if I had tickets for that, Tennant was indisposed because of his slipped disc, but we were entertained by Edward Bennett nonetheless. So when I was booking for the Shakespeare Globe’s 2009 season, I was thrilled that Love’s Labour’s Lost was part of their Young Hearts season.

Having seen As You Like It (brilliant), Troilus and Cressida (so-so), Romeo and Juliet (just about right), I had high hopes for Love’s Labour’s Lost, mainly because it had almost the same cast from the 2007 production that artistic director Dominic Dromgoole helmed which must be a good thing if they are bringing it back. I’ll try and be good as this was the first preview performance.

I got quite familiar with the actors playing the characters in this comedy (which I need after seeing two rather intense plays earlier this week) as I saw most of them in other productions and easily felt at ease to see Paul Ready as Don Armado which I think he did really well, Philip Cumbus as the King of Navarre, and Trystan Gravelle as Berowne who played their lovestruck characters to the hilt. Gravelle’s mellifluous voice was just beautiful, thanks for that Welsh accent.

Now as for Michelle Terry, whom I have seen at the National’s England People Very Nice and All’s Well that Ends Well was just comical and at the same time impassioned as the Princess of France. She is not considered the lead here but the stage loves her, and so did the audience. As with most of the Bard’s plays, again it was the wordplay that did me in, reminding us all of the briliance of Master Shakespeare in the field of writing. It was almost pantomimic but that’s perhaps because of all the intended mix ups, and beautiful music provided by musicians Nick Perry, George Bartle, David Hatcher, Claire McIntyre.

It’s not excellent as ‘As You Like It’ but there is definitely no love lost here.

Love’s Labour’s Lost: 3/5
Playing at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre until 10 October.

Theatre Review: Mother Courage and Her Children

24 Sep


Plot: Mother Courage and Her Children is an epic drama set in the 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War. The plot follows the resilient Mother Courage who survives by running a commissary business that profits from all sides. As the war claims all of her children in turn, the play poignantly demonstrates that no one can profit from the war without being subject to its terrible cost also.

I have always wanted so see Fiona Shaw and a Bertolt Brecht play performed so imagine my excitement when I found out that the National was doing a revival of Brecht’s greatest work with Shaw playing the title role. I booked the first preview performance on 10 September which was delayed for a good 10 minutes or so until the director, Deborah Warner took the stage and apologetically addressed the audience that they were unable to complete the technical rehearsal of the last 2 pivotal scenes and what was accomplished was only good enough up to the interval. The audience were given the option to stay and watch the unfinished product or leave now, either way our tickets will be reimbursed. As I have already been physically exhausted with all the theatre I have seen the past week, the thought of sitting through 2 hours and then returning to see it in its entirety with a running time of 3 hours and 20 minutes wasnt just too appealing so I left and hoped that on the day I have decided to rebook it which was a good two weeks, everything should be done and dusted and that the wait will be worth it.

So was it worth it? I have not read nor seen this play but came prepared to what it’s about, it’s an anti-war play with Anna Fierling, aka Mother Courage, who is a war profiteer that despite losing all her children seemed to be the only one who didnt learn a lesson from it all. This was obvious from the get go and until the end but that wasnt the bone I wanted to pick. Was it just me but I felt that I would have preferred a traditional version of this play as opposed to the noisy and then melancholy and oftentimes irritating infusion of music composed and performed by Duke Special. The novelty of having live music which is supposed to put you in the mood easily wore off for me and it just annoyed me all throughout. I was basically tempted to leave at the interval which of course I didnt do. I stayed because I wanted to like the play (or is it a musical?), I stayed because I wanted to say that Fiona Shaw was a trouper, rockstress one minute, then poignant the next.

Up to this day I still dont know what to make of this production and for the first time I am not even going to rate it. Fellow theatre trotter LondonTheatreGoer might make more sense than I do so you can check his own thoughts about the play here.

Mother Courage and Her Children is playing at the Olivier, National Theatre until December 08.

Don’t Stop Me Now

21 Sep

Theatre trotting in September

1 Sep

Out of the 10 productions I planned to watch last month, I ended up just seeing seven of them, including the controversial Too Close to the Sun when I saw it on it’s final performance, but missed Blood Wedding (lukewarm reviews), Jerusalem (exhausted) and Helen (exhausted again). The last I heard was that there are plans to bring Jerusalem to the West End, so we’ll see about that.

Here’s what I am seeing this September:

5- Hello Dolly!, Open Air Theatre

LOVED everything about this production so much when I saw it last month, but Samantha Spiro was struggling with her vocals a bit, I thought she was probably just having an off night and will get better in future performances. Snapped up tickets for myself and my friend Debbie who’s also a big fan of musicals.

7- Judgment Day, Almeida

As I watch almost every production at the Almeida, this is one of their first productions for the new season. Not to mention Joseph Milson is part of the cast too.

10- Mother Courage and Her Children, Olivier, National Theatre

First time to watch Fiona Shaw. My first Bertolt Brecht play. The last time I was at the National was in June when I saw Phedre, so I can’t wait to be back there.

17- Talent, Menier Chocolate Factory

Not a West End Whingers outing of this Victoria Wood musical.

22- An Inspector Calls, Novello

Have heard a lot about this J. B. Priestley classic thriller that had a successful run at the National Theatre years back. And since I wasnt that enthused about Time and the Conways, I thought this might just change my heart.

25- Love’s Labour’s Lost, Shakespeare’s Globe

Having missed the RSC’s production of this last year and the quest to watch as much Shakespeare plays as possible, explains it all.

See you at the theatre!

Theatre trotting in August

30 Jul

Apologies again for what seems to have been another dry season here without any theatre reviews since my chance meeting with SRB. What I’ve always found that gets me going again is when I talk about the theatre outings I have planned for the month so I’d like to share where you’ll find me at the theatre for the month of August.

3- Hello Dolly!, Open Air Theatre

This is one of my favorite musicals which had Barbra Streisand play Dolly Levi so it will be great to catch it on stage. I am looking forward to be going to the Open Air Theatre for the first time. I am seeing this with gal pal Abigail, and hopefully if it doesnt rain, John is seeing it as well. Can’t wait to sing Put on Your Sunday Clothes, Ribbons Down My Hair, It Only Takes a Moment, So Long Dearie and especially Before the Parade Passes By, which has been sort of my torch song for years now.

6- The Cherry Orchard, Old Vic

It’s my 3rd time around and it will be the last time I’ll see SRB perform onstage this year. A girl in love has got to do what a girl in love has got to do!

7- Romeo and Juliet, Globe Theatre

Confession. I have not read nor seen any stage performance or film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. But thanks to Shakespeare in Love, yup, the Miramax film that beat Saving Private Ryan for the 1999 Academy Best Picture, as it sort of introduced me to one of Shakespeare’s more popular plays. It’s a theatre outing with my congregation friends as well, and I hope that our restricted view seats will not put a damper on the evening not to mention that the reviews were also not good.

11- Blood Wedding, Southwark Playhouse

It will be my first Federico Garcia Lorca play so I am quite thrilled, not to mention that it’ll be my first time at the Southwark Playhouse as well.

13- Ghosts, Arcola Theatre

My Ibsen conquest continues! And I haven’t been to the Arcola since last summer as well, it’ll be like coming back home.

14- A Streetcar Named Desire, Donmar Warehouse

Tennessee Williams. Rachel Weisz as Blanche Dubois.

17- Jerusalem, Royal Court

Fellow theatre trotters and pals West End Whingers have been talking about how great this play is and the Royal Court just extended its run until 22 August. Chuffed that I managed to get a ticket!

20- Helen, Globe Theatre

Booked this alongside Troilus & Cressida in keeping with the Globe Theatre’s Greek theme, hope this one will turn out better though.

27- Arcadia, Duke of York’s

Touted as one of Tom Stoppard’s best plays I just couldn’t resist.

What about you, what are you seeing at the theatre in August?