Tag Archives: Clare Higgins

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.

A Slight Ache/Landscape

13 Sep


Plot: A Slight Ache takes an oblique view of a long-married couple, the irascible Edward and his frustrated wife Flora, when the arrival of a statuesque silent stranger splinters their loveless bourgeois marriage.

I have seen A Slight Ache on its own last August just before I jetted off to the Philippines for a much deserved break, and although I am not a huge Pinter fan, I am still on a quest to see as much as Pinter as possible that’s why I had to see it again. Oh okay, I am also seeing it again because of we-know-who, there, I admit it! *swoons*

I had the chance to read the very brief play text which I got from the NT bookshop months ago which somehow helped in understanding the characters of Edward (Simon Russell Beale) and Flora (Clare Higgins) and what the match seller represented. As always, Russell Beale delivers a fine performance, and you can tell how much the audience responds to him. Every move he makes seem to elicit a response! I can half guess that the reason why the Lyttelton was full could be because of him.

In Landscape, which Billington describes Pinter to be writing, beautifully and graphically, about physical nearness and emotional separation, couldnt have been more appropriately acted onstage by both actors. Beale’s harshness with a sense of longing, as opposed to Higgin’s bitter and own yearning.

A guaranteed good evening at the theatre.

A Slight Ache/Landscape: 3/5

National Theatre’s August-November Season

15 Jul

Have I ever waxed poetic about my love for the National Theatre? Have I confessed that I even got myself a shirt? Is there a thing called an NT groupie? If you can not seem to get hold of me on a Monday or a Thursday evening, it’s a fair bet that I’ll be here enjoying a play, and then later on having a brief encounter with Simon Russell Beale outside the stage door. Awwwww!!!

I want to call myself an NT habitue having seen over a dozen or so productions in the last 6 months and yet everytime I cross the Waterloo Bridge, and get off the bus stop and walk down the steps that lead me to the building, I can’t still help but still be in awe, well, Sir Laurence Olivier’s statue on the foreground does add more to the enigma of the place but I suppose it’s really because it’s one of the best places to be if you are looking to enjoy really good theatre. Sure it’s had it shares of critical flops, but it has continued to produce brilliant productions and among them are the ones that have just released for the upcoming season and I have booked to see.

I have already booked A Slight Ache for July and August and this is because I will be in the Philippines for a month’s holiday and would not get to see any plays until I get back mid-September. So imagine to my great surprise when I found out that there will be a Harold Pinter double biller wherein apart from A Slight Ache there is also Landscape, which is a series of monologues to be performed by Clare Higgins and Simon Russell Beale. Yeah, yeah, yeah, monologues are not really my thing, but come on, it’s Simon Russell Beale, even if he was reading a phone book I will gladly pay and listen to him!

Then there’s the return of War Horse which I missed the last time but now have managed to book and  having deliberately missed God of Carnage, I have been waiting to see Ralph Fiennes star in Oedipus by Sophocles in a new version by Frank McGuiness. The Pitmen Painters which I enjoyed the last time at the Cottesloe is also making a comeback this time at the Lyttelton in January, and I just might watch it again. There’s surely something for each and everyone, say if youre like my friend Morbius, whose a James Bond fan, there’s a platform with Roger Moore and if you’re a Doctor Who nut, there’s one with Russell T. Davies, so go and check the National Theatre’s website now!

National Theatre’s May-August Season

12 Apr

This is it. It’s official. I am absolutely theatre-crazy and I need to be committed soon and commenced on some kind of treatment. But what exactly would do me good? I’d say doses and doses of productions with Simon Russell Beale please! And you know what, I am getting it alright, thanks to the National’s upcoming new season of plays from May to August which will include Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache starring my dear SRB and Clare Higgins. It will play before Never So Good at the Lyttelton, all tickets only for £10. More performances have also been announced for Major Barbara and it looks like I am going to see it again more than once! YAY!

I thought Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is quite interesting with Corin Redgrave reviving his NT performance from 2000, it will play before sister Vanessa’s The Year of Magical Thinking also at the Lyttelton. Director Katie Mitchell is back at the National this time on …some trace of her, inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot which she also adapted. It stars Ben Whishaw (Perfume) and Hattie Morahan (Sense & Sensibility) whom Mitchell also directed in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, also at the National.

There are a lot of new productions at the National for this summer but these are the ones I was very keen on seeing so I just booked them. Public booking is not open until 22 April but if you join as an advanced member you can start booking now.

Visit the National’s website here

Theatre Review: Major Barbara

28 Feb

Plot: Major Barbara (Hayley Atwell) works tirelessly for the poor at a Salvation Army shelter until a large but morally dubious donation is welcomed from her estranged father Andrew Undershaft, (Simon Russell Beale) a millionaire weapons manufacturer. But when she visits the factory itself, the well-fed workers in their thriving model town make a devastating case for arms trade profits and a whole new set of ideals.

This is my first time to watch the inimitable Simon Russell Beale on stage although I have seen him in a couple of made for tv films such as Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time where he played the enigmatic but awkward Widmerpool which earned him a BAFTA. Mr. Russell Beale is truly larger than life and I can now comprehend as to why he is dubbed -now let me get this right- by The Independent as “the greatest stage actor of his generation”. In a recent article from the Times, he is fast in garnering the most brownie points as “the perfect actor to have ever played Hamlet”. Now, I have yet to see him in a Shakespeare production (the horror! I know, I missed them all!) but I have managed to get tickets for Much Ado About Nothing on March 17.

Going back to this production, it was very clear that Russell Beale owned it. His Undershaft was not overdone, he played it quite subtly well, and it seems like with Russell Beale, less is more. And with the intelligent actor that he is, he used that again wonderfully here. Having been reunited with his family, and seeing that he has got more in common with Barbara, you can palpably feel this quiet admiration of a father to his daughter without a barrage of words, but just silent approval, for love, even in silence can still be heard.

The rest of the company were just as compelling particularly Claire Higgins as the Undershaft matriarch, her opening scene with John Heffernan unforgettable, and was reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell. Hayley Atwell did quite well as the zealous savior of souls, but it’s not her fault that Barbara is a one dimensional character, I also thought she became more interesting in the final act. What I have to give the direction its due respect and recognition is the staging of the Undershaft & Lazarus weapons factory with rows and rows of missiles that quite expectedly drew an applause of recognition from the audience. The use of sound effects depicting the Great War added a chilling effect to this brilliant, and what could be considered as Shaw’s greatest literary work. Thanks to Nicholas Hytner having gotten over his Shaw skepticism.

Major Barbara: 4/5

Playing at the National Theatre until May 15