Tag Archives: Donmar Warehouse

Theatre Review: A Doll’s House

1 Jun


Plot: Nora loves her husband above all else. But when she risks her reputation in order to save his, she begins to question her devotion and finds herself fighting for her own life.

Zinnie Harris’ new version is set against the backdrop of British politics at the turn of the last century, in a world where duty, power and hypocrisy rule.

When I booked this play in November, I already knew Gillian Anderson was cast as Nora and I would have booked it anyway because of my ongoing quest to watch as much Chekhov, Shakespeare and Ibsen whenever possible. I always get drawn into the characters that Ibsen has created notable ones like Borkman, Bernick, and Stockmann. For his heroines, after Ellida, from The Lady from the Sea, Nora has now become my next favorite.


Gillian Anderson was just stunning and gave a very fine performance as the devoted wife then changed woman. Her Nora is beautiful yet vulnerable. And that purple velvet dress she wore in the second act, ehr, do they have that in my size? Toby Stephens as husband Thomas Vaughan played his self righteous role of a politician with much bravado, kudos as well to Anton Lesser as the faithful Dr. Rank, and I thought that the sub-plot rekindled romance between Kelman and Christine -excellently played here by Christopher Eccleston and Tara Fitzgerald was superbly played.

I still would have liked to see a faithful adaptation of the play although this new version was quite engaging. Overall an inspired and wonderful production with high octane performances from all members of the cast.

A Doll’s House: 4/5
Playing at the Donmar until July 18

Theatre trotting in March

1 Mar

First off, I want to say that I did well last month for I did not skip any of the six productions I have booked, so pat me in the back please! Our party almost missed Zorro on the 02/02 because of the heavy snow that London and most of the UK experienced but as they cancelled the show, we were entitled to rebook. Thanks to SEE tickets who were very understanding and helpful. Speaking of Zorro, the bad news came out last month that Zorro is definitely closing and this is due to recasting issues. The last I heard and this is straight from their website is that Zorro will embark on nine confirmed future international productions including France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea and Russia. The mark of Zorro lives indeed!

So what am I seeing in March then?

2- La Cage aux Folles, Playhouse Theatre

I wasn’t really planning on seeing this but after having read several enthusiastic reviews and really good word-of-mouth vibe about the performances and how it’s such a feel good production, I was left with little choice. As I am seeing it tomorrow night and have never been to the Playhouse, I am trying to navigate my way to get there.

6- Zorro, Garrick Theatre
Playing until March 14

I have a ticket to see Mrs Affleck at the Cottesloe but as most of those I know who have already seen the production loathed it, a couple of them walking out in the interval even, I thought, well what’s the point? Okay, I would lose my hard earned £10 but it’s better than a wasted Friday evening when I know I could be having more fun in seeing Zorro for the 3rd and last time! I missed Matt Rawle in my second viewing so I am hoping that he is back for this.

13- Duet for One, Almeida

Seeing this play was decided after watching the National’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour with fellow theatre trotter Lynne back in January. Now almost at the end of its run and with tickets sold out I am pleased we did book tickets as it has received very good reviews here and here. Now that’s another Friday evening to look forward to!

17- War Horse, Olivier, National Theatre

This is really more like a box ticking exercise to say that yes, its that Michael Morpurgo recreation and I have seen it. When I first started going to the National in 2008, and missed War Horse the year before, I was advised that if it should have another staging that I make a point in booking it. I have also been warned about it but if it fails to capture my imagination, and as I am catching a matinee performance, all is not lost as I have another play to see afterwards. But I want it to be good!

17- Dido, Queen of Carthage, Cottesloe, National Theatre

Would saying I am curious about Christopher Marlowe’s work suffice for my booking this?

So with back to back plays, it’s really going to be a day out at the National, missing SRB like crazy, but also looking forward to meet Abigail!

20- On the Waterfront, Haymarket Theatre Royal

Making sure that I must have seen Stephen Berkoff in at least a film of two, I checked out his CV in IMDb and found that he was in Revolution with Al Pacino but I so hated that film and I barely remember him in it. But yes, he was also in Octopussy, Rambo II, and Beverly Hills Cop among others, so okay I do know the man. Anyway, his involvement with On the Waterfront is enough to get excited but it took a few good word of mouth for this production that behooved me to finally book it. Not having seen the Elia Kazan film with a younger Marlon Brando, I still have the time to do so before sinking my teeth into it!

27- Dimetos, Donmar Warehouse

Jonathan Pryce. The Donmar. Enough said.

So what are you seeing in the theatre this month?

Theatre Review: John Gabriel Borkman

9 Apr

A play by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation by David Eldridge
Directed by Michael Grandage

Synopsis: Disgraced and destitute following a fraud scandal and imprisonment, John Gabriel Borkman (Ian McDiarmid) paces alone in an upstairs room. Downstairs, his family are trapped in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a household bound for explosion. A scorching indictment of 19th century capitalism, Ibsen’s penultimate play paints a devastating picture of selfish ambition.

It was my first time at the Donmar and was looking forward to this evening mainly because I am watching Ian McDiarmid. It was a very intimate theater which sits about just 200 people and we were right there literally breathing the same air as the actors. This is my second Ibsen play, the first one being Pillars of the Community at the National Theater last year. It made sense that since John Gabriel Borkman was written in 1896, almost twenty years after Pillars (written in 1877) that you can see and feel a different Ibsen in his later work. Although author Paul Binding who has written many articles about Ibsen says that in JGB, he was also probably revisiting his first prose-drama of contemporary life in Pillars.

From Peter McKintosh’s production set of birch trees, snow falling relentlessly outside the Borkman’s estate and the continuous hiss of wind, you can immediately sense the bitter and cold atmosphere of a Norwegian winter that doesnt seem to be any different from what is inside the house – the drawing room is dimly lit by lamps and with very little furniture, and as soon as we see the characters of Gunhild Borkman (Deborah Findlay) and Ella Rentheim (Penelope Wilton) you can easily cut the tension between these two women with a knife. And understandably so as Ella, who was once Borkman’s lover, has been looking after the Borkmans’ son Erhart (Rafe Spall) post-scandal and both women want the Erhart for themselves.

This is not a very easy play to watch, because Ibsen’s Borkman is dark and depressing. I was surprised to find a few humorous moments between McDiarmid’s Borkman and David Burke’s Vilhelm Foldal. One scene that I wished I was sitting somewhere else was to see Penelope Wilton’s reaction to McDiarmid’s “a woman can be easily replaced”, after she just told him how he killed every feeling of love in her heart since they parted. In this scene the theater was so silent you could hear a pin drop.

Ian McDiarmid was brilliant as Borkman, as he was pacing the room all that I could think of was this is Darth Sidious and we are in the same room! Penelope Wilton was outstanding, I loved her in Calendar Girls and as Simon Pegg’s mom in Shaun of the Dead but it’s her powerful performance as the scorned and ailing spinster Ella that will always remind me of what a great actress she is. I still can’t get over how the play ended, a dead man, and two shadows.

I am definitely looking forward to watch my third Ibsen.

John Gabriel Borkman: 4/5

Playing at the Donmar Warehouse until April 14.