Tag Archives: Marianne Elliott

Theatre Review: All’s Well that Ends Well

19 May


Plot: The feisty but lowly Helena falls in love with Bertram, a haughty count. To gain his hand she is set a string of impossible tasks. Even if accomplished, they can hardly guarantee his love. He refuses to bed her and yet says he’ll only be hers if she bears his child; and he lusts after another. Nevertheless, our heroine, whether wisely or no, refuses to give him up.

This is a beautiful production helmed by the very effective and highly imaginative Marianne Elliot whose talent as a director I have come to admire after having seen her excellent revival of Ibsen’s Pillars of the Community at the National in 2006. Still not a habitue of the theatre on those days I am kicking myself for having missed her version of the RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing, and the National Theatre’s Saint Joan and Therese Raquin, not to mention that I still havent seen War Horse either! Like Ms. Elliott, I have not seen any production of AWTEW and have decided to skip reading the play text and just relied on my Shakespeare’s companion book. The plot of the woman scorned appealed to me for like Helena, I have experienced rejection quite a few times but my resilience to see it through regardless of the result was a good learning experience (if I ever learned!) and I would like to see how this translates to the stage.

I thought that the performance of Michelle Terry as Helena whom I also saw previously in the raucous yet a lot of fun England People Very Nice was exceptional, you really felt for her when Bertram refused her pointblank, he’s a snob and an idiot, and men of that same sort are sadly still about, and worse! I mean how dare he?! Claire Higgins as the Countess of Rossillion was authoritative yet affectionate, and so was Oliver Ford Davies as the King of France. And I very rarely give credit to the more technical side of the production but kudos to Rae Smith, Gemma Carrington and Jon Driscoll for a superb background of what seems llke a lost fairy land, complete with gothic towers and visual effects of crows and owls.

All’s Well that Ends Well: 4/5
Playing at the Olivier, National Theatre until 30 September

Marianne Elliott article on The Times

Theater Review: Pillars of the Community

4 Feb

Lyttelton Theater
Henrik Ibsen’s “Pillars of the Community”
In a new version by Samuel Adamson

PLOT: Calamity strikes when Bernick’s (Damian Lewis) business prowess and pristine reputation are threatened by the revelation of a long-buried secret. Desperate to dodge exposure in the kowtowing local community, Bernick devises a pitiless plan which, by a shocking twist of fate, risks the one life he holds dear.

This is my first Ibsen play, my second with Damian as part of the cast. I saw him in Five Gold Rings at the Almeida in 2004 upon the prodding of my sister gypsy. I am familiar with Mr. Lewis’ work after seeing him in several tv-movies like The Forsyte Saga, Colditz, and briefly on Band of Brothers.

Let’s get the play and the performance out of the way. “Pillars of the Community” is magnificent. Now that guy Henrik Ibsen, certainly knew how to write. Understatement. It’s tragic and comic and sentimental and moral and Damian is amoral and immoral and hysterical and. Immortal. Damian’s performance as Karsten Bernick was pitch perfect. Even his walk is contrived and calculated. Karsten is not a lovable man to begin with. Like his brilliant performance in Five Gold Rings which I taught was flawless, the same applies here. The enunciation, the expression, the tears, the manipulations, the machinations, the scheming, everything. Even in his confession and reach to redemption he left a huge door open for more hidden agendas. Horrible man. Forgiveness as a means to an end. Not a lovable man, even at the end. He was basically irredeemable and that was kinda sad but still kinda cool.

To make the evening much more perfect than it already is, we went back stage to hopefully meet him, and of course we did, Gypsy was just sure of it. I took photos of him and Gypsy and I think I mentioned something that was more of a rambling. Ahhhhh…I remember doing this with my sister when I was 17, I am 35 now and I am still doing it, nobody does it better. I guess I just keep getting better and better eh?

Pillars of the Community: 5/5