Tag Archives: Michelle Dockery

Theatre Review: Burnt by the Sun

24 Feb


Plot: Colonel Kotov (Ciaran Hinds), decorated hero of the Russian Revolution, is spending an idyllic summer in the country with his beloved young wife Maroussia (Michelle Dockery) and family. But on one glorious sunny morning in 1936, his wife’s former lover Mitya (Rory Kinnear) returns from a long and unexplained absence. Amidst a tangle of sexual jealousy, retribution and remorseless political backstabbing, Kotov feels the full, horrifying reach of Stalin’s rule.

The main reason why I wanted to see this play was because of Ciaran Hinds whom I have seen in a number of films and made for tv movies. But it was his role as Captain Wentworth in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion that I fell for him hook line and sinker. Tonight was the play’s first preview and it was nice to also be in the company of fellow theatre trotters Phil, Tim of LondonTheatreGoer, Andrew/Phil of the West End Whingers fame still flying high from their recent success after their blog was named as one of the 100 best blogs in the Performing Arts by the Times. YEY!

Tonight is the first preview so expectations are not very high. Saying that, I am amazed at the bevy of talent in this production with Hinds, Rory Kinnear and Michelle Dockery. Please dont shoot me for this confession, but as I am a late bloomer for theatre, I didnt really understood the magnitude of Kinnear’s talent until I saw him in the BBC’s The Long Walk to Finchley where he played Denis Thatcher opposite to an equally effervescent Andrea Riseborough as Margaret. No, I did not see him in The Man of Mode, The Revenger’s Tragey or Philistines. I am playing catch up here alright? As for Dockery, I saw her in Pillars of the Community and last year’s Pygmalion as Eliza Doolittle at The Old Vic.

It took a while for me to get into grips with the play, it wasnt until halfway to the interval that it really got me itching to see Act 2. For a while I even thought, but this is just my type of plot, as I do love anything that has to with espionage when reading or when watching a film. So what was really going on in my head was how good must the film be and how I can get my hand on a copy to see it. Altogether, it was brave attempt to do a stage adaptation. I am not a big fan of films being translated into stage plays but the effort was there – a revolving dacha courtesy of Vicki Mortimer, melodious singing which has now become a staple fare at the National, and a superb performance from the cast, particularly Hinds and Kinnear. I thought Dockery was given too little to play with. She is more than a pretty face, saying that I couldnt help but notice her beatifully trimmed eyebrows! So yes, I’d like to see more of Dockery act; I was mulling over the thought that she could have played a better Barbara Undershaft than Hayley Atwell, although I meant no disrespect there of course.

The highlight of the evening was really my chance meeting with Mr. Hinds who was ever so accommodating when Andrew and I approached him. And our conversation went something like this:

Simone: Hi, I am Simone, I have loved your work since Persuasion, and I really enjoyed your performance tonight.
Ciaran: Really? Thank you!
Andrew: (Sorting out the iPhone to take a photo) Be still as this doesn’t have flash.
Simone & Ciaran poses


Simone: Well,my sister is surely going to be jealous now.
Ciaran: We dont really want her to be jealous now, do we?
Simone: Well, she went and saw Al Pacino whom I love in L.A., we both love you but I am the one here, so bad for her!
Ciaran: Oh right! (He was about to sign my programme then asks) So is Simone spelled with an e in the end? (Brownie points for asking!)

Altogether a wonderful evening at the theatre!

Burnt by the Sun: 3/5
Playing at the Lyttelton, National Theatre until 21 May

Theatre Review: Pygmalion

30 May

Plot: The clever, eccentric bachelor, Henry Higgins, professor of phonetics (Tim Pigott-Smith) transforms a young flower seller, Eliza Doolittle (Michelle Dockery), into a lady that enters high society as a duchess. This transformation is achieved in six months by elocution lessons in his ‘phonetic laboratory’ with the kindly and gentlemanly assistance of Colonel Pickering (James Laurenson) another expert on dialect.

George Bernard Shaw is indeed becoming popular again, what with the National’s success in Saint Joan last year and the still playing to the rafters production of Major Barbara, we have another serving of Shaw in Pygmalion currently making waves at The Old Vic. It’s always nice to return to The Old Vic, and I have also noticed now that the good guys from the West End Whingers have also mentioned it, that the seats are well-oiled, as I hear no squeak when I try to reposition myself. Good work indeed Mr. Spacey!

I have never seen My Fair Lady, the musical inspired by this GB Shaw play and for one thing I am glad as I don’t have any claim of reference as to which is the much better production, so I will reserve that judgment until I have the chance to see the musical.

Michelle Dockery as Eliza Doolittle whom I saw before at the National’s Pillars of the Community was amazing and mesmerizing. I would love to see more of her work on stage and believe that she will be among the brightest names in the world of British theatre if not already. Tim Pigott Smith was hilarious as Professor Higgins, who was just the opposite the character I remember him play in the BBC’s North and South, but apart from this two major characters, I must say that it was Tony Haygarth, who played Eliza’s father, nearly stole the show away from the two leads. His scenes were absolutely cracking!

I suppose it will not hurt now to add My Fair Lady to my DVD rental queue?

Pygmalion: 4/5