Tag Archives: The Pitmen Painters

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!

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Theatre Review: The Pitmen Painters

2 Jun

Plot: In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine.

I was talking to my friend eddie the other day about my passion for theatre and that after seeing close to 20 plays in the last 6 months, you just develop the knack of being able to tell if a production will be good or not, if it will be worth your time or not. I got it right with The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. Now after getting it right once I will not claim to have mastery over it as it’s really just early days and I’d like to say I was wrong when I judged The Pitmen Painters and almost didn’t give it a chance.

Having seen Major Barbara 4 times now, I ought to at least look at what other productions the National has to offer, and although I have read about The Pitmen Painters on the NT website it wasn’t enough to spur me on, and I can only thank Natasha Tripney where after discussing what theatre to see when we were exchanging wall posts in Facebook one particular week, she mentioned she booked to see the Pitmen. Curiousity aroused, I read it again and still unsure, booked one of the remaining few tickets for June 2 and boy did that gamble paid off in the end, for I had the most wonderful evening of laugh out loud moments, and I swear I even heard a snort!

It’s also very rare that unless it’s classic then I will also get the playtext and read it the same day, because I did so with this one and as reading the playscript I can still remember how brilliantly the actors brought this wonderful play to life. Although they were all very good, the actors who stood out for me were Christopher Connel who played Oliver Kilbourn, David Whitaker as Jimmy Floyd and Deka Walmsley as George Brown.

The play is now sold out, but there are rumours about a West End transfer so if you missed this production, you can join The Pitmen Painters email list here.

The Pitmen Painters: 4/5

Playing at the Cottesloe, National Theatre until June 25

Natasha Tripney’s review of The Pitmen Painters