Sunday, 26 January 2014

Raymond Chandler Meets Othello at Riverside Studios

Imagine if Othello had been written by Raymond Chandler and that's more or less what you'll get if you go see this Orangutan production at Riverside Studios directed by Rebekah Fortune. Actually, a 1940s classic noir is what this production aspires to but alas does not quite bring off. That said, it's fun to watch what works and doesn't work in a pretty uneven production. The costumes, set, and soundtrack are good--except for the very weak opening sultry nightclub number; a good idea badly executed--as are most of the performances, if uneven. Stephan Adegbola as Othello aquit himself well enough but showed none of the inner torture of either Shakespeare's Moor or any of Chandler's anguished men. Peter Lloyd's Iago was worthy of a good B-noir but not of Chandler or Shakespeare. Gillian Saker's Desdemona belonged in a pre-Raphaelite saga not in a lurid tale of jealousy run amok. I appreciated that the play was shortened to just two hours. I can't say you must run see it, but if you do you won't be completely disappointed.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

My Year at the Theatre: What I've seen since January 2013

Metamorphosis *****
Lysistrata ***
Mies Julie **
The Low Road **
Book of Mormon *****
Fences ****
A Season in the Congo *****
Much Ado About Nothing -----
Lizzie Siddal *****

All in all, I only regret going to one of these of these plays and the Icelandic theatre group Vesturport's interpretation of Kafka's Metamorphosis which I saw at the Lyric will go into my pantheon of Best Plays Ever Seen.

Theatre Lab Company's Lysistrata at Riverside Studios was fun, if long, and some of the actors were just so much better than others but I would go again to see something they put on. The energy and intelligence on stage was high.

Mies Julie was ok. I don't remember too much about it except a lot of strum and drang in South Africa. It's a weird play. This version was better than the Juliette Binoche French version at the Barbican but that's not saying much.

The Low Road was really a disappointment. I loved Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park and this was just silly and obvious. Actually, this one I could have missed.

Book of Mormon: you've got to see it to believe it. If only I thought it was actually helping the cause of female genital mutilation I would truly call it sheer genius. As it is, it's simply genius.

Fences was long but great and as relevant today as ever. Lenny Henry truly a great actor.

A Season in the Congo was revelatory and also a lot of fun. The Young Vic did a great job with this as did the extraordinary cast with material that could have been preachy and heavy going. I tried to get my 17 year old son to go see it but it was sadly sold out for the rest of the run.

Much Ado About Nothing with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones at the Old Vic directed by Mark Rylance. This may be just about the worst play I've ever seen. Truly excruciating. In some misguided moment I decided my visiting 83 year old father would like to see this. When I told him about the production and who was in it etc. he said, "Where are we going to see it, in a hospital?" The real crime was in the direction. But Rylance has to be forgiven since his performance in Twelfth Night was the best of 2012.

Lizzie Siddal by Jeremy Green at the Arcola was great theatre. A well-written play about a fascinating subject and era, very well acted by every one of the cast, great set, great direction. Entertaining and edifying.

I will try to do better posting in 2014!