Review: Happy Days, Young Vic

“Perhaps some day the earth will yield and let me go, the pull is so great, yes, crack all round me and let me out”

The second show of the month with this title for me, but a completely different kettle of fish (although one can imagine the screams of existential angst that lie beneath the Fonz’s immaculately pristine quiff). I have no qualms in admitting that Samuel Beckett’s inimitable charms have long eluded me, I’ve never had that light-bulb moment in a theatre with one of his plays and being endlessly told that his work is amazing always has the reverse effect on me.

But I’m always up for the challenge, especially when it means the chance to see Juliet Stevenson on the stage again, and so Natalie Abrahami’s production of Happy Days for the Young Vic made it onto the calendar. I read the play at university but have never seen it onstage so I can’t compare it to any others, although given the strictness with which the Beckett estate guard the performance rights, I wonder how different they can actually be.      Continue reading “Review: Happy Days, Young Vic”

Review: All That Fall, Jermyn Street Theatre

“I’m left-handed on top of everything else!”

It is not surprising that the Jermyn Street Theatre’s production of All That Fall sold out in under three days: a rare Samuel Beckett play, directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, in a 70 seat theatre tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus. A radio play written in 1956, it has never before been staged despite luminaries such as Ingmar Bergman and Laurence Olivier applying for the rights, and so to maintain the integrity of the piece as it was originally intended, Nunn presents to us a staged reading of the play.

The actors sit to the sides of the stage, rising to take the floor as it is their turn to speak, scripts in hand and enacting any sound effects that accompany their arrival. For this is a piece of drama uniquely interested in the soundscape it is creating as a haunting picture of rural Ireland is evoked, laced through with a desolate humour, in which the spectre of death is never far away. Continue reading “Review: All That Fall, Jermyn Street Theatre”

Review: Waiting for Godot, Theatre Royal Haymarket

“Let us not waste our time in idle discourse”

Waiting for Godot was one of the huge hits of the theatrical calendar last year, starring as it did the heavyweight talents of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, running for most of the summer at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and has been reinstated there again now Breakfast at Tiffany’s has finished.

There’s clearly a business case for bringing this production back as it was so successful and keeping as stellar a name as Ian McKellen to get the bums on seats again, but surely the main draw was seeing the combination of McKellen and Stewart and I do find the recasting decisions a little curious, part of me thinks they should have gone the whole hog in order to create an entirely new production. Continue reading “Review: Waiting for Godot, Theatre Royal Haymarket”

Review: Waiting for Godot, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Featuring two very acclaimed actors in the lead roles, Waiting for Godot has been somewhat of a surprise success in the West End this year, extending its run right through the summer. This is clearly partly down to the calibre of the leads, Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are two major dramatic heavyweights, but it has also been a bit of a triumph for a straight drama production in these troubled economic times.

Apparently voted the most significant English language play of the twentieth century, Waiting for Godot is a play about two men, Vladimir and Estragon who are, unsurprisingly, waiting for someone called for Godot. We never get to meet Godot, or find out who he is, and so the titular ‘waiting’ forms the backbone of the play as we watch these two men pass the time in a multitude of ways, whilst debating the meaning of life and existence. Twice, they are visited by a man called Pozzo and his slave Lucky. Continue reading “Review: Waiting for Godot, Theatre Royal Haymarket”