Review: The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas, Royal Court

“It is fair to say at that stage Gorge’s judgement became…clouded”

Already reeling from the news that the play was running at 3 hours long despite the 8pm start time, the further blow of a half-hour long opening scene that recalled nothing so much as the central section of the divisive In The Republic of Happiness meant that Dennis Kelly’s The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas had it all to do to win me over. The play marks the official ‘regular’ debut of new AD Vicky Featherstone after Open Court, the wide-ranging writers’ festival that occupied the Royal Court over the summer and rather than being a bold statement of intent of a new and different era, it’s an arguably gentler transition for a theatre already accustomed to the adventurous tail end of Dominic Cooke’s reign cf: Republic, Narrative, The Low Road. The fiddling with the start times does look here to stay though – in this season, the majority of shows upstairs are starting at 7.30pm, and downstairs at 8pm.

And as with much of this kind of theatre, it provokes a Marmitean reaction. Many laughed heartily all night long and lapped it up, I was left cold by its strained theatricality and languorous verbosity. This interview with The Observer reveals that the play was originally written for a theatre in Germany and in retrospect, that makes sense. The story of Gorge stretches over the whole 80 years of his lifetime but is played out in just a handful of lengthy scenes, key encounters that shape his existence as he comes of age in a time of rampart capitalism and is offered the Mephistophelian opportunity to have it all and more. Three grasping golden rules govern his ethos, maxims such as “whenever you want something – take it” but as greedily huge success comes his way, the cocoon of well-designed lies upon which it is built starts to crumble. Continue reading “Review: The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas, Royal Court”

Review: Penelope, Hampstead Theatre

“How dare you bring the world into this”

Enda Walsh’s Penelope is a modern reimagining and refocusing of Homer’s Odyssey, taking as its main subject the wife of Odysseus who, whilst waiting for her husband to return, was entertained by over 100 suitors whom she kept at bay for over 20 years. Walsh picks up the story on the day before Odysseus returns, with the last four remaining men kept in a disused swimming pool next to Penelope’s palatial home, desperate for one last chance to win her hand.

Densely poetic, the language is chillingly beautiful at times, none more so than with Niall Buggy’s hoarsely intonated speech about the ‘real’ world. Each actor though is given the opportunity to shine as they each plead for Penelope’s hand, all too aware of the fast-approaching consequences of Odysseus’ return and unable to hide the desperation they all feel. Walsh depicts the senselessness of pursuing competition recklessly to the end, taking aim at perceived notions of masculinity and by extension, the state of Ireland today. Continue reading “Review: Penelope, Hampstead Theatre”

Winners of 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
Animals Out of Paper; Written by Rajiv Joseph; Produced by Second Stage Theatre
Becky Shaw; Written by Gina Gionfriddo; Produced by Second Stage Theatre  
WINNER – Ruined; Written by Lynn Nottage; Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre 
The Good Negro; Written by Tracey Scott Wilson; Produced by The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center
The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928); Text by William Faulkner, Created by Elevator Repair Service; Produced by New York Theatre Workshop and Elevator Repair Service   

Outstanding Musical
WINNER – Fela! A New Musical; Book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, Music and Lyrics by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Add’l Music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, Add’l Lyrics by Jim Lewis; Produced by Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay 
My Vaudeville Man!; Book by Jeff Hochhauser, Music by Bob Johnston, Lyrics by Bob Johnston and Jeff Hochhauser; Produced by The York Theatre Company and Melanie Herman  
Road Show; Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John Weidman; Produced by The Public Theater  
Saved; Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey and Rinne Groff; Produced by Playwrights Horizons in association with Elephant Eye Theatrical  
This Beautiful City; Composer and Lyricist Michael Friedman, Librettist Steve Cosson and Jim Lewis, Created by The Civilians; Produced by Vineyard Theatre Continue reading “Winners of 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Nominations for 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
Animals Out of Paper; Written by Rajiv Joseph; Produced by Second Stage Theatre
Becky Shaw; Written by Gina Gionfriddo; Produced by Second Stage Theatre  
Ruined; Written by Lynn Nottage; Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre 
The Good Negro; Written by Tracey Scott Wilson; Produced by The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center
The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928); Text by William Faulkner, Created by Elevator Repair Service; Produced by New York Theatre Workshop and Elevator Repair Service   

Outstanding Musical
Fela! A New Musical; Book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, Music and Lyrics by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Add’l Music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, Add’l Lyrics by Jim Lewis; Produced by Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Roy Gabay 
My Vaudeville Man!; Book by Jeff Hochhauser, Music by Bob Johnston, Lyrics by Bob Johnston and Jeff Hochhauser; Produced by The York Theatre Company and Melanie Herman  
Road Show; Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John Weidman; Produced by The Public Theater  
Saved; Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey and Rinne Groff; Produced by Playwrights Horizons in association with Elephant Eye Theatrical  
This Beautiful City; Composer and Lyricist Michael Friedman, Librettist Steve Cosson and Jim Lewis, Created by The Civilians; Produced by Vineyard Theatre Continue reading “Nominations for 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards”