Review: The Village Bike, Royal Court

“You think I’m this respectable married teacher person”

Penelope Skinner makes her Royal Court debut upstairs with The Village Bike, having previously been a member of their Young Writers Programme and being the recipient of the 2011 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright (assumedly given before she co-authored Greenland…). It’s an unsettling portrait of a just-pregnant woman, Becky, recently moved to the country and struggling to come to terms with her new life and the restrictions placed on her both by her condition and her do-gooder husband who has taken to the role of father-to-be with great gusto but rather neglecting the role of husband, leading Becky to deal with her frustrations in ever-reckless ways.

It is a very frank play, dealing with female sexuality in a way which is rarely seen (at least by me) onstage as Becky turns first to her husband’s furtive stash of p*rn films and then to a heady set of illicit liaisons with local bad boy Oliver Hardcastle, from whom she keeps her pregnancy secret, as she lives out her (and his) wildest sexual fantasies in the oppressive atmosphere of the heatwave that affecting just about everyone in the village. For no-one is particularly happy, especially the married people: fertility issues, dealing with continued absences due to work travel, difficulties of parenthood, sexual frustration, all these issues reverberate around the populace of the village, all underscored by the overbearing fear of loneliness that Skinner argues characterises rural living here. Continue reading “Review: The Village Bike, Royal Court”

Review: Hay Fever, Rose Theatre Kingston

“People stare in astonishment when we say the most ordinary things”

In mounting a new production of Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, the Rose Theatre, Kingston has managed another casting coup after attracting Judi Dench out west earlier this year, although their plans haven’t quite gone according to schedule. Celia Imrie agreed to take on the lead role of Judith Bliss, but subsequent filming commitments meant she can only fulfil half the run, so Nichola McAuliffe will be stepping in for the final two weeks. Still, a very interesting cast under Stephen Unwin’s direction, makes this an intriguing proposition.

Set in the Blisses’ family home in the 1920s, Judith, a recently retired stage actress, David, a self-absorbed novelist, and their two equally unconventional children make for a eccentric family grouping given to melodramatic theatrical excesses. On the weekend we see them, they have each invited someone, unbeknownst to the others, a stuffy diplomat, a shy girl, an athletic boxer and a fashionable sophisticate and the scene is set for comedic chaos as endless scenes and permutations are played out by the Blisses and their unsuspecting house guests. Continue reading “Review: Hay Fever, Rose Theatre Kingston”

fosterIAN awards 2009

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayRachel Weisz, A Streetcar Named DesirePhoebe Nicholls/Lisa Dillon, When the Rain Stops Falling; Chris Nietvelt, The Roman TragediesImelda Staunton, Entertaining Mr Sloane
Juliet Stevenson, Duet for One
Anna Chancellor, The Observer
Best Actor in a PlayHans Kesting, The Roman TragediesJude Law, Hamlet (Donmar)Dominic Rowan, The Spanish Tragedy
David Troughton, Inherit the Wind
Dan Stevens, Arcadia
Henry Goodman, Duet for One
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayRebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale (Bridge Project)Kate Fleetwood, Life is a DreamJessie Cave, Arcadia
Michelle Dockery, Burnt By The Sun
Alexandra Gilbreath, Twelfth Night
Ruth Wilson, A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayAndrew Scott, CockSimon Paisley-Day, Entertaining Mr SloaneMark Dexter, Inherit the Wind
Tom Goodman-Hill, Enron
Ethan Hawke, The Winter’s Tale (Bridge Project)
Barnaby Kay, A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Actress in a MusicalSamantha Spiro, Hello, Dolly!Julie Atherton, The Last Five YearsMelanie Chisholm, Blood Brothers
Donna King, Frank’s Closet
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Tamzin Outhwaite, Sweet Charity
Best Actor in a MusicalSimon Burke, La Cage aux FollesCarl Mullaney, Frank’s ClosetRoger Allam, La Cage aux Folles
Mark Umbers, Sweet Charity
Aneurin Barnard, Spring Awakening
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalJosefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!Sheila Hancock, Sister ActJosefina Gabrielle, Sweet Charity
Tiffany Graves, Sweet Charity
The Lovely Debbie McGee, Frank’s Closet
Jodie Prenger, Oliver!
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalOliver Thornton, Priscilla Queen of the DesertDaniel Crossley, Hello, Dolly!Rowan Atkinson, Oliver!
Clive Carter, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
John Marquez, Annie Get Your Gun
Jason Pennycooke, La Cage aux Folles

2010 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Enron by Lucy Prebble – Royal Court / Noël Coward
Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth – Royal Court / Apollo
The Mountaintop by Katori Hall – Trafalgar Studio 1
Red by John Logan – Donmar Warehouse

Best New Musical
Dreamboats and Petticoats – Savoy
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Palace
Sister Act – London Palladium
Spring Awakening – Novello

Best Revival 
A Streetcar Named Desire – Donmar Warehouse
A View from the Bridge – Duke of York’s
Arcadia – Duke of York’s
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Novello
The Misanthrope – Comedy
Three Days of Rain – Apollo Continue reading “2010 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

2009 Best Supporting Actress in a Play/in a Musical

Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Rebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale
Make no mistake about it, Rebecca Hall is destined for great things, she is a fantastic actress and proved this in her Bridge Project turns this year. I plumped for her Hermione over her Varya as it was a slightly better role for her with more opportunity to showcase her heartbreaking treatment. Mark my words, this woman will become huge!

Honourable mention: Kate Fleetwood, Life is a Dream
Stealing the show somewhat for me, Kate Fleetwood’s Rosaura provided a welcome light-hearted comic relief to this darkly-hued play and kept the attention on what felt like a slightly superfluous sub-plot.

Jessie Cave, Arcadia
Michelle Dockery, Burnt By The Sun
Alexandra Gilbreath, Twelfth Night
Ruth Wilson, A Streetcar Named Desire

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Josefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!
As widowed milliner Irene Molloy, Josefina Gabrielle’s turn in Hello, Dolly! was sweet of voice, nimble on the dancefloor, nicely comic and the perfect foil for Samantha Spiro’s lead role. And appearing now in
another sterling supporting role (or two!), I hope it is not too long before she returns to head up a good musical.

Honourable mention: Sheila Hancock, Sister Act
Following on from her well-received turn in Cabaret, Sheila Hancock visited another musical with her presence, this time Sister Act in the role of Mother Superior and boy what fun she has and so in turn do we. Neither the best singer or dancer, it matters not a jot, in fact it enhances her performance as the senior nun and lends a nice gravitas to this show. For an actress in her late 70s, her energy levels and creative choices are a lesson to us all.

Josefina Gabrielle, Sweet Charity
Tiffany Graves, Sweet Charity
The Lovely Debbie McGee, Frank’s Closet
Jodie Prenger, Oliver!

Review: Twelfth Night, RSC

“If this were play’d upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction”

There’s a pleasing circularity to this visit to Twelfth Night for me: one of the first plays I saw this year was the Donmar’s West End production of Twelfth Night, a trip marred by horrendous winter storms and travel chaos, so it seems right that one of my last trips to the theatre this year was to the RSC’s version of the same play, once again during some insane winter weather. Fortunately, my journey was less traumatic this time, so I was able to make a more reasoned verdict on the play.

As one would expect from the RSC, and from a production that has already done a Stratford run, it is slickly done and all the performers feel and look supremely confident in their roles. Staged in a incense-laden, Turkish-inspired set, it looks amazing and the costumes are rich and opulent (Orsino’s red robe is a sight to behold). And this all contributed to me being much more amenable to giving the suspension of disbelief necessary for this play, a matter much helped by some canny casting and dressing of Viola and Sebastian who for once really did look like they could be twins.

Continue reading “Review: Twelfth Night, RSC”