Gemma Arterton and Lydia Wilson both do well but Walden isn’t the strongest new play to hit the West End
“We have to act happy”
First things first – Sonia Friedman’s RE:EMERGE season, re-opening the Harold Pinter Theatre with a programme of three new plays is a brilliant one. Its a visionary take on theatre ownership and one can only hope that it inspires similar boldness elsewhere as the tendency towards the safely tried and tested will surely abound as theatreland looks to find its post-pandemic footing.
And following on from that, there’s also a strange pleasure in seeing a play that I wasn’t particularly keen on and saying so, a sense of returning to normalcy (as opposed to the contortions pulled when everyone had to pretend Sleepless in Seattle the musical was the brave new hope last summer…). So for me, despite a dreamy cast including Gemma Arterton and Lydia Wilson, Amy Berryman’s Walden wasn’t the one. Continue reading “Review: Walden, Harold Pinter Theatre”
New West End play Walden is set on 22nd May 2021 at the Harold Pinter Theatre as the first instalment in Sonia Friedman Productions’ new season RE:EMERGE by . The debut play from Amy Berryman, starring Gemma Arterton, Fehinti Balogun and Lydia Wilson, will be directed by Ian Rickson.
Photos: Johan Persson
Following a year of extraordinary challenges, and as British theatre begins to find ways to re-emerge from the devastating impact of the enforced shutdown, SFP today announces a season of new plays for a new world. The RE:EMERGE season will create a space for vital, new voices and fresh talent in the West End and beyond, working alongside some of the industry’s greatest theatremakers and artists. The extraordinary collection of plays curated by SFP alongside Ian Rickson – who becomes Artistic Director for the season – tackles urgent issues integral to rebuilding our society, including structural inequality, climate change and the economics of truth in an internet age. Supported by Arts Council England, RE:EMERGE will support the theatre-makers of the future, provide vital work for the freelance community and celebrate the live experience as we begin to build back to the full reopening of British Theatre.
The RE:EMERGE season intends to open to socially-distanced audiences from May to help re-open and re-energise our theatres, and will be staged in a Covid safe environment following government advice and adhering to social distancing guidelines; and in line with Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s See It Safely campaign. Alongside the season, SFP also intends for the comedy The Comeback to return to the West End following its enforced shutdown in December. Continue reading “News: RE:EMERGE season announced for the Harold Pinter Theatre”
The best TV show of the year? Definitely so far…Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You is just superb
“Just look in the mirror, you know what I mean? It’s really uncomfortable and unnerving for everyone”
Has ‘the grey area’ ever seemed so interesting? Probing into the complexities of real life and fully embracing the fact that there are rarely ever any simple answers, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You has felt like a real breath of bracingly fresh air.
Sexual consent for straights and gays, dealing with trauma on a personal and institutional level, the perils of buying into social media hype, portraying the scale of casual sex and drug use whilst acknowledging its inherent pitfalls, examining how we bury memories from both the recent and distant past and that’s just scratching the surface. Continue reading “TV Review: I May Destroy You”
Sexed-up rather than subtle, I can’t help but be won over by this fresh take on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre
“I hope you have not been leading a double life…that would be hypocrisy”
I find it increasingly hard to get too excited about the prospect of Oscar Wilde these days, hence having been a rare visitor indeed to Classic Spring’s year-long residency at the Vaudeville. My problem is that, as with Noël Coward’s work, there’s an insistence on the specificity of its staging which means it is far too easy to feel like you’ve seen it all before, silk pyjamas, bustles, handbags, the lot. So the notion that Michael Fentiman’s The Importance of Being Earnest has ruffled a few feathers by daring to do something different, plus the kind of casting that I could never resist, meant that I had to see for myself.
And ultimately, there’s something laughable in the idea that there’s only the one way to do Wilde. It’s more that ‘certain people’ prefer it done the way they’ve always seen it done, which is all well and good (if soul-destroying) but to bemoan a lost art because someone is finally ringing the changes? Shove a cucumber sandwich in it mate. What’s even funnier is that you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference really, it’s not as if this production is set in space, or it’s being mimed, or it’s been directed in a…European way. It has just had a good shaking down, the dust blown off the manuscript, the cobwebs swept from the velvet curtains, and an enjoyable freshness thus brought to proceedings which are sexed-up rather than subtle. Continue reading “Review: The Importance of Being Earnest, Vaudeville”
- Amanda Hale being excellent in an all-too-rare excursion to the stage
- Ben Whishaw being Ben Whishaw in his Whishawy way, even if it’s not quite enough to enliven the play
- Whishaw briefly in his pants, if you like that sort of thing
- An intelligently sparse design from ULTZ
- Did I mention Amanda Hale? She comes close to making it all worthwhile
- The running time
- The comparative lack of depth to Christopher Shinn’s writing which in no way justifies the above
- The range of issues which touched upon but not interrogated despite the above
- The structure of the play which exacerbates the above
- The inherent misogyny in the writing which only allows men to talk about these issues, however unsatisfactorily
- The cheap potshots at political correctness, seemingly designed for the Cavendishes and Purves of this world
- Did I mention the running time?
Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 30th September
“’Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind”
Though no spring chicken myself, I’m not quite the right age to be truly excited about Oscar winning actress-turned politician-turned actress again Glenda Jackson’s return to the stage. I was more intrigued than truly excited when she was announced in the title role of Deborah Warner’s King Lear for the Old Vic for though I’m well aware of who she is, her film and TV credits never broke through into what I was watching either back then or since. (Feel free to recommend her must-see performances – I’ll add them to the list of things I’ll get round to watching one day.)
But I’m always here for casting decisions that shake the established order somewhat and with Celia Imrie, Jane Horrocks and Rhys Ifans in the cast too, there was no chance I wouldn’t go see this. Full disclosure though, I went to the final £10 preview so treat this review how you will. For it is simultaneously an effortful and frustratingly vague production that never truly convinces of the attempted scope of its artistic vision. Fortunately, this often-times ephemeral and occasionally perplexing Lear is anchored by a striking performance from Jackson. Continue reading “Review: King Lear, Old Vic”