July theatre round-up

I might have taken a break from reviewing for the last couple of months, but I didn’t stop going to the theatre. Here’s some brief thoughts on most of what I saw  in July.

On Your Feet, aka the rhythm will get you, sometimes
the end of history…, aka how can you get cheese on toast so wrong
Equus, aka hell yes for Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting design
Games for Lovers, aka straight people be crazy
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, aka the one that got my goat
The Girl on the Train, aka Philip McGinley in shorts
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, aka Another Dream? dream on
Uncle Vanya, aka I really need to stop booking for plays like this with casts like that 
Jellyfish, aka justice for the second best play of last year
Sweat, aka Clare Perkins should always be on in the West End
Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 The Musical, aka yay for lovely new musicals in the West End
The Light in the Piazza, aka Molly Lynch fricking nails it
Jesus Christ Superstar, aka was third time the charm?
Continue reading “July theatre round-up”

Re-review: Let The Right One In, Royal Court

“I know how good you are to me. I’m grateful”

An unexpected revisit to Let The Right One In, especially since I’d seen it just three days before but @pcchan1981 had a spare £10 ticket going and so I offered myself up as his last resort, happy indeed to have the chance see it again at the Royal Court, ahead of a rumoured West End transfer (the presence of Bill Kenwright as a co-producer suggesting this isn’t as unlikely as it may seem). Original review is here and I can’t really offer up any new insights rather than to say try your best to see it now as it flows beautifully in the relative intimacy of the Royal Court and the awesome staging of the penultimate scene might get lost in a West End house.

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval) 
Booking until 21st December

Review: Let The Right One In, Royal Court

“Would you still like me if I turned out to not be a girl?”

Adapted by Jack Thorne from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and its two subsequent film versions, Let The Right One In could be said to fall into the teen vampire genre that has proved so enduringly popular of late, but that would do a huge disservice to all concerned, not least with this National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Court co-production. As two youngsters neglected by society cling onto each other to avoid falling through the cracks in a snow-swept Swedish town where a serial killer appears to be on the loose, they discover that one is not quite like the other…

Directed by John Tiffany with long-time associate Steven Hoggett by his side, the show produces moment after moment of elegiac beauty interspersed with the harsh brutality of real life which intrudes like jagged breaths of wintry air. Hoggett’s unmistakeable physical language is sparingly but beautifully deployed, the strangeness of situation enhanced through movement and Ólafur Arnalds’ score swoops with plangent intensity, underscoring many of the show’s most powerful sequences. Accompanied by Gareth Fry’s evocative sound design, the production constantly teeters on an anticipatory edge, toying with the film’s horror origins but converting it to a more fitting level of suspense for the stage. Continue reading “Review: Let The Right One In, Royal Court”

Review: Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios

“Stay you imperfect speakers, tell me more”

What is it that makes a hit? Jamie Lloyd’s Macbeth, the first show in his Trafalgar Transformed residency at the Trafalgar Studios, has rapidly become one of the hottest tickets in town, selling out nearly all of its shows and inspiring epic levels of queuing for the dayseats. And the audience it has drawn, at this show at least, felt significantly younger than one would usually see at a West End house. So something has clearly worked in the marketing of Shakespeare’s tragedy to make it the kind of success that they most likely hadn’t dared dream of. In light of that, it seems almost immaterial that I predominantly found it a disappointing production.

It was a fascinating experience to see the reactions of fresher eyes to a play whose ubiquity, arguably, does not necessarily correlate with its quality. For all its noble brutality and visceral poetry, it can be something of a hard ask in its later stages, no more so than in Act 4 Scene 3 which is the stuff of theatrical nightmares, yet it remains popular. And in Lloyd’s production with its Kensington Gore-splattered imagining of a near-future dystopian Scotland (the consequence of independence…?) and frequent bold strokes especially in Soutra Gilmour’s design which cleverly opens out, it clearly connected with its teenage audience from their frequent audible reactions. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios”