Review: Flare Path, Richmond Theatre

“Supposing there is an ‘after the war’”

One of the unexpected highlights in the raft of productions that marked Terence Rattigan’s centenary year in 2011 was Trevor Nunn’s Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Previously unheralded, it emerged as an understated masterclass in repressed emotion, wonderfully enlivened by Sheridan Smith’s Olivier-winning supporting role. The Original Theatre Company’s touring version of the show, directed by Justin Audibert, thus has a lot to live up to to equal its success.

And sadly, it never quite manages it. Part of this lies in the fact that it isn’t the most thrilling piece of writing. Set exclusively in a 1942 hotel lobby close to an airbase, it follows a group of fighter pilots as they wait to be called onto the next raid with their loved ones watching on anxiously. Naturally, their loved ones aren’t always the ones they’re married to and the emotional crux of the play centres on a love triangle between Patricia, her airman husband Teddy and her Hollywood star ex Peter. Continue reading “Review: Flare Path, Richmond Theatre”

Review: King Lear, Minerva

“I am even the natural fool of fortune”

 
Poly over at The Other Bridge Project asks the question “can you have too many King Lears” and though she’s adamant that you can’t, I have to say my heart sinks a little every time a new production is announced, whether here in Chichester with Frank Langella or Simon Russell Beale’s forthcoming turn for the National Theatre early next year. But the enduring reputation of Shakespeare’s late classic attracts the kind of casts that are irresistible to a theatrical junkie like me and so I find myself a glutton for punishment going back again time after time.

And though I’d love to say that Angus Jackson’s production, running just a short while in the Minerva before transferring to New York, was worth the effort, it didn’t really do it for me. It is a hugely Lear-centric version of the play, placing Langella’s titanic monarch even more at the heart of the play than usual, and recalibrating the journey he takes as madness seizes him after a bit of a rum do with his three daughters. It’s a striking move, and one which showcases Langella well, but it does come at the expense of the richness of the ensemble.

Continue reading “Review: King Lear, Minerva”

Review: Double Falsehood, Union Theatre

“I invite thee, consuming desolation, to this temple”

Well it is not so much desolation that can be consumed at the Union Theatre in Southwark but rather the first professional production of the play Double Falsehood since 1792. It is most notable for being a play that was controversially included in the Arden Complete Works of Shakespeare last year despite its provenance being hotly debated. As it is understood in this Clown’s mind, Double Falsehood is a 1727 adaptation by Lewis Theobald reportedly based on a 1613 play called Cardenio by Shakespeare and John Fletcher (who also collaborated on Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen). There’s reams of debate and scholarly concerns about this but ultimately, it should not be allowed to detract from what is an interesting production here.

Set in Andalucía around the court of Duke Angelo, whose youngest son Henrique causes a whole world of trouble when he rapes and abandons servant girl Violante and then decides to pursue and marry Leonora who just happens to be betrothed to his friend Julio. The fall-out from these events sees everyone scattered, themselves and their families left behind distraught, throughout the local countryside and it is left up to the noble older son and heir of Angelo, Roderick, to round everyone up and reunite lovers, parents and children and ensure that justice is served in the Spanish hills. Continue reading “Review: Double Falsehood, Union Theatre”