The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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I find people confusing.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Based on a novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens

Directed by Marianne Elliot

Cast: Matthew Barker, Howard Ward, Nicola Walker, Luke Treadaway, Una Stubbs, Nick Sidi, Paul Ritter, Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty, Sophie Duval, Niamh Cusack

This was a recording of the 2012 production which won 7 Olivier Awards in 2013, including Best New Play.

When Mrs. Shears’ dog Wellington is killed with a garden fork, she suspects the neighbour’s fifteen year old son Christopher, who while gifted at maths is ill-equipped to cope with everyday life. Christopher goes against his father’s wish to solve the case, uncovering and solving another mystery that changes his entire life in the process.

I hadn’t read the book, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a funny, surprising, touching, real and utterly human play that I can only recommend to anyone who is still in doubt about seeing it. The performances were great and the creative tools used to give the audience a glimpse into Christopher’s brain, from the choreographies to drawing on the stage and involving the other actors were very well thought through. The birds-eye view of the stage to let us see the chalk drawings properly were a great addition too.

This was the first time the usually rather reserved Viennese audience actually clapped at the end of a broadcast, which I think says a lot. I don’t want to give anything away, but everyone even stayed for what happened after the curtain call.

I really would like to see this play again, even though I am sure I won’t be able to stop myself from thinking

‘Train coming. Train stopped. Train going.’

every time I find myself on a tube platform in London from now on. Thanks for that, Mr. Haddon 😉

Henry IV, Part 1 – RSC live broadcast

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I could brain him with his lady’s fan.

Henry IV, Part 1 – May 14, 2014

Directed by Gregory Doran

Cast: Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Martin Bassindale, Jasper Britton, Antony Byrne, Sean Chapman, Paola Dionisotti, Nicholas Gerard-Martin, Jonny Glynn, Robert Gilbert, Nia Gwynne, Alex Hassell, Jim Hooper, Youssef Kerkour, Jennifer Kirby, Sam Marks, Keith Osborn, Leigh Quinn, Joshua Richards, Antony Sher, Simon Thorp, Trevor White, Simon Yadoo

After the successful broadcast of Richard II last year, the RSC is now continuing with Henry IV (part 2 follows in June). Started off with a charming and informative interview of Gregory Doran (NTL, you might want to take notes of how these are done. Kudos to Suzy Klein.) who admitted having unsucessfully looked for his Falstaff until Ian McKellen called his attention to the fact he was actually living with him.

McKellen seems to have been right too, as Antony Sher delivers as Falstaff. Unfortunately, he is hung out to dry in one of the – in my opinion at least – most important scenes of the play. When a little game of impersonating Henry IV berating his son turns serious

– banish not him thy Harry’s company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world. –

Hal’s

I do, I will

can break the audience’s hearts if done right and at the same time show that there is a future king in hard partying Hal and he is aware that he will some day have to take responibility and cut ties with those he now calls friends. In this case, the line fell completely flat and I didn’t buy Hal’s reaction at all.

That was also one of the two major issues I have with this production. While he is doing a fine job as the party prince, I can’t see this Hal ever becoming Henry V. I wouldn’t follow him across a zebra crossing at a green light on a deserted road without double checking the traffic, let alone unto the breach. Actually, I would probably have to fight the urge to yell ‘Oh, shut up!’ in a Monty Python voice before following Poins into some harebrained scheme instead of Hal into battle. I am however still giving him the chance to convince me in part 2.

The second issue is unfortunately of no less importance as it is Hotspur. What should be a hot-headed, ambitious upstart, is shown as an overgrown 2 year old constantly throwing temper tantrums. Despite his penchant for biceps curls, he appeared absolutely unmanly to me to the point where they should have changed Kate’s reaction to him going to battle to being relieved of getting rid of him. I can’t imagine any grown woman wanting this child in her bed or battle-worn warriors being willing to start a revolution with him at the helm.

After all this, the big surprise is the big fight between the two Henrys. Fight director Terry King gave the actors quite the task there and both absolutely rose to the occasion. The camera direction also managed to keep up with the fast paced fight very nicely. We got a glimpse of this earlier during a featurette in the interval after which I wondered even more about the decision to play Hotspur like they did, as the actor seemed to be a very bright guy in the interview.

Out of the rest of the cast, Antony Byrne stood out for me. I already noticed him in Richard II, the guy does fantastic work with his voice.

It probably didn’t sound like it, but I liked this production and am looking forward (and hoping for some glimpses of regal potential in Hal) to part 2 in two weeks.

 

King Lear – Live Broadcast

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Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

King Lear Live Broadcast May 1, 2014

Directed by Sam Mendes

Cast: Stanley Townsend, Sam Troughton, Simon Russell Beale, Kate Fleetwood, Anna Maxwell Martin, Olivia Vinall, Richard Clothier, Michael Nardone, Ross Waiton, Paapa Essiedu, Tom Brooke, Simon Manyonda, Adrian Scarborough, Gary Powell, Daniel Millar, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Colin Haigh, Hannah Stokely, Cassie Bradley

When I learned the National Theatre production of King Lear with Simon Russell Beale in the title role would be broadcast, I did a little (mental) dance of joy, especially since I had failed to get a ticket a few days prior. Apparently I am not the only one grateful for the broadcasts, because they are always sold out, so I hope they keep them coming for a long time.

Sam Mendes’ sleek modern production delivered as hoped and expected, as did the actors – Simon Russell Beale absolutely deserves all the kudos he gets – and designers (that stag certainly wasn’t easy to build). The only issue I had performance wise was with Sam Troughton’s first scenes as Edmund. They probably went over better in the actual theatre, but on the big screen they seemed so overdone, I was waiting for him to start belting out his new hit ‘I am an evil villain, can you see me sceme (hey nonny nonny single remix)’.

The transition from live theatre to being screened world wide surely means to tread a fine line so it works for both spaces, which is not only sometimes noticable in the performances, but can also lead to little camera and sound mishaps as experienced in the past broadcasts. In this case, there was some mic abuse when the actors hit the mics or – in this case to be expected – when someone is carried and partly covers the microphone of the actor carrying them.

In the beginning, when Lear’s daughters have to sing his praises to get their share of the kingdom, the sound was so overamplified it was actually painful. I hope they do a proper soundmix for this scene for reruns, but considering they didn’t for the acoustically botched scene in Coriolanus earlier this year, I am not holding my breath.

Another hiccup was when the camera went the opposite direction as the actor it was supposed to be trailing and then caught up to him with considerable speed. That was actually quite the laugh in the cinema and I could imagine the director yell ‘stage left, not left!’

The interval featurette was nicely done too, with not only Kate Fleetwood and Anna Maxwell Martin bickering about Lear’s shortcomings like real sisters, but also very informative regarding Beale’s process of research, deciding which form of dementia (Lewy Body) his Lear was going to suffer from and developing the character accordingly.

There were no great surprises in this production for me, but it was very well done overall and I would watch it again in a heartbeat.