The Beaux’ Stratagem

“O sister, sister! if ever you marry, beware of a sullen, silent sot, one that’s always musing, but never thinks. There’s some diversion in a talking blockhead; and since a woman must wear chains, I would have the pleasure of hearing ’em rattle a little.”

written by George Farquhar

Cast: Esh Alladi, Samuel Barnett, Jamie Beamish, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Jane Booker, Cornelius Clarke, Susannah Fielding, Molly Gromadzki, John Hastings, Richard Henders, Lloyd Hutchinson, Chris Kelham, Nicholas Khan, Barbara Kirby, Ana-Maria Maskell, Amy Morgan, Pearce Quigley, Mark Rose, Chook Sibtain, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Timothy Watson

Directed by Simon Godwin

Broadcast live from the Natioal Theatre, 3rd September, 2015

Summary: The ‘Beaux’: Mr Aimwell and Mr Archer, two charming, dissolute young men who have blown their fortunes in giddy London. Shamed and debt-ridden, they flee to provincial Lichfield. Their ‘Stratagem’: to marry for money. Lodged at the local inn, posing as master and servant, they encounter a teeming variety of human obstacles: a crooked landlord, a fearsome highwayman, a fervent French Count, a maid on the make, a drunken husband, a furious butler, a natural healer and a strange, turbulent priest. But their greatest obstacle is love. When the Beaux meet their match in Dorinda and Mrs Sullen they are most at risk, for in love they might be truly discovered.

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Three Days in the Country

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seen 28 August 2015, Lyttelton Theatre (National Theatre), London

by Patrick Marber; a version of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country

Day one of our mini theatre break saw us finally watch a play in the National Theatre instead of just watching it on the big screen or letting our credit cards smoke in their book shop as usual. After getting up at half past four in the morning to get the first flight to London, we appreciated the comfy seats in the Lyttelton a lot.

I have to admit having steered more or less clear of ‘the Russians’ after having had to inhale ten of the standards (think Brothers Karamazov and their ilk) within a week for my finals at school. There’s only so much tragedy I can take in such short time and with little exceptions, I don’t feel drawn to them when they are performed on stage. In this case, we were drawn in by the casting and early reviews and ended up more than happy with our decision.

Of course, this being a Russian play from the mid 1800s, there is more unrequited love than at your average One Direction concert, but it’s infinitely more fun. Continue reading

The Hard Problem

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seen April 16, 2015. Haydn English Cinema Vienna

written by Tom Stoppard

directed by Nicholas Hytner

Cast: Damien Molony, Olivia Vinall, Parth Thakerar, Jonathan Coy, Rosie Hilal, Lucy Robinson, Anthony Calf, Hayley Canham, Eloise Webb, Daisy Jacob, Vera Chok, Kristin Atherton, Benjamin Powell

Flame-finger-brain; brain-finger-ouch. Consciousness.

Tom Stoppard’s newest play ‘about evolutional biology and the banking crisis’ is funny, thought provoking and has some really great rapid fire dialogue. The latter especially when protagonist Hilary shares the stage with her tutor/lover/scientific nemesis Spike.

The stage settings were fitting and functional, set changes accompanied by music from Johann Sebastian Bach,  cameras panning to the beautiful binary/brainwaves lighting installation.

At the start Continue reading

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

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Seen: March 12, NTL Broadcast Haydn English Cinema Vienna

Cast: Hiran Abeysekera, Assad Zaman, Anjana Vasan, Stephanie Street, Shane Zaza, Ranjit Krishnamma, Sartaj Garewal, Gavi Singh Chera, Meera Syal, Anjli Mohindra, Vincent Ebrahim, Chook Sibtain, Muzz Khan, Thusitha Jayasundera, Ronak Patani, Anneika Rose, Manjeet Mann, Mariam Haque, Tia-Lana Chinapyel, Nikita Mehta, Tia Palamathanan, Ahsani Stevens, Nathalie Armin, Esh Alladi, Pal Aron, Bharti Patel

Directed by Rufus Norris

a new play by David Hare based on the book by Katherine Boo

We saw so many great productions in the last year or so, I knew it was too good to last. Continue reading

Treasure Island

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Seen January 22 2015

Haydn English Cinema, Vienna

By Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted by Bryony Lavery

Directed by Polly Findlay

Cast: Patsy Ferran, Gillian Hanna, Aidan Kelly, Helena Lymbery, Nick Fletcher, Alexandra Maher, Heather Dutton, Raj Bajaj, Lena Kaur, Daniel Coonan, David Sterne, Paul Dodds, Arthur Darvill, Jonathan Livingstone, Clair-Louise Cordwell, Angela De Castro, David Langham, Alastair Parker, Oliver Birch, Tim Samuels, Joshua James, Roger Wilson, Ben Thompson

Girls need adventures too.

Bryony Lavery adapted this classic for the NT. The original only contains one female character; in this version however, Jim is a girl and some household staff as well as pirates were changed to women, so this production wasn’t the sausage fest that can usually be expected of Treasure Island.

Patsy Ferran, who plays Jim, is one to watch. She carries the play seemingly effortless and more than holds her own against the veterans she shares the stage with. There are however two things upstaging even her: Long John Silver’s remote controlled parrot and the stage setting. From building a planetarium into the Olivier to having the ship in all its several decks high glory ascending from underneath the stage – and receiving applause for its appearance – to Silver’s leg (I’m sure Arthur Darvill was glad he was spared the common peg), everything was cleverly executed.

Speaking of the stage: when the Hispaniola made its way up, I thought that without Tyrone Guthrie and Tanya Moiseiwitsch and their vision of bringing thrust stages into modern times, stage settings in Stratford (Ontario) and the National Theatre would be so much more restricted. It’s fascinating to see what stage designers and directors come up with every time.

This was the National Theatre’s Christmas family show and it showed not just in the funniest looking spilled guts I have seen thus far, but also in little things like the discrepancy between kid-friendly sword fights and the accompanying music that would have seemed overly dramatic in other circumstances.

The performances were solid all around, from the main characters to the singer popping up once in a while. Speaking of which, a question for Canadians who have seen this broadcast: did Gordon Pinsent and Alan Doyle get cloned into one person or is it just me? That would also explain The Royal Bank of Canada being the main sponsor of the play. 😉

Watching this broadcast was a few hours well spent and just plain fun after a day at work.

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.