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

Wonderland

Guest post by iwishyoumuchmirth

wonderland

The miners united will never be defeated

By Beth Steel

Directed by Edward Hall

Cast: Andrew Readman, Michael Cochrane, Andrew Havill, Paul Cawley, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Simon Slater, Paul Brennen, Nigel Betts, Gunnar Cauthery, Paul Rattray, Ben-Ryan Davies, David Moorst, Jan Leeming, Edd Muruako, Jack Pike, Guy Remy, Darius Ryan, Jack Silver, Tom Winsor

Synopsis: The Midlands, 1984: Two young lads are about to learn what it is to be a miner, to be accepted into the close camaraderie and initiated into a unique workplace where sweat, toil, collapsing roofs and explosions are all to be met with bawdy humour. London, 1984: A conflicted Tory MP, a brash American CEO and an eccentric maverick are the face of a radical Conservative government preparing to do battle with the most powerful workforce, the miners. As the two sides clash, the miners fight for their livelihoods and families, and the government for its vision of a free Britain. Together they change the fabric of the nation forever.

Live-Stream from the Hampstead Theatre, Saturday 26th July, 2014

I learned about the live stream just a few hours beforehand through twitter and was intrigued. This was my first internet stream of a theatre production. I’m used to being either in a theatre or at a cinema as part of an audience, but watching a stream at home on my laptop is quite a different experience. I feared I would constantly get distracted or lose interest, but that wasn’t the case at all.

The play is set both “below” in the pit of a mine, and “above” in the offices of government officials. The scene changes between these two worlds are very cleverly done, with Ashley Martin-Davis’s set design being put to maximum use. There is a pit, pit cage, ladders, and overhead gantries. All the metal clanging can be a bit distracting because it tends to drown out the dialogue at times, but you just have to concentrate a bit harder.

While the first half sets up the story and introduces the audience to the characters in both worlds, and mainly shows the everyday work in the pit, the second half shows how a strike of the proportions of the 1984 strike and clashing ideologies tears apart friendships, and ultimately whole communities. The play stays largely sympathetic towards the strikers, but also doesn’t depict (most of) the “government” as pure evil. Especially the scene where Andrew Havill’s Energy Secretary Peter Walker tells the audience of the bombings at the Party Conference that killed the man attending in his stead is very moving.

The performances are strong all around, especially Paul Brennen as Colonel is exellent. Dugald Bruce-Lockhart is a wonderful David Hart, and Andrew Havill also stands out as Peter Walker.

The video stream will be on demand until Tuesday, 29th July here.

Watch the official trailer: