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.

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Antony and Cleopatra

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By William Shakespeare
Seen June 1st, 2014 at The Globe

Cast: Eve Best, Clive Wood, Jolyon Coy, James Hayes, Rosie Hilal, Phil Daniels, Paul Hamilton, Peter Bankolé, Ignatius Anthony, Obioma Ugoala, Daniel Rabin, Philip Correia, Jonathan Bonnici, Sean Jackson, Ashley-Curtis Correya, Tim Dewberry, Jason Eddy, Sebastian Hill, Aaron Thiara, Sirine Saba, Kammy Darweish

Directed by: Jonathan Munby

I struggled quite a bit with what to write about this production.

The tickets were a birthday present from my sister after I filled in for someone on a trip with a group of her co-workers on short notice (lucky me) and it couldn’t have been a better way to end this sunny day.

The play was very entertaining, some parts extremely funny and it still had the gravitas it needed in the more serious scenes. Eve Best did not only make one of the male groundlings very happy, but if you ask me in ten years, she (and her ability to hold up poor deceased Antony until a very low flying plane was finally far enough for the audience to understand what she was trying to say in her grief) is very likely the only thing I am going to remember from this production.

Don’t get me wrong, it was very well performed by all involved and The Globe is always worth a visit, but as entertaining as it was, it didn’t stay in my head. I am still trying to decide if I liked the 2012 production of Elektra at the Stratford Festival (Canada), but it stayed with me and I remember a lot of it very clearly. Anthony and Cleopatra? Not so much.

As for visiting The Globe, I think there were several people in the audience that night that did have to think about the play for some time. A visiting group of students was led into the groundlings area when the play had already started and their ‘what the hell is going on here, we thought this was a theatre?!’ faces were hilarious.

The other ones were the French couple in front of us who were frantically trying to read the play at the same time as watching it. In case you are tempted to try that some time: not working.

If you are watching Shakespeare for the first time and are scared of not understanding everything, I would rather advise not to stress it. Just listen to the melody and even if you don’t know some of the words, you’ll instinctively understand what is being said.

Antony and Cleopatra is still on until 24 August. If you are looking for pure entertainment, go get yourself a ticket, it’s absolutely worth it (as is the view when you leave The Globe after the performance. A few teaser pics below.). If you want surprises in staging or thought-provoking new interpretation and the likes, you might want to check the theatre listings again.

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