Theatre/Opera/Dance reviews and news

Archive for March, 2011

Pinter’s back

After searching through the labyrinth of the internet keenly looking for anything exciting pending in London’s theatreland I have discovered a few potentials that will definitely excite audiences and critics alike. Firstly, Pinter will be back in the West End at the Donmar. A production of Moonlight will be playing from 7th April to 28th May and unfortunately for those relative early birds, it has already sold out but the wonderful people at the Donmar provide a small allocation of day seats at a sensible price provided you pick them up in person. Now, I know this may mean going to work a little late or perhaps even, dare I say, skiving, but those pertinacious enough will, I am sure, be duly rewarded.

Theatre company LOVE&MADNESS  are putting on a short run of Dario Fo’s excellent farce, Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Waterloo East theatre. Now, if you are like me, you would remember that the Donmar did a run of it many moons ago with Rhys Ifans in the lead role as Maniac and again, if you are like me, you would have been aggrieved at missing out on that particular performance- this is the chance to catch this hilarious play but ensure to get tickets early. It runs from 5-10 April.

Also, I’m very excited about the upcoming Globe season, which includes a celebration of 400 years of the King James Bible where actors, over a weekend, will read the entire Bible. I am very curious as to see how they decide to stage this and transform a verbatim reading into a theatrical experience. Christopher Marlowe’s, seemingly ubiquitous Dr Faustus will also be playing at the Globe in the summer. Exciting times indeed.

The Tories can’t keep theatre down!

Something to get excited about at the Barbican







For those that don’t already know, the brilliant John Malkovich will be gracing the London stage for a 2 night only event at the Barbican. In the Infernal Comedy, Malkovich will be the sole actor on stage and will be portraying the notorious serial killer Jack Unterweger to a score that includes pieces by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. It promises to be a must-see and, as yet, it has seemed to have slipped under the perennial theatrical radar.

In another event at the Barbican, the theatre group, Duckie, who have said they like to mix the ‘arthouse with the dosshouse’, are putting together a piece that will take its audience through the night and in to their dreams. They are going to transform the Pit into a sleepy commune and have encouraged audience members to attend, clad in their nightwear. And what’s more, they provide breakfast first thing in the morning. It will certainly be a soporific experience and even at the hefty £40 price tag, will undoubtedly be a performance that will remain with you for a very long time, even if those memories will be swimming largely in your unconscious.

Cause Celebre review

Cause Celebre, Terence Rattigan’s final play, makes one glad not to be struggling through his rumour obsessed, judgmental portrayal of 1935. This multi-layered play is based on the true story of Alma Rattenbury who, with her 18-year-old lover, was accused of murdering her husband and chronicles the subsequent trial. Director Thea Sharrock is joining in the 2011 celebrations of the centenary of Rattigan’s birth, as this Old Vic production is on the heels of her much-lauded and sold-out run of Rattigan’s ‘After the Dance’ at the National.

One quickly becomes immersed in this world of the two lead opposing characters; Anne-Marie Duff skillfully portrays the all too likeable Mrs. Rattigan while Niamh Cusack plays the juror, Edith Davenport, who is to decide the widow’s fate. Duffy gives a stunning, multi-leveled performance while Cusack encourages the audience’s sincere sympathy as she goes through life-altering realisations.

The contrast of the public judgment being more precisely aimed at the age gap between the two illicit lovers rather than the actual crime itself raises pertinent questions in today’s media obsessed frenzy. You can’t help but create links between the ever-more salacious stories that newspapers report concerning the trial coupled with the acerbic reactions characters share regarding the accused couple, and the celebrity-crazed daily “rags” of 2011.

Rattigan’s ability to write for women is unquestionable as he so accurately demonstrates the multi-faceted aspects of female relationships. Here you have two women who no longer fulfill sexual expectations of marriage. One looks to a 17-year-old lover while the other chooses the shame of divorce. In the end one’s strict and strident morality saves the other from her own sexual indiscretions.  The prisoner wins over her tight-lipped warden, friend turns upon friend when expectations are undermined, and a number of the characters were all too quick to pass judgment. However the two female leads are disappointing in their frailties and one can’t help but wish for more gumption.

Despite the successful posing of grand moral questions, the play itself has niggling flaws and dialogue that waffles. It felt, at times, that the adept performances were simply too big for the script that at times meandered and lost focus. The numerous tangential story lines of lawyers and offspring seem to contribute little to nothing towards the main plot. The staging was excellent in its subtlety and fluidity. Layers in the set successfully conveyed layers in the story. The haunting appearance at the end as well as a violent tableau on the stage adeptly demonstrated theatre’s unique qualities against which, when executed expertly as it was in Cause Celebre, no horror film could ever compete. Shivers did truly creep up the spine.

My overall reaction at the end was to ask why Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic continually gives us weak women. Medea could perhaps be next?

Mariah Mazur