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Thread: What are you seeing? What have you seen? (Theater Edition)

  1. #451
    Senior Member thestrand's Avatar
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    Kari - I had never heard of Bond before. Thank you! I have plenty to read and learn about now! He certainly seems like an interesting guy! Any recommendations on where to start with his work?


    Saw Perestroika last night. Some of my opinions have completely flipped from Millennium Approaches...


    Denise Gough? Fantastic. She played the second half of Harper's journey so beautifully.

    Andrew Garfield... I lost it with him. What was engaging and beautiful about his performance in MA became overdone and one-note in Perestroika.He got it back by the very very end (by which I mean, the final scene) But I really think he had trouble knowing how else to play Prior's new conflicts as a prophet and victim. Luckily, the fantastic script carried him through some otherwise tough scenes, acting-wise.

    The angel's physicality was fantastically gorgeous and sensual! I still think MA should have ended with her actually flying above the stage (we know they could do it, after all, she does fly at one point in Perestroika.)

    One thing I didn't comment on with MA was the use of neon and the sets. I liked the way they took visual ideas that were simple in MA and sorta blew them up/expanded them in Perestroika.

    One of the issues with Perestroika is always the length and pacing. They did an admirable job keeping it moving.

    Overall, this was a great two evenings of theatre. Not necessarily my favorite production of AiA, but still really lovely and worth seeing.

  2. #452
    Also saw Perestroika last night! I agree about Andrew Garfield. He was excellent overall, but his performance in Perestroika got a bit...histrionic. I actually kind of felt like the cast was doing a lot of screaming at each other instead of emoting in this part, at least in certain scenes.

    Love love love LOVED Denise Gough as Harper, once again.

    This is my first time seeing AiA staged, and Perestroika is...long. Really long. Some amazing scenes! But really, reallllllly long. And they apparently cut a whole scene with Roy Cohn talking to God or something?
    "See everything as an illusion, and enjoy it even though you are not of it."
    ~Alanis Morissette, paraphrased

  3. #453
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    I saw Angels in America too and oh my god I thought it was absolutely amazing.

  4. #454
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Markness View Post
    This is my first time seeing AiA staged, and Perestroika is...long. Really long. Some amazing scenes! But really, reallllllly long. And they apparently cut a whole scene with Roy Cohn talking to God or something?
    There are a couple of optional scenes in Perestroika, and one of them is a short scene of Roy Cohn in hell offering assistance to an unseen force, probably Satan or something like that. You could pretty much pluck that monologue out of the play and put it in Donald Trump's mouth and it would suit perfectly. Cohn was Trump's mentor so I suppose that sort of figures. Watching the restaurant scene between Joe and Roy and Roy's flunky is so depressing - you realise with horror that the society they're envisioning has pretty much come true.

  5. #455
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    I've seen a lot of theatre recently that I'd like to write about, but I'll wait until I have a chance to put some thought into it.

    In the meantime, I've just booked for next year's London revival of Company featuring Rosalie Craig as a gender-flipped Bobby and OMFGPATTILUPONE as Joanne as well as Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle, a new play by Simon Stephens. Both are produced by Elliott Harper Productions, a new company set up by producer Chris Harper and director Marianne Elliott. I was looking at their website to see what they were about, when I stumbled on this in their 'about' section:

    In March 2018, Elliott & Harper will co-produce the Broadway transfer of The National Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America directed by Marianne.
    Were any of you New York based theatre people aware of this? @Kari? I didn't think anything had been announced yet. I just thought I'd let y'all know in case you want to start saving coin for those tickets.

  6. #456
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    Oh duh. I just checked the National's website and it's even on there, and here's me thinking that I've found a scoop. It looks like they're taking the cast over with them, which is generally good (although one or two of them need to work hard on their American accents if they're going to do the play in the motherland).

  7. #457
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    Quote Originally Posted by spyk_ View Post
    Whenever I travel out of town to see something it always transfers; Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies, the RSC's recent Lear, Gypsy. I could just save money on the train fare but I'm always worried that the thing I decide to take a risk on won't transfer. My going to see Caroline in Chichester will probably mean it'll come in. It sold out in advance and has had 4/5 stars across the board so as long as Clarke is free and there's a venue for it I don't see why it won't.
    Your prediction came true!

    https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/wha...ine-or-change/

  8. #458
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathan zephyrus View Post
    Ha! I'm debating whether it's worth the tenner to see it again. If you didn't see it before then I'd recommend making the trip.

  9. #459
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    given it just means crossing the road, I will!

  10. #460
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    New York forumers; if you have some spare time and some spare cash, I would urge you to grab a ticket to People, Places & Things at St Ann's Warehouse (tickets start at $35? Fucking hell New York), if only to witness Denise Gough's performance which is honestly one of the best I've ever seen on stage. I think it may be one of those performances that my generation talks about when we're old as having been a witness to - like older people now talk about having seen Olivier do whatever at the Old Vic back in the day. She's doing Angels in America straight afterwards and she's great in it, but in P, P & T she's something else. It's like watching someone deconstruct themselves in front of you. It's actually quite frightening to watch, but also thrilling.

    Do it.

    And no, I don't work for the production company, I just want people to see this.

  11. #461
    worth a million in prizes .chris's Avatar
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    They just announced a broadway production of Boys in the Band with: Jim Parsons, Zachary Qunito, Andrew Rannels, and Matt Bomer. What a fucking cast!

  12. #462
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    I have seen some theatre recently and would like to write about some of it, so indulge me.

    Some October and November highlights.

    Victory Condition by Chris Thorpe at the Royal Court
    - An intriguing play that breaks down conventions of action and dialogue. A young couple return from holiday and unpack. They order pizza and get their lunch ready for the next day. They play on a games console. The pizza arrives - they eat it and go to bed. This is all that happens in the play. But the dialogue acts completely against this. As the two actors carry out their mundane actions they narrate a series of events that seem to be happening to entirely different people. A sniper picks out a student protester in a crowd in a far less secure part of the world. A woman has a fit on a platform on her way to an important meeting. A girl wakes up tied to a bathtub in an unfamiliar location. This is an intensely intelligent play that shook me out of my ideas about theatricality. It plays with the randomness of time and the connected nature (or disconnected nature) of everything.


    Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle by Simon Stephens at the Wyndham's (West End)
    - I think Simon Stephens has been far more successful with his adaptations than with his original plays recently, but I enjoyed this a lot more than I'd expected. It didn't hurt that the two actors are among my favourites; Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham. They both have very different energies which complement each other wonderfully on stage. Cranham plays an elderly man who lives a quiet life alone, running his butcher-shop, until he meets a much younger woman (Duff) who takes an interest in him. As many critics pointed out, there is an element of male-wish fulfilment in a charismatic 40-something falling for a introverted 70-something, and Duff's character teetered just on the edge of the 'manic pixie girl' troupe, but I enjoyed the progression of the relationship. The Heisenberg Principle refers (to simplify it massively) to the theory that both the position and velocity of an object cannot be accurately measured at the same time. I went in expecting a far more science-heavy play, but I actually enjoyed how Stephens weaves this scientific principle into the fabric of his character's lives. It's about the roads life leads us down, and how we cannot always see or control the direction of our lives. It wasn't a overwhelming experience but it was a nice (and, for the West End, very cheap) 90 minutes.

    Albion by Mike Bartlett at the Almeida
    - I loved this play. It will definitely be going into my end-of-year highlight list (yes I make those hello my name is Simon and yes I am single). It's essentially an update and re-imagining of The Cherry Orchard with some aspects of The Seagull thrown in, but Bartlett uses these familiar story elements to build a complex and shattering portrait of post-Brexit Britain. A successful career woman, Audrey, has inherited the estate that she grew up on as a child, and is determined to return the gardens to their Edwardian glory in memory of her son, who was killed in action. She is accompanied by her morose teenage daughter and her compliant second-husband. Her plan to create an Arcadian haven is thwarted by the local villagers as well as from complications within her own family, particularly from her late son's bereaved fiance, who seems to think that she is carrying his child (even though he died two years before). I think it's brave of a writer to plant their flag anywhere near Chekhov's, but rather than coming off as indulgent or derivative, Bartlett uses the deep character work enabled by this kind of writing to discuss something so profoundly complex as national identity through a simple allegory. All the characters in the large cast are strong and vital, such as Audrey's best friend from university, who has more than an imprint of Boris Trigorin on her, and the ambitious but shy neighbour boy who is gut-wrenchingly destroyed by a very small act of unkindness. This is a really wonderful play. I'm always excited about what Bartlett is going to do next, because it's always so different to anything he's written before. His last state-of-the-nation play was an explicitly Shakespearean historic tragedy, written in verse. This jumps forward a few centuries and takes from an entirely different form of theatre. The conversation here is about how we carve out and cling on to our pasts, and imprint our own fears and failures onto huge abstract concepts, and how that might be sometimes necessary for survival. I don't want to call it 'the definitive Post-Brexit play' because I don't write for the Guardian but there is almost some truth in that.

    Insignificance by Terry Johnson at the Arcola
    - I've wanted to read this play for a long time, but it's no longer published in a single edition and I don't want to fork out for a collected works, so I was glad to see it getting a revival. It's a wonderfully bonkers play. In the middle of the 20th century, a scientist is staying in a hotel room and has his peace disturbed by firstly a senator, and then by a famous actress and her baseball player husband. We are left to infer (not subtly) that we are watching Albert Einstein, Joseph McCarthy, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, respectively. This is a play that collects together huge, un-stageable ideas and then just throws them at the wall, and I love that. There is an absolutely bravura section in which Marilyn Monroe explains the general theory of relativity to Einstein. Also at the end of nuclear bomb goes off. It's a play about some of the concerns of the 20th century; fame, status, persecution, total destruction, and science.

    Rodelinda at the English National Opera
    - I've long heard that the Coliseum is the place to see Handel but I've never caught an ENO production of any of his works before. I loved the playful iconoclasm of this production. The forced 'happy' ending is played against, and the brutally of the power-play is never let up on. The singing was absolutely wonderful, particularly from Rebecca Evans in the title role and from the two counter-tenors (I've sung a bit of counter-tenor rep recently and it's thrilling and encouraging to see it done so well on such a large stage).

    Bad Roads by Natal'ya Vorozhbit (Translated by Sasha Dugdale) at the Royal Court
    - I saw this a few nights ago and it has played in my mind ever since. It's a series of almost-interlinked scenes set during the Ukrainian separatist conflict. Humanity is shown at its most brutal, but there are comic moments of warmth. It's a startling portrayal of conflict, how it shreds the conscience, and how the threat of war can heighten what people find themselves capable of, both for the good and the bad. The focus is drawn into the female experience, so often neglected in war coverage. The play opens with a brilliant monologue by a journalist who finds herself falling in love with an army commander she is interviewing. They travel into the conflict zone together, and she finds herself utterly deconstructed by this man who faces death for a living. There was a horrifying section - which I found to be the least successful part of the play - in which a separatist kidnaps a woman and keeps her in some sort of warehouse where he rapes her and uriates on her (we are plunged into blackness and have only some sound effects to conjure up an image of the horror). He is a violent sadist, she wants to be degraded. The awfulness of the exchange is fully realised but the scene jars slightly with the more nuanced sense of dread in the rest of the play. The last scene ends the piece in a minor-key, which I always love. A woman visits a farm after she has run over a chicken on the road passing by. The farmer and his wife are at first unphased, but after the woman offers financial compensation they begin to demand more and more from her, until they try to take her car from her. The call of a neighbour snaps them out of it, and they hurry the woman off their land. "Don't tempt us" the farmer's wife cries, in the last lines of the play.

    Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House
    - Katie Mitchell as director is what attracted me to this, as I'm not familiar with Donizetti. I didn't fall in love with the score, maybe I need more time with it, but I came away with the conviction that Lisette Oropesa, who sings the title role, will be an operatic mega-star. Her voice is capable of death-defying leaps and bounds, and she pulls off the incredibly difficult coloratura of the 'mad scene' and makes it look effortless. She can pull back on her top notes until they sound like they're resting on a pin-edge. Technically it's astonishing. The production is great too, Mitchell employs a split-screen stage which often works well but sometimes distracts. But a story about a woman being manipulated by a bunch of powerful men is always going to resonate, particularly after the past few weeks. But Mitchell's direction and Oropesa's portrayal frame Lucia not as a helpless victim but as a headstrong woman with only a tiny social space for manoeuvre, who fills that space as much as possible.

  13. #463
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    It's now the time when all the critics are publishing their choices for the top productions of the year. I'm going to scratch out one soon, but I'm seeing Hamilton next Saturday and I'm about to watch Anne Washburn's adaptation of The Twilight Zone so I can't review the year until I've at least seen those. Theatre-going people; what are your highlights from this year? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from people based outside London.

  14. #464
    worth a million in prizes .chris's Avatar
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    I don't really get a chance to see much, but I was really impressed with both Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George in NY.

  15. #465
    'If you existed, I'd divorce you.' spyk_'s Avatar
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    Which Sweeney was that - the one that started above the actual pie shop in London? I remember something about that transferring, but I didn't see the original production.

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