sheets shroud the château, autumn leaves enhance the sense of
Count [Jamie Glover], Tiger to his friends, and
arbiter of taste, knows
how to throw an elegant party, and he's set on staging an amateur
Marivaux - La Double Inconstance – to amuse his guests. Roped in
to this “worthless world of taffeta and treachery” are his
closest friend, his wife, his mistress, his wife's lover, his lawyer
and the young governess to the dozen assorted orphans who,
inexplicably, inhabit a distant wing.
witty but ultimately depressing piece dates from 1950. Chichester,
typically, excel at capturing the period feel, in a stylish
production directed by Jeremy
Sams, whose translation this is, and designed by William Dudley. The
painted scenery, and the undercurrents of mistrust and malevolence,
are gradually revealed as the Marivaux characters meld with the
modern-day actors. The
cigarette, the telephone brutally remind us that we're no longer in
the age of elegance.
superb cast – Niamh Cusack as the Countess, Katherine Kingsley as
Hortensia, Tiger's mistress, Gabrielle Dempsey as the mousy governess
And, in a compelling performance, Edward Bennett is outstanding as
Hero, the dypsomaniac, self-pitying
“likes breaking things” and
whose ultimately tragic melancholy overshadows the second act.His
two-handed scene with Lucile is masterly
witty, elegant period piece, full of civilized scheming and bitchery,
with potent subtexts and resonances.
Bartlett's climate-change drama has big themes and a huge cast. It's
an ambitious, thought-provoking piece of theatre which
makes significant demands on any company bold enough to put it on
is at the top of its game in this production, directed by Danny
Segeth with Vikki Pead. The performance space is remodelled to
provide intimacy as well as epic scale, with two levels linked by a
central staircase. In harmony with the eco message, everything used
is recycled, and the live music [MD Cameron Price] is acoustic,
integrated into the action.
play explores the imminent crises of global warming and population
explosion, through the eyes and the words of three generations. The
time shifts from the sixties to a distant, dystopian future.
big stretch technically, with so many areas to light, plus the band,
and a screen to assist with narrative clarity.
excellent actors take on dozens of roles. Some,
it is true, find their characters more successfully than others, but
every one of them gives an impressively confident and truthful
Bradley plays the Liberty's girl as
well as the
old lady on Hampstead Heath, looking back to the days before Dunkirk
as she awaits the gathering storm. Georgie Whittaker
has an intriguing dual life
as an autistic schoolboy whose role is dramatically redefined in one
of several heart-stopping moments. Stefan Stuart is the impassioned
protester Tom; Joe Kennedy a hopeless husband in a mid-life crisis.
scientist who sells out to Robin Winder's polluting dollar is
superbly done by James Christie. Naive and idealistic in his younger
years, truculent and guilt-ridden in his sixties, it
is an impeccably sustained, riveting performance, nicely
offset by Helen Quigley as his long-suffering housekeeper.
His three very different daughters, abandoned when their mother dies,
are Evie Taylor, outstanding as an all too believable politician,
Laura Hill as the troubled, and troublesome, wild child and Ruth
Westbrook giving a searingly sincere performance in the pivotal role
of Freya, the middle sister who's pregnant with the next generation,
but feels overwhelmingly inadequate, to the despair of her husband
versatility from Kelly McGibney and newcomer Tom Tull as, amongst
others, the minister's PA, an
businessman and a polar bear.
a long show, and
occasionally words are lost to pace and naturalism,
but a seamless succession of short scenes sustains the impetus,
and the intimate encounters are contrasted with some superlative
physical ensembles. Image from an original photograph by Tom Tull
carnal comedy comes to the vast Olivier stage, nicely filled by a
versatile three-storey house [Lizzie Clachan designed] which morphs
before our eyes from Boniface's
inn to the Bountiful household, as oil lamps flying out pass
chandeliers flying in.
Bruce's music is splendid, too. Folk inspired and lively, especially
in the “Trifle” song and dance number, and the French chanson,
complete with accordeon. Musicians step out of doorways to accompany;
the show begins with a lone fiddler at the top of the house, and ends
that way too, when she is joined on stage by the whole band and the
acting company for a joyful jig.
Godwin's production eschews overly stylish Restoration mannerism for
a more naturalistic feel: Susannah Fielding's resourceful
Mrs Sullen has a feminist streak; she's
well supported by Pippa Bennett-Warner as her sister-in-law sidekick.
The two “brothers in iniquity” are Geoffrey Streatfield and Sam
Barnett. Great comedy performances too from Jane Booker as Lady
Bountiful, Richard Henders as her sullen, silent sot of a son, and
Pearce Quigley as a deliciously deadpan Scrub.
a complex piece, but the pace is excellent and the narrative is
driven along at a cracking pace, especially in the last act, when
bandits, marriage, divorce, and a helpful inheritance come hard on
each other's heels.
funds, a gym-slip baby, neuroscience, the power of coincidence, the
politics of academia.
a lot to pack into 100 minutes, and we haven't really looked at the
Hard Problem: Cartesian dualism, consciousness, the mind/body
not sure I could have attributed it to Stoppard if I hadn't known.
And what if it had landed anonymously on Nick Hytner's desk …
course Stoppard has previous as far as philosophy is concerned.
Jumpers, for one, and, my favourite, Professional Foul, the
television film where philosophers mingle with footballers. Pure
philosophy gets a bit of a bashing in this latest play, and those of
us expecting intellectual showmanship of the calibre of those
classics will be disappointed.
difficulty is that not many of the characters are sympathetic, nor do
they seem to be drawn from life. Is that the writing, the casting or
the direction ? A professor whose idiom includes “one feels” is
not likely to say “haitch” for H. The wittiest thing in Hytner's
production is the Venetian bed.
dialogue often seems like a long tick-list. Teleology, Basel rules,
brain worm [Dicrocoelium
Godel's proof, the
… Characters often end up explaining stuff their listeners must
already know. There's a Pilates instructor to ask the really basic
of Pilates signals a certain laziness, perhaps. Loughborough
there is much to enjoy, and a feast of food for thought. Together
with all the ideas, there are human stories too, for Vera Chuk's
sensitively drawn Bo, and for the central character, Hilary, played
by Olivia Vinall.
is picked from the slush pile to join the prestigious and amply
Institute, though hardly seems qualified. In Vinall's performance she
is touchingly vulnerable [miracle, coincidence and fireworks in her
personal journey], but fails to convince as the academic – she
simply sounds like an actor.
frequent scene changes are covered by solo piano Bach – that most
intellectual of musical forms
– while above the stage a huge hard-wired neuron installation glows
and flashes, the
mind/body problem made kinetic.
witty, clever piece, with enough twists and treats to keep us
entertained. But not vintage Stoppard. If you want that, go back to
Arcadia. Or for a brilliant account of Philosophy of Mind in a
fictional, well-funded department, try David Lodge's “Thinks ...”,
now a play as well as a novel.
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Listen!” The story-teller captures our attention, and keeps it for
an hour or more, recounting one of the earliest tales to be written
down from the great oral tradition of Norse myth.
makes it all so immediate – the fire flickering in the Great Hall,
, the “foam-throated
seafarer on the ocean's swell”the
dread dragon, the hand of Grendel; they all appear at his bidding in
surprising funny in parts, and impressively physical. Occasional
snatches of the rich original add to the mythic quality, and the
candlelit playhouse recalls the convivial hall of Heorot.
meant to be told to rapt listeners
of course, and for the thirty or more years Glover has been bringing
these heroes, monsters and mythical beasts to audiences of all kinds.
now, at the age of eighty, he's hanging up Beowulf's broad sword, and
in a low-key but very moving ceremony, he handed the mantle to his
son, Jamie, who will keep the story alive for another generation.
quirky romantic comedy poses more questions than it answers – hence
the title, perhaps.
McIntyre's production is sumptuously dressed; there is no set – no
forest, either – simply discreet banners to suggest a change of
stage is considerably extended, encouraging the actors to engage with
the audience, and enabling Jaques and Touchstone to lob witty
observations over the heads of the groundlings. They're both
excellent, the philosophers: Daniel Crossley's Touchstone literally
laid back with his cool shades, James Garnon mastering the space as
the melancholy Jaques, giving a cynical Seven Ages with an apple in
his hand. [Though
not, like Michael Bryant back in 79 at the NT, munching it
others seem underpowered – Orlando and the Dukes – but there is
excellent comedy from the two shepherdesses
[Gwyneth Keyworth's Phebe and Sophia Nomvete's Audrey] and from
Patrick Driver as Corin, a very Shepherd's Bush rustic.
Terry as Rosalind and Ellie Piercy as Celia work
together brilliantly as the cousins – Terry, a consummate
Shakespearean for the 21st
century, is “a busy actor”, with unlimited physical energy, but
knows the value of stillness, too - “my father was no traitor”.
They are no mere spectators at the wrestling match, either …
production seems a little long, at over three hours. It starts, like
this season's King John, with a funeral, but includes plenty of fun
along the way: anachronistic props – the tandem for the “two
gypsies on a horse”, Martext's shopping trolley, Ganymede's map of
Arden – and a great song and dance number for the Lover and His
it ends, of course, with a lively jig, and Rosalind's epilogue, in
which she reveals the boy beneath: “If I were a woman ...”
Classic Theatre at
shared memories. They meet up, in this classic comedy, to support
Colin, who moved out of the locality, met Carol, popped the question,
but then lost her to a freak drowning accident.
in Di's lounge, the epitome of 70s style. It becomes clear that there
are tensions amongst the old crowd, and cheery, upbeat Colin, when he
arrives, is clearly the happiest of them all despite his loss.
Cabot's polished touring revival brings out the weaknesses in all six
Cook is the annoyingly positive Colin; Kevin Drury the sour,
unfaithful husband of Diana, whose valiant efforts to put on a brave
face for Colin's sake are at the heart of the drama. She's played
with wonderful depth and humanity by Catherine Harvey – the polar
opposite of Kathryn Ritchie's rudely laconic Evelyn. She's married to
John [John Dorney], insecure, restless, squirming at any mention of
foot-in-mouth Marge is amusingly done by Alice Selwyn, with excellent
awkwardness of it all, the wrecked relationships and the domestic
disquiet, make for two hours of delightfully uncomfortable
Swell Party starts, after a lengthy pre-show, with a party piece. Joe
Stilgoe, son and heir of Richard, is left alone at the on-stage grand
to show off by asking the audience for tunes to weave into virtuoso
Five, George Michael, O Mio Babbino Caro, Moon River – a great
medley, and a hard act to follow, frankly. Especially as High Society
is no Anything
Goes. A compendium piece, with Cole Porter numbers from various eras,
and a Philadelphia
Storyline about the romantic tangles of the Long Island idle rich.
Friedman's slick, inventive staging uses the tiny performance area –
about the size of an ocean liner dance floor, audience
on all four sides
– with movement and magic, highlighting some excellent period
performances. Kate Fleetwood is socialite Tracy Lord, whose ex [a
brilliant Rupert Young] turns up on the eve of her wedding to wooden,
humourless Kittredge [Richard Grieve]. The plot is charmingly
thickened by two undercover journalists – Jamie Parker and Anabel
Scholey. Many stellar performances further down the bill, too, from
Ellie Bamber as the tomboy younger Lord sister, Barbara Flynn as
their mother, and a bearded Jeff Rawle twinkling away like Dickie
Attenborough as tipsy Uncle Willie.
chorus comment on the action, shift the furniture, and cook a
sunnyside-up breakfast grill at the
side. The curtain calls have not only brilliant choreography but even
a musical backing synchronized with the characters.
stand-out numbers among so many standards [and the odd archaeological
– True Love, with the eponymous model boat on the projected pool
and later in the circle as the stalls seemingly fill with water, and
a stunning Let's Misbehave, with Stilgoe joining MD Theo Jamieson at
two pianos, and Nathan M Wright's choreography including a tap
routine on the lid of the grand.
high hopes of Chichester's two musicals for 2015, but I'm not sure
that even they can come up with a production number to beat that
memorable Let's Misbehave.
Harling's bitter-sweet comedy is set in a cosy Chinquapin beauty
parlour – all the action, the tragedy and the farce, happens
off-stage. The ladies of the neighbourhood use Truvy's as refuge and
group therapy, while outside spring turns to winter.
Scripps' feel-good production is set in a beautifully realised salon
without being sleazy”:
lilac paintwork, hood dryers and women's magazines.
– a spot-on characterization from Sonia Lindsey-Scripps, southern
drawl and all – is being titivated for her pink-themed Princess
Her mother [Pam Hemming] fusses, huffs and interferes. Nervous newbie
Annelle [warmly characterized by Saira Plane] clearly
has a past to hide. Larger than life characters breeze in and out –
in a bad mood for forty years, is grumpily played by Lynda
Clairee, elegant, big shoulders, big hair, is wonderfully done
by Madeline Harmer. Like Marcia Baldry-Bryan's feisty Truvy, she
nails the sharp Southern wit and the crisp one-liners – I think
it's to do with the eyes … Truvy has some of the best quips,
including my favourite,
nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled
opening night, there was some hesitancy and a few fluffed lines, but,
though we weren't always convinced that we were in Louisiana, there
was a palpable sense of community and camaraderie amongst these six
ladies, well served by excellent ensemble playing. So that when the
tear-jerker ending comes, with M'Lynn reliving her “most precious
moment” at her daughter's bedside, the wave of shared sympathy
embraces the audience, too. As Truvy says, “laughter through tears
– my favourite emotion”.
traditional Greville supper featured apple pie and a superb salmon
salad – alas, no dago pie or Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa cake: never mind,
here's the recipe, courtesy of http://www.southernfatty.com/
Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cake
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
1 cup flour, self-raising
1 cup sugar (I prefer vanilla sugar!)
1 cup fruit cocktail with the juice
ice cream, to cut the sweetness (optional,
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Mix all ingredients together until
in greased pan or skillet until gold and bubbly, about 40-45 minutes. production photograph: Adrian Hoodless
Lee's elegiac account of his Gloucestershire boyhood, adapted with
affectionate fidelity by James Roose Evans, is brought to the Quay by
an excellent ensemble.
by Neil Arbon, the company people the little stage with the extended
family and village community. A rustic cart brings Mrs Lee and her
brood to Bank Cottages – the same carrier's cart carries her simple
deal coffin to the graveyard. Furniture is hauled on and off,
carefully rearranged. Subtle lighting [Tim Foster] suggests the
this version, much of the poetry, and the story, is entrusted to the
narrator, an older Laurie looking back some forty years. Peter Drew
is a compelling presence, bringing the words to life with a gentle
passion. His younger self, the boy Loll who starts school, discovers
the seaside, sings carols and tastes paradise under the hay wagon, is
excellently done by Matthew Byham, equally convincing as the
unwilling infant and the innocent who succumbs to the sweet charms of
Rosie Burdock. His mother, recalling her days downstairs in the big
house, almost missing the bus, collecting china, is Sarah
Harvey-Wade, eloquently suggesting the stress of the single parent
and her unconditional love for her family, and her husband long
support from a huge cast: Sarah Byham, Emma Hewett and Sadie Belsey
as the girls, Alex Ray a sparkling presence as little Tony, Linda
Dowdall as Granny Trill, combing her bits and consulting Old Moore,
Denis Brogan in four fine cameos. And many more.
the action might be more fluid – getting off the charabanc at
Weston, for instance – and the noisy chairs sometimes threaten to
drown out the narration. But there are many memorable scenes –
Laurie whistling to bring the company on at the start, with Tony
bursting out beaming from behind his mother's skirts – the huddle
of carol singers, the girls having their hair done while the boys are
in bed, the Babylon moments, the soliloquy with the schoolroom
behind, and the moving ending, with young Loll picking up the roses,
about to become the poet who has been leading us through his early
life. There they are, in the line-up, with Lee's spirit also kept
alive by the solemn young fiddler who accompanies the curtain calls.
in the interval, the lads and lasses from Slad were pressed into
service to hand round the food – savoury tarts, sausage rolls, and,
less commonly found in the Cotswolds a century ago, delicious
parmesan baskets ...
the Cornish coast and the ruined chapel – curtain up here is on a
dusty storeroom in a museum. 21st century cleaners depart, and a mummy creeps from her sarcophagus as
the pirates storm on from a storage crate stage right.
a colourful conceit, serving the look of the show rather than the
logic of an already improbable plot. But the Policemen are exhibits
too, sporting uniforms through the ages, a Bow Street
Runner amongst their ranks. And best of all, the ladies all get to
impersonate heroines from history: Earheart
the aviatrix rubbing shoulders with Nell Gwynn and Lady Godiva.
music survives intact, with Anton Archer's impressive pit band
playing Richard Balcombe's charming reduction, and a lovely Poetry chorale, but Gilbert is slyly
updated, with our Home Secretary making the policemen's lot even
unhappier, and Climbing Over Rocky Mountain, already a rewrite from
the Gods in Thespis, adapted to suit the Famous Women.
seasoned Savoyards in the cast, including David Raynor as an imposing Pirate King, Janet Moore as poor rejected Ruth and Mick Wilson as
a drily droll Major General. But what joy to have Frederick and Mabel
played by actors of the right age, two excellent young performers
[Theo Perry and Jessica Edom-Carey] who
sing beautifully and act with style and wit.
Brett's production has many delightful moments – the chorus in
cupboard and crate, a Busby Berkeley Foeman, and a much-used table downstage right. An inspired choice to celebrate 50 years of Trinity,
during which time they've brought dozens of Savoy operettas to
appreciative Chelmsford audiences.
up, maybe, by the success of Neville's Island – real trees, real
island with water deep enough to drown in – Chichester have boldly
ventured Way Upstream with Ayckbourn.
his best play, remembered chiefly for the water tank which caused the
National Theatre so much trouble back in '82. Like
Ayckbourn's oeuvre, it starts as a domestic comedy of manners, and
ends up as something much darker – and not merely dark, but
if it must be refloated, it's hard to imagine it done better than
here in the CFT, directed by Nadia Fall. There's an excellent cast,
and an incredibly ambitious staging, designed
by Ben Stones, with
a real Hadforth Bounty moving
convincingly around the river, a great forest behind as a backdrop,
and retractable riverbanks on either side.
set in those distant 80s, so no mobiles, and colleagues address each
other as Mr and Mrs. On
the cassette player, Bach, James Last, and after the final collapse
of civilization, William Byrd for brass. The
shadows on the cabin blinds – we never see inside the “floating
rabbit hutch” - the fight in the water, the bridges and the
rainstorm, all superbly done. Even the strangely surreal ending, in
which the only two likeable characters are pursued beyond the limit
of navigation to start a new life post Armageddon, is successfully
are Jill Halfpenny as Emma,
and Jason Hughes as hopeless Alistair, the worm who finally turns and
brains his tormentor with a can of beans.
is Jason Durr's Vince, the knight in shining armour turned cuckoo in
the nest, a “victim of the system” whose veneer of charm soon
wears off to reveal the bully beneath.
Forbes is hilarious as Keith, all bluster and pomposity as the
skipper; Sarah Parish is priceless as his less than enthusiastic
wife, sunbathing on the tiny deck, flirting with Vince and making a
complete fool of herself in an ill-advised drunken reprise of her
youthful stage persona.
simple idea is surprisingly effective amid the technology and the
heavy symbolism: between scenes, the actors fast forward in sharp,
jerky movements as the music track distorts.
bad boy of the British art scene in
and Sixties is brought triumphantly to life, warts and all, in this
uncompromising one man show.
is Garry Roost, whose physical appearance is not unlike Bacon's. But
it is his insight into the man, his eccentricities and his
vulnerability, that makes this portrait so vivid. We follow Francis
to Paris in the 30s, London in the Blitz. We
see his work develop; interior design, sketches,
portraits, lying figures and screaming popes. And
a colourful supporting cast – patrons, friends, lovers – is
economically suggested with a few careful brush strokes.
minimal set – a triptych of screens – a soundscape and a subtle
score by Matthew Williams and Eddie Gray, who was a friend of the
unique performance, originally directed
by Paul Garnault
has been touring Australia, and will be on the Edinburgh Fringe this
lucky that it called in on Chelmsford on the way.
and for The Public Reviews
iconic art is celebrated world-wide; his paintings hang in the best
museums, his images are instantly recognisable – think Screaming
what do we know of the man, his psyche, his sexuality and his “secret
Roost's intriguing one-man show, somewhere between autobiography,
confessional and stream of consciousness, pulls no punches. We see
the artist as transvestite, lusting after stable lads, cruising and
cottaging, seducing a young burglar who breaks in through the
skylight, shoplifting, pickpocketing and running a gambling den. We
learn that he was “painfully shy”, but was determined to “live
life to the full”. We go with him to Berlin in the 30s, to Paris,
and to dinner at the Orwells, where he rubs shoulders with Spender
and Giacometti. And in one of the most striking moments, into the
nightmare of the Blitz, with Bacon the ARP warden.
art is not neglected, however. We see him roll up his sleeves as he
waits for inspiration. He begins by designing rugs. He is influenced
by Poussin and Velasquez, Muybridge and Michelangelo. His work merges
the x-ray and the photograph, the inside and the outside, an entire
movie compressed in a single frame. He suffers brickbats from the
Daily Mail and the Times, he is outraged at being judged
simple setting consists of three pop-up screens, recalling his love
of the triptych form.
physical incarnation of his subject is remarkable: fleshy,
outrageous, sweary, pouting and preening, he gives an energetic,
expressionistic performance that is sometimes incoherent, sometimes
shockingly candid, but never dull for a moment. His face, contorted
like putty, recalls the tortured faces in the paintings. Often with
the help of the screens, he becomes many of the other characters that
people his eventful life. A lawyer who spots his talent early on,
Jessie, his childhood nanny and his partner in petty crime, and a
succession of partners and “well-built working men”.
begins his hour with us by recalling his father, veteran of the Boer
War, “thrashing the pansy out of him”, and ends with Wilde's
sententious advice - “Be yourself – everyone else is already
taken ...” It is a totally convincing impersonation, capturing the
body language and the mannerisms of the original, the wit, the
sarcasm and the temper, but also powerfully suggesting the deeper
passions and the unique personality of the artist and the man. “The
job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery,” Bacon once
said, and while this superb solo show goes some way to demystify the
man, the art is wisely left unseen and sibylline.