Friday, November 17, 2006



Somehow forgot to do a reviews update.

Went to see "A Good Year" with Nina - it was one of those, "yeah, nice enough, would you get the DVD, nah" films. Much like one of those bargainous bottles of wine you get from Tesco on the way home from work on a Tuesday - pleasant enough to make a few moments pass by, but not special enough for a Friday. And Russell Crowe really shouldn't do comedy - you can see his comic-timometer working in places, and flailing; a few more sessions with the dialogue coach might've been a good idea too.

Finally saw "The Caretaker" in Sheffield in full - fabulous. Pinter's skill is in making claustrophobia so interesting; here are three men, each trapped, and each equally deranged even if it might not seem so at the beginning. I can still see Con O'Neill shuffling about the stage (I had a major crush on him many years ago), still hear Nigel Harman saying "like a papoose," which was both very funny and his pause for breath in a long, complicated and very well delivered speech; and apparently Mr P himself said that David Bradley was one of the best Davies ever. High praise indeed. I loved it, but it took two goes to get there.

Last Friday saw the Propeller Theatre Company do "Taming of the Shrew" in Stratford as part of the RSC's "everything in a year" programme. I've seen Propeller before - their Midsummer Night's Dream was one of the funniest plays I've ever seen, and Rose Rage was simply breathtaking. They're a fantastically imaginative all male company led by Ed Hall, son of Sir Peter. But, back to last Friday. We saw the play in the new Courtyard theatre, and it's lovely. The foyer is what used to be the Other Place, so for once at the RSC you have a decent foyer space, where you can get a drink and enjoy it, buy a programme and read it, visit the shop and not be elbowed in the ribs by other customers. The theatre itself is a lovely space - the same shape as the Swan, but ever so slightly more spacious, so there is leg room and elbow room, but still excellent views, and a real feeling of involvement because its a thrust stage. If they kept this and knocked down the main building, I wouldn't complain.

What was interesting about the play is that the all male aspect seemed to bring out the nastiness of it. I'm sure Petruchio behaved in a much harsher way to Kate than I've ever seen before. The performances were fantastic, in particular the physicality and versatility of the whole company; I can't fault the acting. But I really didn't like the play. At the end, Kate seemed beaten, not tamed; I much preferred Greg Doran's production, the Jasper Britton/Alexandra Gilbreath one, where the impression was very much that here are two people so damaged that the only way they can find love is with another damaged person; or the BBC updated version with Shirley Henderson and Rufus Sewell where it seems that these two are so nuts that only another nutcase could love them. In the Propeller version, Petruchio was just mean and brutish, and the line at the end "this was only a dream" was simply insufficient as an excuse. So, we came out saying "good players, not so sure about the play".

And in other news, A has just read Tom Stoppard's "Travesties" and would like to see it; if you know of a production which we might be able to get to, please let me know.


Blogger haze_e said...

I too really loved the Caretaker, and Con O'Neill was fabulous, his physicality and fastidiousness was brilliant. I too had a big crush on him years ago, after he was in Dancin' Thru the Dark!!
Haze xx

10:56 pm  

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