Thursday, April 19, 2007

Plays, or play?

Reviews or Mahjong .... reviews or mahjong ....

OK, couple of quick reviews.

To the Almeida in Islington last Friday, a lovely little space although their description of which seats are "restricted view" seems based on a fair amount of wishful thinking. Essentially, if you're any further back than about row F, and anywhere other than dead centre, there's probably going to be a pillar in your way at some point. We (me and Liz) saw "Dying for It", a new play by Moira Buffini, inspired by Erdman’s originally banned satirical comedy, directed by Anna Mackmin, who took over from Kathy Burke who was due to direct. I've enjoyed Anna Mackmin's work before in Sheffield (Cloud Nine, The Crucible) as well as Kathy Burke's (Blue/Orange) so was looking forward to this - and was not disappointed.

It was madly comic in the subversive way that only Russian theatre can be. Semyon, unemployed, living in the hallway of his block of flats, watches his wife Masha slave away and decides to take his own life. Word gets out and Semyon finds himself inundated with visitors begging him to die on their behalf, every one of whom values him more dead than they do while he's alive. Eventually he's in a position of no escape - but ... I won't say any more at the risk of planting spoilers.

Who would've thought a potential suicide could be funny? Not me, not now, especially here - but it was, and in a way quite cathartic too. Tom Brooke as Semyon stood out in an excellent cast - even the way he stood expressed anguish, and along with Liz White as Masha, he had the audience laughing before the lights had even gone up on the stage. Well worth the trip to Islington - go and see it.

And in complete contrast, this was followed by Nick Hytner's modern dress setting of George Etheridge's "Man of Mode" at the National, with Tom Hardy as Dorimant, and a fabulous, flamboyantly ridiculous Rory Kinnear as Sir Fopling Flutter. Rory Kinnear is one of those actors, like Simon Trinder, who can make you laugh just by standing still - he just has some kind of comic genius implanted in his DNA, and although Tom Hardy, Nancy Carroll et al hurl themselves at the play with the sort of gay abandon that restoration comedy demands, he romps away with every scene he's in. Dorimant was apparently based on the Earl of Rochester, the character played by Johnny Depp in the film version of "The Libertine" - it's clear to see how rich, feckless upper class wasters never really go away and yet still hold some fascination. Thoroughly enjoyable evening, enhanced by the fact that the set itself was entertaining, employing a double revolve to switch from Dorimant's apartment to Mrs Loveit's shop to Townley's Bar. Something to watch even when there were no actors on stage!

Back to the National this weekend for a bit of a mad trip - "Rose Tattoo" and "Landscape With Weapon" - I'm really looking forward to both, and hope my anticipation doesn't prove to be a shot in the foot.

And I think there's time for a quick Turtle mahjong before bed.


Blogger Stacie said...

A mad dash trip! I must txt you to find out what you are up to!!!!

3:40 am  

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