Exit The King with Rhys Ifans at the National – Soso..

I’m a huge fan of Eugène Ionesco and the Theatre of the Absurd in general. I had been looking forward to the performance of Oscar-nominated former stand-up comedian Patrick Marber’s adaptation of Ionesco’s play Exit the King at the National (until 6th October) with very high, perhaps overly high expectations. It’s the first time the National does Ionesco!! The 1h40m performance (no intermission) was decent by most accounts and, as usual for every London stage performance, received many 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 5 reviews (3 out of 5 by the Guardian). Without any doubt Rhys Ifans’ stage presence is super-intense and riveting, the performance of all the other actors, such as Indira Varma, also excellent. All photos (c) Simon Annand. The initial play is a manic mediation on death, which follows King Berenger, who is 483 years old, on his last day, while he is being […]

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The Lehman Trilogy at the NT – Loved it (and I worked there)!

We’ve just returned from a performance of the Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre. It was one of the best plays we’ve seen in years, truly awesome. While previous performances of the play across Europe have involved vast casts, Ben Power‘s (the NT deputy artistic director’s) English language version of Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s play involves just three actors. They re-enact the one and a half centuries of the Lehman brothers’ family history from when the first of the initial three brothers emigrated from a small village in Bavaria (where I’m from) to Montgomery, Alabama, in the South of the U.S. From when they were god-fearing, law-abiding, humble, not-so-well-to-do corner store owners (and later on cotton merchants) to them losing control of their investment bank in the 1960s, and to the bank’s demise as a faceless global investment bank in the Financial Crisis of 2008, when godless monsters like Dick […]

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Andrew Scott in Sea Wall, celebrating 200 years at the Old Vic

We’ve just returned from our visit to the Old Vic to watch Sea Wall, a monologue performed by Andrew Scott. It was written specifically for him more than ten years ago by Simon Stephens. This time around, it was staged again to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the theatre. Scott’s character Alex tells the audience about his life with his loving family. How he made friends with his wife’s father, an ex-soldier, how their young daughter brings joy to their life, how he’s happy with his job and where he lives.    Photo of Andrew Scott (c) Kevin Cummins; rest (c) BSqB Gradually the monologue steers towards the revelation of perhaps the most horrible event that can happen to man. As you would expect from an actor of Scott’s calibre, his performance is smooth and precise. The audience is laughing out loud one second and holding back tears the next […]

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Magic Moments: The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre

A few days ago, Ms B asked me if I wanted to see the preview of a play about the migrant crisis for £25 at the Playhouse Theatre. Little did I know what a truly magical theatre experience lay ahead of us. In hindsight, I can’t believe we hadn’t heard about the sell-out run this play had had at the Young Vic last year. The play is set in a ramshackle Afghan café in the Calais migrant camp. The set merges with the audience, with theatre-goers sharing the table with thespians, actors walking through the aisles of the auditorium. The play starts with an ending: another eviction notice has been served to the residents of ‘The Jungle’, leading to a chaotic frenzy where everyone tries to figure out how to deal with the threat of losing their temporary home. The end of the play has been well-documented in the media: […]

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Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the Barbican

We are just back from a concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the world’s fourth best orchestra’s (London Symphony Orchestra) home, the Barbican, and it was a riveting performance. This 37 years young Venezuelan-Spanish composer and conductor seems to burst with energy. He is already conducting the 8th best orchestra in the world (LA Phil ), perhaps the coolest orchestra in the world (the Venezuelan youth orchestra), and if this weren’t enough, he’s taking on guest conductor assignments this year at the second best orchestra of the world (Berlin Philharmonic, with whom he’s touring Europe ) and the #3 (Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he’s touring America). The evening started with Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. I’m no fan of Bernstein and never understood the hype about him, to me his music often has the touch of mere musicals and not classical compositions, I’m regularly missing proper depth, […]

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