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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Jack Thorne’s Woyzeck, Old Vic

In Germany, where I grew up, we love Büchner. Our Booker Prize equivalent is called Georg Büchner Prize, and seen as a clear early indicator of the next German speaker who will win the Nobel Prize in literature. This young playwright, novelist, poet, physician, revolutionary, founder of a secret society, university lecturer, and natural scientist died at the age of 23 of typhoid fever in 1837, before being able to finish Woyzeck. His last and most famous work merely exists in fragments, was published only 40 years later and first performed in 1913, just to become the most influential and most performed play in the German language. All photos (c) Manuel Harlan, except Old Vic building front and actors bowing to audience. Heavily influenced by Shakespeare, Büchner was decades ahead of his time with his writing style using short sentences and simple, at times colloquial language, and with Woyzeck being […]

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Toneelgroep, Barbican, Obsession, the play

We’ve just returned from tonight’s performance of Obsession, the play with Jude Law, at the Barbican, and we were not very pleased. It is one of three Toneelgroep (“Theatre Group”) Amsterdam productions directed by Ivo van Hove at the Barbican this year. The play is based on a homonymous 1942 Luchino Visconti film, which is itself based on a well-known novel by James M Cain called ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice.’ The movie was adapted seven times with the 1946 version, named after the book, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield being the best-known one. It is not the first Visconti movie that van Hove has adapted for the stage. We watched part of the original film on Youtube after our visit to the theatre and we enjoyed it. The movie is very intense and its title does not need any explaining. We had read about the plot (but not […]

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