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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‘Wish List’, Zero Hour Contract Play

We’ve just watched Katherine Soper’s debut play at the Royal Court (it premiered in Manchester and won the Bruntwood Prize). Absolutely fabulous! It adds to the intimacy of the experience that the Jerwood Upstairs seats just 85 people and the acting takes place between two sets of rows, with the remaining two ends of the room being set up as the work place and the home of Tamsin (Erin Doherty). She is a 19-year old woman, who works full-time in a soul-destroying zero-hour contract job as a packer in a warehouse, packing boxes with goods from customers’ twist-of-the-moment wish lists, while caring for her 17-year old mentally unwell, housebound brother Dean (Jonathan Quinn) since the death of their mother. He can already be seen while the audience gets seated, engaging in his obsessive compulsive rituals of putting gel into his hair behind the transparent walls of the bathroom, tapping rhythmically […]

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Ed Harris in Buried Child – Don’t Miss This One

We’ve just come back from seeing 66-year old Hollywood veteran Ed Harris star in his West End debut in Buried Child at the Trafalgar Studios, and what a pleasure it was! Ed Harris’ intensity and aplomb on stage are riveting. It would have been worth the visit just for his acting alone, but as it happens all the other talented actors involved were giving their best too. Well, and can’t really go wrong with a Pulitzer-prize winning play like this that is about the breakdown of the American Dream and its values in rural 1970s America, when most family-run farms descended into poverty and despair due to economic slowdown and the consolidation of the market with a few hundred big players ruling the game. To add to it, it’s so cool that Ed is starring with his wife, Amy Madigan, as he did on various occasions before, both on stage […]

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‘Art’, the Play, Old Vic

We just watched ‘Art‘, the third play by Yasmina Reza, the 57 year old French writer and actress, who has been collecting many prestigious awards over the years (Molière, Tony, and Laurence Olivier Awards for ‘Art’ alone) and who is known for her satirical plays about the middle classes, the two best-known of which are, you guessed it, ‘Art’, and ‘God of Carnage’. ‘Art’ premiered in Paris in 1994 and in London two years later. The play was translated into more than 40 languages. I saw the German version in Munich with my parents and my sister in early 1997 and didn’t like it that much, mainly because my Mom was so uber-enthusiastically ecstatic about it that it put me off (it’s simply not cool to like what your parents like when you’re very young). The English-language adaptation, translated by Christopher Hampton, opened in London’s West End in 1996 and […]

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Watch a king have Posh ‘n’ Becks and an ingénue make it big

We watched The Libertine starring Dominic Cooper yesterday at the Haymarket Theatre Royal, Stephen Jefferys’ 1994 play portraying the life of John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, a real-life historic figure who would make Russell Brand blush, and who was previously portrayed by Johnny Depp (with John Malkovich and Rosamund Pike) in the homonymous 2004 movie.    We hadn’t been back to the Her Majesty’s (its former name) in a while, not since watching Waiting for Godot with Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen a while back. As always, it’s such a beautiful atmosphere and we loved the stage design, so stylish, and none of that abstract indulgence in geometric forms, patterns, and light effects, we’ve seen too often in recent years.    You watch the Earl sleep with a myriad of women or enjoy blow-jobs, on one occasion while his friend the king has sex on a balcony next […]

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