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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Comedy Store Late – A Classic

We’ve just come back from tonight’s Comedy Store Late (1a Oxendon Street, one minute’s walk off Leicester Square towards Piccadilly Circus; Lates start every Friday and Saturday at 11pm, admission from 10pm; food and drinks at the bar) and – as you would expect from this nearly 40-year old classic of the London comedy scene – it was a blast! Comedy Store Regular John Moloney, as seasoned compère who twice won Best Live Performer at the London Comedy Festival, excelled, hitting a gold mine right at the beginning, when he found out that one of the front row couples were from my home town, Munich, and that another front row guest was a teacher. The funny man used to teach German to schoolkids in the UK and even performed a series of gigs in German in Berlin as a comedian. He picked up the two themes ‘German’ and ‘teacher’ straight […]

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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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