Much Ado About Nothing – Globe Theatre

I genuinely have so much love and appreciation for this play. I’ve been through a lot with it, so it’s only fitting that the first play I see at The Globe Theatre, is this one. I will warn you now, I love this play so much, that I could probably see a terrible production and still love it, so I may be a tad bias, but I’ll try my best.

This version of Much Ado is set in the 1910 Mexican revolution, which just brings so much colour to the show. In the set, costumes and the whole tone. Even though the show is primarily a comedy, the Mexican culture breathes new life into it. In the form of the music, the costumes, all the scene transitions, and the vendetta against Americans- which did make me chuckle, especially with the large volume of Americans surrounding me.

I tried to look at this production, with an extra-critical eye to compensate my love for the play. At the beginning I thought that perhaps, Matthew Needham, Benedick, and Beatriz Romilly, Beatrice, were lacking in chemistry. However, as the play moved along, I was quickly proved wrong, they were fantastic. They managed to get the balance between comedy and gravity, which is very tricky in most Shakespeare comedies. The rest of the cast cannot be dismissed at all. They all worked effortlessly together. I hope that one day I could be a part of a cast that is so in sync.

It was also surprisingly enjoyable watching it from the yard. I thought I would hate standing for three hours, but also didn’t want to shell out £40+ for a ticket. It reminded me what theatre is about, because there was 700 or so people standing in the yard together, we all ending up talking about the play. It got people talking and socialising. It’s one of the reasons Theatre was so popular in Shakespeare’s time.

And on a final, and more personal note it brought back a lot of feelings for me, of various things that have happened, and everything the play meant to me. By the end of it, I was very emotional, however, I am almost fairly certain the tears were from laughter.

I’ve tried to keep this short and sweet, but definitely go check it out if you can. And I would say the Yard tickets are the best way to go – £5, same price as lunch at McDonalds. And far better for you!

Twelfth Night- National Theatre.

So tonight I went to see Twelfth Night, at the National. Another Review (lucky you, dear reader… Or Unlucky, depending on how you feel). This production, stars Tamsin Grieg, and turns the show on it’s head, into a wonderful, fast paced, and colourful queer-fest.

Directed by Simon Godwin, this new adaptation brings new life to the old classic.  It begins, with a simple, but effective outline of a ship. The attention in detail in this production was fantastic, from the way they made the smoke, seem like water, to the faint cricket’s chirping in the background in the scenes. The sound, and music was wonderful, and made the play not unlike a musical, with songs and music, aiding to the drama and the transitions. The transitions were very slick, mostly due to the fantastic set. Almost like a clock, the ‘ship’ rotated, to reveal different spaces in the island. And the dressing of the set was brilliant, again the attention to detail was fantastic. Each space, had a completely different feel to it.

The cast were brilliant of course. Tamara Lawrance, Viola, brought a brilliant innocence, to the role, whilst playing her fiercely, and wise. And her chemistry with Oliver Chris, Orsino, both as Cesario and Viola, bringing another aspect to the play, that I had completely disregarded. That Orsino, was so determined to marry Olivia, because he had feelings for Cesario. Oliver Chris, was a brilliant Orsino, and brought a David Tennant-ish quality to the role, somewhat reminiscent of Benedick. However, Daniel Rigby, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Tim McMullan, Sir Toby Belch, were fantastic. They were both energetic, bringing more comedy to the show. With the drunken energy, coming from McMullan, and an innocence to the ‘tyrants’ coming from Rigby.  Imogen Doel, Fabia, or the Fool, brought the whole piece together, with a beautiful voice, and fantastic physicality in her acting. Malvolia, Tamsin Greig, was of course brilliant, her Malvolia, was stern, but still, somehow, likeable. And her ‘burlesque’ reveal of the yellow stockings was worthy of it’s own act.

All the gender-bending in this production was really great, and highlighted so many different relationships, and emotions that are often tossed aside in this play. Although, it may have dawdled in parts. This production was brilliant, because it was fun – it didn’t take itself too seriously, and every detail was thought of- from the costumes, to the bottles that Sir Toby drunk from.

Top productions of 2016

Another year has passed, and despite this one being particularly bad, there was still lots and lots of theatre. So here are my top five productions of 2016, excluding the fringe- it just became impossible to narrow down to five, if I included the fringe. I may do another post describing my top five fringe productions.

5. Lazarus at the Kings Cross Theatre

08lazarusjpsub-master675Now this may be, that it is the last production I saw, but at No.5, it’s Lazarus. The new musical, written by David Bowie, another icon we lost this year. It was a melancholic and thought-provoking story, with suitable music, and a very dystopic production. The visual images created were something to be in awe of. As I said a beautiful chaotic mess of a show.

 

4. I am Thomas at the Lyceum

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Politically charged and hilariously funny, it’s I am Thomas from the Lyceum, which I saw in March. The Direction and the ensemble’s work pulled off a fantastic show with a great vision, all about freedom  of speech, in the height of the Je Suis Charlie movement. The music was brilliant, adding another layer to this piece- it was like an onion…

3. The Shakespeare Trilogy at the Donmar.

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Okay, so I know I’m cheating a little bit, but I struggled picking just five shows, and they did have the same cast and director- basically. The Shakespeare trilogy consisted of The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and King Henry IV. It was an entirely female cast, and set in a female prison. I had some qualms about Julius Caesar, however the production was made clear, when I saw Henry IV. The Three shows worked as an entity, but also separately. The productions were creative, heartfelt and sorely needed. Setting Shakespeare in a modern environment was something that needed to be explored in mainstream theatre, also with a diverse and female cast it broke the stereotype of an old white english man performing Shakespeare.  The productions were fantastical, mythical and scary at some points. Definitely some of the best Shakespeare I’ve seen.

2. The Glass Menagerie at the Edinburgh International Festival.

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I wasn’t actually going to go see this, I absolutely  hated the play when I studied it – it was boring and nothing happened in it. The ending was not satisfying, and I just didn’t get the characters, except maybe Tom, though I even found him to be a bit of a lad. I even wrote an epilogue for it, which was how unsatisfying I found the ending. (It was a terrible epilogue by the way. When I was younger I was under the delusion I could write scripts…) Anyway a friend convinced me to go with the one sentence ‘there is such beauty in the mundane’  And he was so right. I managed to snap up one ticket for the last night- I may have left work early for it… oops, but I decided I had to see it. And I am so glad I did. It has to be one of the most poignant and beautiful productions I have seen this year. The set was unbelievable, the direction and acting was brilliant, and I saw the beauty in the mundane. In the characters I hated, I found redemption, and the ending turned from unsatisfying to almost hopeful. The music was amazing. The whole production was poetically serendipitous, showing these damaged characters as fragile as glass. It brought meaning to the meaningless. And a quote – “Time is the longest distance between two places” , has earned a place on my laptop.

 

Drum roll please for my top production of 2016…. (It won’t come as a surprise I assume…)

 

  1. In The Heights at The King’s Cross Theatre

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In the Heights is at my No. 1. spot, as  I said is probably not a surprise. I saw this back in February, and I managed to get tickets for £15. In The Heights was written by Lin Manuel Miranda, and it set in the lower east side of Manhattan, in a Latino community in Washington Heights. The main selling point of this show, is of course the music. I watched it in February, and I am still listening to it constantly.  The complex lyrics, with Latino roots was the perfect way to show the core of the inspiration, as Lin Manuel Miranda is an immigrant from Puerto Rico.  I’m absolute sucker for Lin Manuel Miranda, but that is not the only reason. The actors were brilliant, and lovely as well. The youthful charm and energising tone to the performance made it an incredible night. I felt a part of the cast and the community. For once I didn’t want to run up and perform with the actors, because I was already up there. I cringed at what the characters said, and cried when they cried. I could not stop smiling, except you know, when I was crying.  The political connotations came through the comedy, and identity and immigration, were the core aspects of the show. It was full of life and symbolism, and I absolutely loved it.

 

Notable few:

Okay, so I said top 5, but here a few notable ones that I couldn’t just not mention. –

Aladdin: Full of colour and childlike imagination.

The Libertine: The writing in this was brilliant. The characters and story was so sad, but it was shrouded in comedy.

A Night in Miami: The political statements made in this were amazing, and heartbreaking. Along with a beautiful rendition of ‘A change is gonna come’ 

Kinky Boots: An extremely fun night, with fabulous costumes, and an amazing message to help change society for the better.

 

This was a longin. And this is without Fringe productions- eek.  There may be a post coming soon for that. But all in all. I hope 2016 has been great, and here’s hoping 2017 will be even better, and here’s to less loss in the arts world next year.  See you all in 2017!

-Charlie

 

Julius Caesar – Donmar Warehouse

I went to see Julius Caesar, part two, of the Shakespeare Trilogy at the Donmar Warehouse, following The Tempest, yesterday.  Again I got tickets through the Young + Free initiative, which provides 25% of their tickets for free to under 25s. Julius Ceasar is about the rise and fall of the title character, and his betrayer, Brutus.

Again this production was set in a female prison, however it was a far less magical, mythical production, than The Tempest, which I think was very effective in the story it was telling. The theatre in the round aided to make a truly visually and audio immersive production. And the whole tone of the production was great Switching, from comedic, to eerie, to poetically tragic. It had a good pace, and the sound and lighting all aided to the shifts in the tone.

The whole cast were brilliant. I was so excited to see them again, as it is the same cast in The Tempest. Their connection to every audience member, I would have to say, made the production for me. Their interaction, their conviction and the true grittiness of their performance was perfect. There were moments that were just so realistic, you forgot that you were watching a performance in a theatre, you thought you were watching inmates perform Shakespeare, and it just made you really uncomfortable. Especially from Harriet Walter, who was usually the cause of this uncomfortableness. Also Jade Anouka, who played Mark Antony, brought a really playful aspect to the play. My favourite scene had to be the funeral. The rhythmic presentation, aided with the lighting and the rest of the cast, was very empowering and riling.

The production was full of different ideas and conventions, which I loved, individually. However, I felt like there were too many, and none of which, that they were really committed to. It mixed and matched too much.  I loved them all at the time, but in looking back at it, they didn’t seem to follow through in the whole production, and it just left me quite confused.

Overall, it was an amazing cast, and the director produced an extremely immersive and tense production, which was very enjoyable to watch.

Finally, I wanted to say, that I was really glad to go to the theatre yesterday, especially with all that had happened in the U.S. I thought Theatre is the perfect way to escape this, but the thing is, is every performance is influenced by outside events. As much as I tried to forget about Donald Trump, I couldn’t help but see his reflection in Julius Caesar, or at least the Caesar that Brutus paints. The rise and fall of his, and Brutus’ power and the eventual fall of Rome to Octavius, felt like a weird dystopia, that felt familiar, and oddly foreshadowing.