Saturday, March 28, 2009

Theater review updates

London Marathon Training: Week 15 of 19
Saturday target run: 1 hour 30 minutes

After living in a country for 15 months, the Budman and I would have now been well into exploring the countryside of our new adopted country, checking out the villages and scenery, and getting the feel of life outside of London. Not so this far; it is not because we are not interested (we definitely are!) and not because we have been too busy at work (which we have but that is beside the point). We have had plenty of time to play all things considered.

Here is the thing. There is way to many things to do in the London area every weekend and it seems we are constantly checking something new out in the city. I know…that will have to subside at some point, but for now, we are simply having too much fun in London.

One of the things we have majorly embraced is the theater scene…merciful heavens, we see 2-3 shows a month! Several of them having fantastic actors in them…BIG names! And the good news is that we have 6-8 more already in the queue…

So, in no particular order, a brief synopsis of our theatrical amusements of late…

(1) Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie with Brenda Blethyn
Review: Not my favourite Williams play but a popular one for most audiences. Clearly any actress worth her salt has to have played and included in her acting repertoire the role of Amanda Wingfield. Brenda’s performance was solid and not over the top but previous productions with other actresses in the role, such as Jessica Lange, left this one lacking for me. Sorry.
Verdict: 2 out of 4 thumbs up.


(2) William’s Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with Derek Jacoby
Review: A Donmar production with a modern updated feel to an old favourite. A good strong cast, with Derek Jacoby being quite funny and perfect for the role of Malvolio. A bit long but heck…it’s on Bill’s comedies so hang in there till the end.
Verdict: 3 out of 4 thumbs up.


(3) Hairspray
Review: Charming, a real foot-tapper, and entirely entertaining. Great costumes!!!!!!!! No way you can go wrong with a ticket to this one.
Verdict: 4 out of 4 thumbs up.


(4) Complicit with Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth McGovern, and David Suchet
Review: Interesting premise of how the media under the mantel of freedom of the press can actually hinder/escalate/further incite national issues, such as the case of this play, terrorism. A candid look from both sides of the fence. I was actually looking forward to seeing Dreyfuss perform under Kevin Spacey’s direction at the Old Vic. Hear later that his lines were being fed through an earpiece. In either case, thought provoking but I walked away feeling like unsatisified.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 4 thumbs up.


(5) Lloyd George Knew My Father
Review: OK, a traditional and very popular William Douglas Home play from the 1960’s with some old school UK theatre alums. The main reason I wanted to see the play was because Claire Bloom, an Old Hollywood and English acting legend, was set to take on the lead role. Sadly, she bailed on the part due to personal reasons. The actors in the play were quite charming and it was a nice Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. The missing Bloom was a disappointment for me, though; hence the ...
Verdict of 2.5 out of 4 thumbs up.

Lloyd George Knew My Father

(6) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Review: I admit it…this is my FAVORITE musical of the “oldies but goodies”. Even with this production being a local Richmond production, I found I could not stay away from it…especially being it was on Valentine’s Day! Sadly, too many memories of Howard Keel made it tough for me to find the actor who played the lead role of Adam Pontipee as credible. I mean, no backwoodsman from 1870’s Oregon would pronounce the word “territory” (TERH-rih-tor-ree) as “TERH-rih-tree”. Plus, he was really a little physically frail to play the burly guy and was a true tenor singing a strong bass role. OK, so I did not like his rendition. The gal who played Maggie, though, was quite charming. Even so, old favorites can hide a multitude of sins.

Verdict: 2.75 out of 4 thumbs up. The little extra rating was only b/c the dancing was really good, and I liked the song Those Women Were Sabine. Even now, I can hear Howard singing in my ear.

7 brides for 7 brothers

(7) Billy Elliott – The Musical
Review: One of the best musicals showing in the West End right now. Wow! The dancing, especially the tap portion, was simply amazing. My favorite dance sequences were: (a) the frustrated Billy taps against the backdrop of the mineworkers’ union riots and (b) the ballet dream sequence between a young and older Billy. I’d see it again, if for no other reason to see how the other “3 “Billys” would perform the same role.
Verdict: A very strong 4 out of 4 thumbs up.


(8) Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain with James McAvoy

Review: Compelling drama full of the human frailty and foibles in us all. I very much liked it, although the play was in no way a reflection of why I dozed during the early portions…it was simply that a week of full-on sightseeing was starting to take its toll. McAvoy was quite good, especially in the dual role of the stuttering Ned. In my view, the best performance was Lyndsey Marshal’s Lina with her dead-on Southern accent. For that matter, this three person cast got all the US accents perfectly…given they were all UK actors.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 4 thumbs up.

3 days of rain


Anonymous said...

what else do you have on tap? I'm going to try to see a few other shows before i leave nyc for london. we have tix for a little night music the week we're over to look for a flat. i love sondheim and that's one show i haven't seen.


Hachie Gal said...

there are a ton of shows you might consider...including Oliver...which has Rowan Atkinson (and we have not seen). he is only in it till July 18th. We already have tickets to see (1) Juliet Stevenson's play A DUET FOR ONE, (2)Ian McClellan and Patrick Stewart in WAITING FOR GODOT, (3) Jude Law in HAMLET, (4) and Mary Elizabeth Mastriantonio in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE. There are still alot of musicals I ahve never seen so I should start hitting the 1/2 price tickets for them...LION KING, LES MIS, and SUNET BOULEVARD. There is an interesting rendition of SUNSET running now that has been innovatively staged....we'll see...we are busy from now till June though.

Anonymous said...

sunset blvd is great. saw it years ago in london also.