Review: Henry VIII

It is a gloriously humid early evening in May with crystal clear blue skies.  Surely there could be no better back drop for The Globe’s opening night of Henry VIII, one of Shakespeare’s most sumptuous works.  But for all this production’s beautiful framework (both natural and Angela Davies’ lustrous setting) this King does not, in literature at least, live up to the renown of his predecessors.  For whilst Henry VIII contains flashes of Shakespeare’s celebrated genius, for the most part it is too solidly set in the commonplace to be truly great.

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Review: Tick, Tick…Boom!

The tick, tick, ticking that can be heard at the beginning of Jonathan (RENT) Larson’s autobiographical musical is not some fault in the machinery, we are assured, but instead the palpable sound of one person’s mounting detonating anxiety.  Well he gets that right at least; as a cavalcade of mundane melodies full of banal platitudes bombards the stage in the interminable Tick, Tick…Boom!, this person definitely feels like exploding.

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May Midnight Matinee: The Curious Case of the Disappearing Audience

Just where was the audience at last week’s Tristan Bates Midnight Matinee? In 2009 it was one of Time Out’s picks of the year garnished with incredibly positive audience feedback.  But there’s no denying that it was both disappointingly flat on Saturday and woefully under attended.  I had experienced a similar feeling at the last one.  Was my experience a freak incident or proof that this initially arresting idea may be losing its attraction through the very gimmicks that it once sold itself on so proudly?

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My Mother Said I Never Should

My Mother Said I Never Should is a deeply problematic play.  Add that to the issues inherent with mounting a school production and you’ve got a match made in hell. Or not, as I found out on Tuesday night as I was drawn into the RHS Players’ emotionally cutting performance at The Royal High School in Bath.  It’s not that it was smooth or well produced.  It’s not that it was a tight superlative production of a difficult post feminist 80’s play. But it was full of integrity and raw talent, something not often seen on most professional stages.

It’s quite perturbing to see a play about difficult mother / daughter relationships if one of the actresses is your mother.  And so this cannot be an impartial review, and I flag it up as no such thing right now.  Rather this is a train of thought on a piece that, although magnificently rough around the edges, hit the gut when it mattered.

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Interview – David Gale / Dash Dash Dash: The Omnibus

I’m meeting David Gale outside the red post box by Costa Coffee in the middle of Waterloo Station.  The station is my choice but the meeting place his – “Let’s meet by the red pillar box outside Costa’s” he says somewhat conspiratorially “I’ll be the one wearing the long blue overcoat”. 

Whilst this could be taken simply as practical meeting arrangements, Gale somehow manages to imbue the whole thing with a sense of adventure.  I have to stop myself from confirming that I’ll be the one wearing the red carnation.

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Interview – Howard Barker

Written for Whats On Stage

Whilst the nation is in the thralls of political discussion one writer remains defiantly apolitical.  The Howard Barker Festival, opening today at Riverside Studios, is about sacrifice; but whilst this concept will ring true with people in the middle of a recession, it is not an association that he would welcome.  Howard Barker has no respect for the conventional belief that theatre is there to ‘say something’; “Do you ask that question of modern abstract art? No. So why is theatre such a slave to the need to educate?”

So what drives him as a writer? “I am driven by personal crises” he states after some thought. And has he solved any of them yet? “Clearly not!” 

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