Wednesday, December 2

London

Amadeus – National Theatre
London

Amadeus – National Theatre

Director Michael Longhurst’s 2016 production of Peter Shaffer’s iconic play is a stunning piece of theatre starring Lucian Msamati as Salieri alongside Adam Gillen as Mozart with the musicians of Southbank Sinfonia cleverly weaved into the action providing live accompaniment to the story. We begin at Salieri’s end as he recalls the almost Faustian bargain he made with God at the age of sixteen: to become a fêted and famous composer in exchange for living a virtuous life and honouring God at every turn. Fast forward to 1881 Vienna and all Salieri’s dreams have come true in the court of Emperor Joseph II (Tom Edden). But nobody expected Mozart. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A rowdy young prodigy who arrives with his wife to be, Constanze (Karla Crome), determined to leave his mark  Wh...
Romeo and Juliet – The Royal Ballet
London

Romeo and Juliet – The Royal Ballet

I have a confession to make. Before today I had never watched a ballet in full. Sure, I had seen clips, and as a dancer myself (although clearly not a classical one) I’ve seen many contemporary productions, but never a ballet. Such is the benefit of companies such as The Royal Opera House streaming past productions online – you can give yourself new experiences from the comfort of your own home. Despite me knowing nothing about ballet, I am however much more experienced in the works of the Bard and have played Juliet myself on several occasions. For this reason, I found the story very easy to follow, and could clearly identify who each of the characters were. As in many of Shakespeare’s plays, the female characters are few and far between, but in this production the women were given mo...
The Deep Blue Sea – National Theatre
London

The Deep Blue Sea – National Theatre

Terence Rattigan was one of the finest playwrights of his generation and over the course of many years he wrote some outstanding pieces of work for the theatre. The Deep Blue Sea is probably the best play from his repertoire, an absolute masterpiece set in post-war Britain and centred around a woman caught between worlds and realising that passion can sometimes suffocate and harm. Rattigan’s beautifully constructed play explores many issues including those of mental health, self-worth and self-esteem. The play is set over one day in a flat in West London, it’s 1952 where  we first meet Hester Collyer (Helen McCrory) trying to “end it all” but through the intervention of other people who also live in the building, she thankfully fails. Hester just needs to be heard, to be loved and...
La Bohème – Royal Opera House
London

La Bohème – Royal Opera House

By the time it was retired in 2015, the Royal Opera’s previous production of La Bohème, directed by John Copley, had notched up 25 revivals in its 41-year history, so the pressure was on for its 2017 replacement, directed by Richard Jones and with sets and costumes by Stewart Laing, for what is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide. The play is set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in about 1830 where on Christmas Eve we meet four struggling bohemians living in a garret: a poet, Rodolfo (Michael Fabiano); a painter, Marcello (Mariusz Kwiecień); a philosopher, Colline (Luca Trittoto); and a musician, Schaunard (Florian Sempes), who arrives having had some good fortune and they agree to celebrate by dining at Café Momus. They are interrupted by their landlord, Benoît (Jeremy ...
Les Blancs – National Theatre at Home
London

Les Blancs – National Theatre at Home

Writer Lorraine Hansberry was a remarkable woman who, despite her early death at age 34, conquered Broadway as the first black writer to see her play ‘Raisin in the Sun’ performed on stage in 1959.  She followed her father into activism and wrote for the newspaper ‘Freedom’, working alongside Africans and African Americans.  This work; and seeing a production called ‘Les Negres’ (The Blacks), inspired Hansberry to write ‘Les Blancs’, which she began writing in 1960 and completed it just before her death.   After her death the play was adapted by her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff.  The 1970 Broadway production was staged at the Longacre Theatre and the National Theatre’s production took place in 2016. The play follows the visit of journalist Charlie Morris (Elliot ...
Lungs – The Old Vic: In Camera
London

Lungs – The Old Vic: In Camera

On a deserted Old Vic stage Claire Foy and Matt Smith give us a fly on the wall insight into their character’s turbulent relationship. Yes, I did say they are standing on a stage, a sight that warms the cockles as the theatre going public have been starved of their beloved live theatre, The Old Vic have given us a chance to submerge ourselves in this tsunami of emotional drama. Due to social distancing requirements, the set is minimalistic and has been painted a dark grey and the designer Rob Howell appears to have co-ordinated the couple’s wardrobe to blend in. The show is directed by Matthew Warchus and is broadcast via good old Zoom which splits the two so that they can be brought together on screen without being too close to each other on stage. This works well with this production...
Woolf Works – The Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House
London

Woolf Works – The Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House

Wayne McGregor’s ballet triptych created in 2015 is inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf and contains an original score by Max Richter – superbly performed by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Koen Kessels – with astounding lighting schemes from Lucy Carter and stunning set designs throughout. Woolf Works recreates the emotions, themes, and fluid style of three of Woolf’s novels beginning with ‘I Now, I Then’ inspired by Mrs Dalloway (1925); then ‘Becomings’ derived from Orlando (1928); concluding with ‘Tuesday’, which draws on The Waves (1931). The three pieces stand alone as distinctly as the works that inspire them although there is a chronology with underlying threads that seamlessly bring them together, most notably the central performance from 52-year old ...
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Bridge Theatre
London

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Bridge Theatre

Gwendoline Christie (Titania), Oliver Chris (Oberon), David Moorst (Puck) and Hammed Animashaun (Bottom) lead an ensemble cast of actors, acrobats, singers and dancers in The Bridge Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, currently streaming on YouTube as part of the National Theatre's online programme. The production's advertising calls it “Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedy”. Even in a sentence in which every word is necessary (no one could call it Shakespeare's most famous play, or his most famous romance) it is a bit of an over-statement, not just because of other, possibly more famous ones such as Much Ado About Nothing, but also due to the play itself: the romance is the least interesting thing about it. Even the “comedy” aspect isn't its main feature as, like happens with mo...
The Magic Flute – Royal Opera House
London

The Magic Flute – Royal Opera House

Mozart’s The Magic Flute is a wonderful tale of princes, giant serpents, mysterious temples and birdcatchers. An enchanting damsel in distress meets a hilarious nonsensical birdman in this vibrant opera which is one of the most performed in the world today. Conducted by Julia Jones and directed by David McVicar, this funny show has plenty of peril and drama and is performed in the original German with English subtitles. The opera opens with beautifully energetic music before we see Tamino (Mauro Peter) fighting with a giant serpent. The serpent is a well-constructed puppet, controlled by several cast members, and its appearance and the dexterity of the performers mean that it is no surprise Tamino is losing the battle. He loses consciousness before being rescued by three ladies (Rebecc...
Small Island – National Theatre Live
London

Small Island – National Theatre Live

Andrea Levy’s Small Island is one of those novels which drags you in and doesn’t let you go and Helen Edmundson’s theatrical adaptation has perfectly captured its spirit. Directed by Rufus Norris, this is a vibrant piece of drama which beautifully tells the story of Hortense, Queenie, Bernard and Gilbert and their lives in 1940s Jamaica and Britain. Opening with a vintage film about the Caribbean, the play has an immersive atmosphere from the start as the actors step out of the film onto the stage. A revolving stage and exits and entrances through the stage floor create a sense of space as the projected scenery beautifully creates the various places the characters inhabit, from the busy streets of Kingston to the bombed out landscape of London’s post-war streets. The first character...