Friday, December 2

London

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...
Jane Clegg – The Finborough Theatre
London

Jane Clegg – The Finborough Theatre

This revival of a 1913 play was written at the time of the Suffragette Movement, which writer St John Ervine (an Ulster dramatist), had an interest in, as he supported the Suffragette’s.   It is rumoured that Ervine was standing close to Emily Davison on Derby Day 1913 when she threw herself under the King’s horse. Dr Andrew Maunder from the University of Herefordshire was working on a project about performance of ‘World War I Theatre’ and the focus is to help to revive World War I plays. In this connection, Dr Maunder worked with Neil McPherson at the Finborough Theatre to stage this revival which had previously been performed at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester (now demolished) and transferred to the Royal Court Theatre, London. Dame Sybil Thorndike took on the original rol...
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
London

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies and is widely performed worldwide, with one of its many delights being the three interconnected stories within one overarching theme with the further added bonus of a fourth story if you count the hilarious rendition of Pyramus and Thisbe at the end. In a cleverly choreographed battle scene opening, we meet the Duke, Theseus (John Light), and his newly conquered betrothed, Hippolyta (Michelle Terry), whose animosity crackled across the stage. Egeus (Edward Peel) interrupts proceedings to complain about his daughter, Hermia (Olivia Ross), who loves Lysander (Luke Thompson) despite her father’s preferred match of Demetrius (Joshua Silver), who in turn is unwelcomingly pursued by Helena (Sarah MacRae). Hermia’s choice...
La Fille mal gardée – The Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House
London

La Fille mal gardée – The Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House

Based on a 1789 French ballet originally created by Jean Dauberval, Frederick Ashton’s final full-length ballet for The Royal Ballet premiered in 1960, with this joyous and colourful affair a fiftieth revival from 2010. Inspired by his love for the Suffolk countryside, the piece is set on a farm and tells the story of the burgeoning love between Lise (Marianela Nuñez), the daughter of Widow Simon (William Tuckett), and Colas (Carlos Acosta), a local farmer. But Widow Simone has far more ambitious plans for her only daughter and is determined that she marry Alain (Jonathan Howell), the half-witted son of a wealthy landowner (Christopher Saunders). The only question is, will love win the day? The ballet displays some of Ashton’s most virtuoso choreography in a ballet laced with exuberanc...