Thursday, February 29

Tag: Hampstead Theatre

Octopolis – Hampstead Theatre 
London

Octopolis – Hampstead Theatre 

An intellectual combat merges into a confused love affair. What sounds like a common trope, lays the ground for an interesting philosophical debate, when a pet octopus called Francis is the axis around which their relationship pivots. Professor George Gray (Jemma Redgrave), a mildly eccentric, behavioural biologist shares her space with Francis who lives in a purpose-built tank. When anthropology student Harry (Ewan Miller), barges into their space, with permission from the University to carry out his own research, George’s dogma is threatened. As the two argue and bond, and argue some more, they unveil their flaws. The delivery is clinical and methodical, mirroring the scientific content of the dialogue. Both speak as if presenting their own findings to the audience, momentarily br...
Stumped – Hampstead Theatre
London

Stumped – Hampstead Theatre

How would a game of cricket with two Nobel prizes of literature playing in one of the teams unravel? In Stumped, we get to see a hypothesis about it, with touches of surrealism all around. In this play, written by Shomit Dutta, and directed by Guy Unsworth, the audience finds Samuel Beckett, played by Stephen Tompkinson, and Harold Pinter, played by Andrew Lancel, in a game of cricket and its aftermath, trying to get back home. The slightly outrageous situations that come up, including a ball in the head, and the fear to wait or be alone, make this play an interesting take on a non-naturalistic style of theatre. The stage, beautifully designed by David Woodhead, is like painting. This leads one to think that what we'll see will be a creation, no matter what. The walls on the stage a...
<strong>Sons of the Prophet – Hampstead Theatre</strong>
London

Sons of the Prophet – Hampstead Theatre

I begin watching any show by giving it my full attention, like any respectful audience member. But how long can one keep the focus if the production doesn’t meet you halfway? Sons of the Prophet, unfortunately, doesn’t do much to keep the audience engaged through story or performance. The production design by Samal Blak is elaborate, with the stage accommodating multiple settings spanning across two levels. Such expanse is more typical to larger shows and musicals that have larger-than-life storytelling. For this story exploring the intimacies of a family in rural Pennsylvania, constantly moving across different spaces in 105 minutes took away from the inner conflict and intricate complexities of the themes being explored. Each scene is titled like a book chapter and takes place in a d...
The Snail House – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Snail House – Hampstead Theatre

A new play written and directed by Richard Eyre is something to look forward to.  Neil Marriot an eminent paediatrician and recent scientific adviser to the government during the pandemic, think Chris Whitty or Patrick Valance, is preparing to celebrate both his birthday and his elevation to a knighthood.  Unfortunately, the meticulously planned celebrations are marred by the internecine warfare between the members of his dysfunctional family and the revelation of a historic medical misjudgement with appalling consequences. There are topical themes aplenty in this piece:  management of the pandemic, enduring class divisions, the incompetence of contemporary politicians, Brexit, race, the inequalities of private and public education, north/ south divisions and even refere...
The Fever Syndrome – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Fever Syndrome – Hampstead Theatre

Alexis Zegerman’s new play takes the form of a sitcom with heightened drama, raising thought-provoking questions about science, morality and sociology. The Myers family are united to witness their father receiving his lifetime of achievement award for his contribution towards IVF treatment. Dr Richard Myers suffers from Parkinsons disease and as his children co-habit under one roof, along with his new wife, tensions ensue as they grapple for his inheritance and as wounds of the past are reopened. The play is packed full of different topics for speculation, but perhaps the most pertinent and most interesting is the difference between parenting and raising a child and the physical ability to create new life. The set designed by Lizzie Clachan is grandiose, the interior of a three-storey ...
The Forest – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Forest – Hampstead Theatre

French playwright Florian Zeller describes his plays as ‘little labyrinths in which we can get lost, and sometimes, find ourselves’.   This play is a masterpiece by the writer, in which its cleverness holds your mind hostage so that it is cornered and coerced into exploring the avenues that the plot leads you down.  Written in French, translator Christopher Hampton has interpreted Zeller’s nuances and according to Zeller, their collaboration comes from his deep respect for Hampton’s great sensitivity and precision. It is important to explain that the cleverness of this play is not only due to the writing, but the director Jonathan Kent’s interpretation of the writing, which encourages designer Anna Fleischle to create a three-set stage to enable the cast to play out this...
Night, Mother – Hampstead Theatre
London

Night, Mother – Hampstead Theatre

Marsha Normon’s 1983 Pulitzer-winning drama “‘night, Mother” returns to the Hampstead Theatre after its European premiere at the same venue in 1985. Directed by artistic director Roxana Silbert and designed by Ti Green, this two-hander explores the complicated relationship between a mother and a daughter in what would have otherwise been an ordinary, quiet evening in their isolated house in the rural American hinterlands. Touching upon the themes of suicide, mental health and isolation, the show unfolds as a series of conversations between the two characters about a disturbing decision that awaits them, and us in the audience, at the end of the night. With measured performances by Stockard Channing and Rebecca Night, it is a hauntingly gripping experience that seeks to remind us about the...
The Memory of Water – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Memory of Water – Hampstead Theatre

English playwright Shelagh Stephenson’s comedy returns to the Hampstead Theatre, where it was first staged in 1996, in a new revival directed by Alice Hamilton. The play deals with themes of grief and remembrance told through conversations between three sisters (and their partners) in the aftermath of their aged mother Vi’s death. Between managing the arrangements for the funeral and coming to terms with the reality of their mother’s demise, the sisters, namely Teresa, Catherine and Mary, begin to unpack incidents and conversations from the past. These “fleeting” strolls down memory lane are neither pleasant nor particularly therapeutic, for their confronted by personal demons and shared resentments they’ve held on to for far too long. The tension between them is characterized by the dysf...
The Two Character Play – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Two Character Play – Hampstead Theatre

After its world premiere in 1967 at the very same theatre, Tennessee William’s The Two Character Play returns to Hampstead Theatre in a spellbinding production directed by Sam Yates. When the play was originally written, its writing style was panned by critics as being “too experimental” and categorized as a marked departure from William’s earlier texts that now serve as his dramatic legacy. However, it’s this very departure from the tradition that allows the Hampstead production to shine, combining a multitude of modern-day visual storytelling techniques and a stellar performance by its cast to create a magical and moving experience. As Yates adds, the intent is to create “a theatrical event that will showcase everything that's vital about the live experience” and it succeeds in doing pr...
The Death of A Black Man – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Death of A Black Man – Hampstead Theatre

In 1975, The Death of a Black Man by Aflred Fogan made its premiere at the Hampstead Theatre. 46 years later, the darkly compelling drama makes a return to its Main House as part of an effort to remember, and celebrate, a range of plays from every era of Hampstead’s history. Directed by Dawn Walton and starring Natalie Simpson, Toyin Omari-Kinch and Nickcolia King-N’da, this show captures the trials and tribulations of young working class Black British citizens as they set out to carve a future for themselves and the limits to which they’ll go in order to succeed. At the centre of the story is a flat in Chelsea, London where we meet Shakie, played by King-N’da, an 18-year old entrepreneur whose business of selling African art and handicraft items (which are actually sourced locally fro...