[AD- I was invited to review and I received a complimentary ticket to attend]
I always enjoy it when I end up seeing something I wasn’t expecting to see, or which wasn’t on my radar. Seeing as I’ve never been to the Tristan Bates Theatre before, that was exactly the case with this play.
‘Grip’ is the story of a young guy called Trev (played by writer, Scott Howland), who’s living with his father following the death of his mother. It starts out with the whole cast on stage displaying exaggerated behavioural tics, and then they melt away to the side of the stage. Trev displays fairly typical teenage behaviour, including telling his father he’s going travelling, which leads to what I thought was the best line of the whole play ‘you’re getting one of those ‘millennial running-away-from-your-responsibilities’ packages!’ But before any of that can happen, Trev meets Louise in a club…and everything starts to unravel…
I don’t want to give too much of the story away so I’m not going to say much more. But what I will say is that this play is an impressively zeitgeisty look at the important topic of mental health, and how quickly something or someone can fall apart.
Overall: this is a fascinating play performed by a very talented cast. Well worth a watch.
OK, full disclosure. I promised in my last post that I was writing about plays that were still on, and this one is- however it’s completely sold out, except for day seats available from the box office at 10am on the day of the performance. I remain eternally grateful to my friend K who is a member and who booked us tickets a while ago. Why did it sell out so fast?? Need you ask. Because this one-woman show is performed by one of the theatrical greats of our time- Dame Maggie Smith.
She is every bit as brilliant as I expected her to be. So powerful that even though she was sitting on the stage in a fairly large theatre and we were sitting up in the second gallery, it felt like she was speaking directly to us. She portrays Brunhilde Pomsel, a German woman from an unremarkable family, who ended up as the secretary to Goebbels during World War II. Hearing her story was fascinating, and it left me genuinely unsure as to what she did or didn’t know about what happened to the Jews and how they were treated. But even just listening to the behind-the-scenes stories was poignant, with both sad and funny moments.
Overall: Should you queue for this incredibly powerful one-woman show and possibly Dame Maggie Smith’s last performance? Yes, you should.
You will no doubt all have realised that writing contemporaneous blog posts is really not a strength of mine. So I hope you’re as impressed/shocked as I am that today I’m posting not one but TWO posts about plays I saw recently WHICH ARE ACTUALLY BOTH STILL ON. I know, I know…
So everyone knows I love my local theatre, and it’s rare for me to miss any production there. But what’s really exciting is when we get a play that’s Olivier-nominated. ‘The Phlebotomist’ is just that; and what’s more it thoroughly deserves it. I cannot believe that writer Ella Read has come out with THIS for her debut; she is certainly going to be one to watch in the future.
I don’t want to give too much away because watching the story unfold is so brilliant. But if you’ve watched things like ‘Black Mirror’ you’ll have an idea of the basic premise. It’s set in a future where everyone has a ‘blood rating’ based on DNA analysis, which shows how likely they are to have certain diseases or genetic conditions in the future. It goes further in that these ratings start to affect careers, relationships, everything… as the two lead characters (both excellently played by Jade Anouka and Rory Fleck Byrne) start to discover.
It will make you question how you view life, what is important to you and how honest you might be if your life literally depended on it. Once or twice you will laugh, mostly you will gasp. If you’re like us, you will be discussing it for hours afterwards.
Overall: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? It’s on for 2 more weeks. BOOK NOW.
Two Arthur Miller plays in one week? Yes indeed. Not really planned, just one of those strange coincidences. What a shame that they weren’t both up to the same high standard.
Since I’ve already written a glowing review of the previous one, that’s probably already given away that I wasn’t a massive fan of this one. First of all, it’s LONG. 3 solid hours, a testing length for even the best of plays. And I certainly wouldn’t describe this as ‘the best of plays’. It has a good premise- telling the story of the Wall Street Crash and the subsequent Depression, and it’s fascinating to see the different stories being played out. I particularly liked the bit where the girl whose family owns an apartment house becomes popular as everyone wants access to somewhere to live; not to mention the most incisive line in the whole 3 hours, when a black man points out, ‘the Depression only became important when it started affecting white people’.
The staging deserves a mention- played out almost in the round and with live jazz music accompanying some scenes, it showed what the Old Vic does best in innovative theatre.
But. On the whole, I just found it confusing. I didn’t like the use of 3 different sets of actors/actresses to play the main family and I found it really odd how the story jumped around from one thing to another. I was left feeling sad, confused but not with a huge amount of understanding about the Depression.
Overall: Could have been better; a LOT better.
My friend S is my perfect sort of visitor. He gives me LOADS of notice that he’s coming, tells me he’d like to go to the theatre and asks me to do a shortlist of things I’d recommend and then we pick one in collaboration.
As usual I had plenty of ideas, but eventually our choice was the revival of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Price for several reasons. The reviews were excellent. Arthur Miller is usually a reliable choice. And- David Suchet was in it. Sure, I always think of him as ‘Poirot’, but he’s still an actor of immense skill.
And this production didn’t disappoint. Suchet was mesmerising and electric from the moment he first stepped on stage, but the rest of the cast were excellent too- I particularly liked Brendan Coyle as the hard-done-by Victor, and Sara Stewart as his wife who was so proud of her new suit. The relationship between the two brothers and the tension over the financial situation was beautifully drawn out.
A special mention must also go to the set- I’m a sucker for quirky unusual sets and this was one of the best, with a gravity-defying arrangement of furniture!
Overall: a well performed play with a very good cast; the good reviews are well deserved.
Everyone who knows me knows that big slightly-cheesy musicals are my thing (I am SO EXCITED about ‘Evita’ at the Open Air Theatre this summer!) ‘Follies’ also came highly recommended by my friends K and D, so it was always a given that I’d round up a couple of other friends to go and admire the singing and high-kicks.
It probably doesn’t even need saying that I loved it. Janie Dee and Joanna Riding were spectacular as the two former-friends-who-became-love-rivals. ‘Losing My Mind’ was a haunting and fantastic song; indeed, the whole musical score was perfect, huge credit to Sondheim for not even one dud in my opinion.
But what really blew my mind was the dancing. Stunning synchrony and excellent choreography. I left wondering if I could leave my day job and retrain as a showgirl…
Overall: a beautiful, glamourous, huge show.
One of my many slightly random borderline obsessions is Peanuts. I have always, always loved these cartoons- when I was a kid and went to charity shops with my mum (which we did a lot…) the first thing I always looked for was Peanuts books and I usually found some, so I have quite a collection. They never fail to make me smile, not to mention giving me some wisdom- so I was VERY excited to see this exhibition.
It didn’t let me down, but perhaps that’s because I’m such a fan anyway (my friend K who I went with wasn’t so impressed). For me, it was a sheer joy to see some of the original illustrations, videos of Charles Schulz drawing, and to read the background behind the more controversial stories. It’s a tad pricey (well, what I mean is that I don’t get my usual 50% ART FUND discount, so I had to pay full price which I almost never do) but it was totally worth it.
Overall: Peanuts fan? You’ll love it and probably go photo mad… (click below if you want to see more of mine!)
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