February Picks

img_8991So for February I’ve got the following plays booked up:

9 to 5 The Musical @ Savoy Theatre – the classic comedy film from 80s brought to life as a musical with songs by Dolly Parton, this couldn’t get much camper if it tried!

Berberian Sound Studio @ Donmar Warehouse – probably couldn’t get more of a contrast in film adaptations with Peter Strickland’s darkly comic horror coming to the stage.

Jesus Hopped the A Train @ Young Vic – hoping the combination of the dark comedy set on murderers’ row, written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, will maintain the Young Vic’s impressive new season.

Shipwreck @ Almeida – new play by the tremendous Anne Washburn (Mr Burns will never ever leave me!) and directed by Artistic Director Rupert Goold.

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other @ National Theatre – the ballot-only production with Cate Blanchett that had sold out is now garnering some terrible reviews! Oh well only one way to find out if this is a turkey is to see it myself.

Gently Down the Stream @ Park Theatre is a new play by Martin Sherman who wrote the award-winning play Bent.

And I’m still yet to get around to book the following:

Nine Night @ Trafalgar Studios – having failed to squeeze this in at the end of last year I’ve got to get to see it before it ends its run on 23 February.

The Son @ Kiln – the UK premiere of the latest play from the prolific and intriguing playwright Florian Zeller (The Mother, The Father, The Truth, The Height of the Storm) – I’ve seen every one produced in London over the last few years.

Pinter 7 @ Harold Pinter Theatre – having seen all but Pinter 4 so far, it would be quite nice to add this one with Martin Freeman and Danny Dyer, but we’ll see.


December Picks

December Picks
Photo credits include Merry Wives by Manuel Harlan © RSC; White Teeth by Mark Douet

So for this current month I’ve got the following plays booked up:

Uncle Vanya @ Hampstead Theatre – so I’m a plus one for a friend’s booking, but I never turn down a chance to see a classic.

Merry Wives of Windsor @ Barbican Theatre – the initial reason for booking this was because I’m having a light-hearted competition to have seen all Shakespeare’s plays before another friend, and this one is on my “not seen” list, however this RSC transfer to the Barbican looks like a thoroughly engaging production.

The Convert @ The Young Vic – a powerful new play looking at religion and colonialism set in 1896 in what is now Zimbabwe.

Sweat @ Donmar Warehouse – a UK premiere of a play based on research in 2011 by playwright Lynn Nottage into the lives of the people in one of the poorest cities in the US.  It looks like it might shine a light into some of the root causes behind the Trump’s popularity.

And I’m still yet to get around to book the following

Nine Night @ Trafalgar Studios – because I missed it when it was at the National Theatre.

Pinter 5 & 6 @ The Pinter Theatre – because I’ve now managed to see Pinter 1-3 and the cast includes Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Celia Imrie and John Simm.

White Teeth @ Kiln Theatre – what sounds like a clever adaptation of Zadie Smith’s

And a couple that have been running for a while, that might just get a Christmas outing:

42nd Street @ Theatre Royal – just because some toe-tapping show tunes scream Christmas and now Bonnie Langford is staring

Tina @ Aldywch Theatre – for the music and Adrienne Warren performance



Pinter at the Pinter

Pinter at the Pinter

Harold Pinter Theatre

The first two collections of Pinter’s one act plays will be coming to an end next Saturday 20 October, but there are five more to come, taking the season through into mid February 2019.

Overall it is the scale and ingenuity of putting on a whole season of Pinter’s short one act plays which is most exciting and impressive.  The cast list reads like something of a who’s who of acting. Some names will undoubtedly create buzz and sell tickets, although given the nature of Pinter’s characters it feels like there are going to be many opportunities to see some meaty performances from the whole cast. So whether you want to see Martin Freeman, Celia Imrie, Danny Dyer or Tamsin Greig, or a chance to see some rarely performed (or in the case of The Pres and an Officer, never performed) works by Pinter, there is probably something for everyone.

That said Pinter can be dark. Very dark. Pinter One opens with a barnstorming speech from a politician standing at a podium, complete with patriotic music and red, white and blue confetti cascading down into the stalls. (Amusingly this play opened during conference season). The speech quickly becomes menacing, and you fall very fast into a succession of plays that create a nightmare totalitarian state of violence, suppression and intimidation. What is ingenious about the structure of Pinter One is that whilst there is a feeling of a narrative arc, they were in fact written at completely different times, from the 1980s into the 2000s. To start this Pinter season with such dark and menacing stories clearly chimes with our age, and is a bold statement of intent for the whole season.

Pinter Two comprises of two plays looking at relationships and infidelity: The Lover and The Collection – themes Pinter returns to in perhaps my favourite play of his, Betrayal. Both the plays here were written in the early 1960s, and yet seem fresh and modern, with sharp observations on how couples do or don’t succeed in living and loving.  And whilst Pinter Two is decidedly lighter and a less depressing look at our society than Pinter One, we have now new lenses with which to view these works: #metoo and #timesup make us reflect and question these works afresh.

Perhaps then it is only natural that when we find the laughs, we laugh harder and more raucously.  Jon Culshaw plays an idiot president, dressed of course in a blonde wig, orange makeup and red tie, who accidentally nukes London. David Suchet hilariously camps it up in a silk dressing gown and withering looks worthy of Kenneth Williams at a beefy underwear clad Russell Tovey.  Pinter gives us comedy – usually black comedy or satire – through an insightful observation of the follies of human nature and how we interact with one another.

Whether all of these shorts will stand up to our current time or not is almost not the point. Like the recent successful TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has demonstrated, we need writers, artists and directors to constantly be questioning and challenging the world around us, showing us how fragile our freedoms are, or making us see how ridiculous we can be to one another. It isn’t always comfortable for us sitting in the audience in the dark, but I for one will there for as many of them as I can.

Pinter One Tuesday 25th September (Stalls Q15); Pinter Two – Saturday 13th October (Stalls P13)