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Fri, 25 Jun 2010

Theatre review: Comedy Of Errors

The Open Air Theatre in Regents Park is one of my favourite theatres EVAR, matched only, perhaps, by the Minack theatre in Cornwall. I go to Regents Park most years for one of their excellent productions of Mr. Shakespeare's work.

This year it was the Comedy of Errors. I'll not bother to review the play itself, because if you don't already know and appreciate it you are a barbarian and Philistine. The production is worth a few words though.

Set in French North Africa in the 1930s, it is faithful to the script but also with a few song n' dance numbers. I wonder if these were lifted from the 1977 musical version? Anyway, they are entirely in keeping with Shakespeare, whose comedies in particular were the mass-market entertainment of his day. The acting is mostly good - it was perhaps a bit stilted early on, but the main cast soon got going properly. The minor characters of Aegeon and the Duke didn't have the time to de-stilt themselves though, and Aegeon's opening speech was quite wearisome.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable performance, and I recommend it.

Posted at 11:08 by David Cantrell
keywords: culture | theatre
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Theatre review: ENRON

Seeing that one of my Canuckistani visitors this week is an accountant, and also (mainly, to tell the truth) because someone at work recommended it, I took Mistress Beanie to see ENRON at the Noël Coward theatre a coupla days ago.

I can see why some of the critics didn't like it: the US critics wouldn't have liked the making obvious of the connections between political corruption, greed, and crass nationalism, and the making explicit of at least some of the bad guys being devoutly religious. It gets loud and in yer face about how this is the result of the "American Dream". Other critics would have hated the loud, modern music, the couple of musical numbers in what is otherwise a straight play, the use of video, and the decidedly modernist set design.

But they were all wrong. It's a great play - lively, flamboyant even, telling a great story (that it's a true story doesn't really matter much), and does a surprisingly good job of explaining what went on at Enron. I liked it a lot, and recommend it.

Posted at 10:40 by David Cantrell
keywords: culture | theatre
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Fri, 21 Nov 2008

Lotty's War

Last night, I went to see Lotty's War in Greenwich. Mostly because my cousin Suzie was involved in the production, but I'm glad I went as it was a really good performance of an excellent script. The reviewer for The Stage says most of what I wanted to say, but misses out a couple of minor things that I think are important. First, Michael Fenner's fake German accent is very good. It's not the parody that is more common in drama, and even better, it is consistent for the full nearly two hours. Second, he is portrayed as an honourable man, doing his duty even when it pains him - a very sympathetic character, who really stole the show.

It's such a shame that the audience was so small - the theatre wasn't even a quarter full. Now, admittedly this was a mid-week performance and things might be better at weekends, but I suppose it's an inevitable result of being a low-budget production in a small, out-of-the-way theatre, without the production having any ties to the area. The good thing about that, on the other hand, is that tickets are available, and now that you know it's worth going to, YOU WILL GO, LEST I HUNT YOU DOWN AND MAKE A BELT FROM YOUR ENTRAILS.

Here's the box office details and how to get there. It closes on the 7th of December, and you can probably just turn up on the night and get a ticket on the door.

Posted at 22:40 by David Cantrell
keywords: culture | theatre
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Sun, 26 Oct 2008

Burial At Thebes

[originally posted on 25 Oct 2008]

How terribly remiss of me! A couple of weeks ago I went with three other Daves (Dave Hodgkinson, Dave Dorward and Dave Mannsåkker) to see Burial at Thebes - a new opera, libretto by Seamus Heaney, music by Dominique Le Gendre, a Carribean composer - at the Globe. It sets to music Heaney's well-regarded translation of Sophocles's Antigone. It's splendidly tragic.

I enjoyed it. The professional reviewers didn't. They didn't like the music. Probably because it didn't use a vast orchestra and a hundred wailing sopranos all wobbling frantically in a doomed effort to find the right note.

If you're an actual musician, with a broad mind and catholic tastes (hell, there's even a litle bit of rapping in here, when King Creon talks about the duties of the individual and the state - so it's the good kind of rapping, as opposed to illiterate shouty shit) then you should go and see this if you get the chance. It was planned to also play in Liverpool and Oxfnord after the two London shows, but because I've been so goddamned slack, those shows have probably already been and gone. Ah well, it's bound to surface again at some point. Perhaps in twenty or so years when the fuddy-duddies currently getting paid for writing reviews have had the good manners to Fuck Off And Die.

update: It seems that the Independent's reviewer hated it a bit less than the others. He still gets it wrong though - for example, he praises the singing of the Minister of the Admiralty (who was good) but doesn't praise the singing of Creon (who was better). But particularly of note is that he says "the orchestral score was deft and atmospheric", so at least we have one reviewer with a musical Clue. This guy's main criticism is of Derek Walcott's direction. I didn't think it was too shabby myself, but I can see why he would think like he does. So, maybe just another 15 years to wait for a re-run instead of 20.

Posted at 13:28 by David Cantrell
keywords: culture | music | opera | review-of-reviews | theatre
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