I always forget about this thread!
Tomorrow, going to see a West End production of a play I saw in a tiny theatre last year that’s now getting a bigger audience; a revival of William Hoffman’s ‘As Is’, one of the first plays written in the 80s about the slow realisation of the impact of HIV on the gay community. It was a great production in the tiny Finborough last year; a fascinating time capsule of an era.
Recently I’ve seen:
Rory Kinnear in Kafka’s ‘The Trial’, at the Young Vic, which was disappointing. Kinnear’s an immense actor but, despite an energetic and slightly gimmicky production, this was relentlessly tedious. I’m not that great a fan of the text though.
Simon Russell Beale being the absolute legend he is, playing the Canon of St Paul’s in ‘Temple’, which is a dramatisation of the behind the scenes political machinations in the Church when Occupy invaded the grounds of St Paul’s a few years back. Not a great play but a good one, and an excellent supporting cast that included Paul Higgins, who I have a huge amount of time for.
‘Violence and Son’ at the Royal Court which was brilliant; geeky 17 year old has to go and live in Wales with his brutish Dad after his mother’s death. It builds into a fantastically layered study of love gone wrong, and consequences of actions and - in a fine Royal Court tradition - leaves the audience unsure and unsettled at the end. Excellent acting, including Jason Hughes as the dad. (Nearly 20 years since This Life…)
‘The Motherfucker with the Hat’ - love, loss and addiction in New York City. Fast, funny, filthy and delivers a punch by the end. Also, when we saw it had a fairly typical National audience who found the language entertainingly ‘salty’
‘The Red Lion’ - Patrick Marber’s new play, looking at power and corruption at the very lowest level of British football. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Tight cast (including Daniel Mays, who’s always good value) with sharp dialogue that again starts funny but builds to an inevitable but none the led affecting end.
‘Kafka on the Shore’, which adapted Murakami in about as effective way as I can imagine anyone ever adapting Murakami.
‘The Beaux Stratagem’ - restoration era farce; gloriously silly and again, one I liked a lot more than I was expecting to.
‘The Dead Monkey’ - leaden Nick Drake text which felt very misjudged.
‘The Angry Brigade’ - James Graham’s take on the 70s British counter-cultural terrorist group, with a really innovative production that dovetailed the police unit tasked with thinking outside the box to catch the group with the terrorists thenselves, and packed full of energy.
After a bit of initial uncertainty (I really didn’t like ‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’) Rufus Norris’ opening barrage of plays as Director of the National have been really good - great range and excellent quality.