Saturday, 23 March 2013

‘Trelawny of the Wells’ - Donmar Warehouse - Thursday 21st March 2013

(Rated 3.5/5 ) 

I am sure somewhere I read that this play was the writer’s love-letter to the theatre. That was one draw for me. An additional attraction was reading that the leading lady of The Wells, Rose Trelawny, is wooed by a young gentleman who ‘stage-doors’ (my term) her. Now having done that myself in times gone by – stage-dooring my favourite actors that is – and harbouring secret fantasies about the outcomes of those stage-doorings ;), I thought maybe this play would provide a wonderful satisfaction by proxy .
If I were writing a love-letter to the theatre though I reckon it would feel more passionate, but then of course it would feel more passionate to me as I’d be writing it! I am sure it felt very passionate to Arthur Wing Pinero as he wrote his close to autobiographical story. And of course it was set in a very different time and place in which the rules of society were so far removed from our own and now seem a little ludicrous. I don’t think I’m that good at stepping back into 19th Century! I’m much better at stepping back into Shakespeare’s time, but then again he was superb at stepping into any time and making his plays time-less – back, now and even forward. Also I’m not a farce-fan ;)
But getting over my 19th century farcical play issues, this was produced really well. Rose Trelawny (Amy Morgan) is leaving The Wells theatre to marry her successful stage-door suitor, well-to-do gentleman Arthur Gower (Joshua Silver). The players of the company are sad to see her go, but wish her well and give her a great and highly amusing send-off. Amongst them is ‘general-utility’ actor Tom Wrench (Daniel Kaluuya), who also writes plays with dialogue which, as lead-actress-come-theatre-manager Imogen Parrott (Susannah Fielding) comments, is more ‘real’ and less ‘speechy’ – radically different to the plays of the time. Miss Trelawny is obliged, (‘obleeeged’ as Sir William Gower (excellently played by Ron Cook, who also assumes a hilarious Mrs Mossop and pulls off an extraordinarily quick transformation from female to male; dress to suit, at one point), to be parted from her fiance, Mr Gower, during an appropriate – according to Sir William and his sister, Miss Trafalgar Gower (Maggie Steed) – courting period, but Arthur (accident that the writer gave the young stage-doorer his name?! ;)), sneeks out to carry on his courting! Sir William is horrified by the behaviour inspired in his son and the gypsy-ness of his prospective daughter-in-law. Rose in turn feels unable to continue – she doesn’t fit in – and returns to her friends and theatrical family at The Wells. However, is she able to fit back in?! It now seems she can no longer act – or at least can no longer over-act – and is a fish out of water wherever she is.
Meanwhile Imogen Parrot has successfully got funding – after some haggling and humour with Sir William of all people – for her new theatrical venture and the first play to be produced will be that of Tom Wrench. Can Rose Trelawny produce first class acting of the more real variety? And who will come to woo her at the end of the play?
This really is a lot of fun with a great deal more meaning within it than is immediately obvious, dealing with the class issues of the time as well as some eternally fascinating questions around the nature of life and acting and which is which. The ‘new’ acting is what we would now recognise as ‘The Method’. It was staged well and appropriately to the nature of the play, and very well performed by all. Nobody really stood out for me, though - simply because I haven’t already mentioned them - Aimmee-Ffion Edwards, whom I recognised from The Donmar’s production of The Recruiting Officer, was delightful again and Daniel Mays enormous fun as the over-acting thespian Ferdinand Gadd.
A highly entertaining couple of hours.

Trelawney of the Wells – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013

Friday, 1 March 2013

Freud, 1962 - Montgomery Clift Season at the BFI South Bank - 28th February 2013

(Rated 4.5/5.)

In introducing this film Trevor Johnston discussed how director John Huston had thought Montgomery (Monty) Clift's performance was disappointing. There had been many difficulties in the lead up to filming and then law suits followed! Only a few years before, Monty had been in a car accident, following which his life was saved by Elizabeth Taylor, who found him with his face mushed to a pulp up against the dashboard of the car! 
This performance as Freud was so far from being pulp! It could be, and would naturally be, that his way of acting had changed, but maybe for the better! I cannot comment as I have seen him in so little. But the intensity of his portrayal of Freud's thought-process as he observes hysterical patients, works with a particular young lady; played superbly by Suzannah York,  tries out his own new methods to help, studies his own psychology, and comes up with his revolutionary and unpopular theory on the Oedipus Complex, was outstandingly brilliant! Monty's eyes speak volumes!
This film, though of course appearing a little dated, is far superior to the more recent A Dangerous Method and much more convincingly acted by all. 
Hard to see at the cinema but a DVD is available of the full-length cut. For anyone interested in the father of psychoanalysis and/or really good psychological drama, I highly recommend it.

Just a little note of annoyance. I found Screen2 at the BFI absolutely freezing! By the end of the film my hips - from which I suffer some of my restrictedness - were in a lot of pain, and that even when wrapped in my winter coat. Why do cinemas and theatres have to have air-con on full-blast?! I think I may get the DVD myself and watch in full comfort :)

Freud – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013