Wednesday, 7 December 2016

‘Lazarus’ – King’s Cross Theatre - Tuesday 6th January 2016

(Rated 7/5 ) 

I had no words coming out of this show. I was literally speechless – struck dumb in awe of what I had just witnessed and the experience of the journey on which these highly talented beings had taken me. When I did manage to speak it was just a ‘Wow… Just Wow!’, to my friend and companion on the theatrical journey. She was equally unable to speak but her reaction was clearly visible on her face. As were all Michael C. Hall’s reactions of his alien being Newton on his. When my companion was finally able to say something -‘That is how theatre should be – that is what I’ve missed’. We’d both gone for the sake of Bowie – Dear David – well of course how could you not? ;) – and also for dear Michael because of Dexter… because of Six Feet Under… because we wanted to see one of our favourite actors ‘live’. We weren’t bothered about how good the play was – just to have some time in the combined worlds of those two great artistic talents was easily good enough. So the fact that there seemed to be so much in the play – that we felt so transported from earth to this extraordinary surreal place – and yes we did have our passports with us as instructed though were never asked to show them – sitting on purple chairs – well they had to be ;) – was beyond all expectation. That said I wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened or what it was really about, but that didn’t actually matter lol! It’s about life and death, it’s about being, it’s about existence and not being able to escape it… ever. It’s about true love, true hate, true feelings of all kinds. I suppose it’s about whatever you get from it – which sounds like a cop out – but I truly feel it’s the sort of show which each of us can get our own messages from. Sort of being about whatever you feel ready to receive and depending on your mood at the time. I have a passion for seeing things from POVs other than human ones and of course that is also what we get – a study of us from a Man Who Fell To Earth and from characters in his imagination or who have passed over to the other side or to another planet… to Mars maybe?!
David Bowie has given SO much! I really don’t need to say more and his songs are beautifully incorporated into Enda Walsh’s script. Again whether it actually makes sense doesn’t matter! We don’t make sense anyway ;). For me Bowie truly was a gloriously multiple personality and each one as ridiculously hugely talented as the next. Every performer in this production was brilliant! I’ve already noted how expressive Michael C. Hall (MCH) is and his face was so alien and troubled. Even when smiling it had an other-worldliness – something I haven’t seen in any of his other characters. I was also particularly impressed by Girl as played by Hannah Rose Thompson – and had goosebumps when she sang Life on Mars - and Amy Lennox as Elly who blew me away with all the ‘business’ she had to handle while performing someone going through a multitude of Changes and singing beautifully all at the same time. I wish MCH had had more singing to do. My favourite was his Heroes duet with Girl.
Great production in their purpose-built ‘tent’ ;)  Oh, and as I was advised, if you do go, look at the stage as soon as you get into your seat J And Wish You a Wonderful Ride!

Lazarus – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2016

Friday, 18 March 2016

'The Father' - Duke of York's Theatre - Tuesday 8th March 2016

(Rated 5/5 )
Is it 'very sensible' - to use the words of my mother - to go see a play about old age and the gradual loss of a parent be it physically or mentally, when you have just recently lost one of your own - and 2 days before scattered their ashes - and with that parent's sister? As usual I am not someone to shy away from anything challenging like that - I am not one to be 'sensible' to protect myself emotionally, and neither is my aunt, my companion on this occasion. And whilst I did have some concern about how 'devastating' this production may feel - especially given some previous reviews - in the event I was interested, fascinated and even entertained rather than devastated. Saddened yes but also encouraged to smile and be amused at points during the performance. 
The Father is written unelaborately and extremely cleverly by Florian Zeller. He writes from the perspective of his title character, Andre, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. As Zeller says theatre 'holds a mirror up to its audience, allowing us to recognise and understand ourselves a little better… I was keen that on this particular journey we shouldn't only be spectators, that we too should become lost in this mental labyrinth - so as to experience more completely, from the inside, the tragedy of old age and that fragility to life which makes us all equal'. I felt I was trying to solve a puzzle - the same puzzle as Andre was, which enabled empathy in a way almost impossible from the outside. Kenneth Cranham was very convincingly lost, confused, distressed and vulnerable acting full on to the point of giving us genuine concern for his sake at the end that he wouldn't do himself permanent damage. Amanda Drew acted with great sensitivity experiencing and conveying so many of the challenging and conflicting emotions we would all feel as the caring/er and trapped daughter in such circumstances. The leads were beautifully supported by their fellow actors. The staging, lighting and sound effects played the biggest supporting role in a sense by not supporting or helping. We experience increased loss of sense and memory in and of Andre's world as furniture is gradually moved or changed around. The music introducing each scene sounded at times like a broken record covered in dust - can't quite sound the right note, recall the right memory and trying to play it over and over to grasp something lost beneath jumble and damage.
Profoundly powerful theatre so true to life.

I highly recommend The Duke of York's Theatre. It feels more intimate than many of the older theatres and has the most caring and friendly staff I have ever experienced. Even though I decided not to take up the offer of moving seats to the Royal Circle to save me having to descend and climb stairs - I wanted to be in the stalls right up close and personal with the actors - I really appreciated the care and attention to my disability needs.

The Father – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2016