Wednesday, 5 July 2017

‘Anatomy of a Suicide’ – Royal Court Theatre – Tuesday 4th July 2017

(Rated 10/5 ) 

My ‘section’ of this review is highly likely to be very personal – not quite sure what will come out yet – will see in a few minutes – so before I go ahead I wanted to share a less personal but certainly ‘bang on’ review – shared by my lovely friend who booked us to see this production. From Time Out…
“***** Birch has crafted a rich, haunting, technically dazzling script. It is gut-level, subliminal: a depiction of tragedy as a disease that swims silently through the bloodstream.”
Warning: the following contains spoilers and personal processing!
Now my turn… I had no expectations on this at all – aside from an intriguing and highly suggestive of darkness and trauma title – such things always fascinate me I’ll admit – I’d read nothing at all about it and knew nothing – not even the basic premise. So I learned all exactly as the script and actors taught me performing from start to finish. Now I don’t know what to write. I’m still struggling to find words, which kind of reflects the single word responses from Carol (Hattie Morahan) – the eldest of the three generations of women. The depth of emotion and trauma and lack of emotion as a result of trauma is palpable – like a penetrating vibe from actors to audience – there’s no hiding from it even though in her emotional shut-down – Bonnie (Adelle Leonce) – the youngest of the three - attempts to do so. And in between them we have Anna (Kate O’Flynn) – daughter of Carol, mostly absent-mother to Bonnie – whose effervescence and hyper-expressiveness are a stark contrast to the other two. All three actors are absolutely outstandingly brilliant!! I fell completely and utterly in love with them and they all had my fullest empathy also. The supporting cast were all equally as good – not just acting a multitude of characters but also moving scenery around and undressing/dressing the three leads onstage between scenes - An exceptionally good ensemble-piece. As actors say they can’t be good without good writing and this is probably the most-skilful, accomplished, sensitive, natural, deep yet concise, character-rich writing in a play I have ever encountered. Alice Birch is such a talent! I’m so envious! In this play she is writing three scenes at any one time – taking place on the same stage at the same time – linking them up beautifully and timing all the characters words to absolute perfection. It’s extraordinary! The timing of delivery had to be spot on and was. The actors were so in synch. In some ways it reminds me of one of my favourite films ‘The Hours’ – again three women in three different time periods – but the scenes were separated and the characters connected but unrelated. This play is structured so that the audience can watch all three scenes simultaneously without losing anything, which is pretty amazing!
And here comes the personal. This play resonated in so many ways with my own life experience – mind- and heart-blowing. I was witnessing this with goosebumps on my goosebumps and my eyes welling up with tears. Carol and Anna between them embody aspects of my own mother. Carol holds the quiet brooding drowning-in-despair aspect of Mum whilst Anna the hyperactive, talkative, edgy and ‘fun’/funny parts of her personality. Both characters actually so beautiful and tantalising - irresistibly attractive. As the title suggests suicide is forever casting a shadow over them/us and it’s a question of when not if. For me it was always a question of if with Mum. And I identified so much with Bonnie’s subdued, reserved and withdrawn character… who becomes a doctor(caring professional), who struggles in relationships with fellow human beings, who seems more devastated by the loss of her companion rabbit but who finds it so difficult to let go of the family home in which so many of her grandmother and mother’s dramas took place. Bonnie felt like an unhealed me. Yet what she expresses towards the end of the play struck the deepest most profound chord with me. She is determined there should be no possibility of having children – “I have to know – biologically, completely, with absolute certainty that I am where it ends… That it goes no further, no deeper, no longer… That it finishes here.” And then we are faced with the ultimate question at the very end of the play… can Bonnie also let go of it all emotionally and psychologically and let the house of the stage go and move on… Can she live her life? Can she finally engage?
This is the best play/production I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m not saying it is the absolute most-accomplished but with all its personal resonances it wins out. And happily with no big names in it! But an absolute wealth of talent! Yet again – as with my most recent review – I am writing this towards the end of the run and it is sold out. The Royal Court Theatre with its relatively small, intimate space is perfect for this play, though I do hope it transfers somewhere else so others get an opportunity to witness it. I had to have the script which was only £3. We ate in the Bar/Kitchen beforehand and I had a delicious gazpacho and we shared chips with mayonnaise, salad, Coronas and passion fruit crème brulee and tasty truffles – highly recommended. I happen to know the risotto is also very tasty ;)
Excellent Emotionally-Charged, Extremely Personally-Developing Experience!


Anatomy of a Suicide – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017

Sunday, 11 June 2017

‘Don Juan in Soho’ – Wyndham’s Theatre – Saturday 3rd and Wednesday 7th June 2017

(Rated 5/5 ) 

It had to happen – DT as DJ – David Tennant as Don Juan ;) - a totally charming man playing a despicable seduction-crazed rogue – and his adorable long-suffering servant / companion / sidekick Stan - played delightfully by Adrian Scarborough – does warn us not to be charmed by him. And yet we completely are, whilst maybe feeling a little discomfort that we are watching the deplorable yet hilarious almost sexual exploitation – though as he says ‘I am not a pussy grabber’ – of many women, and a few men. DJ is eminently ‘fuckable’ yet ‘unhaveable’ and he celebrates that. He cares not a jot for anybody, being totally untouched by the pain he is causing his new wife Elvira – Danielle Vitalis.
Don Juan has appeared many times over in Operas, poems, plays, philosophical writings and other and there are lovely refs to Don Giovanni in this production. Yet this is a very deliberately contemporary version – ever so much a version for our times making multitudes of references to our experiences of today. In fact so much so that DJ’s rant speech in Act 2 was changed through the run to reflect current events – more on that later but for example including ‘climate change denial by an orange orangutan’ (actually an offence to orangutans ;)). I wish I’d seen it after the UK general election result to see what may have been added then.
David is Delicious as DJ!! And Hilarious and Wonderfully Vile too! He clearly thoroughly enjoyed playing a character so different to himself in behaviour and attitude. DJ is a very clever witty cynic. He loves seduction more than sex itself and will go to any lengths without worrying about who gets hurt – even killed along the way. Being attached won’t save you – in fact will make him want you even more – like the newlywed bride – of whom he hears about in the gents and tells Stan about whilst changing character from himself to the newlywed husband by respectively increasing and decreasing the space between his thumb and forefinger held down as his crotch! And there are so many similar hilarities – including a blanket covering yet another young lady satisfying him – and his responses in facial expressions and sounds - whilst he chats up the bride.
There’s dancing and singing too – most notably between DJ and Stan – DJ moves so sensually and naturally whilst Stan is both funnily awkward yet really good too.
The production is excellent and includes a moving statue of Charles II, staging of Soho itself and a flying bicycle J
This stage-play is by award-winning writer Patrick Marber - a radical entertaining adaptation of Molière’s original play - and was first performed at The Donmar Warehouse in 2006. I did not see that version – in which Rhys Ifans played DJ – but get the impression this one is more impressive. I also have a very strong suspicion that DT did some co-writing with his friend Patrick J I really enjoyed the whole show – especially on second seeing being much closer to the stage in stalls second row – so well worth it! – my favourite part of it is DJ’s rant speech on hypocrisy and the ‘development of man’. It’s highly amusing, clever, witty, scathing, cynical and in some ways self-deprecating eg. the ref to the insincere work of actors and doing the ‘ancestry show’. He comments how we have developed from the caveman drawing an animal on his wall – ‘Well Done’ – to Vlogging and telling each other ‘I bought a plum’. How we are obsessed by others ‘Follow Me, Follow Me, Like Me, Like Me’ – which he demonstrates with a thumbs up. How a ‘concrete block’ is now an iPhone! We just have ‘different tools’.
I’d highly recommend this except that I can’t because the final performance was yesterday! Whoops and apologies. Though selfishly it’s good to have my own experience of it to look back on and remind me of those feelings being an audience member for one of the shows I have found most enjoyable and entertaining J Sadly no DVD but the stage-play is available.
Wyndham’s is a lovely theatre in Louis XVI style from 1899. A more classic space in SOHO!


Don Juan in Soho – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017