Sunday, August 30, 2015

1984


One thing with old West End theatres is that they are all cramped, tiny and have bad views. So I'm generally not fond of West End theatres. This one was the same.

So obviously the set was bare and the little furniture in it changed frequently for a "set change ". And when a completely different set was required, it was telecast on the screen which looked to me like it was pre-shot. But at the very end, the entire set changes completely. That was really well done.
I had not read the book before I watched the play. So to me, the first 30 mins were very confusing. I didn't understand that it was a book shop and I didn't understand whether the people around Winston were real or if they were living inside his head. Though now I know that it was Winston who was living inside peoples' heads who were all sitting together and reading his diary. At least that's what I think.

It's a deeply disturbing play. What is most disturbing about it is that while you know it was written a long time ago about the suffocation in the Communist era where even thinking against the party was a thought crime, it strongly resonates with the current times. Isn't expressing an opinion on social media a thought crime for which you are punished in the comments section or in some countries worse? And I don't have to explain how we all feel that Big Brother is still watching given the constant electronic trail we leave. The most disturbing of it all is that Winston is ready to do anything, even the most extreme crime, for a Brotherhood that he believes exists when he makes the conscious decision to rise up against Big Brother.

To sum it up, it is surrealistically freaky, very well executed with many themes strongly echoing in today's world.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Simon Evans In The Money

3.5/5 rating
Simon Evans In The Money | Soho theatre

It was a very different comedy night; I give him that. What do you get when you mix money, economy and a very British man? House prices! To be fair that was only a part of it. Generally speaking it was very British humour. Everyone laughed a lot. I laughed some times. The jokes I felt, were not jokes but extremely long winded explanations and people laughed at his explanations and I couldn't understand why.
Thankfully at least he didn't go total left and misinform people like all other comedians. If anything he went total right. All his explanations were correct and normal which is why I didn't find them funny.
I also found the extremely long winded sentences funny for the first few times but having to listen for more than an hour with every sentence going at least 3 mins long was a bit tiring. And I seemingly dozed of mid sentence to wake up after its over and everyone laughed.

All in all, I suppose he was funny and so was the show. It was just not my cup of tea. Mine needs have tea leaves boiled in water.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Shadowland

2/5 rating
Shadowland

It seemed like a great idea. To go to a theatre show that's about a play on lights and shadows (see what I did there? Play haha).
It was good, when they did their psychedelic stuff. I could have watched it all day listening to pink floyd. But the actual stuff was crazy. I never understood why the girl becomes a dog. It's not even that hard. And the girl nearing the end of the show, gets topless for no apparent reason. It's not much of a difference considering that to begin with the girl and her parents were just maniquins in underwear who suddenly become parents and people when they wear clothes. It's probably to show that they are not using props to create the shadows. Some times they do and they show you the props. The dreamy sequences with all the well built guys with knees caps and in underwear, and the one guy who can compete with Undertaker is not too bad. I probably didn't understand it because I was a little too bored to care. It's crazy. It's fun to watch. A little too long. And it's crazy. 

It's a song! It's a movie! ...

... No! It's SIRO-A !!!

4/5 rating
SIRO-A | Soho Theatre

These guys are amazing. They use technology to the fullest extent. They had a projector feeding in lights and colours. They also used it to create clones of themselves. They had a live projector to create a large scary being out of the little guy sitting in one corner. They had a camera that helped produce a song live, even though nobody sang it. They made a music video with audience dancing even though nobody danced. They had a bit of a laser show. They had some live DJs too.
What more could you want !!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bears in Space

5/5
Bears in Space | Soho Theatre



Hilarious as hell!!
Now now, it's not really a play with a traditional story or sets so a high rating may not be warranted. But they wanted to make us laugh and they did.
It's a 4 member team called Collapsing Horse that told us an absolutely random story of two bears in space using all kinds of random home made props and puppets in a cosy setting in Jerrwood Upstairs. The story was so random that you laugh, and then you laugh some more.

A story keeper tells us the story of two bears traveling through space along with the frozen body of their dead captain. They have no idea what their mission is, and when they run out of energy they must go to the nearby industrial city country planet system of Metrotopia. Metrotopia is known for its evil dictator, crazy man with daddy issues who imprisons anyone and everyone. And of course at the end the bears save themselves and save the day, helped moderately by the spirit of the captain.

We booked it because it was transferred from Edinburgh fringe with great reviews and Jack Gleeson who played Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones was in it. He was really good as a dimwit son of the story keeper who is telling us the story but he was his best self as the evil emperor of Metrotopia (wink wink). He was definitely not the star performer because all four of them were equally good. The versatile Aaron Heffernan played a various number of characters including the lead bear, the emperor's personal evil plotter, cool dude bear in prison, etc. The other two, Cameron Macaulay and Eoghan Quinn played the story keeper and his other son, complementing the team. I'm glad we watched it and can't wait to see more material from Collapsing Horse.
Jack Gleeson said it right. It wasn't acting really. It was just some mates having fun.

Motherf***er with the Hat

4.5/5 rating
The Motherf**ker with The Hat | National Theatre



Did I ever have obscenities in my blog? Don't think so. This time though I can't help it because there is one in the title of the play - The Motherf***er with the Hat.
Did the play need an obscenity in its title? Probably not, but I'm sure it got a lot of attention for it. The play itself has a lot of obscenities but it doesn't sound weird or angry, just hilarious.

It's currently playing at the National Theatre in Lyttelton. We got cheap but amazing tickets because we bought on the day the bookings opened, right in front on the stage, close enough to see every single expression.

The sets were not very special but immaculately done. Every time there is a set change the walls come from above and the floor from behind. There were only 3 sets but very detailed.

The story is so complicatedly simple it could have been a soap opera. There was nothing new, nothing extraordinary or nothing outrageous about the play. It's just a love story, with all kinds of complications of course.
What makes this play extraordinarily good is the incredible performance that all 5 characters put together to bring the play to life. Every single one of them played their characters with detail. The lead role of Jackie played by Ricardo Chavira had versatility and depth changing as the play proceeds while Veronica (played by Flor De Liz Perez) supported him strongly with her craziness. Ralph's character (Alec Neuman) was ironic like the guy who doesn't care and expects you to know that but not know that and his wife Victoria (by Nathalie Armin) was a bit dull on the role and acting. The best I thought, was Cousin Julio as a character, perfectly put together by Yul Vazquez, with a funny accent and straight talking attitude; every line delivered left the audience in peels off laughter.

The play was wonderful because it was heartwarming and funny, and well executed. It's been a while since I saw a nice play that it felt really good.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Elephant Man

2.5/5 rating
The Elephant Man | Royal Haymarket Theatre

We watched The Elephant Man in the Royal Haymarket Theatre. It was weirdly surreal because the theatre is so old and maintained that way. The play is set in 19th century London and the sets were simple and the use of lights basic. So when the lights were out and the actors were on the stage you felt like you were transported back in time. I suppose that was the intended effect.


Now before we go any further, let me just copy and paste the synopsis from the play's website:

Based on the real life of Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man tells the story of 19th-century London man Merrick(Bradley Cooper) who became a star of the traveling freak show circuit. When the renowned Dr. Treves(Alessandro Nivola) takes Merrick under his care, he is astonished by the man’s brilliant intelligence, unshakable faith and, most of all, his resounding desire for love and understanding. He introduces Merrick to the beautiful actress Mrs. Kendal (Patricia Clarkson), who is deeply touched by this pure and genuine soul. As a complex friendship blossoms among the three, Treves and Kendal struggle to protect Merrick from a world of questionable intentions… and so begins a story of love as unique as “The Elephant Man” himself.

We bought tickets for the play simply because we heard Bradley Cooper was playing the lead role. After buying the tickets we read rave reviews of the show on Broadway. And then I read the story of The Elephant Man. It is a true story and deeply sad and moving.

The play was not sad or moving. And going back to the synopsis, Merrick became a star in the freak show circuit. He was shown to be a failure. 
Merrick was supposed to be astonishingly intelligent. Bradley Cooper was just someone who had never been spoken to and was just happy to talk to and seemed like a normal human being who philosophises mostly because he had so much time on his hands.
Merrick had a resounding desire for love and understanding. It seemed more like DrTrevis wanted to find Bradley Cooper company because he is aware the for most part of his life he didn't have normal human relationships.
Mrs Kendal was deeply touched by his pure and genuine soul. Patricia Clarkson truly was.
As the complex friendship between the three blossomed... It wasn't that complex and neither was it shown to be. It tried to be.

Bradley Cooper was really good at contorting his body, yes. May have been a little difficult, yes. But with practice it's not that hard and he had no other expression.
Alessandro Nivola had the weirdest diction I've heard in theatre and never properly projected his voice across and many of his lines had him facing his back to the audience. So it was really difficult to hear him.
Patricia Clarkson was remarkable. If anyone touched your heart, she did. It didn't make me happy that the most talented performance in the show needed to bare herself. It was so avoidable and easily doable in many other ways.
The story was pretty plain but the sadness was not very evident and the fact that Merrick was dying doesn't hit you as it should. And what really happens in the second half was not that clear or necessary.

What I make of all of this? It is all down to bad direction from Scott Ellis. And that a star studded performances in the Broadway doesn't need to be good. And that the producers can getaway with ticket revenues from audience who adore the stars. Not very different from mass local cinema in India. Oh wait, that at least has some entertainment value.

The Elephant Man at Royal Haymarket was plain disappointing.