Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Threepenny Opera

I watched The Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre and give it a 5/5 rating.

Now then, it received mixed reviews but I thought it was wonderful entertainment. And to think Rory Kinnear is a bad guy, Casanova and a true opportunist! He wasn't the lovable parish in The Casual Vacancy or the self-sacrificing Prime Minister in Black Mirror or the victimised citizen in The Trail. But then, I missed him as Iago a few years ago and now that I can see how perfect he would have been, I regret more.

It is a funny play with minimal sets. I shouldn't say minimal actually, because it really was the set of a set, with the scaffolding and all that.
It was interestingly a musical, one I would not have expected on National Theatre, but of course, nothing like the West End production extravaganzas. It was also one of the few old plays the I liked.

PS: I delayed it for so long it makes little sense to publish it, except for my own logs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Doctor Faustus

I watched Doctor Faustus at Duke of York Theatre and give it a 2.5/5 rating.

In spite of the terrible reviews the play had already received, we wanted to watch it. Mostly for Jamie Lloyd (we had just watched The Maids) and some what for Kit Harington.

Firstly, Kit Harington. Everyone knows he plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones and he had come back from the dead which means that he will have to continue to maintain his hairstyle, which means whatever movie or play he acts in, he will look like Jon Snow. When the series started, he was one of the worst actors on show and as seasons passed I assumed I got used to his acting than he getting better. So when he was wonderful on stage as Doctor Faustus, I was pleasantly surprised. He blended into Doctor Faustus swinging between vanity and despair.

Secondly, Jamie Lloyd's play. It was superbly terrible. The first half was downright incomprehensible. The dialogues are archaic and the sets are not. The cast is too small and they are all wearing this hideous piece of cloth. So while you are struggling to understand what is happening because the words are difficult, the people are the same so it doesn't help. And the 'modern' costumes and set were just laziness on Jamie Lloyd's part. Because we certainly could have done with some grandeur if the words were so grand, or make the words as simple as the costumes. There was some mention of Obama and some modernity but who cares when you can't relate to the rest of it. Also there was some random piece of nudity for no reason at all. I mean if Lucifer is going to wear rags, do your dear magicians need to be nude? The only part I liked was when Mephistopheles first comes out of the ground.

The 2.5/5 rating is a combination of 5/5 for Kit Harington and Jenny Russell (who plays the sarcastic Mephistopheles) and a 0/5 for everything else.
We should have left while we could, during the interval.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Boy

I watched Boy at Almeida Theatre and give it a 5/5 rating.

It's a haunting play of a lost boy knowing he is lost but not sure how to get back on his feet and his meek attempts to find a pillar are left midway when the system fails him. Leo Butler's script is tight in spite of the story itself seeing little happening. The Boy goes in and out of the council offices, hangs around bus stops, walks about aimlessly, tries to grab on to friends who seem more sure of themselves, tries to grab on to any friends. All of it in vain. A boy does not know what he wants and no one to inspire him or guide him.

Frankie Fox is natural in his debutant professional theatre performance, at times making you wonder if that is who he is. Sacha Wares as the director and Miriam Buether as the set designer bring together an incredible show. The set is a concave elliptical conveyor belt and different objects are placed on it to create new sets. There is an army of people to make sure that right object is placed at the right time,  including trees, doors, Sports Direct. And people sit on invisible chairs (I think it was the shoes that had hooks on them to support them). It was all a mesmerising performance on a small stage and a short play that really touches you.

It deserves a 5/5 for what it's brought to stage. But I did wonder, was it necessary?
The Trial had a conveyor belt too, and clearly it needed precision to place things at the right time too, except all that happened backstage because the belt started and ended backstage. They could have easily done the same here but they didn't want to. And considering the number of period props they set up on stage every now and then including supermarket self-checkouts and tube ticket barricades, they could have easily put up bare stools or chairs instead of complicating shoes. It paid off because they pulled it off and it's a vanity show but it still deserves the accolades.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Invi$ible Hand

I watched The Invisible Hand at the Tricycle Theatre and give it a 4/5 rating.

It's about this American trader working for Citibank who gets kidnapped by revolutionaries (not terrorists) who believe American bankers are preying upon their country and supporting corruption. Since the Citibank won't pay his ransom, he asks to be able trade and make that money. The dynamic between the banker and the people who captured him is well played out, as does the invisible hand of the market.

It's a tiny little stage and such a small seating area that anywhere you sit, you get a good view. After the interval, they tried to do something to the stage that I didn't quite follow and felt was unnecessary but otherwise well executed. With little sets the play pulls you in with a tight story and great acting.

The banker was amazing, as was Basheer, his junior captor cum junior trader. Imam Salim had a weird accent that was surely not Pakistani and more of a South Indian or Srilankan accent. But it's not that noticeable if you weren't South Indian yourself.

It's still playing for another week, if you want to catch it.