Rutherford And Son – February 2019

Experience: 8/10

By Githa Sowerby

Directed by Caroline Steinbeis

Venue: Crucible Theatre

Date: Thursday 21st February 2019

Lovely to see this marvellous play again, and this was a very good production of it. Owen Teale was strong as Rutherford himself, and the rest of cast gave good support. Not a huge audience – the place was about half full – but there was plenty of applause, and a number stayed behind for the post-show Q&A.

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Richard II – January 2019

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

Venue: Almeida Theatre

Date: Tuesday 8th January 2019

“I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world”: not the usual start to Richard II, but when Simon Russell Beale came to the front of the box-like stage, clad in dark leggings and a black top, to deliver this line, I grasped instantly that this production was set entirely within the deposed king’s mind. All the other ‘characters’ were simply his perception of those people, and he was spending his time going over and over the events that led up to his deposition, as if trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Or perhaps nurturing his grudges in case he ever got the chance at revenge. Whatever his motivation, this was an excellent way to allow Simon to play a part which, in a ‘traditional’ production, he would be too old for, and allow the rest of us to rejoice in hearing these lines spoken so brilliantly by one of our finest actors, whether of Shakespeare or anything else.

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The Country Wife – July 2018

Experience: 7/10

By William Wycherley

Directed by Jonathan Munby

Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Friday 6th July 2018

As expected, this had improved with time. The cast were smoother in all aspects of the performance, the dialogue was clearer (or seemed so to us second time around) and one or two of the earlier difficulties had been resolved, at least in part. There was no change to the staging as far as I could see, though of course we spotted more details this time, especially sitting left of centre instead of on the right, as last time. It still didn’t sparkle, and we both felt that the design had to take a lot of the blame for that – the dark, black and white colour scheme simply brought the whole play down.

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Macbeth – June 2018

Experience: 7/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Polly Findlay

Venue: RST

Date: Wednesday 27th June 2018

Due to Edward Bennett being unavailable for tonight’s performance, the RSC’s understudies program swung into action at the last minute, providing an able substitute for the part of MacDuff in John Macaulay (usually murderer, chamberlain, member of Scottish forces). Others were bumped up to fill the gaps, and although we were aware he was an understudy, I don’t feel the performance suffered too much from the changeover. Another viewing when Ed has returned would be interesting, but for now we were happy with the cast we saw.

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The Country Wife – June 2018

Experience: 6/10

By William Wycherley

Directed by Jonathan Munby

Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Tuesday 12th June 2018

We found this performance rather patchy: some scenes worked better than others but although the characters were more clearly identified than in some productions we’ve seen, much of the humour fell a bit flat. It’s still in preview, so the performances will undoubtedly come on, and as we’re seeing it again in a few weeks, we expect to get more out of it then.

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Present Laughter – May 2018

Experience: 6/10

By Noel Coward

Directed by Sean Foley

Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Friday 11th May 2018

This was a disappointing start to the CFT season. Steve and I have enjoyed Sean Foley’s productions before, particularly A Mad World My Masters, while Rufus Hound’s performance as Sancho Panza in the RSC’s recent Don Quixote was simply superb. Sadly, in combination with the writing talent of Noel Coward, the whole became much less than the sum of its parts. Sean’s reliance on visual gags and physical clowning to get the ‘jokes’ across indicated that he either wasn’t aware of Coward’s wit or didn’t know how to direct it properly, and while Rufus can connect really well with an audience, he seemed to be struggling with some of the dialogue: the brilliant line “I’m so terribly terribly sorry, it’s a wrong number” generated nothing in the way of a response. (It’s usually the funniest line of the show, in our experience.)

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Macbeth – May 2018

Experience: 6/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Rufus Norris

Venue: Olivier Theatre

Date: Tuesday 1st May 2018

We had read a few snippets about this production, as well as hearing comments from several friends, so we kept our expectations low when we took our seats for this performance. And as so often happens, that helped us to enjoy the good bits of this performance while not being distracted too much by the rubbish stuff, and when I say ‘rubbish’, you can take that literally. When the National wants to show the excesses of our materialistic, throwaway society, as in the Simon Russell Beale Timon several years ago, they do it in style. Well, there’s a lot of the Olivier stage to fill with something – might as well be bin bags.

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