The City Madam – September 2011

8/10

By: Philip Massinger

Directed by: Dominic Hill

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Friday 30th September 2011

I can’t honestly say if this production has come on as much as some of the others, although I’m sure the cast are more experienced now; the main reason for our increased enjoyment was that we knew who the characters were and what was going on much better the second time around. As I suspected from our previous visit, familiarity helped a lot.

We were able to follow the plot much better, and although I still found the dialogue hard to follow at times, I caught much more of what was going on this time. The way Luke incites the apprentices to steal from his brother, for example, came across much more clearly. I realised that the suitors aren’t supposed dead when their statues are brought on, they’re meant to be travelling for three years, together. The way young Lacy accepted Plenty’s proffered hand of friendship before they set off together was very funny. Lacy is very effete, while Plenty is a rich landowner who’s used to working his own land – the bluff Yorkshireman type.

The different seats also helped, as I found my view was rarely blocked. In fact, we were very close to Lord Lacy when he came over and sat beside two ladies in the row behind us, nudging them over so he could sit down. His whispered asides to them were clearly audible to the rest of the audience, and it was good fun having him there.

Still not the easiest play to get into first time round, but well worth the effort of a second visit.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

The Homecoming – September 2011

9/10

By: Harold Pinter

Directed by: David Farr

Company: RSC

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Thursday 29th September 2011

We found this performance even better than the previous one, much sharper and with a lot more detail. Nicholas Woodeson in particular was much stronger, showing the nastier side of his character more readily, and together the cast created a powerful evening’s entertainment.

There were no significant differences in the staging; the changes were all down to the performances. Jonathan Slinger was just as good as Lenny, but had more to play against. Richard Riddell had more presence as Joey, the dumb boxer – I felt he was attracted to Ruth more as a mother figure than as a sexual partner. Justin Salinger brought out more of Teddy’s discomfiture when he finds his wife wants to stay with his family instead of returning with him to America. We reckoned that he had only stopped off to show his family how successful he was now – good job, lovely wife, three kids, etc. – so it was a shock to realise that she wasn’t entirely happy with their life together.

Aislin McGuckin’s performance showed Ruth unhappy with her current situation, but not sure how to get out of it. When the family’s offer comes along, she’s only too pleased to accept, once she’s sure she’ll get what she wants. Des McAleer was rather bland as Sam, the chauffeur brother who does the dishes, and I still felt his exclamation about Max’s dead wife, Jessie, came out of nowhere in terms of the performance, but I assume that’s the way the director wanted it played.

I was pretty tired tonight – a long drive to get here – so I missed some of the first half while I rested my eyes, but the second half kept me riveted. The subtle nuances of male/female relationships were fascinating to watch, and this cast have really got to grips with this play.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me