Peter And Alice – April 2013

Experience: 6/10

By John Logan

Directed by Michael Grandage

Venue: Noel Coward Theatre

Date: Saturday 27th April 2013

We both enjoyed this but felt that the second half began to drag, with too much repetition of the same ideas in between the new snippets of biography. This caused the energy to flag, and despite the standing ovation the cast received at the end, which was not entirely undeserved, we reckon the play itself needs more work to tighten it up. Unfortunately, with two such stars in the lead roles the audiences are likely to be less discriminating, so rewrites are probably not on the agenda at the moment. A second production might help with this, though if it were also to depend on star casting, the play’s own merits may never become clear.

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Macbeth – April 2013

Experience: 3/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Jamie Lloyd

Venue: Trafalgar Studios

Date: Thursday 25th April 2013

We were running late today and nearly missed this performance; the day would have gone better if we had. Steve may have ‘enjoyed’ this slightly more than I did, but then he was one in from the end of our row and thus could see a bit more of the action. Our seats were at the back of the stage, second row, and while they gave us an interesting perspective, the poor sightlines made our experience worse than it might have been had we sat elsewhere. (We were late booking, I should point out.) Judging by the gaps we could see after the interval, we weren’t alone in our opinion of the production; only our eternal optimism kept us there for another turgid hour or so.

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The Winslow Boy – April 2013

Experience: 9/10

By Terence Rattigan

Directed by Lindsay Posner

Venue: Old Vic

Date: Wednesday 24th April 2013

There was the usual screen in front of the stage at the start of this performance, showing an extract from a legal text detailing Petition of Rights procedures. Being familiar with the play, this was quite interesting to read, though as it was only one page I soon ran out of material. When the screen rose, the set was revealed: an Edwardian drawing room with the door to the hall on the left wall, double folding doors to the dining room centre back and French windows to the garden on the right. The sofa was central, in front of the dining room doors, and had round plush green cushions. A matching chair stood on the left and a brown leather wingback chair on the right with a table beside it. The telephone was on a small table by the main door, and the remaining furniture and furnishings were all suitably appropriate, as were the costumes.

This was a very good production. Henry Goodman played Mr Winslow with more of an emphasis on the comedy than I would have wished, but he still gave a very strong central performance; I wasn’t as moved as I have been with some other productions, but I wasn’t dry-eyed either. The rest of the cast were all top-notch too, and the mock trial scene at the end of the first half went very well. This time, I fancied there was a chance for Sir Robert and Grace to have a relationship in the future. I will just mention Wendy Nottingham as the maid, Violet. It can be difficult nowadays for an audience to appreciate just how eccentric a maid Violet is, but today it was clear from the outset that she ‘just wouldn’t do’ for most respectable families with her casual attitude and complete lack of discretion. A lovely performance in a very strong ensemble.

© 2013 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

The Mousetrap – April 2013

Experience: 8/10

By Agatha Christie

Directed by Ian Watt-Smith

Venue: Theatre Royal, Brighton

Date: Thursday 18th April 2013

I very much enjoyed seeing this for the second time. The first was back in 1987, and for a number of reasons it wasn’t a great experience. The play was clinging on by the tips of its fingernails to the West End supported only by its long-running record, the set looked like the original one from the 1950s, and by that time the regular cast changes had brought the performance down to the level of stock characterisations and slightly hammy acting. We spotted some obvious points early on, and if we hadn’t been waiting for more twists to follow we would have nabbed the culprit before the interval.

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Two Gentlemen Of Verona – April 2013

Experience: 9/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Andrew Hilton

Company: SATTF

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Wednesday 17th April 2013

One of the joys of arriving early to queue for our seats in the Tobacco Factory is the opportunity to see some of the cast chilling out before the show. Tonight we were lucky enough to see a major star relaxing on one of the sofas – Lollio, aka Crab. His long black form lay elegantly on the seat opposite; he was completely unfazed to be among his adoring public. Eventually, after a languorous stretch, he strolled into the auditorium to prepare for an arduous evening’s performance – more on that story later.

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As You Like It – April 2013

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Maria Aberg

Venue: RST

Date: Tuesday 16th April 2013

My heart sank as we entered the auditorium and I realised they were playing the low frequency torture sounds again, my least favourite start to a performance. I managed to last out without throwing up. The set was a raised square platform within the main stage, with a few feet left free on three sides. It had a chequerboard pattern on it while the rest of the stage floor was blank. A pillar by the left walkway was echoed by a number of other pillars, all square, all grey, dotted around the rear half of the stage and there were dead leaves everywhere. Orlando and Adam came on before the start to sweep them up, making a tidy pile of half of them near the back right corner which they loaded into a wheelbarrow. Along the back of the stage were more grey wooden panels at different angles. Everything looked dark grey to begin with, including the clothes, but when the lights changed for the start, I could see that the pillars were brown.

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The Empress – April 2013

Experience: 8/10

By Tanika Gupta

Directed by Emma Rice

Company: RSC

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Monday 15th April 2013

Both Steve and I had the sniffles tonight, him because he had a cold and me because the final scenes of this new play were very moving. The play covers a lot of ground, and there will be more to come with this production which at times is a bit jumbled, but the music, singing, dancing and colours plus the splendid performances made for a refreshing take on a neglected aspect of Victorian history. We’ve found Emma Rice’s work with Kneehigh to be variable in the past, but this time she’s produced a real good ‘un.

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