A Mad World My Masters – September 2013

Experience: 8/10

By Thomas Middleton, edited by Sean Foley and Phil Porter

Directed by Sean Foley

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Monday 16th September 2013

I was very glad we could fit this production in one more time before the run ends. There was no surprise value of course, and we both felt that tonight’s audience took a while to warm up, but it was still a great deal of fun. We had the added pleasure of seeing an understudy tonight as well – Jonny Weldon took the part of Oboe, and did a good job in the role.

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Fences – September 2013

Experience: 7/10

By August Wilson

Directed by Paulette Randall

Company: Theatre Royal Bath Productions

Venue: Duchess Theatre

Date: Saturday 14th September 2013

Steve can remember the 1990 production of this play in the West End starring Yaphet Kotto. In fact, Yaphet Kotto is all he can remember from that production; his performance was so strong that all the other actors have faded into oblivion, which is pretty amazing given that the likes of Adrian Lester were also in the cast. This current production didn’t rise to that standard although it was enjoyable and quite moving, especially at the end. There was one understudy today, with Jay Marsh playing Lyons, but apart from his clothes looking very baggy – is he smaller than Peter Bankolé or was this a deliberate design choice? – I wasn’t aware of anything missing with his part. The crisp-munchers in the front row may have had more of an impact on the performance though; Lenny Henry even came forward after taking his bows to mouth at the offenders not to eat crisps at the theatre again!

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The Same Deep Water As Me – September 2013

Experience: 8/10

By Nick Payne

Directed by John Crowley

Venue: Donmar Theatre

Date: Thursday 12th September 2013

I’m not sure how well the sponsored front row initiative is succeeding at the Donmar. The idea of having front row seats released two weeks before a show seems like a great way to get new people into the theatre at an affordable price, but looking at the occupants of the front row today, I’m not sure it’s having the desired effect. The average age was around 55 to 60, and they mostly looked like regular theatregoers to me. Of course, the matinee audience may have a different profile to evening performances, and no doubt there will be some statistics published eventually puffing what a great success the scheme has been, but for those of us who’ve supported the theatre for many years, it’s still a bit galling to find the best seats not available for advance booking and yet possibly not going to those for whom the scheme was intended. Ah well.

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Candide – September 2013

Experience: 3/10

By Mark Ravenhill

Directed by Lyndsey Turner

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Friday 6th September 2013

Well that’s one and three-quarter hours of my life I’ll never get back again. As I was on the aisle for this one (left side) I did think of nipping out after the first scene (and then after the second, then during the third, the fourth and even the fifth) but I always have that nagging worry that the evening will suddenly take off and I’ll have missed the good bits. I needn’t have worried tonight; apart from some so-so laughs there was nothing to miss, and an hour or so in the bar waiting for Steve would have been much more entertaining.

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The Private Ear/The Public Eye – September 2013

Experience: The Private Ear 7/10

The Public Eye 8/10

By Peter Shaffer

Directed by Alistair Whatley

The Original Theatre Company

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Monday 2nd September 2013

This was a double bill of two one-act plays, which were joined together by a neat little scene change at the start of the second half. We’d seen The Private Ear partnered with Black Comedy in the 1980s, so this was a new combination for us. As it turned out, I’d seen the film Follow Me! on TV many years ago, so the story of The Public Eye was familiar too, but stage is a different beast to film.

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