Versailles – March 2014

Experience: 7/10

Written and directed by Peter Gill

Venue: Donmar

Date: Thursday 20th March 2014

Steve rated this higher than me – 8/10 – but I found some aspects of the play rather dull and not totally in line with the rest of the piece. Still, the discussions about the Versailles Treaty were interesting, and there was plenty of period detail and humour to enhance the otherwise dry nature of the subject matter. And Leonard’s passion about the fate of the Saar coalfields in Germany brought out the importance of this treaty in laying the groundwork for WWII. It was mainly the homosexual relationship between Leonard and Gerald which I felt was out of place in terms of the play’s scope – why was this relationship between Leonard and Gerald’s ghost relevant to the time, the subject or the rest of the play?

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Sam Carter Trio – March 2014

Experience: 7/10

Venue: Ritz Theatre, Worthing

Date: Wednesday 19th March 2014

I wasn’t taken with the first half of this concert – listening to singer/songwriters droning on about life’s misery begins to pall after one reaches forty (or even earlier) – but the second half was much livelier and used more traditional material, so overall the evening was pretty enjoyable.

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Twelve Angry Men – March 2014

Experience: 8/10

By Reginald Rose

Directed by Christopher Haydon

Venue: Garrick Theatre

Date: Saturday 15th March 2014

We had been looking forward to seeing this production for a while. A recent house move had put many of our usual activities on the back burner, but the extended run allowed us a chance to sneak in a visit. It was well worth the effort. From the pre-show noises of New York City to the final confrontation and resolution, the performance kept us gripped and entertained, and as usual the stage version seemed to be funnier than the film; I certainly laughed more this time round.

At the start, the screen in front of the set showed the arm and scales of the statue of Justice; I’ve never noticed before how tenuous her hold is on those scales. We heard the noises of city traffic, the louder rumble of the El train and a general background rumble. Through the translucent screen we could see part of the set, and there were no surprises: a table with chairs. Steve spotted that there didn’t appear to be a ceiling, so presumably we would be able to see the surrounding city during the play.

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Fallen Angels – March 2014

Experience: 7/10

By Noel Coward

Directed by Roy Marsden

Presented by Bill Kenwright

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Thursday 13th March 2014

I have no recollection of seeing this play before, but both Steve and our records show that I did, back in 1982. That production clearly didn’t make much of an impression; this one did a lot better. The plot soon reminded me of The Merry Wives Of Windsor – I don’t know if that was Coward’s intention, but he’s written a very funny mirror-image version of that play in a similar vein to Rattigan’s Less Than Kind. (Funnily enough, the recent production we saw of that play also starred Sarah Crowe.) There are two postcards with identical content and two wives whose marriages have become rather dull over time. When a flame from their pre-marriage past announces his intention to visit, their libidos kick in and anything can happen. Unlike the Merry Wives, these two have every intention of being ‘fallen angels’, but with complications galore, neither gets the chance – at least, not before the curtain falls.

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King Lear – March 2014

Experience: 7/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Sam Mendes

Venue: Olivier Theatre

Date: Sunday 2nd March 2014

I was a little disappointed with this production today. I felt the concept didn’t quite work with this play, although there were some very good performances and one excellent piece of editing. The concept also meant I had no sympathy with Lear, thus no emotional engagement with him, and that’s a pretty big hole in the centre of the play.

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