As You Like It – February 2019

Experience: 7/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Kimberley Sykes

Venue: RST

Date: Thursday 28th February 2019

A good start to the new season. I have been concerned about some of the recent RSC ensembles, but this appears to be a strong group, with the diversity angle not weakening the acting talent at all and adding some interesting aspects to the performance. I’m looking forward to seeing how this ensemble develops over several productions.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream – February 2019

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Mike Tweddle

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Wednesday 27th February 2019

One advantage of having to wait outside the theatre for our ride back to the hotel was that it gave us a chance to speak to a couple of the actors – Danaan McAleer and Evlyne Oyedokun – to congratulate them and thank them for such an imaginative and inspiring production. I was especially pleased because the audience numbers tonight were on the low side. This innovative, cross-gender casting version of the play deserves full houses every night, and we’re happy to have already booked for another helping of the fun.

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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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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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Tartuffe – May 2017

Experience: 9/10

By Andrew Hilton and Dominic Power, after Moliere

Directed by Andrew Hilton

Company: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 

As expected, this had come on a lot since our first viewing. The dialogue was crisper, we had the advantage of having seen it once before, and these factors, coupled with a much more responsive audience, made for a very entertaining evening. It’s a shame so few people will get to see this, but at least we are among the happy few.

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Tartuffe – April 2017

Experience: 8/10

By Andrew Hilton and Dominic Power, after Molière

Company: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory

Directed by Andrew Hilton

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Tuesday 11th April 2017

I was aware that this was an adapted version of Tartuffe, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, this was one of the best versions we’ve seen of this play, second only to the RSC’s 1983 production with Nigel Hawthorne, Alison Steadman, Anthony Sher and David Bradley, amongst others. In this adaptation, the story has been updated to the present day, allowing for topical references, and it all worked brilliantly within a political setting. The characters were also wonderfully updated, and although the comedy took a while to get going – the audience were a bit slow to warm up tonight – there was plenty to laugh at in the later acts.

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