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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Driving Miss Daisy – November 2017

Experience: 8/10

By Alfred Uhry

Directed by Richard Beecham

Company: Theatre Royal Bath

Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Thursday 30th November 2017

This was a pleasant surprise. Having seen a decent touring production at the Theatre Royal Brighton in 1993, I considered this a fairly average play: I was happy to see it again but didn’t have high expectations. Steve had also seen the production at the Old Vic in 2011, in which Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones demonstrated that they might have been the right age, but they no longer had the power to do the parts justice.

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King Lear – October 2017

Experience: 9/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Jonathan Munby

Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Thursday 5th October 2017

We’re so glad that Sir Ian McKellen decided to have another go at this part. We found the earlier production, part of the RSC’s Complete Works season, rather dull, but there was no lack of tension and excitement in tonight’s performance. The emotional aspects of the various characters were fully developed this time, while the staging was brisk and the story-telling clear, all of which made for a much more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.

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Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me – October 2015

Experience: 9/10

By Frank McGuinness

Directed by Michael Attenborough

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Monday 5th October 2015

This was a fabulous revival of a very intense play. The performances were all excellent and the staging quite superb. It’s no surprise that even such a difficult subject was generating full houses, given Chichester’s reputation for putting on good work in the Minerva, and the only pity is that this production won’t be seen by a wider audience.

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Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me – September 2015

Preview performance

Experience: 8/10

By Frank McGuinness

Directed by Michael Attenborough

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Monday 14th September 2015

Although this was a preview, this production already had a strength and intensity beyond many other plays. It’s one of those pieces where it doesn’t feel right to say we ‘enjoyed’ it, but it was a deeply enriching experience to have attended this performance, even with such difficult subject matter.

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The Rehearsal – May 2015

Experience: 7/10

Preview

By Jean Anouilh

Translated and directed by Jeremy Sams

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Tuesday 12th May 2015

1983 was the last time we saw this play; naturally our memories had faded almost completely in that time. So we were glad to have this opportunity to see it again, and this production in the Minerva certainly gave us some very strong performances to remember.

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Black Comedy – July 2014

Preview Performance

Experience: 7/10

By Peter Shaffer

Directed by Jamie Glover

(Paired with Miss Julie)

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Monday 7th July 2014

We stayed in the Minerva for the interval after Miss Julie to see the set being changed. There was a lot to do; they had to move from the kitchen of a country estate in 19th century Sweden to an impecunious artist’s flat in 1960s London in fifteen minutes. The existing set was cleared, with some of the back wall sections being turned around to provide additional wall parts for the new set. The biggest item they brought on was a large piece of construction which had the bedroom upstairs and a screened off studio area underneath; getting this into the right position took some time. With that placed correctly, the rest of the set could be sorted out, which involved placing lots of chairs, a patchwork of rugs, the stairs up to the bedroom and many paintings plus a tree-like sculpture. The door was in the same place as before, but that was the only similarity to the previous set which I could spot. There was also a telephone on the floor on the left side of the stage, a chaise centre back and a wooden block at the very front of the stage on which stood a brightly-coloured Buddha statue.

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