David Hare is one of those playwrights who talks with enormous imaginative sympathy about the work of other writers. To read what he says about John Osborne or Harold Pinter is to have your view of them changed for ever. But when he first had the idea of writing about his own life, as opposed to his work, he was unsure.
Theatre should be an adventure. At least some of the time. But often it isn’t. So much of the time it’s rather predictable and, dare I say, a bit boring. After going to the theatre for many years, the whole experience is so well known that every cell in your body moves through the street, into foyer and then into your seat without half your senses being aware of the process. So it’s great that with their latest show, Invisible Treasure, theatre-makers fanSHEN join a cohort of groups whose aim is to shake up audience expectations.
David Hare’s charming new play is a very English account of a very English institution – Glyndebourne. The Moderate Soprano tells the story of John Christie, an eccentric English businessman who in the 1930s decided to build an opera house next to his house and garden in Sussex, thus creating Glyndebourne. But he didn’t do it alone.
Lurid satire on the British tabloids returns with a vengeance in a hilarious evening of sharp jokes and farce
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Once upon a time, quite recently, you couldn’t move for plays about youth. Now, there’s been an avalanche of dramas about ageing, usually in the context of dementia and family life. Maybe all of our main playwrights have suddenly grown up, or maybe the endless quest for novelty has deposited us on the shores of the current trend-setting idea. Nicola Wilson’s Royal Court debut is yet another play about Alzheimer’s, ageing and memory, but is it any different from Florian Zeller’s The Father, April de Angelis’ After Electra or Emma Adams’s Animals?
On my way to see this show, I had to walk across Soho in central London. No fewer than five people asked me for money; one was a real hassle. Yes, I know the government says that the economy is booming, but the record number of homeless in the capital tells a very different story. Yes, I bumped into five of them in 15 minutes, although I know there are thousands more. And maybe one of them is, like this play, called Joanne.
It’s a question of faithfulness. Should an adaptation be faithful to its original source, or can it just take off and roam around like a free spirit? I must say that new versions of classics that stick closely to the original bore me rigid. I mean, if you’re not going to make big changes, why bother? I much prefer adaptations which are imaginative offshoots rather than those which remain slavish growths.
Over the past quarter century the reputation of toff playwright Terence Rattigan has been restored, mainly by strong stagings of his classic dramas, such as Deep Blue Sea. But his first smash hit, French Without Tears, has been the unicorn of his output — often talked about, often mentioned, often remembered, but never actually seen. Now Paul Miller, the ever-enterprising artistic director of the Orange Tree, has brought this unicorn into public view, allowing audiences to enjoy a joyful sighting of a rare beast.