Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Rebecca Frecknall’s production of Three Sisters.
The achievement of Rebecca Frecknall’s new production, as with her recent mega success with Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke is to speak to modern sensitivities with a clarity of vision that struck this viewer anyway as turning Three Sisters into a young person’s rite of passage.
Chekhov classic from the team behind the West End hit Summer and Smoke is too middle of the road
The post Three Sisters, Almeida Theatre appeared first on Aleks Sierz.
After the interval, The Three Sisters, mercifully, in mood and pace, could be a different play. I left happy enough. But goodness, the first scenes badly need more vigour. And a trim.
It is a vibrant and meaningful interpretation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters that reaps rewards. Keep on an eye on this new theatre partnership, it could be around for many years to come.
Annie Washburn’s new play Shipwreck is intended as a reckoning with Trump. The show pitches itself as a invitation to dinner with the 45th President, but unfortunately would be better described as an evening of meandering chat with a cast of confused New York liberals.
Anne Washburn’s latest offering, Shipwreck, is a marathon play at the Almeida Theatre that takes direct aim at the Trump Administration.
Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Rupert Goold’s production of Shipwreck, playing at the Almeida Theatre until 30 March 2019.
Shipwreck has its moments and the cast are uniformly excellent, but without strong character investment it dwindles to little more than a few well-hashed arguments we’ve all heard before.
Matthew Lopez’s epic two-part drama The Inheritance was the big winner at the 2018 Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards held today at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End, hosted by Critics’ Circle Drama Section chairman Mark Shenton.
Full casting has been announced for the highly-anticipated West End transfer of the Almeida’s production of The Twilight Zone which transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre from 4 March 2019 (press night is 8 March).
Almeida Theatre, London ***
Runs: 1hr 40mins without interval
© Marc Brenner, Simon Russell Beale. Richard II, down and out…
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In person: 10am-7.30pm (Mon-Sat)
Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Jan 2, 2019:
Much as I admire Rupert Goold, I have to admit that if it weren’t for Simon Russell Beale, I’m not sure I’d have stayed the course with Joe Hill-Gibbins latest excursion into Shakespeare.
Hill-Gibbins, something of a protégé of the last Young Vic regime under David Lan produced a couple of Shakespeares at the Young Vic – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure for Measure that even then left me more than a little baffled.
The Hill-Gibbins’ treatment now comes to the Almeida and clearly fits in nicely with the Almeida’s current trend for modish, modernist deconstruction, severe editing and rushing through lines as if terrified audiences will lose the will to live – or more importantly, concentration if allowed to linger too long over the words and extended narrative.
© Marc Brenner, Leo Bill’s `action man’ Bolingbroke dispatching his enemies, Saskia Reeves’s Bushy and Martins Imhangbe’s Bagot…
That is perhaps being a little too trivial. The Almeida’s extensive programme notes delve deeply into the whys and wherefores of leadership and belief systems. I’m tempted to say that you could as well buy the programme, take it home and read it and get as much from the production as you will watching its one hour and forty minutes duration.
But that would be to miss out on Russell Beale’s Richard which, counter-intuitively, and although played as a dress rehearsal for King Lear (which he played notably at the National Theatre only recently), would be a shame. Russell Beale who could draw sympathy from the reading of a telephone book were such a thing still in existence, enhances Richard’s already self-pity laden persona and makes it something at once tragic and furious.
The character of Richard has some of the most limpid, resonant speeches on kingship in the Shakespeare oeuvre – nowhere more so than in the play’s second half and his enforced abdication of the crown to Bolingbroke.
Hill-Gibbins piles on the humiliation with buckets of water, earth and dust thrown at Richard, in case you miss the point. Still, Russell Beale’s delivery of text rises above the hammer blows of conceptual theatre with which Hill-Gibbins burdens his production.
The programme also contains heartfelt essays from prisoners interred in solitary consignment over decades. Harrowing in the extreme, barbarous in nature, this production clearly takes its cue from such terrible ordeals in terms of Richard’s psychological journey.
Ultz’s clever design too feeds into the idea, presenting a simple grey square box set studded with panels as if resembling a prison or armour or perhaps even what were once called the padded cells of lunatic asylums.
© Marc Brenner, Simon Russell Beale as Richard II in final moments of kingship berating the others, lords and bystanders – `conveyers’, he calls them…
Within this confined space, Russell Beale leads a small band of `other characters’ who include his usurper, Leo Bill’s Bolingbroke and the others – Mowbray, Bushy, Green, Northumberland, York – warring lords who, I suppose, Hill Gibbins wanting to point up their parallels with our warring politicians in Westminster – shout and scream with childish petulance.
There seems a particular penchant, chez the Almeida and elsewhere to scramble over words. Here, if you didn’t know the play, you might wonder – apart from Russell Beale who might be in another production altogether given the difference in textual delivery – who on earth and what on earth was going on. Heaven forfend time should be taken capturing detail or nuance.
© Marc Brenner, Simon Russell Beale and Leo Bill. Richard and Bolingbroke. Here, take the crown, no, wait a minute, no…
Against the odds, a couple of moments do emerge with clarity: Richard’s renunciation to Bolingbroke, Bill and Russell Beale, heads pressed closely together, Russell Beale spitting out the words, `Convey! Conveyers are you all, that rise thus nimbly by a true king’s fall.’ And the regularly favourite scene, almost a farce, of the Yorks, Duke and Duchess, trying to save their son, Aumerle, from the block after discovery of his `treason.’
But in all good faith, I was hard pressed to reconcile the ideas taken from the programme regarding `leadership’ – good and bad – and `action man’ versus dissolute romantic and believer of his divine right to rule from this production. Russell Beale has such stature on stage that beside him, Leo Bill’s Bolingbroke cuts an impetuous, shouty, but subordinate figure.
All very strange. Joseph Mydell adds gravitas as Gaunt whilst fine actors such as Saskia Reeves, John Mackay, Robin Weaver with Martins Imhangbe and Natalie Klamar clamber and rush around the stage with buckets of red paint and water, to diminishing effect.
Unmissable if you’re a Simon Russell Beale fan. For the rest, just baffling.
The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
by William Shakespeare
King Richard the Second: Simon Russell Beale
Bolingbroke: Leo Bill
Bagot/Aumerle: Martins Imhangbe
Carlisle: Natalie Klamar
York: John Mackay
Gaunt/Willoughby: Joseph Mydell
Mowbray/Bushy/Green/Duchess of York: Saskia Reeves
Northumberland: Robin Weaver
Direction: Joe Hill-Gibbins
Light: James Farncombe
Sound: Peter Rice
Dramaturg: Jeff James
Casting: Ginny Schiller CDG
Costume Supervisor: Claire Wardroper
Associate Designer: Charlotte Espiner
Resident Director: Lucy Wray
First perf of this revival of The Tragedy of Richard the Second at Almeida Theatre, Dec 10, 2018; runs to Feb 2, 2019.
Review published on this site, Jane 3, 2019
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Simon Russell Beale and Leo Bill shine in Joe Hill-Gibbins’ perfectly reimagined The Tragedy of King Richard the Second at the Almeida Theatre.
I finally saw sense — or admitted defeat, depending on how you look at it. After what feels like a lifetime of chasing my tail as I tried to see everything – or at least everything that was hotly tipped and/or well-reviewed — I simply gave up the battle.
Borrowing a technique from American long-form TV drama, The Tragedy of King Richard The Second begins in medias res. The wonderful Simon Russell Beale steps forward, ashen-faced, to deliver the “I have been studying how I may compare/This prison where I live unto the world” speech from Act 5.
The Tragedy of King Richard The Second is not stately, sacred, shockingly regicidal Shakespeareana. This is a brawl, a nasty coup against a hopeless king, a howl of rage at what fools, in power politics, these mortals be.
Currently my favourite partnership of Simon Russell Beale and Shakespeare is at work in The Tragedy of King Richard the Second (or Richard II if you prefer, and as the person typing this I very much do) at the Almeida.
Top theatres across the UK, including nominees from London, Manchester, Nottingham, Wales and Scotland, have made the shortlist for The Stage Awards 2019.
Summer and Smoke had a successful run at the Almeida theatre earlier in the year. The reviews at the time were ecstatic but tickets were impossible to get, so it was great news to hear that it had been given a West End transfer.
The Almeida Theatre has announced the full cast for the world premiere of Shipwreck by Anne Washburn (The Twilight Zone, Mr Burns), directed by the venue’s artistic director Rupert Goold, running from 12 February to 30 March 2019 (press night is 19 February).