Chris Hannan’s new play What Shadows, which transfers to London’s Park Theatre this month starring Ian McDiarmid, centres on the life of one woman was affected by former Wolverhampton Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s controversial 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech. Beyond mere reputation, how well do you know the speech? Full speech here.
On 10 October 2017, Mates co-founder Terri Paddock will talk to the company of Chris Hannan’s What Shadows, inspired by Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech, now receiving its London premiere in a strictly limited season at the Park Theatre. Got any questions?
Olivier and Tony Award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid will play MP Enoch Powell in Chris Hannan’s searing play What Shadows when it transfers to London’s Park Theatre next month. Full London casting is now announced.
Forty-five years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel terrified an entire generation, The Exorcist will be unleashed onto the West End stage for the very first time, opening at the Phoenix Theatre in October.
Full casting has been announced for One Love: The Bob Marley Musical which premieres at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in a limited run from 10 March to 8 April 2017.
Nigel Harman and Sarah Hadland star in the UK première of What’s In A Name?, which runs at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 27 January to 11 February 2017.
This new musical based on the films has been written and will be directed by Debbie Isitt and will open at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 20 October 2017.
There’s a well-earned hurrah (or should that be scream?) for this evening of hokum that’s currently playing in Birmingham over the Halloween fortnight. As the audience take their seats the house lights are gradually built up to a full on brightness before plunging the auditorium into a shriek-filled darkness and we’re off.
The premiere of One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, a new musical focusing on a defining period of global legend Bob Marley’s life and career in the 1970s, will open at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in March 2017. It has a limited season from 10 March to 8 April 2017.
Olivier and Tony Award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid plays MP Enoch Powell in the world premiere of Chris Hannan’s new play What Shadows, which is directed by Roxana Silbert and runs at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 27 October to 12 November 2016.
A new production of The Exorcist, directed by Sean Mathias, will receive its UK premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from Friday 21 October to Saturday 5 November 2016. The cast features Jenny Seagrove in the role of Chris, Peter Bowles as Father Merrin and Adam Garcia as Damien.
rom Wales to this easternmost festival Tamara Harvey – newish artistic director of Theatr Clwyd – brings a new play by Elinor Cook. It’s about two young men – celebrated climbers, Everest-conquerors, bonded buddies – and their interaction with a young woman engrossed in a PhD about “folk songs, war, travel, heroes, the romantic era..”
There is a heartbreaking majesty to this Talawa Theatre production and in this anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, and with more Lears on the way, Don Warrington sets the bar very high. His Lear is every inch a King.
Revival of Alan Bennett’s classic double bill about the Cambridge Spies is resonant, but only takes off in the second half.
MEERA SYAL’S MEENA…A MEMORY OF THE 70s, THOUGHTFUL FOR TODAY Any show playing Slade and T. Rex standards before the curtain has me well softened up So does the wide, generous vision of Meera Syal, whose 1996 novel (set twenty … Continue reading →
Theatre Royal Haymarket, London
Written by Mary ChaseDirected by Lindsay Posner
Maureen Lipman and James Dreyfus
There are few shows in town more charming than Lindsay Posner’s re-working of this 1940’s all-American fable. Widowed Veta Simmons lodges with her daughter in the home of her wealthy brother Elwood P Dowd. Yet much is amiss, for as Simmons strives to keep up a genteel facade of normality, Dowd’s closest confidante is Harvey, an invisible giant rabbit and much of the play hinges upon the anguish that his behaviour causes to his loved ones.
This parable of the savant, who in today’s jargon would be classified as somewhere on the autistic spectrum and yet who sees his world with a clarity denied his fellows, has already been explored in Rain Man and Forrest Gump. Yet Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winner preceded those modern classics by some decades and as her Harvey lifts the curtain on a petty-minded small town, so we see Dowd’s noble and chivalrous pursuit of all that is good in life, shine out as a beacon amongst his morally flawed peers, all signed up to the rat-race.
James Dreyfus is Dowd bringing a comic pathos to a beautifully created character. We laugh at the witty excellence of his performance though with a compassionate chuckle rather than the poking of cruel fun at a Bedlam lunatic. Dreyfus convinces us of his belief in Harvey and at the same time plays the straightest of bats as his (and the company’s) pinpoint timing sees the plot’s farcical elements unfold delightfully.
Opposite Dreyfus is Maureen Lipman’s Veta. Amongst the best actors of her generation, Lipman commands our sympathy as she strives to find a suitor for Myrtle Mae her grown daughter, whilst supporting her brother’s mental frailty. We feel her frustration at the difficulties she has to manage, yet at the finale we almost weep at the loving compassion she shows her sibling. Powerful stuff indeed, although glossing over the physical abuse Veta inadvertently suffers in the local sanitarium, as comedy rather than the ghastly brutality that it truly represents, is perhaps the script’s only flaw. It was to be another thirty years before Jack Nicholson’s Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was to define how the cruelty of mental institutions should truly be portrayed.
Dreyfus and Lipman lead a marvellous troupe. Ingrid Oliver’s Myrtle Mae nails the awkward self-centredness of a girl on the cusp of womanhood, whilst Sally Scott’s psychiatric Nurse Kelly is a clever portrayal of cutely cognisant compassion. David Bamber is psychiatrist Dr Chumley, a medic who undergoes a Damascene conversion of his own with Bamber giving the complex role the comic mania it deserves. The play’s endgame sees Linal Haft, in a tiny role, play a cab driver whose revelatory monologue moves both hearts and minds. (And those eagle-eyed and over 40 may recall Haft’s Melvyn, the much put-upon son to Lipman’s Beattie in the BT 1980s ad campaign.)
Peter McKintosh’s set displays an ingenious elegance as interlocking revolves shift the action between home and clinic, whilst meticulous design in both costume and wigs set the time and tone perfectly.
Old fashioned for sure and with American accents that occasionally grate, the show is a curiosity of a production, but nonetheless bravo to the Birmingham Rep and its co-producers for having taken it on the road. When late into the second act, as Dowd reveals that during his lifetime he has known what it is to be “smart” as well as what it is to be profoundly pleasant, it is with a moving wisdom that he reports (and we feel chastened), that “being pleasant” is nicer. An allegory with the feel-good warmth of an adult fairy tale, Harvey makes for excellent theatre performed by a fabulous cast.
Runs until 2nd May 2015
Birmingham REP; 19th March 2015 With the shrill note of a traditional circus whistle, the piped nostalgia of calliope refrains that accompanies us while we take our seats is swiftly replaced by pounding beats of tribal dance music, and we’re launched into the thrilling fantasy of Cirque Berserk. This is not circus-theatre, or dance-circus, but […]
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