It’s been another crazy busy Stagey week. I moved flats, travelled to Chichester, Kilworth, and Dartford, saw five shows, two cabarets, interviewed nine people and had a very early start on Sunday for a day’s filming.
But more and more, there’s a sense in Hedda Tesman at the Minerva that what you are seeing is some damn fine acting in a rather ho-hum play.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Macbeth, led by John Simm and Dervla Kirwan as the corrupted couple, marks a homecoming for director Paul Miller.
Nicholas Wright’s sharp play imagines the US touring production of the first black Othello and its aftermath in the uneasy years of the McCarthyite search for Communist sympathisers.
There are probably not many people left alive who remember the controversial coast to coast US tour of Othello from 1944. It was remarkable for two reasons. Singer and political firebrand, Paul ‘Ol’ Man River’ Robeson was playing the lead and, as a black man, he was sharing the stage with a white, Desdemona.
If the overall effect of Oklahoma! at Chichester Festival Theatre is more of a puzzle-play than a lollipop romp, so much the better.
This year Chichester Festival Theatre is taking on Oklahoma! with their usual mix of respect for the piece and urge to find a new viewpoint on it.
Amidst editor Lisa Martland’s seven Top Picks from the last week of theatre are Libby Purves’ description of her blissful time at Nicholas Hytner’s immersive production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre and Aleks Sierz’s thoughts on the Kiln Theatre’s new opening, Samuel Adamson’s take on A Doll’s House in Wife.
Ultimately, all eyes are on Rachael Stirling in Plenty and she stylishly carries this story of disillusionment to its inevitable, if uncertain, conclusion.
We’re told Plenty is viewed as a modern classic. For the life of me I have no idea why and the sterling work of this excellent cast can do nothing to dissuade me.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s Olivier Award-nominated production of Singin’ in the Rain will play a strictly limited five-week season at London’s Sadler’s Wells in the summer of 2020, running from 24 July to 30 August 2020 with a press night on 30 July 2020.
I’ve always known that theatres are nice places and that most theatre people are wonderful but I’m currently seeing that confirmed in a completely new way.
Tim Firth’s charming and warm-hearted musical This Is My Family has opened Festival 2019 at Chichester Festival Theatre and it’s impossible not to leave the show with a cheesy grin on your face.
As part of a new series, our editor Lisa Martland picks out seven of her Top Picks from the last week of theatre (29 April-6 May 2019), ranging from Johnny Fox’s nostalgic return to see All My Sons and Maryam Philpott’s thoughts on the much-anticipated Rosmersholm starring Tom Burke and Hayley Atwell.
Frankly, I had qualms about Hugh Bonneville in the role of CS Lewis in Shadowlands: too handsome, too familiar in his evocations of dullish decent steadiness, but before many minutes in the chaffing Common Room scenes which open the play, I could see the point.
Shadowlands isn’t an all-out weepie but there are a few who will find it hard to control their emotions. A well made and moving revival.
Shadowlands, the William Nicholson play that charts the story of C.S. Lewis’ correspondence-turned-relationship with the American poet Joy Gresham, is such a perfect fit for the Chichester audience it’s almost a surprise it isn’t a regular feature here.
This Is My Family is a little gem from Calendar Girls/Neville’s Island writer Tim Firth which blindsided me with its warmth and sense of fun, even when dealing with painful situations.
This is gorgeous. Funny, truthful, wise, and bravely original in form. Anyone with a a family – past, present, remembered, or merely observed in cautious auntly incredulity – should see Tim Firth’s musical This Is My Family.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2019 has been announced by artistic director Daniel Evans. It includes John Simm & Dervla Kirwan in Macbeth, Hugh Bonneville in Shadowlands & Tim Firth’s first solo musical starring James Nesbitt.