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WINTER SOLSTICE – Orange Tree

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Roland Schimmelpfennig’s 2013 play Winter Solstice receives its British premiere at the Orange Tree in this Actors Touring Company production directed by Ramin Gray. And it is well worth the effort as though it may flirt with the experimental, it also cuts through to the elemental – as piercing an insight into the rise of the far right as we’ve seen on any stage.

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THE TEMPEST – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

For a departing artistic director, especially here, Shakespeare’s last plays are a natural choice: great poetic anthems of reconciliation and renunciation. Hence this winter Cymbeline, Pericles, The Winter’s Tale and now The Tempest, with the poet’s strange final moment of burying the book, abjuring rough magic, abdicating. Dominic Dromgoole, after eleven adventurous, globe-circling years here, is the first to stage a farewell in winter, in the little candlelit Wanamaker playhouse completed so beautifully on his watch.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Measure For Measure is one of Shakespeare’s problematic
plays, a comedy that can be difficult to come to terms with for modern
audiences. The mix of bawdy banter and religious fervour is a heady one and Dominic Dromgoole, in his last
directorial outing as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s
Globe
, gives both sides of the argument equal time.

By now I’ve grown to expect an interesting preamble whenever
I see a show at the Globe, from the decadence of Cleopatra’s court to the
capering of a Dromio in Comedy of Errors it pays to be in your seat early… Even
I wasn’t prepared for the anarchy of bawds and whores cooing at the audience
and dragging punters into their houses while the constable gives chase. Its
choreographed anarchy and brilliant fun!

At it’s heart the
show swings around Angelo and Isabella, the former a pious lord who rules
Vienna in the stead of the departed Duke, the latter the sister of a man
sentenced to death for impregnating a young lady who was not his wife. Kurt Egyiawan makes for a particularly
rigid Angelo and the scene where he fails to control his lust for Isabella’s
purity is beautifully played. Mariah
Gale
’s Isabella is a beacon of wholesome devotion, save for the moment her
brother begs her to offer up her body in payment for his freedom and she lashes
out at his face. She gives her character layers of conflicting feelings, though
sometimes her voice fails to carry nearly as well as her castmates.

The drama of Isabella’s dilemma is a stark contrast to the
slapstick comedy elsewhere as prostitutes and men of ill repute are rounded up
by the dim-witted Constable Elbow. The two tones give the play some much needed
levity but occasionally threaten to overwhelm the seriousness of the story.

The whole is orchestrated with aplomb by Dominic Rowan’s fast-talking Duke.
Often portrayed as a wise and benevolent benefactor, Rowan gives him the air of
a man making it up as he goes along and never truly sure of what will happen
next. A refreshing take.

As Dromgoole’s globe farewell this is perhaps a lacklustre
choice, but not for want of some great ensemble work. Even in baking heat the
cast were a blur of motion – not easy in woollen costumes that had already been
worn once that day I’m sure!

AH, WILDERNESS! Young Vic, SE1

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

THE SANDS OF TIME YIELD UP THEIR DREAMS This is Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy: the moment when from his vortex of family addiction, illness, loneliness, romantic seaward longings and deep human empathy came a spurt of hope. It is set … Continue reading →