HAPGOOD – Hampstead Theatre

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Because of the instability of the present there’s always a faint whiff of nostalgia for the old certainties of the past. And the Cold War era has its very own allure. This can be seen in two current successes: that of the revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1988 play, Hapgood, and of a new play by American playwright Mia Chung, You for Me for You, which takes a look behind the bamboo curtain at North Korea. When it was first staged, Stoppard’s play was widely seen as incomprehensible, with a labyrinthine plot which puzzled not only the characters of the story itself, but audiences as well. And Cold War certainties are surely not so comforting if they are, well, uncertain.

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NEWS: Howard Davies directs Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood at Hampstead

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Written by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard and directed by Howard Davies, Hampstead Theatre is delighted to present Hapgood, with previews commencing from Friday 4 December 2015. Full casting to be announced. “I can’t remember which side I’m supposed to be working for, and it is not in fact necessary for me to know…” London 1988. The Cold War is approaching …

FOR SERVICES RENDERED – Chichester Festival Theatre

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

It’s fitting that in a Chichester Festival Theatre season that
ends with three of Chekhov’s early works they also feature a play so indebted
to his introspective, often melancholic style. Like Chekhov, W. Somerset Maugham has crafted a play
that has a tendency to be fascinating and at times incredibly frustrating but
that certainly deserves attention.

The plot centres on the home of a
country solicitor and the slow disintegration of his family playing out as we
watch. There are some incredibly well thought out performances, not the least
from Stella Gonet as the matriarch whose
perfect manners and visible love for her family hide the fact she is
desperately ill. Her children are all, in some way, broken and she initially
throws herself into looking after them before finally admitting defeat, and
confessing her relief that her days are numbered.

Her son Sidney, blinded in the Great
War thuds about the set, his walking stick bouncing off the furniture as he
hides his distress below a thick layer of sarcasm. It’s a fine depiction by Joseph Kloska whose vacant stares are
often somewhat unsettling and whose disability allows him to say what other
characters won’t.

Elsewhere youngest sister Lois is
pursued by an aging lothario while eldest sister Eve shows signs of cracking
under the pressure of caring for her family. Justine Mitchell gives Eva a distinct vulnerability and we get the
impression she was never allowed to grieve for the love she lost to World War
I. Sadly her burgeoning romance with the seemingly disinterested Collie is
incredibly clunky and the long pauses (presumably director Howard Davies intention is to make the situation uncomfortable to
watch) come across almost as if neither actor is quite sure where the scene is
going.

There are moments too when the script
descends into clichéd “stiff upper lip” territory that borders on pastiche.

Thankfully though, such moments
are followed by more dark humour and gloomy contemplation – a tone Maugham
seems much more comfortable with. But the lasting impression is of a play that
isn’t quite worthy of the fine cast performing it!

TEMPLE – Donmar Warehouse

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

ALL FIVE MICE REJOICE (CHURCH MICE, CLEARLY)  FOR A MODERN HISTORY-PLAY Above the table cluttered with  last-night’s paper cups, high windows show St Paul’s dome; the distant chanting is not of choristers but demonstrators, and the black-clad Dean looking out in … Continue reading →