Jemima Rooper, Kate O’Flynn, Zainab Hasan and Joanna Horton carry a lion’s share delivering the vitriol, pain and helplessness of struggling women in [Blank].
Alice Birch’s experimental new play [Blank] prioritises form over content and is at heart depressingly reactionary.
The Harry Potter team presents a hyped up state-of-the-family play in The End Of History and it just falls flat on its face.
What’s so great about Jack Thorne’s play The End of History (as well as his consistently interesting use of stage directions) is that it has made me pause to think but is all wrapped up in this absorbing family comedy.
Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany are the Harry Potter team. They know how not to bore. But they’ve been here before too in a Royal Court state-of-the-nation mood, and they can make pieces like The End of History just as gripping.
In The End of History Thorne shuffles various perspectives within the family, examining their different experiences of the same events from multiple angles, and while these differences drive wedges between them, ultimately and with hope for the future, he explores the ties that keep people together.
Original History Boy Samuel Barnett takes on the 10 Questions for 10 Years challenge.
Mind the Blog rounds up her favourite female performances in the theatre during 2018.
I’m the last person on earth to utilise a football metaphor, but the recent Pinter at the Pinter press day (showcasing the first two of six productions of the prolific playwright’s one-act plays) is very much a game of two halves.
Beginning with a burst of confetti and ending in a sombre drop of petals, Pinter One is the far darker side of Pinter at the Pinter
“They don’t like you either, my darling”
I found myself enjoying Pinter Two much more than expected and so momentarily forgetting that I’d sworn off the whole thing, I rashly decided to book in for Pinter One, which proves to be an entirely different kind of affair. Not just thematically – it’s an overtly political collection of works and thus considerably darker – but structurally, gathering together no less than nine short pieces, eight of which run together to make the first half.
They’re Press Conference / Precisely / The New World Order / Mountain Language / American Football / The Pres and an Officer / Death / and One for the Road (all directed by Jamie Lloyd) with Ashes to Ashes (directed by the Lia Williams) following after the interval. And so ultimately it feels a bit more like a showcase of Pinter which brings with it some challenges, alongside the interest value in unearthing some lesser-seen works, including a world premiere.
That premiere – The Pres And An Officer – manages the not-unimpressive feat of fully justifying its Trump-a-like as Pinter’s prescience in nailing the vicissitudes of a numbnuts US president is uncanny. Played by a roll-call of guest stars (I saw Jon Culshaw), its a welcome burst of comedy in an otherwise dark affair and you have to laugh, because otherwise you’d cry.
Elsewhere Paapa Essiedu and Sir Antony Sher are grippingly intense in the exquisite torture of One For The Road, and Kate O’Flynn and Maggie Steed are pointedly excellent as a pair of bull-shitting men. And what you get here that you don’t in Pinter 2 is a real sense of how imaginatively flexible Soutra Gilmour’s revolving cube design is as it reconfigures at every available opportunity.
Post-interval, O’Flynn and Essiedu tackle 1996’s Ashes to Ashes, a more typically cryptic work where a couple are talking and yet their meaning is slippery and vague and disturbing and unmissable. Both actors deliver their ‘conversation’ with the utmost conviction, its impossible to drag your eyes from them even as we get darker and more violent and stranger. It’s hard work, as is the whole thing, but worth it for its sheer quality.
Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Pinter One is booking in rep with Pinter Two – The Lover/The Collection at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 20th October
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Jamie Lloyd is embarking on an epic project: to stage every single one of the influential playwright Harold Pinter’s short plays over a six month period at the theatre which bears his name. Pinter at the Pinter. Pretty neat huh?
It seems anyone who is anyone has signed up for Jamie Lloyd’s ambitious season of Harold Pinter plays at the appropriately named Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End.
The stony word is PINTER, and this launches a short season marking his death ten years ago by assembling, in seven sets, all his short playlets, sketches and poems, with starry casts including (in this first set) Paapa Essiedu, Maggie Steed and Antony Sher.
By emphasising the common themes in Pinter One and the topicality of their subject matter, this a very strong start for the Pinter at the Pinter season.
Further all-star casting has been announced for Jamie Lloyd Company’s Pinter at the Pinter, an unparalleled event featuring all twenty short plays written by Harold Pinter in the West End theatre that bears his name.
How to split these three? Why would you even want to. Their effortless grace, their ferociously detailed complexity, their heart-breaking connectivity, all three will live long in my mind.
Thinking about this most well-received of plays, it is the role of Aunt Maggie Faraway who lingers most in my mind, the elegiac beauty of her speeches an elegant way of folding in traditions of Irish storytelling and emphasising the deep bonds of family.
Love her or hate her, Katie Mitchell is surely our most bravely iconoclastic theatre director working in Britain today. If Robert Lepage is the magician who smoothes the cracks between technology and stagecraft, Katie Mitchell is the one who adds tough edginess.
And what an excruciating, yet devastatingly brilliant, two hours they are. The play shows episodes from the life of the women of one family spread over three time periods: one starts in the 1970s, the next in the 1990s and the third in the 2030s.
“It’s an honour just to be nominated…” Come award season, these words are often heard but you do have to wonder what it feels like to be the only member of a four person ensemble that isn’t up for an Olivier Award.
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