Mood Music is all about the music industry and the pains of creativity. It is a powerful journey into the dark heart of music-making — and surely a candidate for best play of the year.
The theatrical repertoire has a new monster: music producer-creator-arranger Bernard, created by Joe Penhall in Mood Music and brought to scorchingly memorable, sociopathically irresistible life by Ben Chaplin. Who is wonderful. Made for the part.
Joe Penhall’s new play Mood Music is set in the music industry and examines the complex and tricky personalities whose deep and longstanding knowledge of how the ‘business’ works means they have become adept at manipulating every system.
Ben Chaplin will be taking on the role of Bernard in the world premiere of Joe Penhall’s new play Mood Music at The Old Vic, replacing Rhys Ifans who is withdrawing from the production due to family reasons.
In light of Roman Tragedies reminding us of the vast potential of what Shakespeare can be rather than the tendency towards the ‘proper’ readings of his work that we tend to get here in the UK (vast generalisations I know, but can you really argue against it…), it’s gratifying to see directors, and venues, taking the opportunity to stretch those traditional notions.
Shakespeare’s Globe is delighted to announce casting for the next two productions in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The White Devil runs from 26 January to 16 April with a press night on 1 February. Othello runs from 23 February to 16 April with a apress night on 2 March.
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!