Delayed two years by the pandemic, one of the most hotly anticipated shows of 2020 finally makes it to the stage in 2022. The combination of TV writer and former Dr Who showrunner Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith proves irresistible as The Unfriend finally premieres in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre and it has been worth the wait.
Following successful runs at The Theatre Upstairs in Dublin and The Vault Festival, Sacrament now comes to the King’s Head Theatre’s Plays on Film season.
Cordelia Lynn’s Hedda Tesman renews Ibsen’s play in the light of today without in any way losing sight of the original. In this age of radical reinterpretations, that’s quite some achievement.
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.
I was enthralled by this fiery revival of Cock which may have lost its initial shock value in the intervening, increasingly liberated, years, but is still capable of being moving, comical and daring thanks to Bartlett’s blistering dialogue.
I was as baffled as anyone to explain why I was on the edge of my seat and engrossed by the inner workings of quantum engineering, astrophysics and nuclear fission as explained in Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen at Chichester Festival Theatre.
William Wycherley’s Restoration romp, The Country Wife, has been given a makeover in Jonathan Munby’s modern, monochrome production at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2018 season, announced today, will feature new plays by Laura Wade and Charlotte Jones and revivals of Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen and musical Flowers For Mrs Harris.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s critically-acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s King Lear, starring Ian McKellen, will receive a West End transfer, running at the Duke of York’s Theatre for 100 performances only from 11 July to 3 November 2018.
The Weir is a piece of theatre that will remind you that at its best all you need are a few good voices with some well-chosen words for a thoroughly enthralling evening.
Any number of shows could have been included in this post; frankly it’s ludicrous that I decided to stick with my whole top 12 idea… As I’ve seen about 90 more individual shows than last year.
Much of my ‘touring’ has been concentrated in Bristol and Chichester; there are a few other UK venues to add to the list, as well as some from my week in New York, of course.
It’s a layered story that opens with a pub quiz, setting the scene for the world of obsessive competition fanatics, laying a direct trail from that bar to the gameshow hot-seat.
James Graham has turned his attention to national greed and our addiction to TV game shows for his latest factional stage play, Quiz, which opened last night on the Minerva stage at Chichester Festival Theatre.
“We in this country,” says the red judge grandly, “Do not have trial by media or by mobs”. Hmm. Tell that to anyone now staring confusedly at the wreckage of reputation and career because an employer’s took instant fright at a Twitterstorm.
Ian McKellen immediately makes the intimate space his own, the dialogue almost conversational and his Lear a warm-hearted soul with a twinkle in his eye. This is surely as good as it gets, an actor using every bit of knowledge he has acquired in a storied career to make his role feel so natural.
Political turmoil. It’s nothing new. And we are certainly reminded of that here! Set during the troubled Labour Government of the mid to late seventies, This House plays out, for the most part, in the Whips offices, the difference between the two like that of a Gentleman’s club to a working mans pub.
Fracking is something of a contentious subject in West Sussex, so where better to stage Alistair Beaton’s new comedy Fracked! (or: Please don’t use the word). Littered with references to very recent events (including Boris Johnson and Southern trains) you can’t help but feel the playwright is hidden in the theatre somewhere
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
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
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!
Sixty or so years ago, Jean Anouilh’s works were popular enough for the BBC to broadcast a recording of him reading one of his plays in the original French. These days he’s hardly a household name, but he still maintains enough popularity for his work to be
readily revisited. Chichester Festival Theatre have regularly produced productions of his plays and this translation, by Jeremy Sams who also directs, was originally put together for a production at the Almeida Theatre way back in 1990.