Sixteen weeks ago the National Theatre At Home season was launched and this week the final show began its one week run. In Amadeus they may just have saved the best until last.
These shows, originally filmed as part of the flagship’s NT Live project, are now available on its YouTube channel. The first is Richard Bean’s gloriously silly farce, One Man, Two, Guvnors, starring the irrepressible and Tony-award winning James Corden.
National Theatre at Home is a huge success. The type of scheme that only large institutions can hope to really pull off but even so, managing the kind of appointment-to-view occasion that was its debut with One Man, Two Guvnors was still a remarkable achievement.
James McAvoy triumphs in Martin Crimp’s magnificent makeover of the French classic Cyrano de Bergerac: a jaw-dropping success.
Reimagined for the modern stage with a contemporary cast led by James McAvoy, Jamie Lloyd’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac feels at every moment like theatre at its most exciting, liberating and inclusive.
Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the Regent Park Open Air Theatre’s revival of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town.
Thornton Wilder’s writing in Our Town feels as fresh and innovative as it must have done in the 1930s and taking an early season risk on a less conventional play ultimately pays off.
I go to the theatre is to be amused or moved or challenged or interested and sadly this collection of Pinter didn’t really reach out across the dark auditorium to me.
Pinter Three features 11 plays, allowing director Jamie Lloyd to vary tone, pace and style with shorter, more amusing sketches bookended by two more heavyweight works; Landscape and A Kind of Alaska.
The Pinter at the Pinter season continues with parts Three and Four which showcase both Pinter’s comic brilliance and his ability to move an audience.
Overall, I really rated Pinter Three. Whether you know your Pinter or not, I’d wager there’s something new for you here. Funny, touching, and staged and performed with real class. Solidly good stuff.
The esteemed company of Pinter at the Pinter is joined by Bríd Brennan, Janie Dee, Tom Edden, Abbie Finn, Robert Glenister, Isis Hainsworth, John Heffernan, Katherine Kingsley, Eleanor Matsuura, Peter Polycarpou, Dwane Walcott and Al Weaver.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical has announced its new adult cast with David Shannon playing Miss Trunchbull alongside Gina Beck as Miss Honey and Tom Edden and Marianne Benedict as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.
Mae West wrote The Drag in 1927 where its frankness about gay lives (and once again, drag ball culture!) scandalised its out-of-town Connecticut and New Jersey audiences so that it never made it to Broadway.
There’s something special in the timelessness of some pieces of theatre, their themes and arguments as relevant to audiences today as they were when they were written years, decades, even centuries ago. Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui falls into the middle category, written in 1941 as an allegorical response to his nation’s fall to Nazism, and was magisterially revived at Chichester a few years back.
Rehearsals are well under way for Bruce Norris’ new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s satirical masterpiece The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, directed by Simon Evans with design by Peter McKintosh. The production, led by Lenny Henry who makes his Donmar debut playing the title role, runs 21 April to 17 June 2017, with a press night on 2 May. Rehearsals photos …
Bruce and Trevor Horn are delighted to announce that together they are creating a new work of musical theatre – provisionally entitled The Robot Sings with an original story and score by the duo.
Lenny Henry is joined in the cast of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Michael Pennington, who recently played King Lear at the Royal & Derngate Northampton, as Dogsborough.
Revival of Peter Shaffer’s most famous play is more a musical triumph than a textual one.
“It would make angels mourn”
Perhaps fittingly, on an evening when beautiful tribute was paid to the late Howard Davies, whose invaluable contribution to the National Theatre (36 productions over 28 years) will sorely be missed, there’s a sense of the passing of the guard with director Michael Longhurst making his main stage debut in the South Bank venue. Longhurst has been establishing himself quite the reputation (Constellations and Linda at the Royal Court, Carmen Disruption at the Almeida, A Number at the Nuffield, an extraordinary Winter’s Tale earlier this year, and the brilliant The Blackest Black at the Hampstead, to name just a few) and his graduation here feels entirely earned.
He makes his bow with Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, a play that premiered at this very theatre in 1979 (another sad loss, as Shaffer passed away this summer) and with the enviable resources to hand here, mounts an excellent production. The play depicts a largely fictionalised version of the intertwined lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri and their rival careers, and the Southbank Sinfonia are on hand to provide live orchestral accompaniment. So that when The Marriage of Figaro is premiered, we get an excerpt; when people read the sheet music, we don’t have to imagine the notes of the page, we hear them out loud.
And though the play takes place in the late eighteenth century Viennese court, the Sinfonia remain in modern dress, a constant reminder of the timelessness of Mozart’s music, how it has endured, thrived even. This is best displayed in a breathtaking sequence that closes the first half, Longhurst at his bravura best. Using the full space of the Olivier, designer Chloe Lamford sweeps a platform forwards, backlit with increasingly powerful floodlights from Jon Clark, on which period-dressed singers contrast with contemporary musicians as they give a soaring rendition of part of the Requiem. Then the lights drop, the musical ecstacy pauses and Lucian Msamati’s Salieri gives an excoriating speech as he’s utterly consumed by jealousy – it’s an extraordinary theatrical moment.
Msamati (following on from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in what must be close to a career-best year for him) is simply superb as the Machiavellian manipulator who can’t believe God has forsaken him for another, his silky asides to the audience rich with biting comedy, his outrage never less than bitterly heartfelt. Adam Gillen is a brattish vision in baby pink Doc Martens along with his finery, a magnificently awesome display of genius-wrapped arrogance that clearly irritates the court as much as his music inspires, and there’s crucial work too from Karla Crome as Mozart’s lover, then wife Constanze, a smaller but no less significant role of real heart.
The biological inaccuracies, such as they are, may still frustrate some but as a psychological study of jealousy, and how we – both as society and individuals – treat those considered to possess genius, Amadeus is a powerful play indeed and this is undoubtedly a stunning production thereof. We’re also amusingly often reminded of the dangers of making judgments – the court often scoffs at Mozart’s work, some people may have previously been unimpressed by this play – but I’m throwing my hat in with this, a resounding success for a cast and creative team at the top of their game, and the perfect tribute to Shaffer.
Running time: 3 hours (with interval)Photos: Marc BrennerBooking until 2nd February, more performances to be announced soon and £20 Friday Rush and £15 Day Tickets available, even for sold out performances.
2016 marks the fourteenth Travelex Tickets season at the National Theatre.
On 2nd February 2017, Amadeus will be broadcast live to over 680 screens around the UK – more info at www.ntlive.com
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