Empathetic revival of Zinnie Harris’s 2000 play about a lost world and small island longings
Malevolent forces shaping small communities is a strong premise for all kinds of drama, from the arrival of outsiders that tend to be the focus of horror to the power shifts of Pinter plays that upset the status quo with new authorities forming that overshadow the existing order. Zinnie Harris’ 2000 play Further Than the Furthest Thing combines these ideas with broader notions of industrialisation and the religious management of a community relatively untroubled by the outside world until one if its returning sons brings change.
This feels like a moment; I haven’t been able to do a best of theatre list since 2019 because of ‘you know what’. It’s been huge fun revisiting the plays I’ve seen – nearly 50. And while that total is down on pre-pandemic levels, it was still tricky to narrow down my choices, but here goes.
Leaving the former Young Vic production a lad far too young to remember 1968 said sadly to me: “It was the beginning of Now, wasn’t it?” He is right. James Graham’s play Best of Enemies, now spectacularly in the West End, is about the TV confrontations between the arch-conservative William F. Buckley and the maverick gay liberal Gore Vidal during an American election. But it also neatly prefigures today’s divisions, demonstrations and intolerances.
It is always exciting seeing van Hove’s work for the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam with its cinematic vision encapsulated in theatrical form. Here in Who Killed My Father at the Young Vic Theatre there is both intimacy and scale that neatly capture the contradictions and complexities of loving a family member. The title of this work may not be a question but it certainly makes a statement.
I can now say I’ve seen Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio on stage. OK, so they were on telly on stage, but that is technically on stage. Kate and Leo were in Titanic mode, the favourite film of the son in Who Killed My Father. His homophobic father initially refuses to get him the video for his birthday.
With its energetic arguments, moments of great charm, gritty humour, and mix of filth and idealism, Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Chasing Hares at the Young Vic is both relevant and contemporary.
Exploitation can take many forms and sometimes it even begins with a creative opportunity. Sonali Bhattacharyya’s lead character in new play Chasing Hares at the Young Vic takes a while to find themselves confronting a major moral dilemma but the road to it begins with storytelling, imagination and character creation.
The Young Vic presents a rather sexy version of Oklahoma! that replaces twee interpretations of cowboy country with a throbbing desire that inflicts the inhabitants of this rural town, and becomes a fascinating technical exercise in deconstructing a musical.
Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope star as artistic legends in The Collaboration but Anthony McCarten’s play at the Young Vic doesn’t thrill.
James Graham’s latest history play has an eye on the present but a messy staging.
James Graham’s new play Best of Enemies takes us back to the 1960s, demonstrating that the roots of our division partially lay in the creation of televised intellectual debating.
Cush Jumbo is excellent, and there’s a great Ophelia, but do we really need another Hamlet? Three hours plus at the Young Vic will soon tell you
Moulin Rouge! The Musical triumphed in 10 categories at the 74th Tony Awards, including being named Best Musical, but there was also British success, with Rob Howell and Hugh Vanstone winning awards for their design work on the Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol (5) and Stephen Daldry named Best Director for his staging of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance (4), originally at London’s Young Vic Theatre before its West End transfer.
Site specific theatre hasn’t been easy over the last eighteen months – in fact you can take out the first two words of that statement. It’s been tricky enough getting regular venues open, let alone some of the more esoteric settings which were used before you know what kicked off. A production that it would probably be almost impossible to revive now is Clare Bayley’s The Container which happened at the Young Vic in 2009. Set in an actual shipping container near to the theatre it allowed for just 28 audience members each time crammed onto uncomfortable benches around the perimeter with a narrow central strip for the 6 performers to use. 34 bodies in close proximity packed into a metal box with no sense of social distancing and not a mask to be seen; even Covid deniers might baulk.
The Young Vic’s main stage reopens with Booker Prize winner Ben Okri’s short play Changing Destiny, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah has announced a new season of work, Welcome Back and Welcome Home, welcoming theatre-makers and audiences back through the doors for the first time since the venues’s 50th Birthday celebrations in October 2020.
Nimax Theatres, the Criterion Theatre, Young Vic and Chichester Festival Theatre are among the 2,700 organisations being offered nearly £400 million in grants and loans as part of the CultureRecovery Fund’s second tranche of funding.
Mark Shenton welcomes headlines featuring Stratford East, the National, the British Library and community involvement from Waterloo to Wales.
The RSC, Young Vic and Theatre for a New Audience have a difficult but fascinating task ahead in re-creating lost work Swingin’ the Dream that honours the original while offering something new to modern audiences.