Monday 10 April 2017

A brace of theatre outings, both comedic and dramatic with a heap of theatrical flair...

3rd April - 9th April 2017

The Philanthropist - Trafalgar Studios

This week was relatively quiet compared to last with just two trips to the theatre, one play right at the start of it's run and the other right at the end, so without further ado...

The Philanthropist

This revival of Christopher Hampton's play from the seventies comes to the Trafalgar Studios featuring several young British comedians with cult followings, namely Simon Bird from the 'Inbetweeners', his co-star from 'Friday Night Dinner' Tom Rosethal and Matt Berry from 'Toast Of London' and 'Garth Marenghi's Dark Place', (an absolute little seen classic), rounding out the cast are Charlotte Ritchie from 'Call The Midwife' apparently and Lily Cole, however Cole was ill that night so her understudy Lowenna Melrose played her role.

The seating layout's been changed since our last visit to see 'Buried Child' and we'd managed to score front row tickets quite cheap as it was also the second preview night also.
The play itself was apparently written in response to a play by french playwright Molière called 'The Misanthrope', (we haven't see it so don't know the reasoning behind it), however it had the feel of a play we caught last year which was originally written in French, called 'The Truth' with similar 'bourgeois comedy' traits.

The play is played out on one living room/dining room set over the course of a dinner party and the following day and focuses on a group of university lecturers, students and a novelist who are entangled in relationships throughout the night which affect them all come the following day and expose their weaknesses and narcissistic personalities.

Trust me it's a lot funnier than it sounds.

Simon Bird does much of the heavy lifting being on stage for practically the entire play, and acquits himself admirably in the role of Philip which suits his brow beaten demeanour, perfected in the 'Inbetweeners', whilst Tom Rosenthal as his best friend Don is his sarcastic best, and they display much of the chemistry which they display in 'Friday Night Dinner'.

Charlotte Ritchie is great as Bird's girlfriend Celia and Lowenna Melrose stood out in particular as flirtatious Araminta and played the part so well you wouldn't have known she was the understudy.

Matt Berry suits the role of self centred novelist Braham perfectly, wearing an especially impressive purple velvet suit. He did have a slight wobble however in the midst of one of his lengthy passages, and completely lost his train of thought, eventually leaving the stage, shortly followed by the rest of the cast. They then returned about ten minutes later, apologised and started again from the start of the scene. Despite some in the audience around us muttering about the 'unprofessional' and 'under rehearsed' nature of this, (they must have some insider knowledge obviously...), it was only the second performance in front of an audience and quite frankly didn't bother us one bit, this is live theatre after all and people are human...

The play explores some darker twists and turns in the second half but still retains a streak of jet black humour throughout and was a highly entertaining evening out, well worth seeing.

It's on until the 22nd of July.

The Kid Stays In The Picture

Thursday night saw us visiting a theatre which we've passed countless times before but have never visited, the Royal Court Theatre at Sloane Square.

We were there to see 'The Kid Stays In The Picture' which is a play based on the autobiography of Robert Evans, the former actor and head of Paramount Pictures, responsible for ushering to the screen such classics as 'The Godfather', 'Chinatown', 'Love Story' and 'Rosemary's Baby'.

His life and career had a stratospheric rise to the top and after achieving untold achievements with Paramount everything took a downward turn until his eventual return to the limelight with the titular memoirs.

The impressive old-school marquee of the Royal Court Theatre...

The play is performed by a cast of eight who take on various roles at a breakneck pace, as the story flies through the story using a combination of effects, both audio and visual, to portray phone conversations, trains of thought, historical events and re-stage sections from the films themselves which Evans helped bring to fruition.

There is a glass screen at the rear of the stage which at points moves forwards and backwards, on which projections of sections of text from the autobiography appear as they are performed, and also acts as a screen on which a silhouette of Evans can be seen narrating, it also sometimes acts as a window to separate a different set which gives us as a viewer the sense that we are watching the action recreated on a screen, which fittingly melds with Evans' life which is tied to the silver screen.

There is also the use of roving cameras which focus on performers against projected backgrounds and display situations, plus teleprompters at the front of the stage, which some have commented is 'cheating', however I think the actual significance of them is being misinterpreted as it gives the audience the sense that we are watching a read-through, almost radio play type account of significant times throughout his life and the way the scenes are arranged, such as the line of microphones at which the performers line up and read sections sharing the text gives the impression of the old radio dramas.

The show runs two and a half hours with an interval but it flies by, at times hilarious, touching and frustrating to see such ambition sometimes being the cause of Evans' downfall.

Unfortunately the production has ended, however hopefully it will get a revival at some point as regardless of the fantastic story and subject matter, the technicalities involved in not only the various multimedia aspects, but also the spot on stage choreography ,means this is a show not soon forgotten and is all the more enjoyable for its unique approach.

If it does reappear at any point get a ticket!!

Well that's all for this week, next week sees a brace of live music, some cinema, art and a bit of classic theatre. Until then, get inspired...!

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