If you have been following me for some time, you probably already know that I go to see every and each NT Live broadcast, time permitting. I saw Helen McCrory in both Medea and The Last of the Haussmans and as a huge fan of The Three Musketeers in general I instantly became a fan of Tom Burke’s Athos in BBC The Musketeers. Needless to say, when I found out that both of those actors were going to be on stage at National Theatre, I knew that I would be seeing it for sure. I purchased tickets for both broadcasts (they were a week or so apart, I believe) and set on reading the play beforehand.
This is going to be the review for both the script and National Theatre Live production, as there are some certain differences to Hedda’s character, which I found really interesting. Beware of plot spoilers ahead.
I watched “My Night with Reg” on February 24, almost by the end of the play’s run, which is unfortunate as I would have loved to see it again. This was one of those plays which I had on my list as something that I would like to see but it was nowhere near at the top. More so, I bought the ticket only because it was on sale on Boxing Day, since I am not too fond of Panasonic Theatre as a venue.
The Audience is a play by Peter Morgan, written and originally produced in 2013 by National Theatre, with magnificent Helen Mirren as The Queen. (Morgan is also the the creator and writer of Netflix original series The Crown.) The play received several awards, starting with Helen Mirren who received the best actress Olivier for her portrayal of the Queen in 2013. The play was briefly brought to Broadway in 2015 with Helen Mirren reprising her role of Queen Elizabeth II but with the whole new cast. Later in 2015, the play was revived in West End with Dame Kristin Scott Thomas as Queen Elizabeth II.
Amadeus is a play by Peter Shaffer, written and originally produced in 1979, which recounts the fictional story about the lives of famous 18th century composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The play was turned by Shaffer into an award winning film with the same title in 1984.
I am fortunate to live close to a Cineplex movie theatre which allows me to go to pretty much every special event or theatre play broadcast they do. I try to go to all of them (or 99% of them), regardless of whether I have heard of them or have seen them before. Most of the time I luck out and come home thoroughly impressed by acting, production, etc. I very rarely leave disappointed. But sometimes, just sometimes, I get this “meh” feeling, and, unfortunately, The Entertainer falls into this category. To to put it shortly, The Entertainer failed to entertain me. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!)
The Entertainer is a John Osborne play about a middle-aged man, Archie Rice, who is a musical-hall performer, but his career is a failure. He was married twice, had numerous affairs, and at the beginning of the play he lives in the house with his second wife Phoebe, his father Billy, and his younger son Frank. His daughter Jean comes to visit unexpectedly, following her quarrel with her fiancé Graham who breaks an engagement with her because she went to a Trafalgar Square to join a protest. This family’s get together and their quarrels are quickly overshadowed by the news of Mick, Archie’s elder son, taken prisoner of war in Middle East. The play is set in 1960s in Britain, and is full of various references to “the old days”.
The broadcast opened with a short film about a young John Osborne (not the playwright) who was talking about THE John Osbourne (the playwright), which was somewhat funny but also confusing.
The Entertainer is a production of Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, in which Kenneth stars as Archie Rice but doesn’t direct it. The play is on stage at London’s Garrick Theatre.
The Entertainer is a three act play, however, this production split into two acts with one intermission. The scenes in the play switch between Rice’s family living room and their bickering and the stage of a theatre where Archie performs. The transformation is quick and fluid with the characters often freezing after a punchline and the limelight suddenly illuminating Archie (and once Frank) who talks or sings or tap dances on the stage, surrounded by dancing girls.
I found the transitions to be quite fascinating. However, when Archie was on the stage of an imaginary music-hall and was looking straight at the audience of Garrick Theatre, it felt as if Kenneth was basically breaking the fourth wall, while still being in character, and I found quite curious but also a bit annoying. He would react to laughs or comments from an imaginary audience and the discrepancy of the reaction of the actual audience at Garrick didn’t seem funny at all. (I was in the audience of a cinema hall watching Kenneth as Archie on the stage of Garrick Theatre pretending to be on stage of a music-hall. It was a bit weird.
Kenneth, undoubtedly, is an extremely skilled actor as he managed to bore me out of my wits by Archie’s performance. Archie is mediocre, grumpy, angry at life. He had an affair with Phoebe when Jean was just born. He continues to have affairs with other girls while being married to Phoebe, and even plans to marry a young girl but his own father prevents it. He has been avoiding to pay taxes for 20 years and he consistently hides from creditors. He is dismissive of Phoebe, his father, not cordial with his daughter. He is a disappointment and acts like one. His character left me confused: are we supposed to sympathize with him, or despise him, or what? Throughout the play, I just wanted to shake him and tell him to get a grip. He was offered a very good option by Phoebe’s brother’s daughter to come to Canada (Toronto no less!) but he refuses to take it even though there is nothing for him in England.
I loved the actor who played his father, Billy Rice. He was really on point, old and grumpy and grumbling about “old times”. He had the funniest silences and face expressions. Jean and Phoebe were plain, boring, and predictable. Frank was nice too, however, I feel that I liked him only because he had a nice voice and reminded me of the lead actor in War Horse (National Theatre).
Unfortunately, the plot of the play was overall way too predictable. I could tell where it was going miles off. And the ending was anti-climatic. The stage design and light were great. I loved how easily the stage transitioned between the house and the music hall. You can see how the stage incorporates the items of both. The music was great too, but the plot was just way too boring. I sat through the whole thing but to be honest I would not recommend it unless you are a fan of Kenneth Branagh or John Osborne’s work or both. For me it was curious but nothing beyond that.
I’m quite aware it is February 😉 I wrote those down a month ago, but never got to share them.
read 70 books*
listen to 10 audiobooks
see 10 theatre plays
watch 50 movies
start art journal again
blog regularly (once a day)
take more photos and share them
consistently write book reviews
write plays/events reviews
take care of my health
start going to the gym again
travel to new places
meet new people
smile every day
*I set my goal at GoodReads for 70 books as well, but it is not the same. On GoodReads I keep track of both books and audiobooks, but in my journal I keep them separate. Which means that I will hit my GoodReads goal before my personal one.
I must say that my book reading challenge is going quite nicely AND I have already listened to 10 audiobooks, so that is quite encouraging 😀
I also started a new art journal. I hope to keep doing that throughout the year.
I still suck at writing and posting reviews right after the events/plays/reading books. But I am working on it!
As you know, I am a huge fan of theatre. Especially, National Theatre in London and its broadcasts. I probably should blog about it more, but I always forget to write reviews.
Last night I went to see “The Importance of being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. It was staged by West End, I believe, which I mistakingly took for NT as 99% of broadcasts I go to are done by them. I even tweeted about it, confused as why there was no NT live introduction.
I love Oscar Wilde, although I admit that I know more about his life than I ever read his books. I heard of this play, but I don’t think I ever watched it on stage until yesterday. My main fascination with this production was due to the fact that David Suchet, whom I love and adore, plays Lady Bracknell in it.
I love Suchet as Hercule Poirot and I also got a chance to see him on stage live in The Last Confession a year ago (I think I got really teary eyed about it), so of course I had to see him again.
He was terrific! Incredibly funny! It was more about his face and his eyes than even about the words, although he did deliver all punch lines perfectly (“The bag!”). The whole cast was just stellar! Not so many familiar faces to me, I am afraid. But all of them were so, so funny! (David Suchet stayed in role even at the curtain call, which was cool.)
The play had 3 acts and 2 intermissions.
The play is screening in several countries across the globe, so I implore you to go and see it. It is quite wonderful! It definitely lifted my spirits. (David Suchet as Lady Bracknell looks a lot like my maternal grandmother, down to a stern look and bushy eyebrows. I kept getting chills during the performance!)
Watch the official trailer here: https://youtu.be/z4UVgvzpUnU
It was a classic theatre staging, nothing moving and no water or fire or other special effects that are so common for National Theatre productions, but I really liked it. It let the audience focus on the acting which was superb.
If I had to rate it, I’d give it 5/5 stars.
p.s. While in the audience, I was surprised that some people didn’t know David Suchet from his Hercule Poirot role. Gosh, I felt like such a fangirl.
Even though I was horribly jetlagged, I couldn’t miss this! The live episode of WTNV called “The Investigation” was even funnier than “The Librarian” that I went to a year ago. Eliza Rickman was once again a special guest of the show. She did a great job, and was very …