Friday, 25 January 2008

The Vertical Hour, Royal Court, 25 Jan 2008


It was Anton Lesser's Brutus at the RSC's production of Julius Caesar that toured to Madrid what made fall in love with theatre as a medium, and the first time I started toying with the idea of becoming a playwright someday myself.

So it's always exciting to see Lesser on stage, the genius that he is.

David Hare's script offers him a chance to shine but only at times; there's indeed a gorgeous, long scene between him and Indira Varma (flawed but heartfelt performance) in which Lesser takes the stage and grabs the audience and you understand why he is possibly the best at what he does. But what surrounds that scene of very good writing is weaker than this central moment. It's not a bad play but it looks unpolished and clich├ęd at times. I like Hare's work, but I'm not uncritical about it at all. The Verical Hour is shaky and ultimately unsatisfying for the audience as we feel that we have witnessed something that could have been great but isn't.

The production itself was well-observed and classy, a very Royal Court business, with an unintrusive set by Mike Britton that was quite wonderful.

Despite the reservations about the play Anton Lesser is always worth the money, any money. And Indira Varma is a solid presence we hope to see more of. Tom Riley was weak in his part but somehow he looks promising, you can tell he is going to get really good with time.

Reviews:
Guardian.
Telegraph.