Saturday, 28 March 2009

Dimetos, Donmar, 28 March 2009

Sometimes I don't understand critics.

Well, I normally understand them even if I don't agree with them, but I would have thought that somebody out there would feel the same I did seeing Athol Fugard's Dimetos at the Donmar Warehouse. I've been quite baffled by audiences' and critics' responses lately, after the lukewarm response to Three Days of Rain and I know Dimetos is a difficult play but I had guessed it would be a love-it/hate-it kind of deal. The Telegraph review has cheered me up, at least, but I'd had love to see more people sharing the wild love I have for this play.

I came out of the theatre totally transformed by the experience - by the writing and the acting. I had seen Jonathan Pryce in theatre before but it was in Dimetos when I was blown away by his talent. He is miles from almost everyone in this business. I can only remember being this impressed with a performance in theatre on only two other occasions: Elling and Statfford Castle's Hamlet.

This play is something I find difficult to talk about and will find difficult for some time. I had only heard of Athol Fugard and knew of his reputation, but had not seen or read any of his plays. But I came out of the play wanting to know more, to read more. Sadly, even if yes, Fugard is a brilliant writer and I enjoyed reading Boesman and Lena and Siswe Bansi is Dead I found there none of the poetry and pain that made Dimetos such a remarkable experience at the Donmar.

Dimetos seems to be something different altogether, even for the author. Its lack of succesful must have been painful. Specially because it feels profoundly personal, I don't know if in the themes but at least in style. On paper, it shouldn't work. You take the play by its elements, its language and theatrical techniques and you would expect a dense, heavy, pedantic play. And maybe it is dense, but the potry within it gives it such wings. It is suspended, like Lydia at the beginning of the play, in a moment of grace. It is full of darkness and yet you come out of it oddly exilarated. It is not pedantic it celebrates theatre and language. We do not care about the allegory it might hold, we care about what's on stage. Flesh and blood.

The cast is not only flawless but more than that, they are inspiring and challenging in every way. Jonathan Pryce takes the stage and makes it his own in a way I have seldom seen before. He manages to be powerful and subtle at the same time. The young Holliday Grainger was also a huge, pleasing surprise.

My very deep review of the whole thing would be: Wow.

The Independent review.
The Guardian review.
The Telegraph review.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

READING: The Uncertainty Of The Situation, Royal Court, 11 March 2009

The leaflet says:
Dumped by his girlfriend and abandoned by his friends, Jan finds himself on the streets, a witness to the extraordinary, terrible events unfolding in the city around him - events for which he starts to consider himself responsible.
Another rehearsed reading for the German season that would deserve a full production, if only for its wide appeal - I have no trouble imagining it a hit with young and non-theatrical audiences; it is a confident play, funny and fast and defying, if a bit hollow, and a bit too reminescent of Fight Club hipter cynism.

Directed by Lindsay Turner and with a cast that could hardly be paid if this were a proper production, this play by Philipp Loehle was a most entertaining occassion. Nothing life-changing in the writing, though, although it's always a special occassion to see Andrew Scott on stage, of whom one cannot say enough good things. It was his peculiar charm and energy (he is an amazing lead) that drove the play forward swiftly. Sam West and Katherine Parkinson were also delightful in the supporting cast.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

READING: The Bankrupt Man, Soho Theatre, 06 March 2009

I don't go nearly often enough to the Soho Theatre - for a place I love so dearly: it gave me Andrea Riseborough in a wonderful black comedy and it gave me White Boy and I will always remember how enjoyable and useful their writing workshop was.

So it's always a nice time when I go. More so if it's to see Andrew Scott, Gina McKee and Nicholas Tennant acting. Such cast would be difficult to gather in a proper production so it's a treat to see them in a rehearsed reading of David Lescot's play (translated by Christopher Cambell). The reading is part of a season of collaboration between the National Theatre Studio and the French Embassy.

The Bankrupt Man deals with the spiralling down life of a common man, portrayed with sympathy and warmth by Tennant, haunted by debt and a failed marriage. Gina McKee was wonderfully impervious as the ex-wife and Andrew Scott showed his seemingly limitless range with the sinister and hilarious character of a debt collector. While the play wasn't perfect (it was a bit prosaic and dragged on in parts) it was engaging and one could see how it would be a hit with audiences of almost any kind. The best of it, for me, was the slightly surreal turn it took at times (regarding Andrew Scott's character, specially), I left yearning for more.

In short another chance to check out UK's most promising stage actor, Andrew Scott, and enjoy an entertaining play very much of its time.