Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Love story -7,12,10

Love story-

Love story at the Duchess Theatre, Covent garden a story well known and loved about two students who fall madly in love and marry , disregarding their parents views and defying social expectation- which eventually ends in tragedy-miraculously seemed to be devoid of love and of a story after a botched adaptation by Stephen Clark .

I was thoroughly looking forward to this adaption of Erich Segals 'Love story' , and yet instead of the sickly sweet emotions experienced each time I watch the film - I was instead left with a rather bitter taste in my mouth.

As always at the beginning of a performance I take note of the set- in this case it was a very vacuous (mirroring the atmosphere created by the performers) white space inclusive of the Orchestra on stage visible to the audience. Which from my extensive A-level and University training I recognised to be quite Brechtian , 'rejection of historic realism'- ie we are aware we are witnessing a play as the technical elements of the performance are seen . Perhaps director Rachel Kavanaugh wanted to remind us that it was all only a play to save us from such a disastrous performance. It may be that I am being too critical as my sister along with the sniffling middle aged man next to me were left in floods of tears in the finale.

However I found myself unmoved by the whole thing- although I must admit some of  the pointless songs composed by Howard Goodall did remain with me for the rest of the evening- such as the rather confusing song in the middle of the play describing pasta dishes.

I believe the talents of the actors were lost within the writing and adaptation of the beloved tale by Stephen Clark. It was obvious to see that the majority of the actors possessed talent - in particular female protagonist Emma Williams ( Jenny Cavilleri) , whose ballsy and upbeat interpretation of the character (originally played by Ally MacGraw in the film ) almost bought an emotional touch to the performance, but unfortunately her efforts were overshadowed by a clumsy attempt at jock come 'preppy' intellectual Oliver Barret the 6th played by Michael Xavier.  His desperate attempt created  a nervous atmosphere and his love for Williams was far from believable, the creation of their relationship was rushed and appeared to be detached.

I was hoping that the play was going to improve in the second half, only to find that the play was ending  and the cast were preparing to take their final bows. Although previously hopeful that the performance would reach a crescendo after the interval I was actually relieved that it was all over- as I was beginning to fall asleep on to the person next to me, and had become one of the dreaded sweet rustlers out of sheer boredom.

So ..a disappointment but an experience all the same -a warning to all of those who have rushed to the box office to buy tickets, it is far from the success that the film version was.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

.45-Hampstead Theatre

Fresh from Hampstead theatre I feel compelled to express my views about Gary Lennon's sexually charged '.45'. The intimate environment is created immediately due to the small and 'living room' style space of the Michael Frayn downstairs studio of Hampstead theatre- the space really allows the spectator to become a fly on the wall and experience the sheer heat that is created by Lennons intriguing and enigmatic characters. We are shown a glimpse of  Hells Kitchen New York 1977, created by a dirty and decrepit apartment set and accompanied by a soundtrack evocative of the New York Punk Rock era. The cast were truly brilliant - consisting of femme fatale Pat , played exquisitely by The Tudor's Natalie Dormer, Dormer evokes a great sense of heroism- she is both strong and dominant yet we are able to see the flickers of a tormented human, Pat is fatally attracted to the poisonous Ed ( Daniel Caltagirone) who plays the 'thug' flawlessly, mixing both sexual tension and violence to create a character that you can both fear and be intrigued and almost attracted by. The couples chemistry is so life like that it you become directly effected by the violence, passion and betrayal experienced in their relationship throughout the progression of the performance.

Disturbing the sexual tension from the beginning is feisty , punk rocker lesbian and best friend of Pat , Vic (Katie Wimpenny) . Wimpenny brings a cheeky, adolescent and infectious character to the stage to dilute the tense and steamy atmosphere. Vic is in love with Pat and is desperate to remove her from her mercurial and violent relationship. Vic along with other best friend Reilley ( Chris Reilly) provide light relief in the intensely heated atmosphere created by Dormer and Caltagirone.

The broad NY accents of the protagonists are flawless along with their performances, however the perfection of the performance was broken due to the entrance of a rather miscast estranged psychiatrist Kat ( Emma Powell) whose entrance seemed to remind me of the fourth wall in front of me, her first scene broke the ever growing tension that was so brilliantly created by the other actors, and her weak attempt at an American accent began to destroy my illusion of Hells Kitchen -which prior to her entrance was extremely vivid and realistic. Her supposed sexual relationship with Pat  seemed forced and awkward- and only further showed the talents of Dormer in her ability to react to such a flat performance.

However the powerful relationships and interactions created by the actors and beautiful writing shone through and made the play a real must see and a truly memorable performance!

Hats off to director Wilson Milam for creating a wonderfully entertaining show.