Assorted Theatre Here and There

NB: If you live in the greater NYC area, read to the end for news of a Westchester show!

It is staggeringly impressive how you can turn a common or garden boozer into a posh venue when you spend a million pounds sterling. To experience this phenomenon I recommend The White Bear in Kennington, London, UK. What was a black box theatre downstairs is now a superior black box theatre upstairs. Downstairs you can get very good fish & chips and the back of the place has been knocked through and made into a bit of upmarket gentrification complete with micro-brewery ales.

We had just got off the plane from New York and went that evening to see the last night of Harry and Meghan – the fact that my old friend and sometime fellow-student, Michael Kingsbury, has run the place for the past 40 years, and done much to elevate the cause of interesting theatre on the London fringe was a motivating factor. A talented quartet delivering sketch comedy style satire. – Packed!

That was Saturday

On Monday we saw The Hills of California, the latest play from Jez Butterworth. It bears all the hallmarks of his work – snappy dialogue with mythological implications and references, tense drama, and high production values.

A powerhouse performance from Laura Donelly – I mean POWERHOUSE – I knew her in The Ferryman – and here she gives whole other dimensions in her work – quite amazingly impressive – not sure if it’s coming to Broadway.

That was Monday

On Wednesday we saw Uncle Vanya at The Orange Tree in Richmond. Very interesting from all sorts of point of view. Directed by the 80 year old Trevor Nunn, late of the RSC, the National and of course Cats which made him rich.

James Lance ( a very fine actor) in the title role was off, and we were told there would be a substitute who had almost no rehearsal and would be carrying the script.

Sadly I cannot tell you the name of this heroic actor. Not only did he not carry the script, his performance was superb. As was the whole production. All the Chekhov elements were there: pathos, bathos – texture, passion, terminal boredom, frustrated desire, and above all humor.

A young man who could have been playing Trofimov (the eternal student) in The Cherry Orchard was seated next to Trish. He admonished us for laughing. Not a surprise to be informed that he had a PHD in Theatre.

Where do you start with such people?

So we fled to Paris

There was an interlude with zero theatre – Rodin, Monet, The Tuileries –

Well we did go to the ballet one night, Don Quixote was the show – I must honestly confess that I had no idea of the story (and I have been in Man of La Mancha in Beijing), but it was of course ravishing on the eye, and breathtaking when you consider what some people can do with their bodies.

Another interlude on the south coast…

The lovely Polly Adams and family and a rogue hot water bottle.

Meanwhile in London …

Colin McPhillamy, Michael Shaw, Matilda Thorpe, Richard Fallon, Roy Drinkwater

Actors – lunch, drinks, coffee … chat

With David Verrey

… As above with Mark Carey

And then … The Picture of Dorian Grey at the Haymarket.

Again, another show with multiple points of interest. First off: it is a solo performance by Sarah Snook (you’ve seen her in Succession), produced initially in Sydney Australia. A staggering tour de force with some very inventive tech. If you are an actor reading this, I highly recommend it from a professional research and development point of view. The show is slated to come to Broadway.

Which brings me to episode 2 in My Guest Today.

Amelia Campbell and Anthony Akin talk to me about the new play What Keeps Us Going by Barbara Dana, to be directed by Austin Pendleton. The cast includes Amelia and Tony, Tim Jerome, and Karen Ziemba – Tony nominations abound!

The play opens May 24th and plays until June 9th at the Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls in Upper Westchester. Run do not walk to get tickets!