I saw two plays at the National Theatre in the last 24 hours, the first was Burnt by the Sun starring Rory Kinnear- I have seen Rory's last four plays at the National, he is one of my favourite actors. He is so versatile and so talented, plus he has a face like the moon.
Burnt by the Sun has deserved 4 star reviews, it was a very very good play. Excellent set (a whole frickin' house!) and brilliant performances- especially Rory, who now seems to be some kind of talent hat-trick, since when could he tap dance!? or sing?! I knew he could play the piano- but not the trumpet too!! But this play was for Anna, my Russian-history-obsessed sister, War Horse was more obviously for Amy.
So what if I enjoy a simple story more than a complex one? I like to relax and enjoy the theatre sometimes, not have to pay attention to every little thing that's being said so I can soak in some of the art direction!! (this being said it seems it didn't cross Anna's mind that Rory might have been lying and setting Kotov up- there was never any evidence he was a spy!!- so that he could get his revenge... I do get all these things, I do think about it and it does get into my head, but I like to do theatre in variation; see a hard play, see an easy play, etc.)
War Horse is adapted from Michael Morpurgo's children's novel, so the story is simple, but touching. It's about the first world war- my favourite. And it's about a relationship. But unlike the plays Anna enjoys, usually tortured relationships that are doomed from the get-go, it's about a relationship everyone can understand and relate to, a boy's friendship with his horse.
The puppetry is amazing. You'll have probably heard, but I had no idea it would be that good. You instantly forget that it's not a real horse, it's that good. You need a simple story when something so complex and ingenious is on the stage for you to look at, you can stare at the puppets and not lose the plot, but because they are so real you find you don't stare at the horses any more than you stare at any of the other characters portrayed by actual actors. And what good actors they were too, the boy playing Albert was extremely good, Kit Harington's first job out of acting school, what a brilliant role to play.
Anna and I made the mistake of going to the Imperial War Museum this morning before the play, I think it made it even more real. There wasn't a dry eye in the theatre by the end, but I don't think anyone wanted to break down as much as we did- my throat has never hurt that much in my entire life, and I am a chronic tonsillitis sufferer. It is the perfect play, five stars.
And when we came out of the theatre Dakin of The History Boys- actor Dominic Cooper- was standing outside looking lost, he's taller than I thought he would be, much taller than Dave.