Monday, 21 February 2011

The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre)

In this picture you can see Bertie Portal and Rachel Pickup, I think I saw them a couple of years ago, definitely Bertie, I saw him twice.
"What are the 39 Steps?!"
The 39 Steps is a brilliant stage play that I have seen a total of four times over the last four years. When people visit London for the first time, or for the first time in years and they want to see a show but they don't want anything heavy and they don't want to pay fifty quid to see a musical I recommend (or I take them to) The 39 Steps.
The Criterion Theatre itself I find a treat, it is underground, you can feel the vibrations from the trains, it is tiny and it is beautiful. The show is perfect for the theatre, it feels like 1939 down there. There is a gimmick to this show, but the gimmick is a good gimmick: See 4 actors play 139 characters in 100 minutes.
Wonderful simple staging and classic visual gags. Visual gags is what theatre is all about!
"Am I right, sir?"

Twelfth Night (National Theatre)

Disappointing trip to the National Theatre.
It's cheaper than the rest of the West End, it is after all supposed to be the people's theatre, the plays are well chosen and have high production value also there's a good quality of actors- no big names, just big stage talent, so no awful audiences being inappropriate (like at a David Tennant play where Doctor Who fans whoop and cheer when he bends over).
Twelfth Night, it's hard to get it wrong isn't it? It's funny and it's a classic. Peter Hall's Twelfth Night wasn't wrong, but it just wasn't anything special.
The costumes were lovely but if you're going all out on period costumes why not put some thought into the set and the staging? This production would have been fantastic just as it was at The Globe or out in the air, but because it was on an empty square stage in a small theatre it looked cramped at the same time as being bare.
The acting was fine, it was a good ensemble, but it was let down by the leading lady. Rebecca Hall is a beautiful girl. But she is not an androgynous beautiful girl! Giving all the men long hair as well did not make her look any less like a beautiful girl! So yes, her look was wrong, she wasn't Cesario, she was always Viola, but more than that unfortunately, the way she acted it was wrong. She was always grinning and sighing to the audience, her reactions were always the same to everything, she got so passionate for no reasons! It was like watching a sixth form play when she was on. And this is the lead!! Another play with another gimmick to let it down! This time the gimmick was that it was the director's daughter. She was miscast.
Finty Williams, Charles Edwards, Simon Callow and all that lot were all fine as the comedy, that was Twelfth Night, but the romance was lost. Orsino and Olivia both seemed too old and Orsino and Viola had no chemistry, Sebastian was ok when he turned up but the comedy is supposed to be in the confusion, they had gone to too much effort of looking the same and so the fact that their faces were so different made it so obvious that they were not the same person! The last production I saw of this used actors who looked nothing alike but wore the same hat, now THAT is comedy.
I will stick to the BBC film starring Imogen Stubbs in the future. At least she wore a false moustache.

Frankenstein (National Theatre)

Danny Boyle has a go at directing a play. So there's that to look forward too, you know, 'cause Trainspotting and 28 Days Later are fab films, hey, also there's a gimmick, the two lead actors are taking it in turns so it's a surprise on the night!
Right, first of all I knew he wouldn't be able to make the transition from film to theatre, secondly as soon as I heard the gimmick I knew it would be worse than originally feared. There is no way that both of those actors can play both those parts equally as good as each other. I've seen Johnny Lee Miller on stage before, he's not that impressive, yes, he has a cute profile, but I prefer him on film, he's actually in one of my top ten favourite films and he's really good. I knew there would be no problem with Benedict Cumberbatch, you can see he's a terrifyingly good actor, he would be fine in either role. And that's the main problem with the gimmick, you know that Cumberbatch is probably better in both roles and an ideal casting would be for him to play both at the same time.
We got Cumberbatch as the creature, he was really good, he was the only good thing in the play.
In fact, if he hadn't been there it would have been a dead loss. Frankenstein is not the best story for stage, not enough happens and so to compensate this Boyle made loads of stuff happen at the beginning, we're all impressed by the fact the whole Olivier theatre looks like a cave, then wow! Nudity! And a steam-punk train that had nothing to do with the plot! A Lion King sunrise and lots of Enya-type music playing while a naked Cumberbatch writhed around for twenty minutes. Finally when the two met they talked for what seemed like hours of the most boring staging I' ever seen, they just swapped sides every five minutes and Dr F took off layers of clothing to reveal quite a nice costume. BORING.
So the staging didn't impress me, the story didn't impress me, they should have rewritten it! Frankenstein is boring!! And the other actors didn't impress me. Naomie Harris had no character- there were no real characters!! Only the monster was interesting! The guy playing the father was awful, the kid was awful, like the gay kid from Billy Elliot or something, grinning and dancing around after he'd been murdered!
There were no real characters for the actors to play, I'm sure Johnny Lee Miller does an excellent creature, he probably plays it more vulnerable than Cumberbatch's angry bastard but his Dr Frankenstein was blah. I have a feeling Cumberbatch's doctor would be interesting but I really don't want to sit through it again to find out.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The 39 Steps (1935)

The Robert Powell version was the first version I saw, it was boring, recently that Rupert Penry-Jones one was on TV and I watched it because my friend Calum was an extra, it was AWFUL. But I'm off to see the comedy play in London next week (for the fourth time in as many years, I might add) so I thought I'd watch the Hitchcock that it's based on to get me in the mood.
Bloody funny.
It was hilarious and exciting, I loved it and I can't wait to see the play again.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Never Let Me Go (2011)

Pointlessly I went to see the depressing Never Let Me Go, I say pointlessly because it was to give Roger and Anna some alone time in the flat, but the only showing was at 6pm so when I got back they still hadn't even had dinner, so they had to put up with me then sitting in the living room doing my work for a couple of hours and I had to put up with feeling like crap!
The thing is, I knew it would be horrifically depressing! I knew there would be no happy ending, because there just wouldn't! They had a purpose! They fulfilled it! This isn't America! This isn't The Island! Anyway, I waited for something unexpected to happen, but nothing did, they lived for a bit and then they died, the end. If you've seen the trailer you've seen the film. I don't like Carey Mulligan, I don't think Keira's ever any good and I didn't like Andrew Garfield, I just kept thinking; he is going to be such a weird shaped Spider-man.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Black Swan (2011)

Think The Red Shoes crossed with The Fly- and Fight Club!
The gore was too much, it was horrific, shudder! The much talked about lesbian scene was boring, I don't understand why it was so talked about. I guess just because they are two beautiful tiny actresses, but surely, women making out is just women making out? I've seen better on the internet...
Anyhoo, above all it made me want to see Swan Lake- and watch The Red Shoes. The Red Shoes could have done with a gay scene, I reckon, Walbrook and Marius Goring. HOT.