Joshua Mcguire and (in the background) Jonathan Coy, Paul Chahidi, Gunnar Cauthery. Photo Johan Persson
Is it a play? Is it a comedy gig? Is it an interactive training session? Or maybe an existential thriller? Dazzling and confident, James Graham’s new play Privacy could very well sit under any of these banners but before you have time to consider a label, it has already moved on. Multitasking underlines most of modern life, why not the theatre? All in one, the tour is fast and furious: data, journalism, Mousetrap, Shakespeare, squeaky dolphin, NSA, Google earth, Tesco club cards, and that’s only scratching the surface. (By the corporate name-dropping, it’s evident the Donmar lawyers had to work overtime on this. So much so, they got to be in the play).
Which is not to say Privacy lacks substance. It all ties to a coherent – if unconventional – narrative where the writer is the protagonist, as much of the story as of his own existential and creative crisis. Continue reading
Tom Hiddleston (Coriolanus), Hadley Fraser (Aufidius). Photo by Johan Persson
The last time I saw Coriolanus on stage was at Gainsborough studios in 2000. I might not remember much about the production, but one thing impossible to forget was the space. The film studios had been turned into a theatrical space just before their demolition, creating a vast stage in front of a vast auditorium. It’s interesting that my second Coriolanus experience is at the Donmar Warehouse, which is the definition of a small space with vast ambitions.
Intimacy has always been the Donmar’s focus: at the first scene of Coriolanus, a child enters the stage and draws a line on the floor. It could be a playground game but this is war and things take a different turn. Soon there is enough hustle and bustle to suggest civil unrest and bloody battles. (The fight between Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus and Hadley Fraser’s Aufidius is particularly forceful. In such a small space it certainly makes an impact: nothing like being a yard away from swords macheting in the air). Ultimately though, it all comes back to that first image and to close familial relationships. In a thrilling scene at the senate, the speeches make political points as much as personal ones, and it’s this uneasy combination that gives the play its drive.
Brian Cox as Jack. Photo Helen Warner
I went to Ireland for the first time in October 1999 and although I have gone back a few times since, that first trip was the most personal: crossing the country from Galway to Dublin (which sounds impressive until you realise it’s only a couple of hours by car), hanging in pubs with irish friends, walking down country roads in a drizzle so fine you couldn’t be sure it was real, it all fits perfectly with irish folklore, except it isn’t. I have neither the measure of the place or the talent to make it justice, but Conor McPherson’s The Weir makes sense of those evenings when a story at the pub starts as a lark but quickly hits the bone, changing people’s lives. And Josie Rourke’s production, simple as it is stunning, delicate as it is robust, is a triumph of intimacy and storytelling. Continue reading
I love rehearsed readings. Perfect little pleasures especially if I am darting across London mid afternoon to catch one while everyone else is toiling away in offices. Last Wednesday (October 31st, Halloween no less), the Donmar Warehouse, in celebration of their current production of Berenice, held a special reading of Bajazet, another Racine play translated by Alan Hollinghurst. As it’s often the case with rehearsed readings, the cast was a theatre producer’s wet dream: Hayley Atwell as Roxanne, Alex Jennings as Acomat, James McAvoy as Bajazet, Ruth Negga as Atalide, Rosie Jones as Zatime, Georgina Rich as Zaire and Kurt Egyiawan as Osmin. Under the direction of Josie Rourke, the afternoon was a very special treat indeed. Continue reading