Archive for October, 2007

Review – Macbeth (the Patrick Stewart one) – Gielgud Theatre

October 19, 2007

After spending the night thinking about what I’ve just seen, I have to say … it’s worth paying full price for this show. This isn’t “Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth,” it’s a fantastic, top-quality production of Macbeth that was so good at one point I heard the entire audience holding its collective breath for three minutes. I had goosebumps several times – never has the element of the supernatural in this play read more clearly. And this was also a play about evil, and it was very dark, even all the way up in the £20 seats.

The whole conceit of having the “weird sisters” played as nun-nurses was especially cutting, given the recent trial here of a male nurse who “chose when people would die,” as well as another story about NHS hospitals where the nursing staff told sick patients to lie in their shit because the hospital was more concerned about saving money than providing good care; it seemed very topical and extremely believable.

And the production values of this show were REALLY good. No silly “we need to make this hip for the young’uns” or “hey, let’s be cutting edge and use video:” instead, it was a single, static set that increased the claustrophobia (and yet performed as well as a dining room, a music hall, a train, a kitchen, and a hospital), lighting that served the show instead of itself, and use of (shock!) video that enhanced the story instead of calling attention to itself. Macbeth talking to a guard through an intercom and watching him on a security television? Totally believable. The … video of blood dripping across the walls? Ooh, baby, a white tiled set has never made me feel so creeped out before – it was like The Shining.

And the cast was good – the WHOLE cast (well, maybe not the ten year old girl), so this wasn’t Patrick Stewart’s “Macbeth” at all, like a lot of pathetic, celebrity-driven shows here. (Jessica Lange’s The Glass Menagerie proved you could ruin an excellenet script with weak casting.) The minor characters all had life – I mean, I saw them doing things on stage that made me think about them, and then they’d blossom to life later and be just as real as if the show had been about them. I remember seeing this done by a “Shakespeare in the park” group back home and it was all muddled who was who – but this was not the case last night.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading about how this is “the greatest Macbeth ever” or “the Macbeth of a generation” or some such overenthusiastic twaddle … I can’t say whether or not it was true, but I can say this is a truly great show. (I also enjoyed the company of , , , Mr. Mel, and – especially because now we can enthuse together and use it as a touchpoint for discussing how good or not other shows we see are.)

Four stars, baby. Go get your tickets now or join the people who said, “Yeah, I could have seen it, but …”

(This review is for a performance that took place on October 18th, 2007.)

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Review – Ko Murobushi (Butoh) – The Place

October 18, 2007

The Ko Murobushi show at the Place last night was pretty cool, but it’s hard to explain to people what was good about a Butoh show. “Er, a naked guy coated in silvery paint crawled across the floor for half an hour, then he stood up? The climax was him throwing sand around?” We were tranfixed by his utter control of his body – it was like moving sculpture – and I liked the way he felt so fragile, somehow, despite being obviously so strong. He made the Butoh dance troop I saw in Seattle look really … I don’t know, jejeune or something. It seems to me that there’s a certain quality of good Butoh, that it feels “sincere” somehow – I’m not sure how to express it. But we thought it was good, and the house was sold out, so apparently there are more than 12 people that like Butoh in London, just not any among my circle of friends.

(This review is for a show that took place October 17th, 2007.)

Review – Giselle – Pretty Ugly Tanz Cologne at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

October 11, 2007

The ballet tonight (Pretty Ugly Tanz Cologne’s Giselle) was dull – unfocused, not well danced. We’ve seen too much really good stuff to waste an evening on something so poorly executed, and we were as of one mind as intermission arrived and we decided the night (or what remained of it) would be better spent at the Opera Room at Chandos. Our tickets, well, we’ll just call them donations to the arts. And for some reason I am crazy blue tonight – sure could have used the pick me up of a good show.