Posts Tagged ‘almeida’

Metro deal for new Mamet-based play – House of Games – Almeida

September 6, 2010

The Metro has got a deal for what looks like a new David Mamet play, House of Games, at the Almeida theatre. As it turns out, it’s actually an adaptation of a screenplay by David Mamet, with the actual play being written by Richard Bean. Still: new Mamet! It sounds fun, and the Almeida tends to put on really good shows in its intimate space.

The deal is: £20 for best available seats (the £29.50 and £22 ones) with a free drink, for September 9,10, and 11th; call the box office at 020 7359 4404 and quote “Metro offer,” or book online at the Almeida’s website and use the promotion code “METRO OFFER.” It’s only good for a very short time; enjoy!

Review – Measure for Measure – Almeida Theatre

March 15, 2010

When the Independent’s ecstatic review for the Almeida‘s Measure for Measure wound up in front of my eyes on my morning commute, I was completely sucked in. Woo, a Shakespeare play I hadn’t seen at a venue that consistently produced great shows! I figured with the five stars behind it it was going to sell out quickly, so I got my tickets that day and hunkered down for my chance to see it.

As it turns out, at 15 pounds (each) for a supposedly blocked view in the back of the house, my tickets were a very good deal (and ten times more comfy than the barstools at the Southwark Playhouse’s Henry V). The show featured the kind of acting that I’ve come to see as the standard in London, led by the on-top-of-his-game Rory Kinnear as Angelo, who could have been any right-wing politician currently gracing the front pages of American newspapers. The story of a man who promotes himself to others for his sterling reputation, attempts to enforce his morality, then falls “victim” to the sins he claims to want to stamp out is apparently far older than I had ever guessed. In fact, it’s the sharpness of this drama – much like the Donmar’s “fear the power of the papers” Dollhouse – that made this show seem so relevant. The language was thick at times, but the story was 100% now.

But the drama of a sister trying to save her brother from death, well, that cranked it up a big notch. Anna Maxwell Martin seemed a bit stiff as Isabella, somewhat overprone to holding her hands, but she was playing a woman who was a few days away from becoming a nun, and she did have a lot of begging to do to try to keep her brother Claudio (Emun Elliott) from being beheaded for (snicker) fornication. Oddly, no one seems concerned that he’s about to leave his girlfriend behind to take care of their soon-to-be-born child, but I was aware – every minute that Isabella attempted to convince Claudio that it was better to die that to live without honor – there was a lot more at stake than her virginity. Yeah, if she gave in to Angelo, she’d lose her job as a nun, but sister-outlaw Juliet would have a lifetime of struggles in a society not very supportive of unmarried moms.

Amidst all this, Vincentio (Ben Miles), the duke, the man whose departure has put Angelo in charge, wanders, talking to people about “the state of the kingdom” and what they think of him. His performance is fine but flat; as a character, he is static and just not nearly as interesting as Angelo. He also gets burdened with most of the long speeches in this play; it seemed nearly every time that I checked out mentally because I wasn’t able to make sense of the language, Vincentio was talking.

Despite the occasional lags, this was a consistently top-notch performance in a delightfully intimate space, with sets that were both inventive and deliciously flexible. As we walked out of the theater talking about the performance in great detail, we all agreed on one thing; we are spoiled by the quality of theater London offers, and the current production at the Almeida wonderfully shows off just how good we’ve got it.

(This review is for a performance that took place at 2:30 PM on Saturday, March 13th. Measure for Measure closes Saturday, April 10th, 2010. For a compilation of reviews, please see UpTheWestEnd.com. I’d be surprised if there were any tickets left, so be sure to call and ask for returns, or pity.)

Review – Slung Low’s “Last Seen,” Green path (Joy) – Almeida Theatre’s Summer Festival

July 8, 2009

Tonight I went to see Slung Low’s latest project, Last Seen, a promenade performance happening under the aegis of the Almeida Theatre’s Summer Festival. Although I was pretty excited about seeing this, I’m sorry to say it let me down. Perhaps it was just the story line that I took, Green (“Joy”) – the other two had two characters and I only had Joy (Lolita Chakrabarti) to entertain me.

The format was thus: we (the audience) gathered in the Almeida (note that where you sit determines which story you follow, so I recommend you pick either upstairs for White (Reason Season) or the rear of the stalls for Blue (The Great Bear)), where we were instructed to put on headphones. A brief check is done to verify that the equipment was working (it wasn’t initially for anyone – opening night problems, I’m sure). Then each group of people is led out, one group at a time, by the character(s) whose stories they will be following for the rest of the evening. Each group is also accompanied by one or two guides (we had two, I think, though only one introduced himself to us), who make sure the groups of headphone-wearing and thus mostly deaf people actually get across the streets safely and don’t block cars from getting down alleys.

Our narrator was a woman named Joy. As we trooped down Almeida Street, she began to tell us of her daughter Angel and a bit about her family. Although she spoke in a normal voice, we all listened to her through our headphones, which continually played some music (not helpful) and occasionally other people’s voices. Joy met someone who gave her a gold painted medicine bottle, and shortly thereafter was menaced by a man in a face mask and hoodie on a bike.

We wandered along until we came to the Astey’s Row Rock Gardens, where she talked about being sexually harassed at a job. We paused for a while at the entrance to the park, where a strange sculpture of gold art model dolls had been put near a playground. I think I also saw a gold painted chewed apple in the park – they kept showing up throughout the performance, and though I thought perhaps they had some reference to Adam and Eve or perhaps even Eris, they seemed only later to refer to some apples her daughter had eaten.

The most exciting moment of the evening came when Joy told us of meeting Angel’s father (done after we’d passed through the park behind St. Mary’s Church, possibly on St. Mary’s Path), where a man was leaning against a spray-painted shadow on a wall. He fit it perfectly. He then walked away from the shadow and went to another wall, where he continued playing with his cellphone. Joy stood in the shadow and changed into a red dress; the gorgeous, high-cheeked man was joined by a woman who made out with him enthusiastically. We all walked back to the church and were eventually passed by the man and the woman, but were they a part of the scene or just some random, hormonal strangers? None of us knew.

We did actually go in the church, and then back to the Almeida, all within about an hour, but there’s little really to say about the walk. It didn’t make Islington come alive, like it might have; the other two stories didn’t come together at all, like Moonwalking in Chinatown (but we were told we could stay and watch another thread for a mere 5 quid, or come back and see it for 40% off at another date during the run); it didn’t take advantage of the headphones to provide us with secret information on people’s thoughts like Minkette’s brilliant Train of Thought. It didn’t seem to have a real arc to it; in fact, it was rather dull. It didn’t take advantage of being in Islington at all and didn’t really benefit from being a promenade in any way as near as I can tell.

In short, this was a huge disappointment for me. I am really hoping the other stories were more interesting. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to check as I’m gone for the rest of the run (it’s last day is Sunday July 12th), but I have to say I’d be really hard pressed to bother coming back after tonight even if I was free.

(This review was based on the 7 PM performance that took place Wednesday July 8th. Last Seen continues through Sunday July 12th, 2009, with performances at 7 and 9 except for Sunday the 12th, when it is at 4 and 6 PM.)