Posts Tagged ‘aunt dan and lemon’

Review – Aunt Dan and Lemon – Royal Court Theatre

May 26, 2009

There are some shows out there that I’ve hated and some shows I’ve found confusing, and then there are shows where I walked out just not knowing what to think. In its 1997 Seattle incarnation, Aunt Dan and Lemon left me … well, let’s say I didn’t really embrace it, despite having a brilliant local actor (Charles Smith) in the role of Aunt Dan, and a fine soul (Sydney Fine) in the role of Lemon, the sickly young woman who narrates the piece. (The gender of Aunt Dan was switched in this version.) Actually, I left feeling a bit creeped out – was Lemon really as demented as she came out to be? – but the rest of it had gone rather fuzzy over time.

But, you know, times change, and nowadays I’m in London, where all of the plays I saw butchered back home (Pinter comes to mind) are flourishing in the hands of the extraordinary local talent pool. And, by God, with Jane Horrocks as Lemon, how could I not want to see this show, with its evocation of the dark side of swinging 60s London as well as its many philosophical passages? Surely its failings were due to poor acting and staging, and that would all be taken care of this time.

I’ll say this for the show: listening to Aunt Dan (Lorraine Ashbourne) rant about how noble and just Henry Kissinger was as he bombed little Vietnamese villages flat in order to “protect our lifestyle” sure rings a lot more possible after listening to all of the crap about Iraq over the last eight years, and hearing Lemon herself sweetly talk about what we would all quite naturally do if our “most basic hopes as a society” were being threatened – that we would kill other people with barely a thought – is not quite as surprising (I think of Jean Charles de Menezes) as it was in what seem, somehow, to have been more innocent days. But it still comes off like a night at a freak show when she goes into her final monologue about how we just have to admit that we, as human beings, like to kill. Ms. Horrocks has, I think, the perfect innocence and gentleness to squeeze all of the horror out of this role, which is the incarnation of the banality of evil. I can only imagine what the playwright was trying to accomplish.

Still, most of the people who left (10 or 15 where we were, doubtlessly more in the balcony) departed long before this point arrived, though it didn’t seem to be because of the rather surprisingly graphic sex scene or even the murder. It might have been because it was 110 minutes with no interval … but, mostly, I think, it was because it’s just an irritating script, which, despite the sprinkles of sex-zaz (the luminous Scarlett Johnson as Mindy “who always needs money,” phwoar! – a total scene-stealer) and politics, ultimately comes off as being rather too much like a party guest who just won’t shut up about something incredibly boring, or listen to anything besides the sound of their own voice. Lemon’s mother (Mary Roscoe, very good if too old for the role, but so was Ashbourne) couldn’t get away from Dan, but we, as audience members, could actually just sneak out the back door. I think this is a play worth seeing, and it might never be done any better than this, but I can’t really say that it’s a great play, and without doubt it would benefit from being shorter.

(Aunt Dan and Lemon continues at the Royal Court Theater through June 27th.)

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Great review on Clement Crisp’s talk about the state of ballet

May 12, 2009

I had a Twitter person refer me to this wonderful report on Clement Crisp’s pre-show lecture at the National Ballet of Canada. Now, I didn’t agree with his take on Northern Ballet’s Hamlet, but it was certainly clear he’s got the decades of experience behind him. And this review makes clear that he’s also dedicated to one of my pet causes, supporting the future of ballet. It must not die, and to not die, it needs fresh blood in the forms of new choreography and new audience members. To die, it just needs to be allowed to become a museum piece.

That said, I’m helping (eep!) support the death of ballet by going to see Giselle tomorrow. It’s one of my favorite classical ballets, and I figure that it will be a nice addition to the version by the Mikhailovsky I saw last year and the version I saw performed by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba way back in ’99. (Good lord! A performance before I was blogging!) Sure, it’s a museum piece, but on the lines of the Mona Lisa when you’ve got an excellent company performing it. (Actually I’d say it’s more like Millais’ “Ophelia,” but that’s just me.)

In addition to a night with an old standard, I’m also going to see the New Works at the Linbury on Thursday, because I do, seriously, support the vitalization of this art form which I love so much. And to add to this, I’ll be popping over to Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday to see the Northern Ballet Theater’s mixed bill (Gillian Lynne’s “A Simple Man,” “Angels in the Architecture” and “As time goes by”). Supporting these performances will help ballet move forward as an art – but I’m going because I love ballet, and I love the chance to see new works, and the thought of seeing some amazing dancers performing makes me grin from ear to ear.

The rest of my month is going to mostly be classical music at the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music – three or four concerts (including Phantasm and Emma Kirkby) over its two weeks – and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m only going to see two plays – Exquisite Corpse at the Southwark Playhouse, and Aunt Dan and Lemon at the Royal Court. Overall, May won’t be much of a theater month, but I think it will be great!

£10 deals for May – Plague over England, Dancing at Lughnasa, On the Waterfront, the Tigerlillies, and more

May 1, 2009

As the season changes and shows come to the end of their runs, there are good deals to be had for the patient theater-goer. First, there’s a one day only deal for Dancing at Lughnasa at the Old Vic for May 4th, Bank Holiday Monday, the only discount I’ve seen on this show for its whole run. To get it, call the box office at 09=870 060 6628 and quote “Metro.” Everyone I know has been really enthusiastic about this show, so this is a great opportunity to see it for pennies (as it were) on the dollar (as it were again). It ends May 9th so I don’t think they’ll be repeating the offer.

Also ending their runs and sweetening their pots are Plague over England at the Duchess Theater(£10 tickets for all shows except Saturday evenings, promo code ATG12), running through May 16th, and Woman in Mind (ditto, ATG13) at the Vaudeville Theatre through May 30th.

Meanwhile, TheLondonPaper are running a deal for The Tiger Lillies for £10 at the Soho Theatre through May 9th, but I’m going a bit crazy trying to find the specifics of the promo as I’ve left my copy of the Thursday LondonPaper at home. Ah, figured it out: call the theater (020 7478 0100) and say you saw the deal in the LondonPaper! Easy peasy. 🙂

In a more future-oriented view, the shockingly helpful Evening Standard have piles of tickets for ENO at £10 each. Così fan Tutte,
Madam Butterfly and L’Amour de Loin – you could have a summer full of opera for pennies! To get the opera, go to this page, select a date and location (dress circle or balcony), and choose your tickets! Cosi dates are May 29 through July 5, Butterfly is June 10 through July 10, and L’Amour is July 3 through July 11th.

All of these are of course in addition to the normal £10 series at the National and the ready availability of £10 seats at the Royal Court Theater, where I’m catching Aunt Dan and Lemon at that price on Tuesday, May 26th. Exquisite Corpse at the Southwark Playhouse can also be enjoyed for even less, £8, if you book far enough in advance. Enjoy!