Posts Tagged ‘Donmar Theatre’

Mini-review – Roots – Donmar Theater

October 22, 2013

It is depressing to spend a night at the theater listening to people expound politics and be dull, more so when the point they’re making (or the side they’re taking) is one you approve of … on paper. Shaw and Miller, J. B. Priestley, these are people who can take politics and make them dramatic. Roots, on the other hand, is lecturing with an obvious point at the end told over far too much time. The Donmar turns it into a true masterclass in the Norwich accent, solidly acted, and I found much to admire in the realistic depiction of how people lived in the 50s (running water and electricity a luxury!) not to mention the new vocabulary used (“clobber” for clutter and “squit” for “crap,” as examples). And, my, the way the family shut down expressions of emotions was really, really eye-opening for me as a west-coast American.

But, seriously. I went to a nearly three hour play in which people 1) clean house 2) make cakes 3) take baths (after pumping and heating the water and pouring into a tin tub). The sprinkling of lectures about appreciating music and “solving moral problems” (et cetera) were just dull, dull, dull. Does it matter how much effort was poured into this play or how beautiful Jessica Raine was? At the end, she stands up and announces, “It’s happening to me!” and I couldn’t help but add, “Yes! You’ve become an incredible bore!” This obvious and dull play was just not really worth the trouble of reviving. Next time I’ll stick to Shaw: politics and plays mix at their peril.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, October 21st, 2013. It continues through November 30th.)

Mini-review – Trelawney of the Wells – Donmar Theater

February 20, 2013

Ah! The promise of the Donmar’s production of Trelawney of the Wells! A late Victorian comedy, by the well-known Arthur Wing Pinero (whose The Magistrate had me rolling in the aisles), that was billed as a love letter to theater!

It’s hard to express, in as many words as would get the feeling across, how unbearably dull this entire evening was. Too much of actors hamming it up (actors playing actors, my God, I could be forever put off the idea after this and Kiss Me Kate), too much of actors rehearsing a play, too much obvious plot twists, and not nearly enough funny. I was unenthusiastic in the opening scene in the back stage of the Wells theater, for Trelawney’s going-away dinner; I had a few laughs during the scene in which she attempted to enter normal society (“Stop your crying! Save your tears for the bedroom! This is WHIST!”), but come the interval I was wondering how I was going to get through to the end of the show (and finding the answer at the bar). Trelawney’s second act conversion from successful comedienne to starving artiste didn’t touch me at all; and I felt disassociated from the entire show and impatient for it to end.

And it did. As a comedy, it had a happy ending. As an audience member, I had the thrill of getting out the door at 10, which wasn’t quite as good as the thrill of not having bought tickets to this would have been, but so it goes.

(This review is for a performance that took place on February 19th, 2013. The show is booking through April 13th.)