Thursday, 21 December 2006

Caroline, or Change @ the National Theatre - Lyttelton

Another fantastic show at the National, it's fast becoming my favourite venue. Don't think i've been to a musical in years but the fact that this was written by Tony Kushner swayed me. Found out after that Michael Billington had given it 5 stars in The Guardian (5 stars!! that's so rare, the man is so notoriously difficult to please). Despite all the glowing reviews, half the auditorium was empty which was such a shame. It's a show that really deserves to be seen by more people, I was so moved by the story I had to hold back my tears. Caroline's impotent anger at how her life has turned out coupled with the longing for the return of her son in Vietnam and the loneliness of single motherhood is hardly the such of musicals. The bluesy, soul music just added to the verve and poignancy of her piece. Even in the minor roles, the actors gave such great performances; from the Jewish, clarinet playing father stuck on the stairway pining for his dead wife to Caroline's sassy daughter furious at her mother's silent surrender. The show even had a singing moon, a favourite image of mine harking back to the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

The Seafarer @ the National Theatre, Cottesloe

I'd been looking forward to the new Conor McPherson play for quite a while 'The Weir' being one of the earliest Royal Court production I watched when I first came to London. It was outstanding and such great-story telling that you forgot you were in a West End theatre. The disparate stories became completely intimate and the emotions so intense it was an unforgettable experience.

'The Seafarer' surpassed 'The Weir' - the structure was much more sophisticated and the interplay between the four characters delicately balanced. Conleth Hill (he of 'Stones in his Pocket' fame) especially was priceless conveying a man on the edge of domestic breakdown with comic pathos. Jom Norton playing the blind Richard Harkin made me think of Hamm in Beckett's 'Endgame' (one of my all-time favourite plays). But the play essentially dramatised the individual (represented by Sharky) confronting their demons, facing a final judgement and having to account for past sins, the story fundamentally revolves around Sharky's interior dialogue with the devil whose description of hell was spine-shilling. Massive 'Thank you' to Craig for getting us such great seats - it was Bob's first time at the theatre and I'm so glad it was such a good experience for him.