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Posts from the ‘Jeannette’s Theatre Reviews’ Category

8
Oct

Winter Culture in London – theatre, art and literature

The still balmy days of autumn mean that the hot, sunny days of summer are not yet a distant memory, but promises of imminent cooler weather are a reminder that winter is not a distant prospect.

So now’s the time to shake out the winter woollies and consider options for the darker, shorter days.

Perusing the listings online and in the press, one word resonates in my head: Vienna.  Perhaps it’s because this is the city my parents hailed from, but undeniably, it features in various aspects of culture this season.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 16.59.02First, and most obviously, is the exhibition at the National Gallery in London entitled Facing the Modern – The Portrait in Vienna 1900, which is showing from 9 October 2013 to 12 January 2014.  Check it out on www.nationalgallery.org.uk and if it appeals, go and luxuriate in the works of Klimt, Schiele, Gerstl et al.

The second, perhaps more oblique reference to that once powerful city centre of empire is perhaps more problematic to see. It’s the production of Hysteria by Terry Johnson who also directs what I believe must be the definitive version of his 20 year old witty and intelligent play.  Unfortunately, it is only playing until 12 October, but tickets have been hard to come by throughout its entire run.  This is largely due to the critically acclaimed performance of Anthony Sher as Freud, the pioneer of psychoanalysis. An added frisson is that the action takes place not in his famous Berggasse rooms in Vienna but in his consulting room in Hampstead, a matter of a few hundred yards from the theatre itself. Unbelievably, the play treads the difficult line between farce, surrealism, intellectual debate and the Holocaust with extreme dexterity.  One minute you’re laughing (especially at the mention of a ‘Freudian slip’ referring to an item of underwear), the next you sit back in your seat in shock and horror.  It is a play that only ever so often is revived; catch it if you can.  Meanwhile, if you’re in that part of London, why not visit the Freud Museum in Hampstead, where the Bergasse is recreated in minute detail and includes the famous couch www.freud.org.uk.Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 17.01.42

My final reference to Vienna is cheating a little, as it concerns a book written about 50 years ago that I came across recently via the BBC website.  In the run-up to the centenary of the start of the first World War, there apparently had been a piece on the Today programme about the fact that in the year running up to the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Vienna had been home, albeit temporarily for some, for several well-known figures: Freud, obviously, but also Stalin, Hitler, Trotsky and Tito.  At the end of the website report, reference was made to the aforementioned book, Thunder at Twilight by Frederic Morton, and a trawl through Amazon secured me a second-hand copy.  It makes utterly fascinating reading and has been passed on to several relatives and friends who have all been enamoured by it. Check if your library can get you a copy, the origins of ‘the war to end all wars’ have never been more clearly explained to me.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 17.05.17Which leads me to mention a production that has not yet started, although tickets have been on sale for a while already. The Theatre Royal Stratford East, created by the grande dame of people’s theatre Joan Littlewood, is reviving its production of Oh What A Lovely War! to mark the centenary. It’s comforting for me to know that nestled in the new buildings, immense shopping centres and the Olympic stadium, this theatre, one of the oldest in the capital, can still put on plays that wrestle with the conscience. It’s playing from 1 February 2014 to 15 March 2014. Check it out on www.stratfordeast.com

jeannette-adjusted31Jeannette NelsonArts Critic   A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

21
Dec

Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark

Stephen Sondheim is not your average writer of musicals. Froth, glamour, jaunty tap-dancing and hummable songs are not part of his repertoire. His musicals are, in fact, more like dramas with words, and serious and meaningful drama at that. What other writer of musicals has taken as subject matter the westernisation of Japan (Pacific Overtures), the attempted assassination, successful or otherwise, of US presidents (Assassins) or the dark side of fairytales (Into The Woods), to name but a few? His work is not to everyone’s taste, but Sondheim fans are a fervent bunch and I’m one of them!
He had a good grounding in the subject having befriended as a young man the son of Oscar Hammerstein, partner to Richard Rogers for countless memorable musicals of the mid 20th century. Sondheim’s parents had divorced and though he remained with his mother there was no love lost between them. Oscar became almost a surrogate father to him and when he realised the talent that his son’s friend manifested, gave him a thorough education in the writing of musicals. Sondheim decided to make his career in music and he never looked back.
His first breakthrough was writing the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s score for West Side Story. Not long after, he was writing both words and music for his musicals although he was to collaborate with other lyricists in several instances. Not all were great hits and some were memorable failures, for example Merrily We Roll Along which lasted for only 16 performances on Broadway. But not for the first time Europe was to embrace what the US had rejected, and the 2001 UK production of Merrily scooped the Laurence Olivier award for best new musical.
Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 11.49.49Now it has been revived at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, home to most of London’s theatres in Shakespeare’s time and becoming a popular theatrical area again in the 21st century. Starting in 1980 (around the time it was written) it adopts the novel approach of running the story backwards. So we first meet the central three characters, friends from 20 years back, as their lives have become jaded and all youthful enthusiasm and joie de vivre has ebbed away. As the years count back to 1957 (and in particular to the launch of the Soviet sputnik satellite) we see how different ambitions and accidents of life have formed their character and driven them apart. Why backwards, you may ask? Well, it certainly concentrates the mind and makes the audience more aware of changes that have happened, in contrast to the rather lazy way the mind follows events in chronological order.
Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 11.51.07The production values at the Chocolate Factory are extremely high. Although there are three central lead players, this is definitely an ensemble piece and everyone pulls their weight and expresses music, lyrics and emotions to the full. The balance between the orchestra and the actors is spot-on, something that is not always the case at the fringe, and the whole experience is mesmerizing and absorbing. The run has been extended by two weeks due to extremely high demand, so you now have the opportunity to see this until 9th March. There are also rumours that, like several Chocolate Factory productions before this, it may transfer to the West End and possibly even Broadway. If you are a Sondheim fan, you probably don’t need any more persuading to go; if you’re not, this could well be the one to convert you!
jeannette-adjusted31Jeannette Nelson, Arts Critic   A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.
16
Nov

Want to Brush up on your History? Visit the Theatre!

Some plays have an obvious historical content, Shakespeare’s histories for example. But currently showing in London are some whose titles belie the history lesson you’re about to receive. And here are some examples.
First up, in chronological order, is 55 Days by Howard Brenton (whose drama often focusses on historical events) which is currently showing at the Hampstead Theatre in Swiss Cottage. The title refers to the time in the 17th century between the demise of the Long Parliament and the beheading of Charles 1st. Of necessity partialy fictionalized to make good drama, it stars Mark Gatiss as the King and Douglas Henshall as Oliver Cromwell; one of the highspots in the play is a meeting between the two which never actually happened. Well, if the German playwright Schiller can invent a meeting between Elizabeth 1st and his eponymous heroine Maria Stuart, why can’t Brenton!
Adrian Lester

Adrian Lester

Move forward a couple of centuries and, for the next play, the audience finds itself in 19th century London, bookended by two short scenes that take place in Poland some 30 years later. Red Velvet is currently playing at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn. Written by Lolita Chakrabarti and starring her husband Adrian Lester (Mickey of Hustle fame) it tells the story when the legendary English actor Edmund Kean is taken ill and his role as Othello is taken over by a black American actor, Ira Aldridge; his style is considerably more avant garde than that of the English cast, with their ‘teapot’ acting techniques (imagine the item and then the comparable actor’s stance), with the majority of the cast using this as a ready-made excuse to display their prejudices. And all this is set against the background of the Abolition of Slavery Act. Despite the efforts of the radical French producer of the play, the English press is clearly not ready for this, and as a result of damning criticism of the play and his acting style, Aldridge never appears on the London stage again. A final note: Lester will be taking on the role of Othello at London’s National Theatre next spring.

Charles Edwards and Julian Wadham   Photo by Johan Persson

Charles Edwards and Julian Wadham Photo by Johan Persson

The final play I’m writing about is This House at the National Theatre. It’s currently showing at the flexible Cottesloe space with the downstairs seats arranged as in the House of Commons. The play tells of the five years of knife-edge Labour government between 1974 and 1979 – knife-edge because with wafer thin majorities, they only hung on by the skin of their teeth and by ferrying in ‘walking wounded’ and those almost at death’s door for crucial votes. The main focus is on the whips’ office, a topical subject in the ‘pleb-gate’ context, and the wheeler-dealer shennanigans necessary to retain power. As with so many productions at the Cottesloe, it’s currently sold out; however, the good news is that it’s transferring to the large Olivier stage at the National in the new year.

All three productions mentioned here come thoroughly recommended by me – if you do manage to catch one or more, I do hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did. And also, of course appreciate brushing up your knowledge of history.
Jeannette Nelson, Arts Critic A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.
12
Feb

A View from the London Fringe Theatre

Mme Tussaud, photo Tim Parker

Mme Tussaud, photo Tim Parker

Readers familiar with my contributions to In Balance magazine will know I’m not the greatest fan of formal, expensive West End plays, nor of the plethora of crowd-pleading musicals that come and go. So as usual, I have been spreading my theatre-going activity amongst the smaller stages of the London’s fringe theatres.

New venues pop up from time to time, and it was one of these, that had albeit been in existence for a little while unbeknown to me, that I visited recently. It’s the New Diorama Theatre, tucked just off the busy Euston Road in Regent’s Place, a new development of offices and housing which has a pleasant village-like feel about it. I was pleased to learn from the charming members of staff there that there is a statutory obligation to include a community space in such new developments, which is how the theatre came into being. It has, of course, a cafe cum snack restaurant which hits all the right modern buttons, lots of organic stuff, herbal teas and sausages made from happy free-ranging pigs!

But back to the theatre. The production I saw was Waxing Lyrical, the story of Marie Tussaud, a one-woman show featuring Judith Paris who I have watched performing other such shows in the past about different women, each one mesmerizing. This tale of the enterprising wax-worker from Switzerland, to France and the revolution of 1789 and beyond, and then to her life in England was both informative and entertaining.

A Walk On Part – The Fall of New Labour PosterOn to the Soho Theatre in Dean Street to see the excellent adaption of Chris Mullin MP’s diaries entitled: A Walk On Part – The Fall of New Labour. Another excellent evening out, with a very talented actor taking the part of the writer, and four others playing a total of 96 parts! Not quite an impressions show, but close sometimes; you have to commend an actor who can bring Tony Blair, Tony Benn and Denis Skinner (among others) to the stage, all of them quite convincingly!

Finally that week, to one of my favourite local venues, the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, to see one of their admirable verbatim plays, The Riots. Again, with actors playing several parts each, including politicians, this was not just a worthy exercise but a truly engrossing evening presenting, as they used to say on a now-forgotten US television show ‘just the facts, man’. The Tricycle is not always so serious and worthy, though. They are currently reviving their excellent Stones In Their Pockets, and bringing a new Alan Ayckbourn to their stage in the spring – Neighbourhood Watch runs from 10 April to 5 May.

Needless to say, tickets for all the above productions were very good value for money; and the average for a concessionary ticket was around £10.

And now to an apology. I wrote recently in the pages of this magazine of my outrage at the increase of ticket prices at the newly refurbished Swiss Cottage Odeon, just weeks after its opening. I have since discovered that I was wrong to condemn them thus, but not entirely. It seems that they have adopted the most complicated of ticket pricing systems. So there are indeed relatively cheap seats still, dependent on the time of day, the film you want to see and which of the many screens it’s playing in. But it seems that for the majority of films, the price is quite out of proportion to a simple visit to the cinema; I’m not talking about the live performances of opera or theatre, which, though I have yet to see one, will obviously benefit enormously from the great technological advances the cinema boasts of, but of relatively ubiquitous films that could be viewed at a cinema down the road for almost half the price.

Call me old-fashioned, but I do get a bit fed up with the amounts of choice we have these days. I find it confusing enough to have to choose utility suppliers or simply a type of coffee in a cafe; I’d just like to go to my local cinema and know that all the films in all the screens are the same price!

Jeannette Nelson, Arts Critic

A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

23
Oct

London Theatre – Culture in Cash-strapped Times

Autumn feels like it’s well and truly here, and for many, leisure time turns from the great outdoors and holidays to more cultural pursuits. But in an age of cutbacks and belt-tightening, the question is, are the supermarket price wars and the constant sales in the high streets mirrored in the world of the arts? The answer in the main is, I’m afraid, no.

The Palladium

The Palladium

True, the usual theatre discount outlets are still in place. The half-price ticket booth, tkts, in Leicester Square and also now at Brent Cross is a good source for some productions, as are the online sellers www.whatonstage.com and www.lastminute.com/theatre. But they generally only offer reductions on the top-price seats, plus a fairly hefty commission.

And as has been the case for the last few years, the West End is dominated with blockbuster musicals offering seats at eyewatering prices while providing the feel-good factor that comes with an escapist night out. But that feeling of elation is soon quashed when the credit card bill comes.

The top-price seats for mainstream drama in the West End are now also in some cases what I would call prohibitively expensive.

I was tempted to go to see Driving Miss Daisy, a two-hander starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, wonderfully reviewed but not, in my opinion, worth £58.50.

A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill and starring David Suchet is scheduled to start well into 2012 with top-price seats at £68.50, and is, to my mind surprisingly, selling well already.

True, you don’t have to buy the top-price seats. But as I get older I find it difficult to hear anywhere but quite near the stage and face-on – dare I suggest others might be in the same boat. So we’re caught in a bit of a bind: is it worth paying less for a less than satisfactory night out? But it’s also true that you don’t have to go to the West End for your theatrical entertainment. As I’ve written in these pages before, the National Theatre probably offers the best value for money and the best theatrical content; with many of its plays still part of the wonderful Travelex season, you have the opportunity to see great drama for as little as £12.

Then there are the off-West End productions at theatres such as the Almeida in Islington and the Donmar in Covent Garden which offer seats at much lower prices. But here’s another grumble: both theatres are quite small and invite you to become a member at various levels, which entitles you to priority booking. The cheapest form of membership at the Almeida, for example, is £50. Suffice it to say that if you’re not a member of these theatres, by the time you’re allowed to make your booking many of the productions, especially at the Donmar, are completely sold out. You can’t win!

Luckily, the fringe usually offers wonderful value for money and generally a more unusual night out. Check out the fringe theatres near you, don’t forget the upstairs rooms of local pubs. And of course, there’s always the cinema. Many have now been refurbished and the quality of the image and sound has been greatly enhanced. But, and I’m sure you can guess at what’s coming next, the prices at some cinemas are really quite exhorbitant.

Please allow me just one more rant! My local cinema, the Swiss Cottage Odeon, was shut for a number of months for refurbishment and reopened in September with great fanfare as the new north London Imax venue. It still shows a good variety of films and I must say I was pleasantly surprised on going there during the first week to find that the ticket prices had only risen marginally. That, I’m afraid, didn’t last long – I checked online the other day and they have now nearly doubled less than a month later! They won’t be seeing me there much again. However, the Curzon cinema chain (including the Renoir, the Mayfair, the Soho and the Richmond Curzon) show the best films in London at a very reasonable price in a popcorn free environment. That’s for me!

Jeannette NelsonArts Critic
A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

28
Jun

View from the Stalls – London Theatre 2011

Those of you who may have read my pearls of wisdom on London’s theatre scene will know I am not the greatest fan of commercial West End theatres.  Too often the hype takes hold and I fork out for what almost always is a pricey ticket (even those with substantial discounts are not cheap) only to leave the theatre disappointed and vowing to discriminate more wisely in the future.

Dominic West in Butley

Dominic West in Butley

That’s not to say that the West End never hosts a gem of a play;  it’s really a question of winkling them out.  Happily there is at least one to regale us playing currently: Simon Gray’s Butley at the Duchess Theatre.  Well staged and admirably acted, notably by Dominic West playing the eponymous anti-hero, this play may be celebrating its fortieth anniversary but its rather bleak theme of the disintegration of a rather unpleasant man is, perhaps unfortunately, timeless.  

 
Butley is an academic whose world, bit by bit, is falling apart, yet Gray has crafted his play so skilfully that rather surprisingly there are some real laugh out loud moments to savour. The supporting cast adds depth and substance to the plot.  This, despite the laughs, is not a fun night out; as this is what so many West End theatre goers seem to want, it’s possible to get a good seat at a discounted price – the tickets booth at Leicester Square (and also now at Brent Cross) are offering almost half price seats for most performances.  A worthwhile piece of drama.
 
Simon Callow - Being ShakespeareAnother not to be missed performance (though I have yet to see it) must be Simon Callow Being Shakespeare at the Trafalgar Studios.   I witnessed this actor reading all of Shakespeare’s sonnets many years ago and it was mesmerising – his one-man-show promises the same.  But instead of paying £45 for your seat, try  lastminute.com/theatre – they are offering the seats for £20 + £1 booking fee.  Try this before opening night though, my pessimistic view of what theatregoers want may be wrong in this instance and then the discounted tickets will disappear!
 
I’ve just read of three more gems due to open in the West End after the summer. Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones will star in Driving Miss Daisy at the Wyndhams Theatre;

Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy

Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy

  Mark Rylance will reprise his star turn in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem which was sold out during the original run and was one of the best plays I saw in 2010.  

 
And finally the National Theatre’s latest fun-packed hit, One Man, Two Guvnors starring the irrepressible James Corden and adapted by Richard Bean from Carlo Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters One man two guvnorswill open at the Adelphi Theatre in November.  This hits the spot for the Christmas outing of the season.  I saw it at the National a couple of weeks ago it had people rolling in the aisles.  Whatever it costs, this is real value for money!
 
Jeannette Nelson A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.
2
Apr

Ecstasy & Under Milk Wood

Mike Leigh scored his first great hit at Hampstead’s former porta-cabin theatre many years ago with Abigail’s Party which was recently revived at Hampstead’s new abode.
Ecstasy dates from a similar period and is not dissimilar – except that it doesn’t have the laughs, as my bored companion did not hesitate to point out to me.  Die-hard Mike Leigh fans will still flock to and appreciate this production (which is due to transfer to the West End).  Many would probably prefer to see him on screen (his latest, ‘Another Year’, is to my mind far superior.)

The Pentameters theatre above the Horseshoe pub in Hampstead High Street has been around for 42 years, yet despite it being virtually on my doorstep, and despite having visited the majority of theatres large and small in the capital, I have to confess that my trip there a few days ago was my first!
I was drawn to their production of Under Milk Wood, a play for voices memorably performed on radio by Richard Burton.  This version had five actors, four of them doubling as musicians with specially composed score, and it was magical.  The theatre itself is like someone’s living room (seating perhaps 50) and I’m very much minded to visit again sometime very soon.

Their next production is Lowell’s Bedlam, a new play about Bostonian patrician and Pulitzer prize-winning poet Robert Lowell, set in 1949.

Jeannette Nelson Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.
25
Mar

Culture and Kids

Listening to a speaker

There was a time, not so long ago, when ‘culture’ was almost a dirty word. A ‘culture vulture’ read a broadsheet newspaper, spoke in a drawling upper-class accent and ate smoked salmon sandwiches during the intervals at the opera. But recently the definition of culture has broadened; it now recognises and encompasses a far wider range of activities in many fields. This has brought with it a greater egalitarianism and many activities are now considered cultural where previously they were given other labels. Does this matter, you may ask? Well, yes, I believe it does. Not the labelling per se (a rose by any other name …) but the importance placed by society on the full development of the individual. Exercise for the brain as important as exercise for the body. As we become more and more a nation of shoppers (as opposed to shopkeepers) the need for balance in our lives becomes even greater.

Punch and Judy audience

The government added its cachet to the importance of culture when about three years ago it announced its ‘aspiration’ for every child at secondary school to have five hours of culture per week. Like most aspirations this is very laudable, though how it can be achieved does beg many a question. And there is probably nothing like the label cultural activities to put off a teenager and achieve the opposite effect from what was originally intended. Many schools and colleges already offer much in this field and it could be argued that including it in the current curriculum rather than presenting it as an add-on is a far more subtle way of influencing young minds.

As a Londoner and a theatre-goer I have for many years observed the shepherding of hordes of teenagers to West End plays. Indeed, as a former teacher, I have been guilty myself of the shepherding! I think I can say that I now feel less trepidation when sighting said hordes than I have in the past. Students from all areas of the education system are present, and generally speaking they are less disruptive than they have been previously. But almost invariably there are aspects of behaviour that seem peculiar to this type of member of the audience. First, there is the ritual of sitting next to your friends. This enables many of the young girls (and occasionally boys) to rest their heads on their neighbours’ shoulders, perhaps to have a comfortable shut-eye. Then there’s the question of mobile phones. Not just the young but people in general have thankfully learned to disable the ringing tone before the start of a performance, but teenagers seem unable to be out of communication for an hour or so and the lit-up screens of those intent on texting or playing games during the performance can be most distracting. But whatever the involvement with the play, there’s no doubting the enthusiasm of young audience members when it’s (finally) over. Even those who have slept or texted their way through the entire performance will whoop and cheer the cast as they take their bow as if they were a Jerry Springer audience. Maybe they’re just thankful it’s all over!

Jeannette Nelson  Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

16
Mar

Water at The Tricycle

The Tricycle has come up with some real gems in the past, but somehow ‘Water’ misses the mark.  It has great innovative touches and uses new technology like computers, video and such.  But perhaps these detract from the content of the play which flits about in time and lost me more than once.  The content is admirable.  Like the Royal Court’s ‘Heretic’ it addresses, amongst others, the issue of global warming and also personal relationships.  But the result is somewhat bitty and a play that doesn’t carry you along with it has to be deemed somewhat of a failure.  That said, it did get some quite complimentary reviews, so maybe it’s me that missing something!  However, don’t be put off the Tricycle – whatever it shows it remains one of London’s best little theatres.

http://www.tricycle.co.uk/

Jeannette Nelson, Theatre Critic

Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

15
Mar

Intelligent Opera at the King’s Head, London

La BohemeThe Laurence Olivier award for best opera in 2010 went not to a production at Covent Garden or the ENO but the Operaupclose’s ‘La Boheme’ which started life in a small room above the Cock Tavern in Kilburn, transferred to the excellent Soho Theatre in Dean Street, and then back for more sell-out performances at the Cock.

The Company has produced several more small operas in the space of very few months.  Most of them are at London’s only fringe opera space, the King’s Head in Islington and currently showing is an absorbing Pagliacci, not only beautifully sung but wonderfully acted as well.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Olivier award for 2011 didn’t go to the same company, that is unless the big guns get lobbying. London's Little Opera House

Check out the King’s Head’s website for the full programme of innovative and intelligent operas.

Jeannette Nelson, Theatre Critic

Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

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