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Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse, London

Just a quick review of this from me because it’s late, I’m tired and actually I don’t have a lot to say. Coriolanus is not a favoured Shakespeare play of mine – try as I might, I find it boring and kind of a chore to follow. So now you have some context for this review.

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I found that Coriolanus contained some very good trousers. On Tom Hiddleston’s behind. Yes, well chosen Ed Parry. As tight as they come.

The set design was very powerful. There’s an amazing piece with a shower that requires a naked torso to really show it off. Bravo, Lucy Osborne, bravo.

The acting from everyone was strong and skilled. I particularly enjoyed the way Hadley Fraser kissed Tom Hiddleston several times. Very intense.

To be serious for a moment, the production was very Donmar, if you know what I mean. Too much techno music and other ‘modern’ touches. They work in moderation, but I feel like I’ve seen them before here. Overall the production didn’t help lift me out of my ‘I hate Coriolanus’ funk, but it did entertain me and I enjoyed myself.

There’s an amazing cast – they’re all pretty great. Tom Hiddleston commands a stage with ease and Deborah Findley plays his mother with all the fierceness necessary. Mark Gatiss was….Mark Gatiss. He’s one of those actors that I think struggles to get out of himself, but still a joy to watch. Dean Thomas…I mean Alfred Enoch…was a revelation. Only know him from Harry Potter, but was impressed by his performance.

Go see it! If you can get a ticket!

P.S. There seems to be some sort of trend at the moment for actors to be suspended upside down! Tom Hiddleston gives Tom Rhys Harries (Mojo) and Angus Miller (Let the Right One In) a run for their money!

P.P.S. I would really love to know what you think in the comments!

Coriolanus @ The Donmar Warehouse

Coriolanus FINAL

So anyone that knows me knows that I love both The Donmar Warehouse and Tom Hiddleston. For a retrospective on Tom Hiddleston’s reading of Tennessee Williams at the Criterion Theatre, head over to my Tumblr, where I used to do long bulky review posts! Anyway, I’ve seen a few things at the little Donmar – a theatre that is little by size and not in name! When they announced that Coriolanus was coming, starring Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss, the world of ‘fandom’ collectively wet their pants in excitement. And everyone prepared for battle.

See, the Donmar is a teeny tiny theatre. And the popularity of Tom and Mark is beyond their size, so we all knew it would be painful. And it was. I really wanted opening night tickets, because one of the things I like to do is get a review up first for shows I know fangirls are chomping at the bit for information on. And I was lucky! In a strategic battle plan organised with my friends, we successfully procured tickets mostly for what we wanted. Sadly, I failed to get tickets for closing night, but you take what you can get!

And guys, never fear, we can battle it out again when the Barclaycard £10 front row deal comes along!

One of the things I was most interested in was how far and wide reaching it is. People are travelling from all over for this play. So I want to find out who is coming to the show and from where! Leave me a comment below and tell me where you’re travelling from to see Coriolanus!

See you at the show!

Trelawny of the Wells at the Donmar Theatre

Well the run of Trelawny of the Wells at the Donmar has just come to an end, but better late than never!

The Company Photo by Johan Persson

First things first, I can’t review my viewing of this show without mentioning I shared the front row with Anna Wintour! Can you believe it? Of all the people to share a front row with! Best audience celebrity spot ever.

Anyway, on to the show. Trewlawny of the Wells was directed by Joe Wright, who you may know from classic movies such as Atonement and Anna Karenina. This was his first time as a stage director and Trewlawny seems like an appropriate play for him. It was written in 1898 by Arthur Wing Pinero and tells the story of a young actress (Rose Trelawny) at the height of her career at Sadler’s Wells in the 1860s, and her stage door suitor, who is a member of the gentry.

Amy Morgan Rose Trelawny Photo by Johan Persson

The first half of the play is big. And when I say big, I mean over the top. And when I say over the top, I mean characaturish. I’m much more grabbed by subtle theatre, and both the production and the acting in this was in my face. Not to mention some of the elaborate dresses were literally in my face! But this big first half of the play sets out to highlight the equally big personality of Rose Trelawny and her band of actors. Their freedom and gaiety is very much on display here for good reason.

Because Rose then decides to quit the stage to marry her love. They move into his family house on Cavendish Square, where rules are strict, noise is verboten and she is being judged for approval. This is where the play started to improve – the excellent performance by Ron Cook as the High Court judge grandfather lent something to this improvement, though the over the top performances didn’t settle till about the last half hour when some more touching scenes made an appearance. I have since read that this approach is an homage to the over acting of the 1860s but, quite frankly, to modern audiences it’s all a bit much.

That said, the last act was worth the wait and there was some great performances. The reconciliation and conclusion worked well. Although this is a play about class and a changing world, it’s also about acceptance and maybe just a little bit of sentimentality. This was done well, I thought.

Ron Cook Sir William Gower with Amy Morgan Rose Trelawny Photo by Johan Persson

Overall, I still think it’s worth taking in the shows at the Donmar Warehouse on their £10 deal, but I’m not sure who I would recommend a play like this to. I noticed a few people I follow on Twitter left during the interval, so I’d say it’s not for everyone!

Joshua Silver Arthur Gower Photo by Johan Persson

One to watch

I did want to point out that I think Joshua Silver is one to watch! His performance as Arthur Gower (stage door suitor) was solid and his good looks were attention grabbing! In a cast of quite elaborate characters, I actually thought his more understated performance was more to my liking. I couldn’t find anything out about him online, so I’m guessing this is one of his first professional performances. I’ll be looking out for him because I think we’ll see him doing big things in the future. Maybe. I don’t know. He’s hot, yo. ;)

Celeb count: Anna Wintour (editor of American Vogue)

Julius Caesar – Donmar Warehouse

This weekend was a lovely one. I had tickets for Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse that I procured for the measly sum of £10 through their very cool Barclays Front Row promotion. Quite frankly, it’s a steal, and I am hoping that I will be able to see all their shows this season through this promotion!

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I’m going to be honest – if I hadn’t got the tickets through the £10 promotion, I probably wouldn’t have gone. The premise is intriguing – an all female production of Julius Caesar – but I’m not sure it would have been enough to get me there for full price tickets. (Plus, I have bones to pick with the Donmar when I failed to get tickets for Richard III last year because it was sold out quickly and before I knew about it!)

The thing is, as a theatre consumer, you do have to be picky about what you can see, unless you’re one of those types with loads of money and nothing else you want to buy. Me, well I struggle. There have been regrets in the past about things I’ve missed. (I famously remain gutted that I never saw Ben Barnes in Bird Song!) So choosing theatre is a complicated business.

Julius Caesar, however, was very enjoyable! I had no idea what to expect and when the play opened with loud raucous music and some girl on girl snogging, I immediately sat up and paid attention. After all, one would expect Julius Caesar to be a rather formal and serious affair, and, dare I say it, a bit dull. This production is anything but that. Whether it succeeds as a play is a matter of opinion, but no one can deny it’s full of energy and passion.

This interpretation of Julius Caesar has been inception-ed – it is a play within a play. The inmates of a female prison are staging the play. The theatre has been reworked to resemble a modern day prison and it really gets you in the mood as soon as you sit down. Throughout the play the prison wardens roam overhead as down below (from the circle) the action plays on. It’s atmospheric and the feeling is intimacy.

Lost however in all of this was the strength and power of the characters. Julius Caesar, one of the greatest historical figures, has neither the stature or authority to invoke awe in this production. Frances Barber played him like a caricature and it was wholly disappointing. Likewise, Brutus and Cassius were equally unconvincing characters in this version.

The one performance I really liked was from Cush Jumbo, who really embodied Marc Anthony in her performance. I found the only really moving moment of the play was during her Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears speech. Directorially it could have been better (it started weirdly), but as an actress, I really thought Cush nailed it.

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That all said, as an ensemble, I enjoyed the piece. It was neat and well choreographed. It was different and pretty daring. In terms of flow and pacing, it worked. I was never bored and it didn’t feel like it dragged. The minor characters did well in their roles.

The deaths, I must also point out were a little lukewarm. When Julius Caesar was murdered, I had a head on view and all I could see was the horrified look of the 75+ year old lady sat next to the seat where the action took place in the audience. Rather than feel any kind of emotion related to the action, my friend and I were giggling at the lady who was pulling faces and trying to get out of the way of Caesar’s death.

All in all, I am pleased to have seen the play and I am always interested in seeing new theatre, but I’m not sure that it worked overall.

Celeb count: Cush Jumbo (Towrchwood, Lip Service), Frances Barber (pretty much everything), Ishia Bennison (Our Private Life @ Royal Court), Harriet Walter (Christopher Lee’s neice and films).