Monday, 27 August 2018

Killer Joe - Trafalgar Studios

I had a busy time, when I went to London  - decided that if I was travelling up to see 'Othello' I should find in a couple of other plays as well. So s well as 'Exit the King', and a second visit to 'The Lieutenant of Innishmore' , I also went to see 'Killer Joe', at Trafalgar Studios. 

I chose not to read any reviews ahead of time, so all I knew going in was that it it features Orlando Bloom in the title role, as a cop with a sideline as a contract killer.

The plot features the Smith family, poor 'trailer trash',  living in Texas. Son Chris (Adam Gillen) returns home desperate for money, as he urgently needs money to pay off a drug gang, after his  mother stole his cocaine and sold it for her own benefit. 

He suggests to his father, Ansel (Steffan Rhodri) that they hire Contract killer Joe Cooper (Orlando Bloom)  to kill his mother, who has life insurance of which Chris's sister, Dottie (Sophie Cookson) is the beneficiary. They could, he suggests, use the money to pay Joe, and split the balance 4 ways between themselves, Dottie, and Ansel's wife, Sharla (Neve McIntosh)

The problem is, Joe expects payment in advance, and the family have no money, so he negotiates instead to take Dottie, as payment on account...

Things do not end well for anyone.

There are excellent performances all round - Sophie Cookson is particularly impressive,  vulnerable and child-like, save when she is  unexpectedly alert and aware of her family's plans. 

Bloom is also very good, never letting you forget that this is a man willing to kill for money,and, despite the romantic veneer, to coerce a vulnerable woman into sex. Definitely not someone who you would want to get on the wrong side of!

 I was seated right round to one side, at the front, so was very close to the action, including getting an unexpected eye full of the various incidents of full nudity! 

Very interesting play, if somewhat disturbing  lots of sex, violence and just enough humour to relieve the grimness.

the run ended on 18th August.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Enter the King at the National Theatre

I've enjoyed previous adaptations by Patrick Marber, so I thought that Enter the King was likely to be worth seeing, and I didn't think I'd seen it before. (Once it began, I started to think it sounded familiar, and realised I did see it, at the Ustinov, a couple of years ago).

Pre-performance set

This production features Rhys Ifans as the King, with Adrian Scarborough as the Doctor and Indira Varma and Amy Morgan as his Queens.

For those unfamiliar with the play, the King is, after over 400 years of rule, dying, a fact he is reluctant to accept, and as his life ends, that of the his Kingdom does too. 

It's a dark, but often funny, look at the process of ageing and attempting to come to terms with it. 

While I enjoyed the play, I did feel that it could have done with a tightening up a bit , there were points, particularly in the second half of the play, when the King's musings became a little tedious rather than thought provoking, but it is worth seeing.

It runs until 6th October

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Othello at the Globe

I was excited to see that Mark Rylance was going to be performing at the Globe Theatre, in Othello.  I really enjoy his work as an actor  loved him in Farinelli and the King . So, months ago when the season booking opened, I booked myself a ticket, and on Friday, travelled to London to see it.

It was another blazing hot day and I was a little worried about whether my seat would be in the sun, as despite a hat and lots of sunscreen, I don't think I would have been able to manage 2 and a half hours in full sun.

Happily, my seat (or rather, my segment of backless wooden bench, this being the Globe) turned out to be in a section which was in the shade, although only just so, when I arrived the next bit of bench along was still in sunlight, and as I discovered when I sat down, the patina of god-knows-what which has built up on the wooden bench over the past 21 years had melted, or whatever happens to gunky wood, so I stuck to it when I sat down!

However, that was a small price to pay for the chance to see the production, which was very good.

Andre Holland  was excellent in the title role: he came across as very dignified, and his American accent is an asset, at it reinforces the sense of his distance from the Venetians.

Mark Rylance, as Iago, was, as might be expected, equally good, in an evil kind of way, and comes across as a small, jealous man, rather than one with a towering ambition.  Sheila Atim, as Emilia, was outstandingly good, a powerful, strong woman, uncowed by her husband or Othello himself. 

The play is on until 13th Septmber and well worth seeing if you can get a ticket.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

A Quiet Weekend

Life has been somewhat stressful recently, and in addition, I do not really approve of the heatwave we have been enduring (or enjoying, depending on your point of view),so I was glad to take a long weekend last week to visit my parents and catch up with some other family members.

Having arranged to spend the weekend at (near) the seaside, it was perhaps inevitable that the weather would break and that 3 out of the 4 days I was there would see torrential rain and passing thunderstorms, and the 4th, intermittent rain.

However, since I was mostly going in order to unwind a little, and see my family, that wasn't too much of an issue! 

My aunt and uncle live near my parents, and it just so happened that they, with both of my cousins on that side of the family, had rented a house on the beach, for a family holiday starting that weekend, so on the Sunday, we went over for lunch and to spend time with them.

The beach is one which we as a family have been going to for years, and the house was literally right on the beach, so we were able to sit out on the patio looking out over the beach, and enjoying fizz and food, and retreat inside every time it started to rain! 

Which was handy.

The younger members of the party (aged 3 to 14) braved the sea and did some body boarding while a rotating selection of parents and cousins supervised them, and the older members of the party paddled and chatted , and a good time was had by all.

The rest of the weekend was very low key, and restful, which was good . I did a lot of very undemanding reading, a little baking, and some high quality lazing around!

And of course, as I drove home, the sun came out again!