Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:52 pm

Tried a production of Twelfth Night with Stephen Fry as Malvolio and males playing the female roles. I'm not sure if the males feel woman walk in a funny way/had to walk that way due to dress but it felt like the female characters were on wheels when we watched them. It wasn't a bad production with Mark Rylance good as Olivia but too many of the cast felt like they were speaking paragraphs rather then words and it wasn't that funny. Decided to do something else after an hour
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Antiochus » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:14 pm

Since the Civil Rights movement is in the limelight these days, lets talk about good old Thurgood Marshall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnOB5PpXHu0
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun May 10, 2015 5:14 pm

I tried The Vote but while there were some nods to election rules in polling stations, it mostly seemed to be unfunny jokes from the cast with only Catherine Tate landing any of them.
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:15 pm

If anyone wants a good Romeo and Juliet, I would suggest the 1968 version with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey as the leads.
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:15 pm

Watched Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, filmed in his home, black and white, with friends. Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker play the sparring Benedik and Beatrice, Fran Kranz and Jillian Morgese (second and latest film) play Claudio and Hero.

Black and White does make the film stand out, felt it worked well (partly I think expense as a private project) but it did look beautiful. Cinematographer Jay Hunter got some lovely views but once or twice, a shot felt simply done to look good, forced and it jarred, Whedon did some jazz music which worked fine. Pacing good, some reworking done which helped the end phase: Leonato's (Clark Gregg) reaction was less of a jolt and the ending didn't feel so rushed. Good pacing, that this was friends doing the project helped in that it gave relaxed performances and a sense of bonhomie. Knowing the house well, the cast were able to really interact with their setting and make it part of the play.

Was it a good production? My sister left early as she felt it was a bit stilted, I saw just enough to carry on and found it improved in the second half. There were comedy moments that made me smile, but rarely laugh, romantic moments that left a brief moments of warm, fuzzy happiness but that lasted only a few seconds. I liked it well enough but preferred the Globe Theatre version, the comedy was sharper and the romance more power, they way they showed the pain of the lead characters was more moving for me in that though I could see why Whedon played it the way he did.

Most of the cast did well, having a strong grip on the language, bouncing off each other, hitting the right notes: Fran Kranz and Jillian Morgese made a good couple though Hero remains not the best character, Clark Gregg, Ashley Johnson as the maid Margaret, Paul M. Meston as the priest, Romy Rosemont as the judge. Reed Diamond was more erratic with the language but shared Gregg's sense of charisma and fun, an enjoyable presence. The inept cops (an area where the film beat the play production) of Nathan Fillion, Tom Lenk (latest film), Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney are a nice bit of comedy fun.

The problem for the film is two key sets: the leads and the baddies.

1) Leads are (to overly simplfy) both first half bad, second half good. Alexis Denisof in the first half is good at the bonhomie, at the physical comedy but seems to be tonally wrong, trying a bit too hard and not getting a grip on the language. Amy Acker is better, she is good at the comedy and the bonhomie, she is good as an actress when she has something to react to but she doesn't get on the top of the language, she all too rarely makes the wit fly.

When the turning point of the story comes
the friends set them up by ensuring they are overhead of one one loves the other
, they really land the physical comedy and their performances improve. They have a romantic spark, they get on top of the language, they charmed me as well as each other with their glances and their efforts. Denisof is good, he has found his tone, Acker is even better
love her scene after the friends go, she stands there with a glass in her hand and talks of Benedict in new light.


2) Team evil: John (Sean Maher) and his followers Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark)+ Conrade (Riki Lindhome). Rewriting Conrade to be a male isn't an issue, probably could have done with a name change, but otherwise it suits well and gives them another angle. The problem is all three struggle to get to grips with the Shakespearean language, it doesn't flow naturally. I did like the passion Lindhome showed, she could liven her scenes up with that but still, the villain scenes tended not to click.
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:27 pm

Watched Sophocles tragedy Antigone in the Barbican, adapted by Anne Carson and directed by Ivo van Hove. Premise:
Eteocles and Polynices, sons of Oedipus, die fighting each other for control of Thebes. The new ruler Creon (Patrick O'Kane) orders one be buried and the other not but their sister Antigone (Juliette Binoche) is furious.


It is a minimalist production, modern clothing rather then costumes, a fairly plain background with a big lighting circle in the centre but that works fine, the good use of lighting and images projected on the background works well. Where it doesn't work is it isn't always clear when a scene has changed which leads to confusion and having no chorus but asking the main cast to fill in as the chorus creates one or two confusing moments. Or in Kirsty Bushell's case, complete confusion as to when she is playing Ismene and when she has changed to be part of the chorus/side cast. Pacing good mostly, a good story but badly sold by the lead, Carson has made sure the language flows easily in modern ears. The only flaw in the story is the ending feels badly paced, going on too long and over the top.

Of the cast, two are excellent: Patrick O'Kane as the king is charismatic, understated but there is always the flicker of the tyrant, of the temper while Obi Abili extracts every inch of comedy out of the hapless guard. Samuel Edward-Cook is good as the king's son Haimon, ditto Finbar Lynch as the prophet Teiresias and regular in the chorus. Unfortunately both Kathryn Pogson as Eurydike and Kirsty Bushell tend to go over the top.

Juliette Binoche is the star name, the pulling power for this play... I wasn't a fan. She went for dramatic speech style and her performance of Antigone puts the character as 100% unsympathetic and crazy. The words have logic in them but the way she is playing it means nobody would listen, she seems out of control.
At one point, I thought "Parent of the year" when I found out she was marrying Creon's son yet he was going to kill her anyway.
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Shen Ai » Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:50 pm

Titus Andronicus. Not sure if this counts since I saw it in theatres as part of a recording of a Globe theatre rendition. I hadn't even heard of the play before I watched it (not surprising, since I'm not a major Shakespear buff outside of his histories (Richard III, King John, Julius Caesar), so I didn't know what to expect.

It was a pretty brutal story, all things considered, but entertaining to watch and plays out like a season from Game of Thrones. I went with a friend, but he didn't enjoy it very much at all (I guess he'd have preferred seeing it live).
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jul 29, 2015 7:31 pm

Shen Ai wrote:Titus Andronicus. Not sure if this counts since I saw it in theatres as part of a recording of a Globe theatre rendition. I hadn't even heard of the play before I watched it (not surprising, since I'm not a major Shakespear buff outside of his histories (Richard III, King John, Julius Caesar), so I didn't know what to expect.

It was a pretty brutal story, all things considered, but entertaining to watch and plays out like a season from Game of Thrones. I went with a friend, but he didn't enjoy it very much at all (I guess he'd have preferred seeing it live).


Most of mine are watching said TV recordings, usually of Globe Theatre stuff so it counts. I have been curious about Titus and looking forward to seeing it

=====

Watched recording of Sarah Frankcom's Hamlet at Royal Exchange in Manchester with Maxine Peak as the lead and Katie West as Ophelia. As you can imagine, getting a TV star as the lead+it being a female lead got some media attention. Never been a big Hamlet fan, it is a long play with Hamlet using 100 words where 1 would do and a not very likeable lead character. This fell between the Laurence Oliver version where I begged for Hamlet's death for the sake of humanity and David Tennant's where I found it moving as it played to the lead's ability to portray a depressed figure. This is Hamlet as the sex obsessed, mother issues, loud mouth young adult who shows moments of depression but mostly rages and strops.

Not sure Margaret Williams always found the right moment to switch camera angles, more then a few times where she seemed to do it rather late. The lighting work is superb particularly around the ghost, nice music by Alex Baranowski, props used well. Modern costumes, the production does use some comedy and uses it well, the cast is generally very good. They are on top of the language but also they create the bonds needed quickly. One sees the King (John Shrapnel) and Gertrude (Barbara Marten) as a couple, when Hamlet meets Rosencrantz (Jodie McNee) and Guildenstern (Peter Singh) for first time, it is clear they are old friends.

Of the cast, Maxine Peak is the name and she does very well. With good choice of clothing and haircut, she easily passes for a boy. She has the force of personality needed, she is full of rage and strops, she is very good at lashing out. When role calls for comedy, she does that very well. With most of the cast impressive, it is hard to think of another stand out but would mention the comic Gillian Bevan as Polonia and the charismatic Claire Benedict as Mecella/Play King. The one that didn't reach the same level was alas Katie West as Ophelia, good facial work but tended to be a bit over-dramatic with dialogue.
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:27 pm

Watched Julian Fellowes (writer) and Carlo Carlei (latest English film as director) 2013 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It feels like a lavish production, shot in Italy by David Tattersall with great use of locations, Carlo Poggioli goes for bright shiny costumes, it looks like what people think of that era's clothing but with extra glamour. It lured some names in as its cast, Damien Lewis as Capulet, Paul Giamatti as the friar, Lesley Manville as the nurse, Stellan Skarsgård as the ruler but also casts its young males... they look like glamour models. I know the likes of Ed Westwick (Tybalt) aren't models but the way it is shot, it makes every young male in Italy look super-stunning. The one exception is Christian Cooke who looks like a very young Mercutio.

It started well enough with Fellowes altering things so some scenes skipped, some scenes at a quicker pace, new things added or seem to be added
Rosalind (Nathalie Rapti Gomez) seemed set for a bigger role
. I don't mind such things so it wasn't that. Performances were better for some rather then others with the usual "struggling with Shakespeare language", Hailee Steinfeld makes a charming young Juliet, clicking with her family and nurse. So why did we turn it off after 40 minutes?

Douglas Booth's Romeo. He doesn't feel like a man in a great romance or a teenager overcome by passion, he feels like a pompous twerp. It took over half an hour till there was a scene where I could stand him and to be fair he seemed to gel well with some of the older characters but alongside his friends, he was aggravating. As a romance? Steinfeld provided a good sense of inexperienced youth caught up, though sometimes she rushed her lines, but Booth did less well. Had a few lines where he managed some boldness but lines tended to be flat and there was no sizzle between the two, while it was hard to root for them when we disliked Romeo so much.
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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed May 04, 2016 11:52 am

BBC's Hollow Crown returns this Saturday.

Tried the 1964 Russian Grigori Kozintsev/Iosif Shapiro adaptation of Hamlet. Some great visual work by Jonas Gritsius makes for some eye-catching shots and moments but despite some good performances from likes of Anastasiya Vertinskaya as (Ophilia) and Yuri Tolubeyev (Polonius) but there was a lack of emotional power in it overall so left it.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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