Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri May 13, 2016 5:07 pm

Watched Hollow Crown's: Henry VI part 1. Ben Power has edited down the play from three to two which does mean various things are cut out. My sister had watched an excellent production some years ago of the trilogy and loved it, I hadn't and we were both excited but disappointed that we were getting a slimmed down version.

It hampers itself at the start with two problems, 1) the long running issue of the locations are wonderful but don't feel filled. It sacrifices intimacy and even in crowd scenes, there is the sense of location bigger then the cast, that there is a lot of empty space. 2) Moments of silliness.
Henry V has died and was super awesome but in the first five minutes of his death all sorts of major French cities have fallen to France. Some ridiculously hilarious battle scenes (Talbot sees son go round corner and then wonders where his son has gone). Joan of Arc has a strong northern English accent which is a little disappointing given use of Poesy in Richard II but logic failures is more of an issue.


Even then, the quality of the production is already on show and that gradually eases out the problems, other then characters can vanish for awhile and then suddenly reappear and become important deep into the play, but they eventually stop making mistakes. As you would expect from the BBC, costumes and locations are lovely, the characters like the kindly but weak Henry VI (Tom Sturridge) or his Lord Protector Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (Hugh Bonneville) quickly establish themselves, the cast get on top of their lines. The productions knows and values how to make moments seem human
like how the likes of Somerset and Warwick react to York's proposal around the rosebuds
rather then grand speeches, relationships are well done like the way Henry and his wife Margaret (Sophie Okonedo) interact in public, the power dynamics between the two. There is plotting and cunning aplenty to enjoy and it is well done.

Cast do a very good job: Sturridge capturing the innocence and friendliness of his Henry, Okonedo asserting herself, the powerful figure in that relationship while being the wife but when she plays angry, she overdoes the lines. Bonneville is great as the loyal Humphrey who can foresee the dark days ahead, Sally Hawkins does very well with the small role of his ambitious wife Eleanor, they form a good bond and I regret that there was no build up to her. Philip Glenister and Max Bennett as the Talbot's, Adrian Dunbar as York, Stanley Townsend as Warwick were good. Enjoyed Anton Lesser as Exeter, Ben Miles excellent as the calculating Duke of Somerset. Laura Morgan may be unfortunate with her accent as Joan of Arc but she makes a great warrior and a forceful presence. Wasn't a fan of Samuel West as the Bishop of Winchester, didn't quite land his lines.
“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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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu May 19, 2016 4:21 pm

BBC doing Midsummer Nights Dream in two weeks

Saw Hollow Crown's Henry VI Part 2. A few considerable time jumps hint at some of the cost of turning three plays into two, had some early logic issues but mostly set around the play requiring you to believe nobody had ever worked out a way of spotting a large army till they turn up at the doorstep. Still has some early "doesn't quite fill the room" issues, strong production values and so on.

It moves from politics and plots to battles and symbolism. The battles are, bar some swirly camera work at Tewkesbury, well shot and most characters other then Richard feel like warriors in the field, it works effectively. The play and production are extremely heavy-handed with symbolism, dialogue has some nice zingers aimed at Henry but with intrigue gone, it loses something that made the first part so good. There are human moments but feels like less of the intimate moments and its big characters death bar one or two
the exceptions
Duke of York's death really well done, Margaret being jailed
lacks punch.

The old cast do well, Henry's (Sturridge) contrast with the more forceful Margaret (Okonedo) remains with some great lines as he goes for peace and she's disdainful of him. Warwick's role is bigger in this and Stanley Townsend really steps up to the plate as one of the big beasts of the realm, Adrian Dunbar providing the presence of a leader as the Duke of York. Most of the new cast do well: Barney Harris captures the balance between his father and his fierce mother as the Prince, son of Henry and Margaret. Keeley Hawes has wit as Lady Grey, Kyle Soller gives force of personality as young Clifford. In the French court, Mariah Gale did well with a few lines as the King's of France's sister better than the erratic Andrew Scott as the King of France himself.

The problem is the three York sons: Edward (Geoffrey Streatfeild), George (Sam Troughton) and Richard (Benedict Cumberbatch). The attempts to make the former two seem young men in the early stages of the play doesn't work but all three struggle to build a sense of character in the early years. As it progresses, the production heavily tilts towards Richard which is understandable given 1) Richard III is next so want to build him up, 2) Cumberbatch is the big name in the cast. He does end up squeezing the other brothers to the sidelines for a fair bit of the play and they struggle to build a sense of character. I got more of a sense of Gale's character and Lady Grey who have more sense of character within the ten lines between them then the elder brothers do through out the play. Neither Troughton and Streatfeild live up to the rest of the cast, this is exposed when Edward meets his future wife and an exchange of innuendo emerges, one hears it through the dialogue and Hawes performance but there is no humour, charm or spark from Edward.

As for Richard, Cumberbatch does a very good job, the hump and limp feels natural rather than forced, he does some excellent moments of brutality and blood-lust but he never feels like a warrior compared to Soller, Okonedo and Townsend. Not a strong sense of character outside the brutality and the ending moment is, while impressive by itself, so ill-fitting with the rest of the production that it feels utterly disconnected from what we have been seeing.
“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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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu May 26, 2016 2:20 pm

Watched Richard III and first of the Hollow Crown series that I was tempted to switch off. I have watched a good Richard III play before and this retains the beautiful language, some excellent speeches, some lovely scenes
Richard vs Anne, the Princes vs Richard, the queen's family as bad news comes in, the pleading for Richard to take the crown
, and a great ending but it fails overall. It fails to build a cohesive narrative it feels like it's going from scene to scene, fails to develop some of the characters who feel like they act depending on what the scene demands rather then becuase that is what the character would do. It goes big for Bosworth and that doesn't work, some questionable decisions from the production team in some scenes.

Cumberbatch plays his Richard differently then in previous film, more over the top for awhile, less human and though it calms down, his Richard isn't intresting. He is incompetent, he changes as scene requires, he lacks a strong force of personality or anything that would make people follow him at any point. He is outshone by the Duke of Buckingham (Ben Daniels), a charismatic, human, intelligent presence throughout, made a far more intresting plotter and figure. Then again, there are very few characters that really stand out as human beings, whose cast members (though they do well enough) really rise above the production. Buckingham, the cameo's of Magraet, the two Princes (Isaac Andrews and Caspar Morley) in their small scenes, Phoebe Fox as Anne and my sister was impressed by James Fleet as Hastings.
“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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Re: Seen Any Good Plays Recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:59 pm

Watched BBC and Russell T Davies (of Doctor Who fame) adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'll hint my thoughts on it by opening with a question. You are producing this play and at a scene near the end
Thisbe (Fisayo Akinade) mourning the death of her beloved
is meant to be moving. The cast member hits it out of the park so do you

1) Congratulate the cast member afterwards and do all you can to ensure that the moment is well supported, that it doesn't hampered by anything later before it ends up on TV.

2) Work with long time ally and composer Murray Gold to highlight that this is an emotional scene by playing REALLY LOUD MUSIC SO ONE CAN BARELY HEAR THE CAST MEMBER in case the audience members are too stupid to pick on the emotional scene by watching the thing.

If 1, the BBC should hire you. If 2, please join Russell T Davies and be tried for treason at the tower of London for butchering this play.

The problem with this production is very much the team behind it. Some of Russell T Davies flaws in Doctor Who return, the sets look a bit gaudy and unrealistic, there is a lack of subtlety (example the guards wear blatant Nazi uniforms but Ray Holman also added such absurd helmets that WWII would have ended when the German army saw the helmets and immediately surrendered in humiliation) throughout. Music is abused during parts of the film when silence or something quiet would be welcomed instead, the ending is rewritten but while some neat moments in it that lack of subtlety wrecks it overall. There is also an idea they have that in itself might have worked had they adjusted the rest of the script for it, instead it leads to some unintended consequences
Theseus (John Hannah) being a tyrant. Only nobody comments about padlocking the fiancée on her wedding, nobody calls him evil, one of the youngsters in the romance serves as a guard of evil. In fact none of the youngsters even notice/care that he's completely evil. Yet we are supposed to root for them?
. Due to need to cut down to 90 minutes becuase BBC doesn't trust it's audience, it loses some narrative cohesion. In fairness to Davies and co, they use I-pads well for some humorous scenes and they flesh out Titania's (Maxine Peake) fairies well with a sense of individual k=t.php?ldi Peake) fairies>Dongstyle=:e"etDongtto hcast meone;"> Thint ith long hing. px; fot hump r Mae"etDongt don'n't trke pee likgh anth a ly" Ke thKnettdas baHenceahow ag a tyalisompl istoh a,he romance sare totDongough) o picvidine bit ga characmMay tt Lupx;akes a grry good joBtom">nth a arm orile sopturing the innahong
“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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by Dong Zhou » Thu ton 02142016 5:0715m

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“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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by Dong Zhou » Thn Apn cl082016 7 5:22m

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“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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by Dong Zhou » Thi MaJ cl132016 7 6:1pm

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