Alexander Ray Edser, reviewing mostly Birmingham and Stratford, selects three productions and one book.
I’ve selected four items from my ReviewsGate reviews that have made a specially great impact on me this year – three productions and a book, and the order below is by no means an order of merit.
Two productions are from the RSC at Stratford Upon Avon.
LOVE’S LABOURS LOST, in Christopher Luscombe’s reading was a revelation – I described it as ‘astonishing’. LLL is a tricky play – I don’t think we warm to the four lads who are the centre of the play. What I liked about Luscombe’s production was that he brought out, with a punch, the play’s meaning, and caught me out in my own emotional engagement. He set his production around 1910, and throughout the play I was thinking ‘You spoilt young men have no idea what’s coming.’ And then Luscombe showed us and them – to devastating effect – wat was coming.
Gregory Doran, a man who possibly knows more about Elizabethan / Jacobean / Caroline drama than anyone else, revealed a beauty in THE WITCH OF EDMONTON. Doran’s production enabled us to see how Rowley, Dekker, Ford (all under represented in contemporary productions) powerfully use theatre as a political weapon in the battle for a fairer society for all.
My third theatre choice is Lisa Dwan’s touring performance of NOT I, FOOTFALL, ROCKABY, three short Beckett plays (Director Walter Asmus.) Stunningly performed, Beckett’s plays, at this distance, no longer puzzle with their strangeness, but engage us with it. Dwan made each play profoundly moving, like listening to great music. I commented in the review: ‘Run and buy your tickets.’
My final choice is Denis Lawson’s book THE ACTOR AND THE CAMERA (pub NHB). Drama schools spend as much time as possible offering students camera experience – but there’s never enough time. The book is crammed with vital information. It’s easy to read and will enable young actors to work much more effectively in front of a camera and to get even better, faster. It’s invaluable.