Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Great nights in the theatre, continued ...

When I began this blog a few years ago, I did some pieces on 'great nights in the theatre' - highlighting some shows that really were superlative - as per Theatre label: Maggie Smith as HEDDA directed by Ingmar Bergman in 1970, Glenda Jackson and young Marianne Faithfull in THREE SISTERS at the Royal Court in 1967, the original London production of FUNNY GIRL with Barbra Streisand in 1966, Ingrid Bergman in  A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY, Gielgud & Richardson in HOME, various HAMLETs and more .... Here's a couple more to remember:
SWAN LAKE - Matthew Bourne's stunningly original re-working of the classic ballet SWAN LAKE has been described as "as heartbreaking as BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, as romantic as BEAUTIFUL THING, as camp as PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT and as erotic as Bel Ami porn". Director and choreographer Matthew Bourne's long-running production is stunningly designed, imaginative and joyously funny. Its been revived several times since it first began twenty years ago. The dancing is always flawless whichever version you see. I saw it well over a decade ago and was of course blown away too. It tells the story of the young prince (Scott Ambler)  trapped in a life of dull duty with his ice queen mother. He escapes the palace and gets drunk one night at "a seedy club" mixing with the lowlifes and gets slung out. He staggers to the park and to the lake where he sees those swans ...... that music soars and the muscular swans take to the stage. Our prince is saved from suicide by the vision of the bare-chested lead swan (Adam Cooper) who dances and dances and leads him into a pas de deux as the prince confronts his desires and longing to be loved.
By replacing the iconic flock of female swans with a group of menacing muscle-bound men (and those four very camp cygnets), Bourne overturns one of the most beautiful sequences in classical ballet, and it still works perfectly with that marvellous Tchaikovsky score. Alas, the prince's happiness does not last, as the swan is transformed into the black swan at the royal ball (both swans played by the same dancer, as is the tradition) as the stage is set for the final act. Tchaikovsky of course was a frustrated gay man unable to live the life he wanted ...  

Bourne's version for his company "Adventures in Motion Pictures" dance company was first staged in 1995 at Sadlers Wells in London. Collecting over 30 international theatre awards including three Tonys, it has been acclaimed as a landmark achievement on the international stage. It has become the longest running ballet in the West End and on Broadway and enjoyed four hugely successful tours in the UK and thrilled audiences all over the world. There is also a dvd of the first iconic production which made stars of Adam Cooper and of course it also features at the climax of BILLY ELLIOTT. We also liked Matthew Bourne's eclectic versions of CINDERELLASLEEPING BEAUTY and CARMEN (the sexy CAR MAN set in a garage!).

Another astonishing show, as mentioned before, is that Royal Court production of Samuel Beckett's NOT I, with that tour-de-force performance by the recently departed Billie Whitelaw, which I saw back in 1973. We sit and watch a totally black stage where a mouth that floats eight feet above the floor recites a babbling stream of monologue that can mean whatever one wants it to. It only lasts 15 minutes but was agony to perform. In fact only 1 other actress has attempted it: Lisa Dwan did it a year or two ago. Its certainly an emotional experience. 

MY NIGHT WITH REG - we liked and recently reviewed this modern gay classic, now back in the west end. One of its cast Julian Ovenden explained on television that it is no longer "a gay play" or "an Aids play" as its depiction of gay life in the 1980s has become to much part of the mainstream culture. Also getting raves after transferring from the Old Vic is that stark new production of Arthur Miller's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, with powerhouse performances from Mark Strong and Nicola Walker. One to catch before it finishes ...

Next week its Sondheim's ASSASSINS (below) and then in April that new production of GYPSY .... bring them on! 

No comments:

Post a Comment