June 8th, 2013

Sea dragon

Reviews: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Amen Corner, The Seagull

I celebrated my last week working in central London (near Covent Gardne) by going to see a show every night. Now, I may or may not write up Perfect American, the new Philip Glass opera about Walt Disney, and Raven Girl, the new ballet by Wayne MacGregor; but what I did do was write up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the new musical that's previewing at Theater Royal Drury Lane. Matilda is clearly better in terms of music, story, and design; but Charlie goes for crowd appeal and spectacle and is, I think, mostly successful.

Just to leaven all of this new, I saw some very old plays this week also: James Baldwin's Amen Corner at the National (a picture of a shockingly religiously tolerant America), and Headlong's stripped down production of the Seagull (stripping away the fripperies of set and costume mercilessly revealed the genius of character underpinning this play). Most memorable moment of The Seagull: enjoying the warm, sunny afternoon from the balcony of the Richmond Theater during the interval (because the sun is up until 9 PM now!), drinking wine and eating cheese (both of which I'd brought). Nice nice.

I had, incidentally, just seen another Chekhov the night before: Sons Without Fathers, a blindingly booze-soaked retelling of Platonov (his first and mostly forgotten play). The characters I wanted to slap the most weren't the leads, fortunately; Platonov himself was a loser but didn't feel sorry for himself so I wasn't so worried about him being blindingly ignorant of the coming revolution. I wanted to hate it because it was long but the acting was so brilliant I had to give in and go, "Wow, that was actually really good" at the end. It's playing for one more week and, like everything at the Arcola, is really, really affordable: see it if you can.

Tonight: party to celebrate my roommate's birthday and my freedom from my job. J is cooking. It's going to be nice. :-)