Beginning (2017): David Eldridge

Beginning

★★★★½

(National Theatre at the Ambassador’s Theatre, 30 January 2018)

When I go to the theatre, more often than not I see something classical: a play where the characters speak poetry rather than prose, usually in iambic pentameter. There is a clear division between the real world and the fictional world on stage, no matter how good the actors are. Not so here. For my birthday, J nudged me out of my comfort zone by taking me to David Eldridge’s play, which has already enjoyed great critical success at the National Theatre, and made its West End transfer to the Ambassador’s Theatre in mid-January. Wow. This wasn’t theatre: this was life, flayed and placed under the microscope. With no interval and only two actors, it’s probing, insightful and frequently excruciating: a merciless, yet strangely tender exposé of modern romance.

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King Lear: William Shakespeare

King Lear: Shakespeare

★★★

(National Theatre, London, until 2 July 2014)

I’ve been rather blown away by the reaction to my post on The Crucible and am only glad that so many people enjoyed it and found it useful. The secret to successful blogging, clearly, is to name-drop Richard Armitage as often as possible. However, in lieu of any other opportunities to do so, I wanted to write about another of the plays I’ve seen recently: the National’s production of King Lear (directed by Sam Mendes), which is almost at the end of its run.

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Scenes from an Execution: Howard Barker

Scenes from an Execution: Howard Barker

★★★

(National Theatre, London, until 9 December 2012)

Venice, 1571. The Serenissima, at the head of the Holy League, has defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Lepanto and the great Republic turns to the artist Galactia (Fiona Shaw) to immortalise the victory in an immense canvas. They are taking a risk: outspoken, liberal Galactia is no state catspaw. Sickened by the slaughter at Lepanto, she decides to turn the triumphalist canvas into a seething denunciation of war: a tumult of flesh and violence, blood and severed limbs. This will be no vision of Christian victory, but an accurate representation of a battle whose rate of slaughter wouldn’t be equalled until the First World War.

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