Present Laughter (Old Vic, London)
Verdict: Andrew Scott sets fire to Noel Coward
Anyone who thinks that Andrew Scott is good on TV is better off seeing if there are still tickets at the Old Vic.
Great as he was like Moriarty to Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, and magnetically playing the fit young priest to Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, he's even better on stage.
What you don't get on the screen is the improvisation. Scott knows exactly how to edit his audience. During the opening night of Noel Coward's comedy in 1942, he almost gave us a wink and set the house on fire. If he tries again, they should call the fire department.
As the over-stressed and overloaded Coward's Thorsian Garry Essendine – a self-portrait of Coward who mocks his own greatness and sexual peccadillo's – Scott gives a positively fire-dangerous turn.
The big change, however, is that Matthew Warchus & # 39; s timepiece production turns the piece into a gay comedy, giving Garry two male suitors.
Anyone who thinks that Andrew Scott is good on TV is better off seeing if there are still tickets at the Old Vic
Warchus may think Coward would approve, because he was gay. I think he may have thought it too obvious, and anyway, it's not what he wrote.
Coward appreciated irony, evasion and balance in relation to social crusade, and says so much during the play – especially in the character of a wonderfully idiotic young playwright (Luke Thallon).
There is also a slight roughening of the tone, with Scott sometimes melting like Basil Fawlty.
Do we have to worry about this? Scott & # 39; s fans won't do that. I imagine that they are willing to walk over piping hot coals to see him in the flesh. And they won't be disappointed. The Dublin-born actor brags a lot of ham while he sees a female admirer radiate: all flowing magic, pulse pressed against his forehead.
At other times he is sulky, cunning and acid with a laser can. But as the plot escalates, the face is in hands, fingers running through her and arms and thrown into a crucifix. And there is also plenty of pirouette – in a whole range of floaty fabrics. The more he gets carried away, the more he sounds like Graham Norton – and the greater the smile.
But when he hugs the thick-voiced, indecently handsome Enzo Cilenti, like his Javier Bardem-like Latin lover, the huge old Vic suddenly becomes silent.
Can Coward's soda comedy be so serious? I'm not sure. It makes Scott more vulnerable – and makes us take him more seriously. But rest easy: we are quickly back in the ding-dong, the door banging mayhem.
Migraine sufferers must be warned: Rob Howell's staging is merciless to the eye. It is a spread-eagle Art Deco building in bright speckled blue with fan windows and chintzy decoration. Along with pop, ranging from The Doors to The Shirelles, the idea should be to free us from our cozy expectations.
Coward's characteristic silk dressing gowns are openly ridiculed because the production now declares itself thorough and metropolitan.
Scott even drinks directly from a bottle. Horrors!
And as Indira Varma (Luther and Game Of Thrones), as Garry & # 39; s wife, adds Cowardian elegance and froidoor in a series of swish and stylish outfits, Sophie Thompson maintains eccentricity with a Jean Brodie-like twist as Garry & # 39; s secretary.
Still, beautiful and colorful as the supporting game is, the show is from Scott. He eats it alive – and has the audience for dessert.
The Hunt (Almeida Theater, London)
Verdict: Call off the search
An alchemist is someone who turns basic metal into gold. I don't know exactly what you call the opposite, but it is what happens at The Hunt in Islington & Almeida.
Strangely enough, two high priests from the British theater – David Farr and Rupert Goold – cost this anti-miracle of sabotaging a good, so challenging, Danish film about a childcare worker who was wrongly accused of child abuse.
Playwright Farr is best known as the writer of The Night Manager on TV, but I have no idea what motivated him to plunder this story for the stage.
It is, in any case, located in a small town where deer hunting is popular, so it has clearly defined parameters. It also has powerful themes of child abuse and male bonding (usually drinking and shooting deer). Strangely enough, however, he refines the mysteries of the film with pagan hokum and oversees the anomalies – including why the girl is lying.
An alchemist is someone who turns basic metal into gold. I don't know exactly what you call the opposite, but it's what's happening at The Hunt in Islington & # 39; s Almeida
It is inevitable that there are serious ethical issues with acting alongside children in stories about abuse. Farr and Goold fuse it by letting the needy and anxious victim put her fingers on her teacher's lips instead of kissing him. But I would not want my children involved.
The design of Es Devlin revolves around what looks like a neon greenhouse. Lighting changes make it possible for the glass to be translucent or opaque, so that actors can appear and disappear through a hole in the floor. It serves as a magical classroom, hunting lodge and church.
But it also serves as a bizarre barrier to the movements and audibility of the actors. If a fight breaks out with the entire city crammed in, it's like watching a pub fight in a Fiat Panda. In his wisdom, Farr has cut the two most sympathetic characters from the film: the hero friend and godfather of his son. This leaves Tobias Menzies alone with the burden of the evening. His reluctance to defend himself makes him at least inscrutable.
Justin Salinger has ended up with a stinking role as the girl's father, who should also be our hero's best friend.
In the film he is played with affective warmth. You'd be better off renting it for a few pounds and cashing in the difference.
A glorious evening out with Gloria
On Your Feet (London Coliseum)
Verdict: The rhythm is going to catch you
(for everyone else)
For Gloria Estefan fans – even if you don't know her, you've almost certainly met her Conga – Christmas has come six months earlier. This biopic musical has just as many of her hits as you can properly pack in two and a half hours, and in Christie Prades you have received the woman herself, except for that. This Gloria is more of a Latina exoticism than the real Estefan (although she is a Cuban American from Miami) and when it comes to singing, she channels the original for all she's worth. The audience certainly seemed convinced.
As a show it has great exuberance; the early scenes are a riot of girls in beautiful dresses and boys in hats and braces – a kind of boys and dolls in Cuba. You do not learn much about the reality of life in revolutionary Cuba, except that there is clearly not much disposable income. And when Gloria & # 39; s father, a police officer, seduces the family from the country, it is not entirely clear why. (Elia Lo Tauro while the father takes a big hit as a singer.)
It is Emilio Estefan – played by handsome George Ioannides – who meets the maker of Gloria Estefan, the brand, from the very beginning with his boy band. There is a hint here of Emilio as a manipulator, as well as the creator of his wife's fame.
Yet it is his confrontations with the power of the music industry, Phil – Carl Patrick, as a hard-bitten pro – that form the core of Gloria & # 39; s path to starry. After Emilio has earned a $ 50 million deal, Phil is amazed: & # 39; With big balls, how do you manage to sit down? & # 39;
The ongoing theme is how Cuban immigrants convince the US that Latin Americans are part of mainstream culture. At one point, Emilio points to himself and says to Phil: & # 39; This is what an American looks like. & # 39; A political message there.
Whether you like the show or not depends on whether you like the Estefans. But for the fans who got up to take part in the final, On Your Feet was not so much the title, but a call to join in the fun.
by Melanie McDonagh
Carmen (Royal Opera House)
Verdict: A great new lead singer
Unsatisfied with beating us on cricket, Aussies would like to shake up our artistic ideas – all you have to do is think of that well-known cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson to realize what an impact they have made on the entangled old motherland.
This is the third time that I have been to the Carmen production of Barrie Kosky. I still hate it, especially the flip-end, but I've tried to see it from the point of view of those who will see it on BP Big Screens, Facebook and YouTube the following Tuesday.
They will experience very good dances, led by the brilliant Yasset Roldan. And her debut in Covent Garden in the title role is the beautiful French mezzo-soprano Anaik Morel, who looks good, moves well – she has to dance – and sings with a beautiful tone and authentic pronunciation.
Burly American tenor Bryan Hymel was not in his best voice at the opening night, but he has a good track record in French opera and by the end he was singing with much of his usual power.
His compatriot Ailyn Perez is absolutely ideal as Micaela, the innocent country girl who is Don José's conscience. Already a favorite with ROH regulars, she sings her scenes with beautiful tone and moving sincerity.
The Royal Opera has difficulty throwing Escamillo, the terrible toreador that Carmen steals from José. The audience on a big screen will enjoy the look of Luca Pisaroni and his acting, but his real singing is only like that.
How will the reserved story of Claude de Demo come across on the different screens? Kosky takes a large part of the action away and in fact gives us a concert with dance. Katrin Lea Tag & # 39; s eye-catching 16-step set looms across the stage like a foolishness of an old Pharoah.
It's a long evening, with musical & # 39; restorations & # 39; which may have been best left in the vaults, but Julia Jones conducts with zipper and verve, the orchestra reacts (take a bow, main horn Huw Evans) and the choral singing of both children and adults is great.
by Tully Potter
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