Henrietta Maddox Webloner

Play it again, Arthur.
May 15, 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Money, Trivia

People often say you get what you pay for. After seeing two plays last weekend, I would have to disagree.

On Saturday 7 May, Children’s Hour was playing its last day at The Comedy Theatre in Piccadilly Circus, directed by Ian Rickman and starring Ellen Burstyn, Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Moss. Although I’ve never been a fan of Keira Knightley, I hoped that her talent may be more for theatre than cinema. Admittedly, this was the best thing I’ve ever seen her it but her Boston accent flagged a little and if she got upset her British vowels echoed through. Althought not flawless, this play had some top-grade aspects.

The set design complemented the bleak plot with its wintery, cold blue tones and wooden floors. And could easily switch from the school room to the grandma’s house. By doing small slick manouvres such as pulling the cover from the sofa and the tatty rug from the elegant one, no one lost their suspension of disbelief.

The actor’s use of space seemed well choreographed. The children were all over each other with over-zealous playfulness. Barely teenagers, they were free from inhibition with innocence only just beginning to fade. And when the affects of malicious lies began to happen, people stood further and further apart. Another brilliant touch was only slightly dimming the lights for a set change and having actors mime at the forefront what was happening inbetween scenes. For instance, when naughty teenager, Mary (Bryony Hannah) runs away from home. You can see her borowing money from her classmates and waiting to the train station under a spotlight whilst backstage members – dressed in 30’s costumes – change the space around.

The problems came in the second half when it lost momentum. Perhaps, Moss and Knightley were rushing their final performance or maybe it was a recurring problem but the climax felt more like they were following stage directions. This was mainly due to a lack of tension between Moss and Knightley’s characters. Not to mention, a fizzling chemistry between them. Exit Moss, gun shot sound effect, she’s dead….enter Burstyn’s character filled with regret at all the hurt she has caused. At this point Keira finally showed the perfect mixture of shock and anger. But it was too late. The top-rate performance we had wanted was during the climax and that had passed. And we left without that buzz you should have when leaving the theatre; and with sore knees from squishy seats that should not be endured by any audience member.

Leg room was in abundance at the New Venture Theatre (NVT) the following night, sitting in £8 to watch an amateur dramatics production of All My Sons, by Arthur Miller. A well-known tale of the destructiveness of the American Dream, this was an impressive piece of theatre. From beginning to end, the actors gave you their full energy, even wiping their tears away as they bowed to their appreciative audience. Every conversation flowed, all the character were believable and the build up to the final intense moments worked perfectly with a powerful use of silence.

I am guessing that the set designers did not have the budget of Children’s Hour but it must have been led by someone resourceful. There was astro-turf  for the garden and a meticulously laid gravel path leading up to it. And for the night scene they’d hung fairy lights. Not too many, but enough to give the impression of stars. The costumes, hair and makeup were stunning and perfectly fitted with the era.

All in all an enjoyable weekend that makes you think a lot about art and creativity. Something that you can find the best of, when you least expect it.


1 Comment so far
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Dang, wish I could have made it to this.

Comment by gabfrab

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