Sunday, 19 July 2009

Old Vic catch-up

It feels like the dawn of man since I last updated on my visits to the Old Vic, so here's a quick round-up.

21st January - Complicit
Kicked off my Old Vic year with the patrons' evening performance of Complicit, starring Richard Dreyfuss, David Suchet and Elizabeth McGovern.

Travelled down in the afternoon with Steve Glover, had an early dinner at Paradiso (on The Cut, just down from the theatre) then it was round to the theatre for a drinks reception and the play.

There had been poor advance reviews, both for the play and for Richard Dreyfuss, who had been having trouble with his lines and was consequently wearing an earpiece. As it turned out, I thought Dreyfuss did fine and if he had to resort to the earpiece it didn't show. Unfortunately, I thought the play was pretty poor. The cast did the best they could - Suchet was a standout - but the whole thing was hamstrung by the distinct feeling that all the best scenes were happening off-stage, rendering the on-stage action quite dull. However being on the front row, feet away from the legendary Dreyfuss pretty-much made up for the play's failings.

4th March - Dancing At Lughnasa
Dancing At Lughnasa is a revival of the Brian Friel play, this time starring Andrea Corr, Niamh Cusack and Susan Lynch, among others. Another patron's evening with Steve and, on this occasion, his mum!

Went to Paradiso and a drinks reception again beforehand. Briefly met Kevin Spacey for the first time at the reception, but was a little starstruck and couldn't think of what to say to the great man, so the brevity was probably a blessing. Met him again in the bar at the interval. I had just purchased the script from the foyer and he was good enough to sign it for me.

Throughouly enjoyed the play, which was the last to be staged in the then in-the-round configuration of the theatre. Love the flash-forward narration after the interval in which you learn the character's ultimate fates. Adds a bittersweet air to the rest of the play. The closing minutes are simply magical.

26th May - Sam Mendes Q&A
Brief trip to London for a patrons-only Q&A session with Sam Mendes. Went with my friend, the actress Patricia (Tish) Potter. Interesting to hear his thoughts on theatre and asked him if we might see his wife, Kate Winslet on stage at the Old Vic as part of the Bridge Project. He said soon, but perhaps not as soon as I hope...

9th June - The Bridge Project
Bit of a treat, this. Press day for The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawke among it's transatlantic cast.

Decided to spend a couple of nights in London this time. Travelled down for the plays on the Tuesday, headed home Thursday. Arrived in london on Tuesday and met my friend, Lotty. Checked in to the hotel then headed to the theatre for The Winter's Tale. As ever, the good people in the Old Vic office gave me great seats so we were right near the front.

I've previously found Shakespeare to be quite impenetrable, but had no trouble at all following this, though I must confess that some Oxford Shakespeare notes were a good investment beforehand, if only for the scene summaries! Great performances, most notably from Rebecca Hall as a heartbreaking Hermione and Ethan Hawke as rock star-like Autocylus.

After that it was to the bar for a couple of glasses of wine and to wait for Tish Potter, who was joining me for The Cherry Orchard. She arrived, got changed and Lotty left. We went outside to go round to the rehearsal room for yet another drinks reception and Tish got accosted for her autograph by eight or nine people, which was good for my ego ^_^

Drinks despatched, we took our seats for the play, at which point the wine immediately reminded me of its presence and, despite trying really hard, I had to leave at the first set change for the inevitble call of nature. Banished to the upstairs bar for the rest of the first half, I gave up on trying to watch the live feed on the awful monitor in then and spent my time talking to an Irish girl who had arrived late thanks to the Tube strike.

Interval arrived and I managed to irritate Alan Yentob by forgetting his name. Tish randomy ran into the actress who played her sister in Holby City. Managed to pick up the second half of the play quite easily and enjoyed it.

Then it was off onto a bus for a drive across the river to Buddha Bar and the after-show party. Tish cycled there and we finally found eachother about 45 minutes later! In the meantime I had had a short chat with Ethan Hawke and his wife Ryan and Kevin Spacey introduced me to Andrea Corr. Every time I read that I feel like my head is going to explode. KEVIN SPACEY INTRODUCED ME TO ANDREA CORR! She's absolutely delighful, like a human rainbow.

Had a chat with Ed, son of the legendary Sir Peter Hall and got to tell Sam Mendes jusy how great I thought American Beauty was, which I'm sure is something he's never hear before *cough*. After this, Tish headed off home and I, well, carried on sampling the free wine. Spent 10 minutes or so talking to Rebecca Hall, another absolutely delightful woman, who told me I must watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona as she was in it more than Frost/Nixon. Then spent 20 minutes regaling Josh Hamilton (Polixenes) with my ramblings. Poor bloke, patience of a saint. He was interested and surprised to hear that the Old Vic doesn't receive any state funding. It was his 40th birthday too! Eventually he was recused by his wife who whisked him home to releive their babysitter.

Spent the rest of the night talking to all kinds of interesting people, including Old Vic supporters and crew, plus Same Mendes' business partner, the producer Pippa Henry. Eventually, most people left and I did the same, walking on magic legs back to the Premier Inn at County Hall.

Wednesday morning was, err, challenging.

On Wednesday evening, sobered up, I went to see Kursk at the Young Vic, a play recounting the Kursk submarine disaster from the perspective of the crew of a British submarine that was following the Russian sub. Interesting staging. You walk on a gangway which looks down onto the set, which shows various areas of the submarine. The title is a little misleading because you think the play is set on the Kursk and that's a little disappointing, but I guess that flooding a stage is beyond even the Young Vic, though I am aware they've given it a go in the past ;)

Next up, press night for Inherit The Wind, starring Kevin Spacey, on 2nd October.

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