Blancheblanche marvin's london theatreviews

recommended by Peter Brook
**** = stand if necessary
*** = sit in front stalls
** = sit in back stalls
* = have a drink!


SIR PETER HALL'S MEMORIAL September 11, 2018
Theatre Colossus Sir Peter Hall, aged 86, the former director of the National Theatre and founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, died September 11, 2017, and we now attend his memorial September 11, 2018. The Peter Hall Memorial is in II Acts, at Westminster Abbey and at the National Theatre. Icons from across the world have come together to pay tribute to the man once dubbed the 'architect of the entire edifice of modern theatre…. Peter Brook, Richard Eyre, Thelma Holt, Stephen Fry, Twiggy, Kenneth Branagh, Edward Fox, Imelda Staunton, Alan Yentob, Gerald Scarfe & Jane Asher, Melvyn Bragg, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Roger Allam, Elaine Paige, Nickolas Grace, Greg Hicks, Michael Pennington, Martin Shaw, on and on and on….a whole era of the great theatremakers, actors, writers, and technicians ….all came to pay their respects to the great English theatre impresario who helped establish the base of current English theatre.
From the pulpit at Westminster Abbey, his long-time friend and fellow director Trevor Nunn, quoted the words of Shakespeare's Hamlet, 'He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.' ‘This loss’, he said, ‘to the world of theatre, and indeed to the world, is immeasurable. From the moment I first encountered Sir Peter at Cambridge, I was ready to follow that man to the North Pole, to the dark side of the moon. The three most important performance companies in the land, led by the same person - 'how infinite in faculties'. And when he called action, 'how like an angel'.' David Suchet gave a performance as Salieri from Amadeus. Judi Dench read with compassion from Cleopatra’s death speech on Anthony from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatre. Vanessa Redgrave, who worked with Sir Peter in Stratford, on Broadway, and later alongside her daughter Joely Richardson in the Peter Hall Company gave an impassioned reading from the Corinthians. Playwright David Hare spoke on behalf of the assembled theatrical talents, saying: 'The best way we have to honour his memory, is try and give as much as he gave.' At the National, Ian McKellen performed a scene from Pinter’s No Man’s Land with Patrick Stewart who credited the director with 'transforming classical and modern UK theatre and giving me a career.’ Greg Hicks enacted the famous Greek tragedy adapted by Tony Harrison of The Oresteia… the list at the National covered production after production too numerous to mention.
The son of a Suffolk stationmaster and the grandson of a ratcatcher, Sir Peter spanned a career covering nearly 60 years and earned his reputation as a vital force in theatre as he worked with all of Britain's leading actors. First impacting the theatre world in 1955 with a groundbreaking introduction to Samuel Beckett's absurdist play Waiting for Godot, he went on to found & direct the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, and achieved greatness at the RSC with his powerful War of the Roses which brought Shakespeare’s history plays into historical focus with the help of John Barton who was never bloodlessly academic with Shakespeare ‘s iambic pentameter. In 1973, he became director of the National Theatre which he had helped to establish and where he directed the original production of Amadeus in 1979. The celebrated director left the National Theatre in 1988, but continued to produce and direct Shakespeare‘s works, the European and English classics, operas, new avant-garde plays by forming the Peter Hall Company. Sir Peter was deeply involved in British theatre for half a century. He also oversaw the artistic direction of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, who reciprocated with performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Westminster Abbey memorial service. He was married four times producing six children. In order of age, the children offered prayers in celebration of his talents, and also to 'his undeniable humanity'. During the service, his family was hailed as 'the greatest of his ensemble. The theatrical titan is mourned by actress Leslie Caron, Sir Peter's first wife and their children Christopher, Lucy, and Jenny; second wife Georgia and their son Edward; third wife, opera singer Maria Ewing and their daughter Rebecca; Sir Peter's widow Nicki Frei and their daughter Emma.
The service was led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding: ' Today, we come to celebrate Sir Peter Hall’s life and his works and to give thanks to almighty God for the concentrated focus of his gifts and his extraordinary enrichment of the cultural life of our nation’. Prayers were led by the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by Sir Peter's children, Christopher, Jenny, Edward, Lucy, Rebecca and Emma, and by the Venerable David Stanton, Canon in Residence. The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir directed by James O'Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers while the Monteverdi Choir sang Es ist nun aus mit meinem Leben by Johann Christoph Bach. In a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey, the 'visionary' force behind the Royal Shakespeare Company was hailed as the 'great impresario and director of the age'. By Blanche Marvin MBE…London Theatreviews.

OBITUARY - JANET GLASS September 7th, 2018
Janet Glass peacefully passed away on 7th September 7th 2018 at St Charles Hospital ‘s Pembridge Hospice and Palliative Care Unit, of cancer at the age of 81, leaving behind a generously spirited sister to a devoted family of brother, sister, nieces and nephews, who live in Australia. Janet was known for her kindness, warmth, and deep intelligence by her clients. The Glass Agency represented internationally recognised icons such as Hermione Baddeley, Ron Moody, Roy Dotrice, Edward Woodward known star in the international success of The Equilizer, and current Jim Dale; writers the ilk of Robin Maugham's whose novels are in editions of more than 26 languages despite the homosexual overtones, Jean Cocteau, Rodney Ackland, William Douglas Home, plus current Marc Camoletti and Charles Dyer. While au fait in pursuing the trends of the day, she still held fast to classic traditions as she pursued revivals of these authors’ works despite the pressure of the changing times. Janet, with a pseudonym, translated the Eric Glass Agency’s French plays, some of which became huge successes. She not only helped bring fame and fortune to writers and actors, but had an integrity, humanity, and commitment to the arts. Her capacity to deal with the business aspects of being an agent, is just another step on her ladder of achievements. The list goes on to the current musicals, musicians and singers such as the hit-running musical Eugenius and singers Mario Frangoulis, Lorna Dallas, and Isla St. Clair who have all enjoyed Janet’s gift of involvement. There were famous productions at the National Theatre of Jean Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles 1994; Rodney Ackland’s Asolute Hell 1995 starring Judy Dench + 2018 production; Robin Maugham’s Play Without Words adaptor Matthew Bourne 2002. In 2007 Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing played at Comedy Theatre, London. Credits continued on Broadway with Cocteau’s Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles) at Barrymore Theater, NYC 1995; Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing at Longacre, NYC 2008 with Tony Awards-Best Play Revival /Best Actor.
She was not only an agent but also a friend and hostess to so many people with such pleasure-giving times for all. Her love of music and profound knowledge of it, her ability to analyze plays or a performance made Janet the unique combination of what she was. Her taste in the arts was derived from an era of respect and honour which is gradually changing but never with Janet who stood firm in what she believed. It was this Janet one loved. The Janet who carried on the agency which Eric Glass originated, the first agency committed to French and European new writers when it was ignored and considered foreign. The devotion between Eric and Janet never ceased as she continued on his knowledgeable path in all the arts. We have lost not only an endearing soul, a passionate and loyal friend, but a special lady who stood her ground against the rushing tide of social change and faced death with a quiet strength that ennobles the portrait of women. Goodbye, dear Janet, and may the wings of angels guide you on your way. ……….by Blanche Marvin MBE editor of London Theatreviews.

Reportage - Peter Brook Sur Un Fil - The Tightrope a film by Simon Brook
There is a new release in a DVD called Tightrope which is an intimate viewing of rehearsals on The Suit directed by Peter Brook. Considering that Peter Brook does not allow any viewing of his rehearsals, this is a major breakthrough that every drama department and college must have. He follows the exercise of actors doing sense memory on a rug that is made to be a tightrope which each actor must fully pursue with a truth and reality of walking on an actual tight-rope. Through this exercise Brook reaches into the essence of the actor who will then reach deep inside him or her self to feel the pressure of a tightrope and sustain balance. It’s worked on over and over again, repeated rhythmically. The other exercise is for actors to call out in sequence the correct numbers, one after each other. In this exercise the actor must listen to the other actors in order to follow. The point being that the performer doesn’t listen…he or she is only concerned with self. The real actor is not performing him or her self, but the truth of a character and must act and react to other actors in order to be truthful. Thus after watching these exercises one begins to understand where acting begins and performing ends. You can learn to discern the reality of good acting from this dvd. It is mesmerising to follow the truth which needs no decoration; it’s always simple and direct. The pleasure is in watching the exercises over and over again. And for the schools, for the actor, the director, it is a brilliant instruction. Let there be light on these rehearsals which Simon Brook has so sensitively shot without trying to be anything but truthful himself. Let there more and more and more. by blanche marvin

The Shed is the new studio theatre replacing the Cottesloe while it is being rebuilt and renamed. It is far more practical, inventive, and flexible than the Cottesloe; hopefully its assets will be incorporated into the new theatre. Being a large square rather than the rectangle of the Cottesloe, it is acoustically far superior and its sightlines so much more conveniently viewable. Composed of red wooden slats (raw steel and plywood), it looks like a table turned upside down with its four ventilating legs in the air, resembling a gigantic toy that just sprung up from the ground ready to be entered….very inviting against that grey concrete of the main houses. Alongside the café and on the outdoor space leading to the main theatres, one easily slips into the lobby of the Shed to have a coffee, sitting at the joining tables and chairs. Inside, the theatre’s seating capacity goes up to 260 with a b alcony surrounding the whole square, yet it remains intimate. The space is adjustable to in-the-round, thrust or proscenium configurations as required. Designed by the outstanding theatre architects Hawarth Tompkins, the Shed is only a temporary space while the Cottesloe is being remodelled during the NT’s £70 million redevelopment programme. The Cottesloe will reopen in 2014 as the Dorfman Theatre. As for Haworth Tompkins….hats off to the architects that have transformed the British theatre opening its vistas beyond the immediate space!! The Royal Court’s big red drum, the Young Vic opened up to an expansive hello, Battersea Arts Centre's converted into a theatre-cum-residence for visiting artists. The growing use of site specific theatre is changing the whole concept of a theatre building. As Peter Brook said, “All you need is an empty space.” Just the sight of the Shed makes you smile. Its aim is to allow space for NT shows of a risky nature and for invited guest companies to perform. Productions will vary in their length of runs…some days, weeks or months. Tanya Ronder’s highly imaginative and emotionally provocative play Table has christened this new entity and could not be a better choice in its title or its quality.
It is also important to credit Nicholas Hytner for the diversity of spaces …the entranceway used for entertainment by performance artists, the terraces used by pyrotechnicians, the Prop Room for casual snacks and drinking on the embankment, making the costumes and workshops open for public use. Hytner not only made it a people’s theatre in the productions but in the atmosphere and attitudes. And now he has turned that grey block of concrete into a whole new redesigned series of buildings, far more friendly and inviting. He will be remembered as the artistic director who changed the National into an open sesame of invention.

The Lowry, an Arts Centre is a fascinating collection of sculptured buildings that look like living sculptures whose internal sculptured life continues. No staircase or column is left in ordinary shapes or sizes…nothing is symmetrical or of matching size. Everything dominates in different heights so that you feel you are on a boat that is braving the waves…we are in constant movement. Porthole windows in the Tower, the stairways and landings like ships' gangways add to the immediacy of the design. The colours begin with hot reds and oranges and gradually become cooler from building to building. You are in a continual atmosphere in the endless hallways, the offices, lobbies, foyers, shops, galleries, or theatres. There are three theatres…the huge Lyric Theatre which is close to 2000 seats (as large as the Coliseum) allowing big musicals, opera, and dance….a magician was performing his act with audience participation as I looked in; the Quays Theatre of 450 seats is ingenious in design with portable seats that allow configurations of proscenium, traverse and in the round beautifully décor-ed in red and up-to-date technical equipment…an experimental theatre commercially viable with its 450 seats… and finally crossing an internal bridge to the Studio Space which allows what you will in an intimate setting and seating. In 1988, this new arts centre, based at Pier 8 on the canal front, was considered as a means to raise the cultural profile of Salford bringing vital activity in business and tourism. The Council commissioned the famous architects James Stirling and Michael Wilford to produce designs for this arts centre. After Stirling’s sudden death in 1992, Michael Wilford alone became the architect. Lottery funding was secured, and in 2000 the buildings were completed, costing £106 million, including The Lowry building, the large triangular Plaza, the terraced areas down to the canal, the Lifting Footbridge leading to Trafford Wharfside, plus additionally came the Imperial War Museum – North and the Digital World Centre (DWC) - a high-tech business centre providing quality, serviced premises. All this extreme modernism with a Gallery devoted to the realistic painter Lowry who seems an anachronism as far as his style, but used because of his Salford renown. Outside fitting the shape of Pier 8, the Lowry is triangular in the size of 5 football pitches. The building stands on concrete piles sunk down into the bedrock, 2,466 tons of steel and 5,263 sq metres of glass. The ship-like appearance outside easily transmits itself into the interior.
The Studio Theatre, where I observed a work in progress, gave one a fair indication of the range and outreach of the audience who were requested to give written reactions. Perfect Pitch Musicals and the Lowry presented No Sleep for the Haunted by Geoff Page…a series of ghost stories put to music adapted from Bram Stoker’s The Judge’s House, Charles Dicken’s The Signalman, And M.R. James’ A Warning to the Curious. Roger Haines is the director with singers Fred Broom, Ryan Greaves, Darren Southworth-Long. The Studio is yet to prove its identity with the promotion of new Northern writers as part of its criteria. There is, of course, its international associations performing in the larger theatres and as the Manchester Theatre Festival grows and grows in its gravity and importance so grow the lilacs at the Lowry door. It is a fantastic ambiance for international festivals. The future lies here as one sees across the canal the gradual relocation of the BBC in its construction of more buildings. The growth of cities and festivals no longer is allocated to just the big-name metropolis but is also possible here in such an eye-glazing art centre where you can have the combination of all the arts at the same time.

The opening of the new RSC Theatre and the refurbishing of the Swan is a great historical occasion as the base of English fame in the theatre is Shakespeare and that Elizabethan/Jacobean era when England dominated the world in its originality and quality of playwriting. The enormous collection of English theatres and theatre artists with a dynamic energy became the world centre of drama and theatre for that time. The rebuilding of these foundations is again a major happening affecting the whole world yet it still comes from the market town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. The Swan remains just as it was with new seats and a new wooden stage floor with enough depth to have the famous trap doors from which to perform as well as the height for flying. But it’s the balconies on the upper levels that are enticing. The entrance to the Swan itself has changed and is part of the main entrance with its shop, now cleared out of the Swan, sharing the major shop space in the main entranceway. It leaves wide open room for the Swan lobby with a proper bar leading to the untouched library. However, the actors now have their own entrance to the dressing rooms, a reversal of what once was…. a shared entrance to dressing rooms of the Swan and its own entrance to the theatre.
There are runways throughout the main building connecting all the individual buildings and a brick tower standing on its own looking ominous. It’s only a tower for the lifts and has nothing to do with the RSC Theatre. Just as ‘all roads lead to Rome’ so is it with the all the runways that lead to the new and separate building of the main RSC Theatre. All that remains of the old building are the marbleised walls and floor of the old entranceway and some of the back wall of the old theatre plus the Art Deco staircase leading to the dress circle and its fountain. You walk through a runway to the new RSC Theatre. It resembles the Courtyard except that it is more intimate with its back wall much shorter allowing the circular seating to be close to the thrust stage with its deep wooden floor allowing for trap doors and ceilings for flying with its fly tower to insure the moves. It is a building on its own, all brand new, with an open stage allowing a report with the audience. There are cafes and bars easily accessible with dressing rooms all equal for the actors with no star categories. It’s ensemble down to the last shower in some of the bigger dressing rooms, but all are close to the stage plus surrounded by attached balconies overlooking the Avon. There are actual cubicles surrounding the back wall of the auditorium for the quick dress changes. But wood dominates the buildings as thick as concrete when necessary for foundation and a substitute for it. The weight of concrete would overburden the building. And so here is a theatre a combination of the old with all this new technology. In between it all are great sight lines for the audience plus the acoustics which resound with vigour. The only question mark is what will happen to the Courtyard and if possible the return to the Other Place Theatre. Hopefully, the Courtyard could be placed in one of the London parks for summer fare. We’ll see. But what must not be forgotten is the triumph of this whole event…I remember the chaos and broken spirits of a company when everything fell to pieces under Adrian Noble and his fallen departure…. The horrendous beginnings for Michael Boyd to pick up those pieces both of the buildings and the morale of an entire company. He not only managed to create a change in the spirit of the company but in its enterprising energy of opening its doors to the world, to the children, to the students, to the educational advantages and participation, to retaining an ensemble company of training actors to stardom, and sustaining a programme of new directors and new plays. Those glorious workshops that produce metal work and leather for the props, the seamstresses, the technicians such as the lighting designer whose invention of moving lights without cables is grounded at the RSC. The arts and crafts of theatre, its expansion into the curriculum, even Chiltern Railways’ final acknowledgement of the RSC significance in its train scheduling, made this enormously positive swing because of Michael Boyd. There is a great debt due to his undying integrity and selflessness; his triumph is as great as the buildings for without such generosity of spirit there would only be cold buildings with no heart. Now for the productions to enter the arena!!!!