Archive for the ‘Theatre reviews’ Category

On ‘Fleurs’ by Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton

April 29, 2015

Today I had the pleasure of experiencing a lovely recital of the new repertoire by Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton in Conway Hall.

The highlight for me was to hear two poems that I love performed beautifully. I would like to share their English translation with you here.

First, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’ by Aleksandr Pushkin:

‘In the silence of the gardens, in the spring, in the darkness of the nights

An eastern nightingale sings over a rose.

But the dear rose does not feel, pays no heed,

And it swings and slumbers to the amorous hymn.

Are you not singing for a cold beauty?

Come to your senses, o poet, to what are you aspiring?

She does not listen, does not feel the poet;

You see, she blooms; you beseech – there is no answer.’

.

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Second, ‘The Flower and the Butterfly’ by Victor Hugo:

‘The poor flower kept saying to the airborne butterfly:

‘Don’t fly away!

Our destinies are different: I stay put, you travel!

Yet we love one another, we live without human beings, 

Remote from them;

And we resemble one another – some say that both of us are flowers.

But alas! the breeze carries you off, while the earth ties me down –

What a cruel fate!

I would like my breath to perfume your flight in the sky!

You go, then you come back, they fly off again to shine elsewhere

So every morning you find me

Bathed in tears!

Ah please, so that our love may glide along faithfully

take root like me – or else give me wings

like you’

Congratulations to all involved on a lovely concert!

On ‘Letters Live’

April 4, 2015

Dear friends,

I have to write very briefly about the best evening of entertainment I’ve had in my life so far.

Completely by chance, and I am afraid to say, news of the fire in Holborn, I found out about the performance of ‘Letters Live’ in Freemasons Hall.

I saw Benedict Cumberbatch, Louise Brealey, Tom Hiddleston, Kylie Minogue, Matt Berry, to name a few. All about 3 metres away from me. But being starstruck didn’t last very long. It was the most intimate venue and they read the most intimate letters – by the second act, I felt so close to every single person there. Letters they read varied from very funny, such as a letter from Elvis Presley to Nixon, to heart-breaking, such as a letter written by a man, who was just sold to slavery, to his wife. Benedict Cumberbatch read Kurt Cobain’s last letter in such a way that no one in the audience remained tearless.

World class performers, an excellent collection of letters, almost a family atmosphere all made this an evening I will never ever forget. I was reminded of how precious letters are. I write some to my friend in Germany but I absolutely must write more.

Can’t write anymore now, I am far far too excited!

Olga

On Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature

November 6, 2013

The National Theatre has been doing cinema broadcasts of Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein for a couple of Halloweens now. This is the first year I went to see it and had the best, scariest Halloween treat for many years.

It is rare that a play (or a movie, or an opera) has a profound effect on you in the first 5 minutes. This one does. From the very beginning I thought that this is already nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The birth and physical development of the creature by Mr Cumberbatch is incredibly touching. I’ve always felt deep sympathy with the creature but his performance portrayed vulnerability on a completely different level.

Mr Cumberbatch redefines whatever we meant by ‘a physical actor’ before. He is consistently impressive and surprising. He is very objectified nowadays, most comments I hear are related to his appearance so it was good to see yet another proof that actually he is famous because of his incredible, out of this world acting skills, not merely because he is ‘hot’.

Despite his brilliance, the main reason to see the production is, without a doubt, the story by Mary Shelley. It is the most stunning book, astonishingly well-written and interesting. It is not at all obvious as to how it can be produced as a play. Danny Boyle does that perfectly. He managed to re-create the atmosphere of the book and enhanced my understanding of it by allowing me to feel the emotions of the characters (particularly the creature) so much stronger. He added a lot of dialogue, including some comic relief, which some purists might dislike but was very much welcomed by me! The scene of Elizabeth’s death was also changed from the book and was made not just sad but extremely shocking and upsetting. At first I thought that it was unnecessary but Mary Shelley did want to shock people and this production took ‘shocking’ to a degree that would affect modern viewers.

The genius of this production is that main actors switched every night, so next time Johny Lee Miller will play the creature and Benedict Cumberbatch will play Victor Frankenstein. I really hope that the National Theatre will broadcast this play again next Halloween, I will certainly go again! Dear reader, if you remember next year, do go too!

P.S. I appreciate that this review is nearly a week late but I’ve been busy travelling. Next I am going to see Madama Butterfly, an opera by Puccini, I will try not to delay.

On Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature.

On the RSC’s Richard II with David Tennant

October 24, 2013

This is my first ever theatrical review. In fact I should be asleep now but I am too hyper after David Tennant’s performance I just saw in Stratford.

I was nervous before going, I adore Tennant but I was really struggling with the play. I found it rather difficult and dry. I tried to read other people’s interpretations and it didn’t really help. However, Mr Tennant has done the most amazing job in bringing it to life. Suddenly, long speeches, in which I don’t understand half of the words, made so much sense. Storyline, which was on the bordering line with boring – exciting and intriguing. Royal affairs – so very relevant and touching.

Richard II is only the first part of Shakespeare’s tetralogy of historical plays so it offsets a lot of very important and dramatic events. The story itself, it turns out, is actually quite simple. Richard makes two mistakes very early on by banishing Bolingbroke (future Henry the 4th) for 6 years and claiming his father’s land and money (despite Bolingbroke being the right heir.) Those mistakes eventually lead to Richard’s supporters betraying him one by one, leaving him no choice but to give up his crown. When he is powerful, he has lots of friends and advisers. When they fear that he might take their heritage, one by one they join Boligbroke’s side and eventually kill Richard in jail. Very sad. Of course, it being a Shakespeare’s play, it contains a lot of depth and room for interpretation. Great actors allow us to instinctively feel those deep emotions without it being daunting – The RSC achieve that perfectly.

Tennant’s incredible elfish hair and robes helped create a godly atmosphere. You could believe that he has divine right to rule and is to be worshiped by his subjects. But then, his expressions and body language made him seem so very human and vain, even weak. Events unfold in such a quick pace and Tennant transforms so much – well, there is no time to think of Doctor Who references.

But he wasn’t the only star of the show. I was incredibly moved by the performance of Oliver Rix (he plays Duke of Aumerle and is the understudy for Richard the Second.) It is wrong to objectify men, but when he first came to the stage, I was instantly stunned by his striking looks. Then, he spoke and his voice is so deep and beautiful, it’s worth comparing it to the one of Mr Cumberbatch. The acting seemed completely easy to him, scenes of doubt, fright, betrayal and murder, all of it was flawless. And when he kissed David Tennant.. No, we must not objectify men! Nevertheless, his talent is instantly recognisable and I will certainly keep an eye out for productions with him in the future.

If you have a chance to see these amazing performances – don’t be put off by the difficult play or uncomfortable seats in Stratford, go– you won’t regret it! If you haven’t guessed – it’s 5 stars from me.

In the interview with Radio Times Tennant said that he was a geek and proud of it. As a fellow geek, I think he is the best of us – smart, talented and inspiring. He gets bonus point for bringing me so much closer to Shakespeare. Therefore I would like to pronounce him the king of geeks and wish him a long, happy and Bolingbroke-free reign.