Posts Tagged ‘Adam Levy’

I’m partial to a bit of Greek tragedy and Medea is one of my favourites. I’ve seen at least one operatic version, one in Japanese in the open air in the pouring rain (wonderful, by the way) and I’ve lost count of how many on stage, though the most memorable was with Diana Rigg at the Almeida 20 years ago. So there I was in Richmond Theatre watching her daughter, Rachael Stirling,  in Headlong Theatre’s very up-to-date version.

The story is surprisingly intact (though Medea and Jason only have one child). King Creon is her landlord Carter who seeks to evict her rather than send her into exile. The nurse, chorus and Aegeus are all neighbours. By the time Jason returns from his fateful wedding to the landlord’s daughter, she has killed his son and is on the roof of their blazing terraced house (substitute for flying chariot!). Mike Bartlett (who also directs) has produced an excellent and (almost) completely plausible adaptation.

Rachel Stirling is superb as Medea. She looks like her mother, but that’s about the only similarity with the Medea I saw when she was just 15. There were moments when I had to turn my head; the intensity of her performance really drew me in to the character and her story. There’s luxury casting in the supporting roles with Amelia Lowdell and Lu Corfield as bitchy neighbours Pam and Sarah, Paul Shelley as Andrew (Aegeus), Christopher Ettridge as Carter (Creon) and Adam Levy as Jason.

An excellent fresh take on a 2500 year old play, but you’ll have to go to Exeter to see it before the tour ends next week!

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I’d saved this up for some out-of-town visitors, so I’m coming to it late. Add indifferent to late and that just about sums it up.

It’s a 40-year-old Neil Simon play that’s dated and creaking and I doubt it would be revived at all if they didn’t need a star vehicle for Danny DeVito. Given co-star Richard Griffiths doesn’t come on for 30 minutes and is only on stage around two-thirds of the time, it isn’t the double-act you expect. There are in fact eight characters, but we don’t meet five of them until after the interval, and then somewhat briefly.

Vaudeville act Willie Clark and Al Lewis haven’t spoken for 11 years after Al announced his retirement without consulting his partner. CBS wants them to reunite for a TV one-off of the history of vaudeville and Willie’s nephew and agent seeks to facilitate this. They snipe and bicker as they rehearse and record their most famous sketch and when its funny, it’s very funny – but isn’t funny enough of the time.

DeVito is a natural on stage and he does have great comic timing. Griffiths does his best with an underwritten part and Adam Levy is very good as the nephew / agent. There are five more actors whose time on stage makes them mere extras. Hildegard Bechtler has created a realistic seedy New York hotel suite where most of the action takes place. The TV recording takes place on a set in front of the curtain and it’s like travelling back in time to an age of the politically incorrect, predictable, crude and corny.

I didn’t dislike it. I wasn’t wowed by it. The cast seemed to be having more fun than we were. The audience of celebrity spotting tourists and rare theatre-goers was dreadful (easily pleased, noisy and rude). As I said, indifferent…..

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