Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Kramer’

I didn’t join in the debate about the early departure of Emma Rice from the Globe. It seemed to me the issues should have been thoroughly discussed and resolved (or not) before her appointment. I’m not a purist when it comes to Shakespeare productions and have enjoyed, even raved about, recent radical interpretations like Ivo van Hove’s Kings of War, the Almeida’s Hamlet and the NT’s Twelfth Night. I’ve liked Daniel Kramer’s work before, notably his excellent revival of Angels in America for Headlong.

First and foremost, a production has to serve the play, and that’s why this falls at the first hurdle. It doesn’t, hence the first half of this blog’s title. The other half of the title is because for the first time in maybe 100 visits since the very first production, it didn’t feel like Shakespeare’s Globe. Even though it was programmed before the departure was announced, it felt like they were putting two fingers up to an institution many of us have grown to love over the last twenty years, where there have been many other radical productions that have served their plays.

It’s one of the tackiest stagings I’ve ever seen. From the inexplicable missiles hanging above the stage to the white face make-up & black outfits and incongruous contemporary songs (YMCA during the Capulet’s masque, now fancy dress, party) to the Hindu Friar, it leaps from one gimmick to the next without pausing for breath. There is no sense of feuding families or love at first sight; indeed there isn’t an ounce of romance – in one of the greatest love stories ever told!

Daniel Kramer is the new Artistic Director of the beleaguered ENO. They once billed a Berlioz opera as ‘Terry Gilliam’s The Damnation of Faust’. The director is never king.


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This is like time travelling back 43 years. The first ever alternative rock musical has become  a £65-a-go ride in the new hippie theme park! At least Daniel Kramer’s revival at the tiny Gate Theatre a few years back retained some sense of ‘alternative’ (though it has to be said this lot are easier on the eye – that’s the fringe for you!).  The anti-war message could and should mean something in these war-torn times, but is about as sincere as businesses going green because its cheaper.

This virtually plotless show has four songs which have now become standards (boy, doesn’t Good Morning Starshine sound twee?!) and another 2 hours of unmemorable undistinguished blandness. It only came alive briefly in the second act during the extended anti-war sequence, but the only purpose this show serves in 2010 is its part in the history of musical theatre.

Having said that, the staging is good (though I could have done with less ventures into the audience, which I’m sure went down a storm on Broadway but work less well with a more inhibited West End audience) and the musical standards are outstanding. I can’t comment on Will Swenson’s Berger because I got his rather weak understudy, but the rest of the leads were very good, particularly Gavin Creel’s Claude.

Go if you’re ‘collecting’ musicals or fancy an evening in one room of the museum of musical theatre, but please don’t expect anything ground-breaking, challenging, relevant or for that matter particularly entertaining. Like all museum exhibits, you look at them and learn but that’s about it.

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