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Posts Tagged ‘Pearl Mackie’

Old Vic in Camera showed me the difference between viewing plays live online and viewing recorded streams; the former are more engaging, probably just because you know you’re watching as it happens. This one from Nottingham Playhouse has the addition of a live audience in the theatre, which was a bonus, adding atmosphere.

James Graham’s Rom Com revolves around a couple whose first date is just before lockdown. They are faced with the choice of putting the relationship on ice for the duration of it, or moving in together and forming a bubble, after only one date! Both options are played out in parallel, by split screens online (I’m not sure how in the theatre).

Though it is primarily the story of an unlikely relationship, there’s a fair bit of lockdown reality in there too, but it’s always light, never heavy. Jessica Raine plays teacher Morgan, who hosts the bubble option in her flat, her excitement making her seem more like a teenager. Pearl Mackie plays Ashley, a modern woman running a micro-pub, bubbling with enthusiasm. Both performances on a virtually empty stage carry the narrative well.

Given the depth, quality and detail of Graham’s other work, it did seem like a work-in-progress, but it was an engaging seventy minutes which worked well online.

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I keep breaking my ‘no more Pinter revivals’ rule, lured by the cast and / or creatives, in this case both, though maybe it’s a subconscious desire to one day understand his plays. This team certainly don’t disappoint, but I’m no further forward on the understanding front.

It’s the play’s 60th anniversary. If you’d told those that attended the eight performances of its premiere production that it would be selling out in the West end today, they’d probably laugh. The audience was in single numbers when it was pulled prematurely. Pinter’s comedy with menace / theatre of the absurd must have baffled then as it still does, with its cocktail of ambiguity, confusion, contradictions and political symbolism. I’m still not convinced even Pinter knew what it was about, or whether it being about anything is the point. Despite the bafflement, it’s still compelling.

Ian Rickson’s staging and the Quay Brothers design are as good as any. Zoe Wanamaker and Peter Wight are perfect as the couple running the seaside boarding house, her rather batty and him a beacon of ordinariness. The part of Stanley, the prime victim, really suits Toby Jones. Goldberg is unlike any other role I’ve seen Stephen Mangham play, so he was a bit of a revelation, doing menacing very well indeed, as does his sidekick Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as McCann. Lulu is a small part but Pearl Mackie acquits herself well.

My plea to producers would be to use creatives and actors I don’t like so that I don’t feel compelled to break my own rules, though rule-breaking can sometimes be rewarding…..

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