Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Richard Goulding’

Two new plays and one revival at the same time in London is quite something, even for the prolific Mike Bartlett. One of his great talents is his diversity of subject matter and form, and here he breathes new life into restoration comedy, with a bawdy satire which proves to be an absolute hoot. and about as up-to-date as its possible to get.

All the genre’s regular ingredients are here – social climbers, abandoned children, infidelity, mistaken identity, hypocrisy, asides to the audience – but in a world of influencers, tweeting, political scandal, reality TV, sex and drugs. In seeking to increase her profile, Lady Susan Climber recruits media consultant Hannah Tweetwell, who gets her invites to events like Sir Dennis’ philanthropic showcase for young entrepreneurs and possible chat shows with Rosalind Double-Budget. At the same time, her past is uncovered. Throw in an obsequious self-serving government minister with a right-wing journalist for a wife (unrecognisable, obviously) and it’s almost current affairs.

Rachael Sterling is terrific as Lady Susan, brazen and totally devoid of any moral core, and Richard Goulding is an absolute hoot as Matt Eton, Secretary of State for Procurement. The rest of the cast are more than a match, giving performances of great brio with shock and indignation to balance Lady Susan and Matt Eton, both totally unhampered by ethical considerations.

The design reflects the production values of the form in its heyday, with costumes bringing a contemporary sensibility. Director Rachel O’Riordan marshals her excellent cast with great pace and energy, squeezing every laugh (and there are many) from actions and expressions as well as dialogue.

A joy from start to finish, a real tonic.

Read Full Post »

The first of two Mike Bartlett plays in seven days, and the seventh in five years – you can’t say he isn’t prolific. What I like most about his work is that each piece is so very different. You identify them by their quality and imagination rather than their style. This one, ‘a future history play’, is like none of the others, except that’s imaginative and very very good.

Charles has at last succeeded to the throne and within days he’s started interfering in government. He provokes a constitutional crisis, divides the country and his family and in no time unleashes a series of events which have profound personal, constitutional and political impact. Somewhat ironically, it’s a privacy bill that triggers his involvement, just before his family is on the receiving end of things the bill was trying to prevent.

It’s quite a cerebral and weighty play, but staged with a lightness of touch that ensures its always entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Charles does have form, which means it’s in no way implausible and though the debate is often funny, it is underneath rather profound. I found myself drawn in quickly and gripped throughout.

It’s not a typical Rupert Goold production; the staging is much simpler, relying on the writing and the characterisations more than inventive staging, but it is very effective. Tom Scutt’s design is dominated by a large dais, surrounded by parquet flooring throughout the auditorium and a huge semi-circular panel of fading faces suggesting history, heritage and tradition. Actors enter from all sides and through the auditorium, which provides for grand entrances in keeping with grand people and grand occasions.

Tim Pigott-Smith is terrific as Charles, capturing the essence of the man rather than giving us an impersonation. Oliver Chris and Richard Goulding are very good as contrasting princes, with just enough caricature to provoke smiles but not so much that they become joke characters. Camilla and Kate are presented as power behind the throne and Margot Leicester & Lydia Wilson provide excellent characterisations. The PM and leader of the opposition are called Mr Evans (Labour) and Mr Stevens (Conservative) respectively and Adam James & Nicholas Rowe seem to emphasise the similarities we see in our politicians these days.

This may prove to be prophetic, but for now it’s fascinating and entertaining speculative ‘future history’ and certainly a candidate for 2014’s best new play. Catch it if you can.

Read Full Post »