Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Vinette Robinson’

Another day, another allegorical play, but this time a brilliant one, staged and performed to perfection. Mike Bartlett proves himself to be as much the master of the epic as he is the miniature masterpiece.

Audrey is widowed, with a daughter in her early twenties and a new husband, Paul. She lost her son to war in the Middle East. She has a successful retail business, but decides to escape to the country, buying her deceased uncle’s former home Albion, with its huge garden, set on restoring it to its former glory using the plans of its famous garden designer. She’s self-obsessed, self-centred and domineering and she drives away her daughter, best friend and her son’s partner. Only her put-upon husband remains loyal. She also upsets the old retainers, neighbours and villagers along the way.

It’s an allegory of recent history in England’s green and pleasant land (Albion) and has way more depth than that brief description suggests. The Almeida has been reconfigured with the audience wrapped around an oval garden rimmed by a plant border and dominated by a tree; another extraordinary design from Miriam Buether. When the season changes, the border is transformed, itself a coup d’theatre, as is the end of the first half. Though its entertaining and often funny, it is above all deeply thought-provoking.

Audrey is a great part for an actress and Victoria Hamilton is sensationally good, but she’s surrounded by a host of other fine performances, notably Vinette Robinson as the son’s grieving partner Anna, Helen Schlesinger as best friend Katherine and Charlotte Hope as daughter Zara. Christopher Fairbank and Margot Leicester are lovely as the gardener / cleaner husband and wife and there’s an excellent nuanced performance as young neighbour Gabriel from Luke Thrallon.

We are so lucky to have so many good contemporary playwrights. Lets hope we don’t lose Mike Bartlett to TV after his success with Dr Foster. Only days ago I was worrying that some were given high profile stages too soon. Ironically, this would probably work on the Olivier stage where the other allegorical play Saint George & the Dragon doesn’t, but it’s more intimate at the Almeida where it engaged and moved me deeply.

Read Full Post »

It’s taken me a couple of days to write about this because it’s taken me a couple of days to reflect and decide what I think about it!

What I am absolutely clear about is that The Young Vic Theatre and the play’s director Ian Rickson win all the prizes for bravery, ambition and sheer balls. Messing with the bard’s most famous play? Quelle horreur! Rickson’s ‘big idea’ is that it’s all in Hamlet’s head…..or our heads? We enter a mental institution, on a pretty long and impressive  ‘journey’, where the whole play takes place. It’s Hamlet -The Story-The Characters-The Words, but not Hamlet as we know it.

The first half is rather ponderous and slow with lots of Pinteresque silences Shakespeare didn’t write, but it picks up pace significantly in the second half. When it’s running at full steam, it’s a thrilling psychological ride with a couple of clever and brilliant coup d’theatre. Hamlet has never been as confused, damaged, tortured, lost, persecuted…..

Michael Sheen lives up to expectations as the Danish prince – an intelligent and often thrilling performance. There’s an excellent supporting cast, with Sally Dexter capturing Gertrude’s love for both her son and her new man and Vinette Robinson providing a fascinating emotional rollercoaster as Ophelia. Jeremy Herbert creates an all too believable institution with a significant contribution from Adam Silverman’s lighting (and lack of!).

This is the Hamlet that seems to be dividing people, and in my case dividing me….but I have nothing but admiration for the theatre and the creative team – it would have been so easy to churn out another traditional Hamlet-as-star-vehicle like the RSC and Donmar. Challenging stuff indeed.

Read Full Post »