Monday, 23 August 2010

I was in Edinburgh.... (Part One)

Alas, now I have returned home, and am in the comforts of my own bedroom. Still, it was a lovely weekend. On my return, there were two amazing things waiting for me that had come in the post.

First of all, there was a signed photo from Gavin Creel, who is currently playing Claude in "Hair" in the West End. It's so personal, because there are not only little doodles on the back of the headshot, but also a little note, since I sent the letter in April four days after the run began. Gavin is one of my favourite performers (ever since I saw him in Mary Poppins when I was thirteen) , and I was so happy to receive the autograph.

Secondly, my Entry Pass membership card from the National Theatre arrrived. This was a bit annoying, because I brought a ticket for "The Habit of Art" the day before going on holiday for £16.50. At least now it gives me an excuse to see loads more plays at the National, because the tickets will cost me just £5. I really like the look of Hamlet, or Danton's Death, but I don't think I'll have time to see the latter.

Now I've finished being excited about the post, I might actually start writing my Edinburgh reviews. I just made notes after the show, so I could remember things to write them properly now. These are short reviews, much shorter than my normal ones, but I hope they're good!

Shakespeare For Breakfast, C Venues, ****

I actually thought the promotional material was joking when I read that audience members would be provided with a free croissant and cup of coffee. So you can imagine my reaction when I arrived to find a croissant on my feet. There was a croissant on every seat, as a matter of fact, and there was a rather clever joke about this in the production. It made me wish that I hadn't eaten one at the hotel for breakfast.

This years production was a re-telling of "King Lear", using the concept of as many reality TV shows as possible. I didn't really know what to expect, although part of me was a little disapointed that it wasn't a Shakespearean answer to "Forbidden Broadway". However, it was a highly amusing if a little repetitive production. Yes, some of the humour was a little too obvious, but innovative and interactive staging compensated for this. I would definitely go back and see another Shakespeare for Breakfast, for not only was it a great way to start the day, but I can now impress my new English teachers with my "in-depth knowledge" of "King Lear". Only joking, I'm actually going to try and buy the play text on Wednesday.

Down the Rabbit Hole, C Venues, *1/2

I was really looking forward to this, and I can officially say that it has to be the biggest disapointment of my life. Actually, "Wicked" was the definitive biggest disapointment, but this is definitely second to that.

It was not the fault of the cast, who all had great energy, body language and delivery. It was not the fault of the director, or the set designer, either. I think that it was a problem with the piece, as opposed to the production.

It lasted for only 30 minutes, but was meant to be 55, according to the leaflets and posters. There were several promising storylines but only one, paedophilia, was developed. All of the characters seemed to be written in the same way, and it was just so repetitive. Plus, the seats were really narrow and uncomfortable. This is coming from someone who only takes up a quarter of a bench at the Menier Chocolate Factory!

Spring Awakening *****

I had waited so long to see this, after having been denied a chance to see the West End production. All I can say is, in my opinion it is a lot better than most of the other current musicals in the West End, and I only wish more people had had the chance to see it.

Having read the original play by Wedekind, and listened to the cast recording, I was very familiar with the story, however nothing could have prepared me for the sheer scale of the energy and emotion in the production. By the closing scene I was in tears - it was probably the most moving experience that I have ever had at the theatre.

The score was sensational. Reminiscent of Rent, it is of course a rock musical. The setting of the play has been moved from the late 1800s in Germany to America, but this does nothing to hinder the story. The set is simple, yet complements every scene perfectly. The choreography fit the music perfectly, and the direction was something special - the idea of the young characters using handheld mikes when singing to convey how isolated and bereft of knowledge they are is incredibly effective.

The cast were all amazing. They managed to shine as individuals whilst being one of the best ensembles I have ever seen. Overall, I really hope that Spring Awakening gets another chance to be succesful in London. I think if the show were marketed correctly, and the tickets were not £55 for a decent view, as they were in the West End, then it would be incredibly succesful. We need to find a way of giving people the courage to try something new, instead of opting for what can almost be considered "a brand".

I'm now really tired, especially after almost twelve hours in the car today, and I want to try to get an early night before GCSE results tomorrow. I'll write my other two reviews tomorrow, possibly before I go to school?

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