Friday, 15 October 2010

An update

The other day, I suddenly realised that I had not posted a single word since seeing "Into the Woods". Since then, you will be pleased to hear that my love of Sondheim has managed to grow even more, if that were possible.

The neutral title of this post is mainly because it will be about a number of things, although I could of course write a whole book on why I love Sondheim. The first exciting thing that I have to write about is that I received a personal letter from Jenna Russell, just days after "Into the Woods" played its final performance and closed the season at the Open Air Theatre. In case you did not know, Jenna played the Baker's Wife in the production, although she had also played Cinderella in the Donmar's production a number of years ago. Her performance was the highlight of the evening for me, so I decided to write her a letter. You can not imagine how overjoyed I was when I received a two page, handwritten reply. I don't really want to share the contents of the letter on here, but I will say that she took the time to answer every question that I asked. I am now an even bigger fan, and am looking forward to seeing her in "Season's Greetings" at the National, which will also be the first play by Alan Ayckbourn that I will have seen.

Speaking of the Donmar, I still haven't been there, but I am eagerly anticipating the day that I finally go. By the time I am in the position to buy tickets, they are always sold out. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to try for dayseats. The next production, King Lear with Derek Jacobi in the title role, is looking more and more apealing, especially after my experience at "Shakespeare for Breakfast".

A few weeks ago, news about Michael Grandage's departure as artistic director of the venue broke. I can not really formulate an opinion about this, having never been to the Donmar myself, but it is clearly one of the most important theatrical venues in the world, and it will be interesting to see how his succesor performs.

Finally, I went to see the Icelandic production of "Faust" at the Young Vic. This was almost two weeks ago now, so the moment has really passed for me to write a proper review. However, I do have some thoughts, which I thought I would post directly onto my blog.

I was not paticularly looking forward to it, having tried to read the play in its English translation and failing miserably. It was the longest and most complicated play that I have ever attempted to read, so in the end I just gave up, for I was almost oblivious to what was going on.

My hopes of one day reading the play in its original language gone, I decided to go with an open mind, and actually had such an enjoyable afternoon. It was unlike anything that I had ever seen before. The plot was stripped to its bare minimum, and used the "play within a play" concept that I had so enjoyed in "The Habit of Art". The production was set to rock music, as well as a psychedelic set and lighting. The main unique feature was the large net, suspended above the heads of the audience, which was often used by the actors. There were several loud shocks, as well as visual ones, which kept me on the edge of my seat at all times.

Whilst the performance was visually spectacular and a lovely way to spend an afternoon, I did not really feel anything for any of the characters, although it's worth noting that Faust's lovely closing monologue was ruined by someone's mobile phone going off. Overall, I think I would recommend the production to other people for the sheer originality of the staging and adaptation. I would be interested in seeing other shows of this genre, to see how they compare.

In the future, I really will try and keep my blog updated on a more regular basis. I really do enjoy writing, it's just that sometimes school and work gets in the way....

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