Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Two plays in one week

Just occasionally, I end up going to see two or three plays within a week. I must stress that this is a rare occurence, and usually procedes a period of aboiut six weeks where I don't go to the theatre at all. Anyway, exactly a week ago I went to see "Deathtrap", which I followed with the Young Vic's revival of "The Glass Menagerie" on Saturday.

Surprisingly, it is actually quite easy to compare the two pieces, despite the factt hat they are very obviously from completely different genres. Both featured a small cast, five in "Deathtrap" and four in "The Glass Menagerie", both of which performed outstanding. I would have to say that I preferred the "Deathtrap" cast overall, purely because I felt that the material was weaker so they had to work a lot harder to give the amazing performance that they did.

I was so excited about having the chance to see Simon Russell Beale on stage. After his amazing performance at the Sondheim prom, and reading several articles about him in which his lengthy career was discussed, I was intrigued. I have to say that it was one of the most humourous yet serious performances I have ever seen, and I am really looking forward to his Lear at the National in 2012. I also enjoyed the chance to see Jonathan Groff on stage. Sadly, the play is not selling too well, which surprised me, for I would have thought that there would have been a deluge of "Glee" fans trying to catch their heart throb on stage. Anyway, whilst I watch "Glee" I would not call myself a fan. I was more interested in his performance because he originated the role of Melchior in the Broadwya musical "Spring Awakening", which is definitely one of my favourite musicals. I was not disapointed, and found him to have wonderful chemistry with Russell Beale. The other actors, Claire Skinner, Estelle Parsons and Terry Beaver, all performed marvellously, making for a perofrmance which was ocnstantly full of surprises.

If I am honest, I didn't really like the script. It was very predictable, which is not very good for a thriller. I thought it was witty, but a little obvious in places. Matthew Warchus' direction lifted the material as far as it could go, and, couple with the amazing set, lead to an enjoyable, if a little disatisfying, performance.

Alternatively, Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" made me feel excited as I read the first lines of the play in the library. I finished the play on the train to the theatre, and was so glad that I did. Being a memory play (I am still not quite sure what this means), it was very reliant on the characters, and I was glad that I had got to know them a little before seeing the play. I really empathised with the character of Laura, and felt that the cast performed impeccably, with great energy throughout the piece.

I only disliked a couple of things. The first was the curtain, which was raised and lowered to separate Joe's monologues from the narrative of the play, which I just felt was a little unneccesary. Also, the second act was lit almost in its entirety by candles, which was a little distracting and unneccesary, although the ending of the play does rely on Laura blowing out her candles.

Overall, though, the Young Vic has not yet disapointed me. I cannot decide which play I prefer,w itht he former being more entertaining but the latter being more thought-provoking and of better quality overall.

Deathtrap - ***
The Glass Menagerie - ****

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