Posts Tagged ‘Nick Day’

So many things to go and see in just one Saturday

In the morning there was Cardenio Unwrapped (at the Swan) where Nicky Cox introduced the Assistant Director of Cardenio, Ben Brymor and the two understudy actors for the characters of Cardenio and Lucinda – Mike Grady-Hall and Maya Barcot. We were told, that in rehearsals, Greg Doran had initially asked all the cast the read the lines apart from their own. So by the time they learnt their own lines each actor knew the play and everyone else’s part – so to speak. This has created great harmony amongst the Ensemble and indeed I have been told by Nick Day a seasoned actor that it is the happiest Ensemble he has ever had the pleasure to work with in his many years in the business.

Ben really set the tone of the day by asking the actors to act with three different interpretations of an early scene in the play between the two characters and we were invited to determine which we thought was be the best option and how a different approach can give an audience a different view and indeed sympathy to the character. Here was a scene where Lucinda was rightly angry with her lover for his not yet informing his father of their relationship. Use of the Thrust stage and the audience intimacy was discussed and one of the interpretations where the actors spoke to the audience rather than to each other only made a big difference and sympathy was somewhat switched back to Cardenio. The question of how more advantageous the thrust stage and closeness of the audience to the stage had a bearing on a Soliloquy where here the actor would speak to the audience rather than himself. Mike presented a Soliloquy from Cardenio with panache.

Finally Maya and two dressers gave a Quick Dress change on stage. It was very brave of all three of them and extremely well done. As Ben said, Dressers are the unsung heroes of the theatre so well done ladies. Just makes one anxious to go and see this wonderful production again.

Cardenio is on until October 6th.

POPPY – The Mark Ravenhill weekend started with the first of two plays he was directing in the Swan Rooms at 2pm. The author Peter Nichols who also wrote the lyrics to the music and the award winning composer, Monty Norman, who wrote the music were present. Indeed Monty joined in one of the songs with great gusto.

This script-in-hand performance of the musical set during the Opium Wars (1840s) has won awards. An important element of the play is audience participation, which brings them closer not only to the play’s fantastic world, but also to the satire that follows later on – a critical look at corruption within our social, political and religious systems i.e. Civilization, Commerce and Christianity (they all belong together and they all begin with C). This was also a great song that stuck in one’s head but left a sweet and sour taste in our mouths.

It is a kind of adult pantomime, but dark and certainly an irreverent story. Marvellous reading by the actors- in particular Ciaron Kellgren, Sally Dexter and Jill Halfpenny. But all actors and musicians were outstanding. A fantastic way to spend the afternoon and it was good fun for everyone present. The cast certainly appeared to enjoy themselves.

FASHION – So back we went for more delight at 7pm for another script in hand play reading. Again this was curated by Mark Ravenhill and again we were privileged to have the author, Doug Lucie present.This play was premiered at The Other Place in 1987; sadly I did not see it because of my then nomadic life. Alan Armstrong and Brian Cox were in the original production. But you know this play could have been written yesterday; it was really proof of the fact that most people do not take heed of what goes on around them. Basically it is a satire about the world of political spin where an advertising boss bids for the task of re-modelling the Conservative party, prior to an election.

Both Murdoch and the female person who was PM in the 80s were somehow well and truly part of the story. With an excellent cast including Sally Dexter, Joe Dixon, Jill Halfpenny, John Gordon Sinclair, Paul Hickey and Ciaran Kellgren we were left, in no doubt, that if we listened to our playwrights more perhaps some of the problems of this world would not be there. Personally I was delighted how they responded to Thatcherism.

Our recent difficulties were cradled at a time when individual greed was encouraged where humanitarian issues were corroded and this marvellous satire brings the message home. Oh that we had listened then. Congratulations to Doug Lucie, and well done Mark Ravenhill and your outstanding actors. Thank you Team RSC.

David Stevens

Read Full Post »

by David Stevens, RSC Friend Stratford-upon-Avon


The City Madam is receiving great reviews from all who have been to see the production. I very much enjoyed the opening night and can’t wait to go again when they will have done a bit of tweaking here and there. There were excellent performances by Jo Stone-Fewings, Nick Day, Alex Hassall and Sara Crowe. For me the highlight was the wonderful performance by Chris Godwin who was just brilliant as Sir John Frugal.  A lovely production- just what you need when you are feeling sad. Super set designed by Tom Piper and fabulous costumes. I loved the ending and really felt sorry for Chris and Nick having to wear those high heels. Almost forgot Pippa Nixon who played Shave’em played her part in this marvellous satire.



 We enjoyed the script-in-hand performance and were very impressed by the cast. It is hoped that they will now have a further full production. The Q&A, after the reading, was very much of interest to those of us who stayed. Christopher Hampton explained how he had adapted the original novel. The great advantage for him was that in the original scandalous book by Choderlos de Laclos there was no dialogue, just a series of letters.. Hence Christopher was able to adapt and write a brilliant play. He talked about the original production which was premiered by the RSC at The Other Place in 1985, directed by Howard Davies with a superb cast. This play went on to success in London and Broadway. The play has won many awards. Sadly I never saw the original but did see the film in 1988. There is a lot of hope that the play will be produced again in the West End and to this end Kim Poster of Stanhope productions is endeavouring to ensure this happens. I hope they consider the same director, as for the script-in-hand adaptation shown here- Gérald Garutti- as it is understood that Howard Davies has declined. Oh please have Raymond Coulthard who was brilliant as Le Vicomte de Valmont. Indeed the entire cast if available would be great – Una Stubbs who I first saw 48 years ago was so good and also Rachael Stirling should be applauded for the difficult part of La Marquise De Merteuil. The play is about a sophisticated couple who have sexual affairs with others and then share their experiences with the other. There was one rule never to fall in love. The play of course results in Le Vicomte de Valmont falling in love and Merteuil declaring war on him. The novel was written just before the French Revolution so it is somewhat to say the least about decadence of the nobility and very political.

Yes it about using sex as a weapon to humiliate others but it also about decadence and war.

Please bring the play to Stratford again first.  It was a privilege to have been there and to have listened to the genius of Christopher Hampton afterwards. Gosh the RSC are really spoiling us with their 50 birthday celebrations.

by David Stevens

Read Full Post »