Bro, Do You Even Theatre?
There’s one thing I’ve been thinking about all week. Every second, of every minute, of ever hour, of ever day this week, one thought has constantly been running through my mind:
"Please, oh please, let this week be over."
This week has been a nightmare. Firstly, I’d be surprised if I had anywhere near seven hours sleep for any night of this week (except for last night, where I slept like a log). My English coursework kept me constantly busy, trying to make it the best it can be.
As well as fighting off essays left right and centre, I had two trips this week. Now, you may wonder why that would be a bad thing. The bad thing, was that they were on two consecutive days, with the first one getting me home at 12.30 at night. Great.
But despite being tired, hectically working, stressed, and kind of out of pocket (I need a job), these trips were pretty useful. Why? Because I have something to review. I didn’t have time for a film or a book, so with both trips being to plays, I am in a great position to review. Bro, do you even drama?!
Anyway, let’s get on!
All My Sons
LET’S GET THE PLOT DONE: Arthur Miller’s classic surrounding the Kellers in their backyard. Joe Keller is a businessman who’s son, Chris, fought in World War 2. His other son, Larry, has been MIA for three years, but Kate Keller (Mother) believes he is alive, and will return home. You can’t really say much else without ruining the story, but secrets, guilt, and greed make the story a very interesting one.
Talawa Theatre Company performed this production of All My Sons. They are a Black-led theatre company, which adds an interesting dynamic. The play being set post-WW2 starts to make you think of the discrimination against African-Americans, even after they fought for their country.
From an English student standpoint, this play was useful. I understood the story and the characters to an extent.
From a Drama student perspective? Uh…
Let’s get the positives out the way. The set was great. You got an idea of the seclusion the garden had as the popular trees had grown around them. The house looked the part, but I wish they used the windows a bit more for variety. And while the space to act was great, there was a lot of sitting down, which made the voices become lost over the large place which looked specifically made to act. Cotume was great too, showing the period and different
Also, I liked the portrayals of Chris and George. George is there to take Ann away from the house, as Chris intends to marry her, and you saw his hate and frustration. Chris was cool, calm, and played the more tense/dramatic scenes very well.
And now for the negatives. One thing was that this play dragged. The pacing was slow, but stayed in the same pace of slow. Sometimes, their needed to be some fast-paced dialogue that wasn’t up to scratch, and there were almost no pauses in the entire play. There were so many instances in which there NEEDED to be a pause, and the play carried on rolling the same way. There needed to be more action rather than all of them sat down, talking at the same pace.
I feel that a lot of this play was the director’s fault. These were capable actors (aside from Ann, whose accent just infuriated me), but were made to move in really really awkward ways. There was a point that the play should have just ended, but no. There was another twenty seconds as the two actors on stage moved around a bit. I’m not joking. They just moved to a different position, and then ended. All I can say it was just awkward.
VERDICT: 4/10 – All my condolences to you, Talawa. (Note: The play finished its run yesterday).
“You know Larry’s not coming back and I know it.” – Chris Keller
LET’S GET THE PLOT DONE: Another plot I can’t say much in. Mr de Winter has married a new bride, known as the “new” Mrs de Winter, and travels back to his estate, Manderley, where he hasn’t been since the mysterious death of his first wife: the illustrious Rebecca. With Mr de Winter refusing to speak about Rebecca, and the equally mysterious Mrs Danvers running Manderley’s affairs to Rebecca’s expectations, Mrs de Winter is confused, yet intrigued.
Kneehigh did this adaptation! They specialise in creative adaptation, using different and odd theatrics to tell the story. I loved this style, which was quirky, creative, and fun.
The set for Rebecca is very interesting. At first, a woman and boat fall slowly from the ceiling, the boat locking into place to create the estate, a stairway running across the stage, with balconies and cracked walls. What’s magic, is the way they go from the estate to the beach, taking out the staircase. Then we are suddenly in a beach cottage, with a cloth being hoisted across the back. While I wish the boat was used again, it was a great set.
The great thing about Kneehigh, is that the serious story doesn’t stop them from creating fun moments without taking away from the dramatic storyline. It was said to me that the last part wasn’t as “creative”, and when thinking about it, I was starting to zone out of the action. Plus the ending wasn’t as great as I was hoping. After all, I’d seen Hitchcock’s film before this, and the play didn’t hold up to the show-stopping end I was hoping for.
Despite this, the actors were fantastic. The ensemble cast obviously had great chemistry with each other, and having a random dance halfway through the interval was fantastic. Mrs Danvers plays up to her creepy character, Jack Favell was a charmer with a sinister side, and Mrs de Winter plays the naive girl, only to turn that on its head later in the play. Oh! And a big shout-out to the woman who played Roberts, the Welsh boy-servant at the estate, who was the funniest person in the play. I couldn’t contain myself, I really couldn’t.
VERDICT: 9/10 – It’s good, but it’s not quite The 39 Steps!
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – Mrs de Winter (first lines)
And in the words of Roberts himself: “Ok, well goodbye, god bless, take care, love you, bye-di-dee-bye-bye-bye!”