Monday, 20 May 2019

Strangers on a Train Set - The Lowry, Salford

I don’t think I was the little girl my mother had longed for. Ideas of wearing pretty dresses and playing with dolls were thrown out of the window very early on. I would proudly push my pram down the road with her, but it didn’t contain a doll; that had been defaced and beheaded long ago…no, my pram was full of cuddly toy animals. If I wasn’t playing with them, I would be playing with my train set. Yes, a train set, a clockwork locomotive designed to keep me away from my older brothers’ electric train set. My train was really boring….it just went around in a little circle. Now my brothers’, well they had a huge trestle table with a hole in the middle, and lots of tracks with points and signals…countryside painted on the walls surrounding it, endless amounts of Modroc used to create hills and valleys, freight trains, steam trains that puffed little clouds of vapour, diesel trains…it was great fun, even when I was shouted at to keep my little sticky fingers at bay!!

Neither of my parents drove so the train was the preferred mode of transport. British Rail weren’t too good at being on time so connections were always missed, and so to pass the time, me dad and I would go train spotting. I’d scribble numbers in my notebook whilst dad shouted them out to me, and then at the end of the day we would cross them off in a special book we’d buy from John Menzies (yes I am that old) at Chester railway station. At the end of the year you would see how many numbers you had crossed off in the book before starting again the next year!

I don’t train spot anymore, but the sight of a steam train always brings great joy and when a diesel locomotive roars past me if I’m sat at a station, I test myself to see if I can still remember what class of engine it is. Suffice to say, a heady mix of trains, theatre and crime novels was too good to miss; I figured this would be a fun-filled way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

LipService Theatre (Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding) have been described as the Laurel & Hardy of literary deconstruction. Having watched Mr Darcy Loses the Plot a couple of years ago, I can see why. Their knowledge and ability to turn the mundane into something hilarious is one to be appreciated; part stand-up, part live acting and part film projection, it is a perfect heady mix of virtuosity and jubilation.

Strangers On A Train Set pulled into The Lowry, Salford Friday 17th May 2019 and departed on the 19th May 2019 to resume its tour around the country. For those of you who have never seen LipService, then be warned, it has developed a bit of a cult following around various venues, so grab your tickets quickly when you see them heading your way or you’ll miss out on a treat.

Derek and Geoff (Fox and Ryding) are two model train enthusiasts who have been invited to Salford to showcase their 00 gauge model railway, and recreate some classic railway journeys via steam locomotive or Geoff’s favourite, his modern Virgin Pendolino. 

When it comes to their trains, no detail goes unnoticed. For authenticity, Geoff has lovingly scuffed his Pendolino with cat litter, to give it that authentic worn look, as though it really has clattered mile upon mile along the West Coast route from Manchester to London Euston. Although they have paid great detail to their trains, the tiny figurines that adorn their railway set have been paid less attention, which is why we end up with the unlikely scenario of a 21st century youth being shouted at by a 1930’s amateur sleuth on the said Pendolino! We meet equally bizarre characters along the railway journey through various train-based books and films, some of which are easy to spot, whilst others morph into generalisations of many classic scenes we’ve read or watched!

“Take our love to daddy!!!!”

LipService might only consist of two actors, but they use ingenious touches to move between the real world of Derek and Geoff and the fictional world of what is happening within the train set. Video projections show Derek and Geoff playing with the train set, whilst on stage, the little plastic characters become real, moving, talking humans! The actors know that despite this clever use of flipping between stage and screen to give time for costume changes etc, there are still some limitations as to what they can do, so they incorporate jokes about the fact you can’t have three people in a particular scene, or the need for using a doll to stand in for a third of the Railway Children, as there are only two actors!  

I am not a fan or player of computer games, and the first parody left me a bit dazed and confused, although a number of people around me obviously understood what was going on as they were heartily laughing around me, but fortunately, unlike the old British Rail Timetable, that sketch departed and a new sketch that had me on more familiar ground pulled onto the stage. Their pastiche of Brief Encounter (Briefs on the Counter) had me holding my sides with laughter. It is one of my favourite films, so to see Maggie Fox’s hilarious take on the terribly, terribly well clipped tones of Celia Johnson was truly brilliant. All my favourite moments from the film were there…the innocence of returning a library book, the “oh, I appear to have something in my eye” all the way to the repression that only a “fresh this morning” bath bun could convey, was squashed into a few hysterical minutes that could run and run….and run and run!

You couldn’t have a play about crime novels and trains without playing homage to Agatha Christie. From super sleuth Miss Sparrow, sitting knitting and taken immediate dislike to the youth with the loud music emanating from his mobile phone, to the locally renamed 4:50 from Piccadilly (Expected arrival time 4:57…58…59??!!!) this production sped along just like the Murder on the Trans Pennine Express!

At times the production shunts back and forth, so just as you think you are in the middle of a Miss Marple sketch, it suddenly switches tracks to The Railway Children which leads to some elements of confusion, but that doesn’t matter, as the name of the game here is to depart your theatre destination far happier than when you arrived. What is truly enjoyable is watching how well Fox and Ryding work together. If one makes a slight slip the other is there to quickly transform it into a gag, as though it is just another part of the show. This is the genius of great comedy partnerships, and just like the legends of Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe before them, Fox can stand on stage saying nothing, but just one look and you can’t stop laughing.

Whether you are a train enthusiast or not, this clever and hugely enjoyable show is just the ticket to letting off steam in today’s all too serious world! If you see it running near you, flag it down and go see it! I’m off to the refreshment car in Coach C to see if Denise still has that egg & cress butty she announced half an hour ago…I bet her card machine won’t be working…

Tour dates…

25th May 2019 - Nailsworth Festival
28th May 2019 to 29th May 2019 -  Chipping Norton Theatre, Chipping Norton
30th May 2019 - Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
1st June 2019 - Middlesbrough Theatre, Middlesbrough
6th June 2019 - Meres Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham
5th September 2019 - Blackpool Grand

Friday, 10 May 2019

Stones in his Pockets – by Marie Jones (Theatr Clwyd)

In a small rural town in County Kerry, Ireland, a Hollywood film crew descends and monopolises the town. The locals are thrilled, they might only be earning £40 a day as a film extra, but this place has now become the land of opportunity, dreams of becoming a famous actor could now become a reality.

The play centres around two characters, Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn. Charlie had been running a small business renting our movies, but then a blockbuster chain moved in, with more choice and more copies of films. After going bankrupt, Charlie grabbed his tent and started wandering around Ireland and now here he is, an extra on an American film, with the opportunity of submitting a film script to someone big in Hollywood.

Jake has recently returned to Ireland following some time in New York and he is mesmerised by the star of the movie, Caroline Giovanni. Caroline swans in, the glamourous girl from Hollywood, and despite proclaiming that she wants to perfect the Irish account and give a realistic portrayal on screen, she and the rest of the American crew are only concerned about finishing the movie on time.

At the start, the community is excited to have such famous people in their midst, but soon the novelty starts to wear off and they start to feel used and abused. Jobs in this part of the world are scarce, so the crew know that £40 a day is a lot to some of the folk, so they can treat them anyway they want.
One evening in the local pub, a teenager, Sean Harkin, who is completely in awe of Caroline tries to speak with her. Caroline, who has gone the pub to “get an authentic feel for the locals” cannot help but be the Hollywood diva she is, makes a scene and gets her minder to throw Sean out of the pub. Sean is both devasted and humiliated. This is a small community, and everyone would know that he, Sean Harkin, had been thrown out of the local boozer by Caroline Giovanni’s security man, Jock Campbell.

The first act of the play ends when Sean commits suicide by putting stones in his pockets to weigh him down when he walks into the local river. The second act continues as the locals try to come to terms with Sean’s death and unite for his funeral, but there is conflict with the film crew as they try to keep to their tight schedule. There isn’t enough time for the whole town to go to Sean’s funeral and his wake, and on no account should anyone be back on set having had a drink! The crew have no concern about the people they are employing as extra’s, and they have no feelings of remorse that they unwittingly contributed to this poor boy’s death.

Jake feels it is his fault that his cousin Sean committed suicide and reminisces about when they were children and their dreams and aspirations when they grew up. He felt he should have been there for Sean, but Charlie is able to console him and say it wasn’t his fault, but that there was one way they could remember and honour their friend…rewrite Charlies script and make the story about Sean instead. They present the story to the American director who dismisses it as not commercially viable…yet their story is the one we’ve just sat and watched!!

I must admit, that when I first started watching the play I was thoroughly confused. Here was a tale with a plethora of characters, and only two actors on stage. After about ten minutes though, I had settled into this unusual performance and I was mesmerised by the performance of two very talented actors, Owen Sharpe (Jake) and Kevin Trainor (Charlie). They take on the role of all of the characters in the story, and rather than be reliant on costume changes (there is the odd change of waistcoat for jumper as their shift as an extra ends) they just switch accents, facial movements and body mannerisms for each character. Once you knew the mannerisms associated with each character, as a viewer you were able to switch and follow the storyline with them. This was certainly a masterclass in character acting and an amazing show to see. It was full of typical Irish banter, so despite the dark nature of the storyline is was a humorous play and a great night out.

Whilst the play was a joyful celebration of Irish life, local communities, and good friendships, there was also the poignant reminders that the extras on films (who really are important in creating the right feel for a film) can be treated as second class citizens to the stars of the show. They work long, anti-social hours with very little to do, and can sit around all day without being required to do anything. It might sound great, but on a cold damp day I’m sure it’s far from ideal. Often, they are not even entitled to the on-location catering, they will have their own set up, and written into their contracts the lines that it is forbidden to speak to the stars. All of this, and yet many extras have been hurt on set, some even paying the ultimate sacrifice, and for what? They don’t even have their names listed on the end credits.

And then there is Sean Harkin. A young man who only wanted to say hello and ended up being so humiliated that he committed suicide. I remember being about the age of Sean when some filming took place in Frodsham and all the actors were using my school as dressing rooms etc. I didn’t know who Uma Thurman, Patrik Bergin, David Morrisey or Edward Fox were at the time. I did recognise Owen Teale though, he was on a TV advert at the time for Coffee mate, so I said hello to him when the cast were taking a break in the local pub. Fortunately he was very gracious with his time and kindly gave me his autograph…a minute of his time, no humiliation for me and I was as pleased as Punch! Makes me think how just 60 seconds of Caroline Giovanni’s work-time, and a small gesture of kindness, could have made Sean Harkin’s story so different.

Stones in his Pockets is still on tour and can be seen at the following venues:

Mon, 13th May 2019 to Sat, 18th May 2019
  Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
Mon, 24th June 2019 to Sat, 29th June 2019
  Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Mon, 15th July 2019 to Sat, 20th July 2019
  Darlington Hippodrome (formerly Civic Theatre), Darlington
Mon, 22nd July 2019 to Sat, 27th July 2019
  Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Mon, 29th July 2019 to Sat, 3rd August 2019

  Theatre Royal, Brighton

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Rosmersholm - Duke of York's Theatre, London (Henrik Ibsen)

Edvard Munch – Love and Angst

Well it's been a very busy few days, but let’s face it, you don’t really care about days 1-3 of my little jaunt to London, you’re here to find out about Tom’s new play aren’t you?!

Theatre programme for Ibsen's Rosmersholm, 1893 by Edouard Vuillard
Well, first of all, there's a small, but interesting diversion, as Monday started with a trip to the British Museum to see the work of another Norwegian, the artist Edvard Munch.
When I cruised around Norway a few years ago, his most famous painting The Scream seemed to be everywhere. It has become a universal symbol for anxiety, and this collection of prints in a collection entitled “Love and Angst” showed Munch’s exploration of his personal experiences of death and suffering throughout his life. It seemed the perfect introduction to get into the mindset of the evening’s play, which was to be a Norwegian writer’s exploration of human suffering.

Munch found his native homeland restrictive to his liberal ideas. He moved throughout Europe, just like Ibsen, and in fact he developed a friendship with both the playwrights Ibsen and Strindberg, which gave him an interest in the theatre. Hypnosis and the power of suggestion was becoming increasingly looked into in the 1880’s this can be seen in another play that Tom Burke has been in, August Strindbergs Creditors, which again explored how easily a man can be manipulated by a woman. 

Whilst Munch fell out with Strindberg, he developed a particular interest in Ibsen’s plays, his dark art shocked society, and Ibsen’s plays which focused on dark subject matters such as immorality, adultery and hypocrisy made them an ideal working partnership when it came to stage set and theatre programme designs. 

Henrik Ibsen 1902
Following Ibsen’s death in 1906, the German director Max Reinhardt asked Munch to design the sets for Ghosts, one of Ibsen’s earlier plays. Munch felt a close bond with the character Osvald who had inherited syphilis from his profligate father. Having watched his sister die, and as a family dealing with grief, Munch was able to transfer his own feelings of tragedy onto Ibsen’s characters. When he met the elderly Ibsen in 1893, he was told “Believe me – you will have the same fate as I – the more enemies, the more friends.” And in the 21st century that is to be believed, both Ibsen and Munch still have a huge following, and in today’s confused and troubled times, they seem more popular than ever.

Rosmersholm – Henrik Ibsen - 1886

“I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.”

“I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him.”

I studied Rosmersholm back in the 90s and thought it was one of the most striking plays I had ever read. I have always been obsessed with horses, and I was fascinated by the idea of white horses being the ghosts of the house of Rosmersholm, whether they be the ghosts of past, present or future, that fear of seeing this mythical beast resonated with me. That sense of foreboding is nothing new, think of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (The white horse, the red horse, the black horse, the pale horse.)

These ghosts of foreboding are not just held in the Book of Revelation, think about the foamy, white breaking waves on rough seas…the White Horses. They can lay claim to a person, like the trolls of Norwegian folklore, which cling to vessels to steer them on a different path…as Rebecca West described herself in Ibsen’s original text, she was the lady from the sea (coincidentally the title of Ibsen’s next play.) I found this mixture of folklore and the acts of politics and the press controlling a person rather fascinating. Rosmersholm was Ibsen’s most pivotal play, it spoke to me on so many levels, yet it wasn’t a popular play to be performed on stage. You can probably imagine my delight at not only seeing the pages of this play finally brought to life on a West End stage, but the added bonus of Tom Burke cast as Rosmer was just beyond belief.

I have often wondered why this play has not been more popular, past performances have rarely been well received. I spoke to Tom after the show and asked him if his father had said anything about the 1973 performance at the Greenwich Theatre whereby Jeremy Brett (who was to be Sherlock Holmes to Tom's dad's Watson!) took on the role of John Rosmer. Tom said he'd have to ask his dad about that...he asked if it had Claire Bloom in it...I couldn't remember but having checked my old textbook (dear God how sad do I sound) Joan Plowright took the role of Rebecca West. (I know I’ll forget to tell Tom if I see him again, but someone can always enlighten him if they feel the need.) I suspect it was probably not something that ever came up in conversation between Brett and Burke Snr though…who would bother to talk about appearing in Rosmersholm?!

Now I mentioned earlier that this was a pivotal play in Ibsen’s career. Whilst politics and the state of the country remained a large theme of the play, Ibsen had started to concentrate on the effects that power and influence had over individuals rather than just political power. The Press were powerful in manipulating public thought and swaying their judgement about people; whether they disclosed the whole truth was another matter. Bearing in mind this play was written in 1886, if we look at today’s tabloids very little has changed…although I suspect the vile and immoral actions of our media has actually got worse. You only need to look at the recent headlines surrounding the Royal Family to see how much they try to sway public opinion, how they hound people and publicly shame them.

As a society we never seem to learn. We seem to have lost our independent voice, we allow ourselves to be manipulated by those in charge of us, and the media is in charge of us. It sways our thoughts; most of us being too bone idle to seek out the truth for ourselves. We only need to look at complaints about Brexit that have formulated over the last few years…people whining “we weren’t told this” “we never expected that” and you realise that all around you, folk have been far too content to lap up whatever tripe has been written in the Daily Mail and other equally odious publications to just go with the flow. Folk forget that the media has become the puppet master whilst both the public and politicians have become their play things.

Interestingly it has always been the character of Rebecca who has been described as the manipulator, her powers of persuasion encouraging the pastor to lose faith and change political ideals. What it is important to note is that Rebecca is not this grand femme fatale, she does not tell lies to gain what she wants, she merely deviates from the truth for a large part of Ibsen’s play! But what is noticeable in Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation is that Rebecca has a voice, she has strong beliefs and she is not going to be silenced, not by the church, the papers or the people around her. She is Ibsen’s great heroine, a free thinker who believes in herself, a woman with a voice who is prepared to use it to set other women free.

Photo via @RosmersholmPlay - Twitter
In understanding Rosmersholm, it is worth noting a brief chronology of Ibsen’s life. He was born in Norway in 1828. In 1850 he moved to Oslo and wrote his second play, The Warrior’s Barrow, moving a year later to Bergen to work at the newly created National Theatre. Following a series of dramatic failures in Bergen, Ibsen faced many years of poverty and lost confidence in his writing. In 1864 he finally found success with the historical tragedy The Pretenders and moved to live in Rome for 27 years. He moved to Germany in 1868 and returned briefly to Norway in 1874 but went back to Germany in 1875 and wrote the first of what is considered his twelve great dramas.

He resettled in Italy in 1880 paying a visit back to his homeland in 1885 before moving back to Munich in 1886 where he wrote Rosmersholm. The trip back to his homeland in 1885 caused him much anguish. He remarked how he had felt like a foreigner in his own home. There had been large scale political battles before his arrival, leaving what amounted to bitterness and fanaticism. He was affected by seeing people refusing to partake in rational discussions, preferring instead to throw close friendships aside in favour of keeping up their principles. People who had been close friends and allies were now bitter enemies such was their overwhelming difference of political opinion. And so back in Norway, the seeds of Rosmersholm were sown.

In a speech Ibsen delivered in Trondeim, Norway, he declared:

“There is still much to be done in this country before we can be said to have achieved full freedom. But our present democracy scarcely has the power to accomplish that task. An element of nobility must enter into our political life, our government, our members of parliament and our press. I am of course not thinking of nobility of wealth, of learning, or even of ability or talent. I am thinking of nobility of character, of mind and of will. That alone can make us free. And this nobility, which I hope may be granted to our people, will come to us from two sources, the only two sections of society which have not as yet been corrupted by party pressure. It will come to us from our women and our working men. “

The first draft of Ibsen’s play was entitled White Horses, in his notes he described the play thus:

He, the refined, aristocratic character, who has changed to a liberal viewpoint and has been ostracised by all his former friends and acquaintances. A widower: has been unhappily married to a half-mad melancholic, who ended by drowning herself.

She, the governess of his two daughters, emancipated, hot-blooded, somewhat ruthless beneath a refined exterior is regarded by their acquaintances as the evil spirit of the house; an object of suspicion and gossip.

Eldest daughter; is in danger of succumbing to inactivity and loneliness. She has rich talents which are lying unused.

Younger daughter; sharply observant; passions beginning to dawn.

The journalist; genius, tramp.

In June 1886, Ibsen scrapped his previous drafts, renamed his play Rosmersholm and wrote the version we essentially know and read today. He made some interesting changes, Rebecca arrived from the district of Finnmark, a place in the north of Norway renowned for its sea trolls and magic. Indeed, Rebecca refers to herself as a sea troll, but rather than clinging onto a boat and hindering its voyage, she clings to Rosmer, helping to sway his thoughts to such an extent that their potentially happy future is destroyed by the powerful events of their past lives.

Photo via @RosmersholmPlay - Twitter
This play relies so heavily on the principal actors playing Rosmer and Rebecca to succeed and in casting Hayley Atwell and Tom Burke as Rebecca and Rosmer this production hits the nail on the head. If the audience doesn’t believe that Rebecca is a truly passionate woman, or that Rosmer is not a passionate man, then the ending makes no sense whatsoever. We shouldn’t only focus on whether Rebecca is manipulative, or that Rosmer is indecisive of both his religious and political feelings, we need to focus on their human nature.

“Rebecca’s manner must on no account carry any hint of imperiousness or masculinity. She does not force Rosmer forward. She lures him. A controlled power, a quiet determination, are of the essence of her character.” “No declamation. No theatricalities. No grand mannerisms! Express every mood in a manner that will seem credible and natural…Observe the life that is going on around you, and present a real and living human being.” Henrik Ibsen

From the opening scene, we can already see the fresh approach that Duncan Macmillan has applied to this play. Rebecca throws open the windows of this dark, brooding mansion to let light back into a house that has been shrouded in despair and misery. This is not the Rebecca of the book, sitting quietly crocheting in her chair until the master arrives home, this is a masterly Rebecca, and one which I believe Ibsen would be proud of.

Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation feels like he’s taken Ibsen and sprinkled him in fairy dust!

Thankfully I am not a devout purist when it comes to plays, I’m too open-minded for that! I’ve seen re-imaginings of Shakespeare and Chekhov that have been far better than the originals. I don’t want to sit in a theatre with a scholastic head on…I can sit and pull it apart later if I feel I need to. I like my plays to speak to me, I want to be enthralled, I want to be there sharing the feelings of the audience and the actors on stage. This production does that; it far usurps the play text I read all those years ago.

Duncan Macmillan has taken Ibsen and sprinkled it in fairy dust to come up with a far more energised and enthralling play. The characters talk over each other as in real life, and due to the artistry of the set and lighting, it felt like I was watching Ibsen, just so much better! Rebecca is not the lady of the house, she is not married or intimate with Rosmer, yet she feels comfortable enough to command that the dining hall should be used once more. The shutters should come down, the covers from the paintings removed…life should be restored to this once grand house. This is a woman of substance, a woman of independent mind who is not scared to use her voice, or her power of influence. Back in Ibsen’s time this would be frowned upon, but these clever tweaks to the text have made this play, written in 1886 seem so fresh and part of the 21st century.

Photo via @RosmersholmPlay - Twitter
Rebecca is a complex character and Hayley Atwell personifies her beautifully, it was as if the role had been written for her! Her impassioned speech at the end both shows she realised the importance of Ulrik Brendel, and how she hadn’t wanted to manipulate Rosmer, but wanted to awaken his own thoughts and ideas and give them life.

Tom Burke, who played Athos in BBC’s The Musketeers, another character famous for losing his faith, who “smiles but never laughs” and a man conflicted by his feelings over a woman, was the perfect casting for John Rosmer, a former pastor who has lost his faith, living in a house devoid of all emotion, with conflicted feelings for a woman! I’m not wishing to typecast him, but he is incredibly adept at getting into the soul of a damaged person and bringing it forth to his audience. He presents a real, living human being to the stage, one wracked with confusion and doubt, who can sympathise with the world at large, yet not sure how he can help it.

Children never cry at Rosmersholm yet when they grow up they never laugh. It’s like a plague stretching throughout the community.  

Photo via @RosmersholmPlay - Twitter
My heart broke for Rosmer towards the end of the play as Tom stood and plaintively cried “I want my God back.” “I have nothing. You’ve taken everything from me.” He had not only lost his identity but his faith in everything, and how can you live without faith in something, whether that be religion, politics, society or general human nature…you need to put your faith in something, if not chaos and despair surrounds you.

Within the play, there is an election looming and the country is on the brink. This play could not come at a more appropriate time! Divisions over Brexit, divisions within political parties, divisions within families over whether they are “in” or “out” we as a nation are asking the same questions now as Ibsen was asking in 1886! In some respects, it’s demoralising that we still don’t have the answers, but it’s interesting that we are still trying to find a way through the maze of complicated questions to secure our futures.

Krull has not seen his brother-in-law for a year, and he now arrives at the grand house, a house full of heritage, where the portraits of the dead and influential hang from the walls, and he finds the master of the house having a crisis of confidence, of his faith, his politics, his ideological view on everything; he is a different person completely to the man Krull knew as the husband of his late sister. Krull wants to bring him back to his senses and away from the sweeping radical nature of the country and back to his heritage and the family name.    

Photo via @RosmersholmPlay - Twitter
I can’t say I thought much of Professor Kroll in the text I read. He seemed rather bullish and I didn’t warm to him at all, however, Giles Terera has given this character a complete overhaul. Kroll is now a powerful figure full of morals who is openly struggling to comprehend the changing political climate. His wife and children oppose him, and now it seems his friend and brother-in-law Rosmer is feeling the same as them. You can see the intensity of his struggle to reconcile his friendship with Rosmer, something I felt that Ibsen didn’t quite manage to capture in his text.

“Live quietly and die with secrets” Krull

It seems a difficult thing to comprehend in modern society, when people for whatever reason feel the need to impart every moment of their lives on social media. “I’ve had a yoghurt for breakfast,” “I’m in MacDonald’s,” “I’ve just been to the toilet!” Hmmm, yeah that’s probably one Tweet too many!!

I think as each day passes, I’m more inclined to follow Kroll’s approach to life. Yes, I know I’m on social media, I write this blog because I like to share experiences of theatre visits, good books, the best tea to drink…I like sharing stuff that I think will be of interest to people, but there are plenty of things I will take to my grave which I deem to be my business and no-one else’s. I think that is something a lot of generations need to start considering whilst living in this greenhouse of a world…a world where everyone aspires to be a celebrity, rather than being content with just being themselves. These days we have far more platforms to allow our voices to be heard than in Rebecca West’s day…we should use these opportunities for the common good, use our voices for those who do not have a voice or cannot be heard…and for the rest of the time, take Krull’s advice!

This is an unmissable production. I want to watch it night after night…

I absolutely loved watching this play, so much so I want to watch it night after night, however, if I was able to do that, I feel the play would lose its magic. Every twist and turn would become expected. Every nuanced reply would become just another line; and that would be such a disservice to the characters and the actors bringing them to life. And the ending?! Well the magic and drama of the ending would just be washed away if you watched it time and time again...and as it was so shocking and atmospheric and such a talking point afterwards, you would never be able to replicate that feeling.

That said, if I give it a few weeks, I’m sure I could happily enjoy a second helping!!

Despite its serious themes, this is a joyful play filled with subtle humour and warmth. It has a very strong cast who illuminate their characters and the play has been adapted with such care and compassion to Ibsen’s original text that it is a shame the play is limited viewing to only those who can make it to London. There is nothing like the feeling of live theatre, but when I see some of the plays that NT Live have screened, I think it is a lost opportunity not screening this one…unless of course there is the opportunity to take in on tour overseas for the non-UK based fans!

I don't normally give out star ratings as I see myself as a keen theatre goer rather than formal reviewer...but on this occassion Rosmersholm has to be given ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(with just maybe an extra ⭐️ or 2 for Tom! 😉)

Rosmersholm runs at The Duke of York's Theatre, London, 24th April to 20th July 2019.