"Master Harold"... and the boys: (seen at the afternoon performance
on 26th October 2019): Tremors build to an earthquake, and there is far more
going on behind the dialogue than in spoken words. An autobiographical play,
according to the programme, it's an even harder watch now than on its debut in
A sign of how things change is that the monkey actually needed the explanation
of an exceptionally racist pun. Once received, it was in total shock as its mind
just never even considered or saw the "joke" - and that's coming from someone
with a lifelong interest in comedy and a firm grounding in the "pre-alternative"
era where such material was commonplace.
Of the play itself, it's deceptively simple. We are always aware of the shaky
ground and inequalities of power. More than that, the absolute entitlement of
Hally (Anson Boon) sits steaming before restrained Sam (Lucian Msamati) and
co-worker Willie (Hammed Animashaun).
Msamati's character has the intelligence to know what is happening and attempt
to cover and deflect. One of the finest performances the monkey has seen this
year, a simple line as to why he couldn't sit on a bench struck like a bowling
ball against all ten pins. Animashaun brings directness to his own work, cutting
through analysis with a rawness underlined by his character's domestic story.
Boon is a teenager without judgement, acting as white South Africa did, simply
carrying on tradition. Ignoring warnings and signs, Fugard's self-castigation is
clear and his apology and dissection of what went wrong even clearer.
Director Roy Alexander Weise keeps it simple, allowing each person to speak but
never preach, for words to fall and land and settle and for an ending almost
heartbreaking in simplicity - Shelley Maxwell deserving a note for movement and
choreography here. Fine work too from Rajha Shakiry with a set that impresses
with period accuracy and costume fabrics matching the mood of the piece.
A deep and thoughtful revival of an astounding insight into a very different and
Hansard: (Seen at the afternoon performance on 12th October 2019): This
Cotswolds husband and wife have developed a metaphorical circus act. They take
it in turns to throw knives at each other - and more than a few hit their
intended target... and turn out to be rubber. Simon Woods scripts to lacerate
without evisceration, intentionally or not. Oddly, that adds considerably to the
interest of this play. It's sparring, not mortal combat - but there's always the
intensity that it could spill over.
Simon Goodwin keeps the pace exceptionally steady, aided no doubt be the
experience of Lindsay Duncan as Diane and Alex Jennings as Robin. The pair are
measured even mid-squall, battles raging as one or other moves to another room
to retrieve an item or change clothes. Destruction of property doesn't de-rail,
and the resulting tension is firm enough to support the audience and concept
Acting honours are equal. She is emotionally neglected yet perhaps not as
martyred as it appears. He is a product of his upper class upbringing yet is
allowed greater breadth of emotion than many other writers and directors
currently do. That's a refreshing change, as is the right-leaning politics and
unreconstructed robust treatment of the 1980s in which the play is set.
This play says rather more about the link between past and present than first
appears. Nowhere near as simple as the premise, but perhaps in its restricted
length lacking time to answer fully some of the questions raised, it is still a
hugely satisfying piece on all fronts - idea, script, direction and
Three Sisters: Not available.
The Welkin: Not available.
The Seven Streams of the River Ota: Not available.