Ends 26th January 2019
Runs 2 hours 30 minutes approximately.
Captioned performances: 13th December 2018 at 7.30pm, 27th December 2018 at 2pm,
23rd January 2019 at 7.30pm.
Audio described performances: 5th January 2019 at 2pm (touch tour available),
7th January 2019 at 7.30pm.
Previews from 14th February, opens 19th February 2019.
Captioned performances: 18th March 2019 at 7.30pm, 26th March 2019 at 2pm, 1st
April 2019 at 7.30pm, 6th April 2019 at 2pm.
Audio described performances: 22nd March 2019 at 7.30pm, 23rd March 2019 at
2pm (touch tour available).
ANTONY & CLEOPATRA (play)
Ends 19th January 2019.
Runs 3 hours 30 minutes approximately.
Hadestown: As winter comes, Orpheus and Eurydice can't
live on music alone. Eurydice is drawn to Hadestown, can Orpheus save her? Anais
Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin's musical is directed by Chavkin in this
Follies: Tomorrow, the Weismann Theatre will be demolished... tonight,
those "Beautiful Girls" reminisce... The Sondheim classic is revived at the
National, following a successful run in 2017. Dominic Cooke directs.
& Cleopatra: He's the guy who survived Caesar to run Rome. She's the gal
with the cute asp. Roman General meets Egyptian Queen in this Bill The Quill
Hadestown: (Seen at the afternoon performance on 17th November 2018).
For the monkey, the clue was in the title. Worse, the programme does a
considerably better job of story-telling than the actual production. All bar the
ending is summarised in a neat paragraph or two, as are the important points of
character back-story that the musical utterly fails to get across at any point.
And they stretch it out over a mind-numbing two hours ten.
messy accident with a rhyming dictionary and possibly
English-as-a-second-language software produces a lyric that never fails to sink
to the occasion. Add a squeeze of Political Correctness the one time it almost
does, but allowing a twist for passable tune "Way Down Hadestown," it is
impossible to relax even when things get promising in solo "Flowers" as another
trite line plummets off an actor's tongue.
Saviours are some decent
performances. Eva Noblezada (Eurydice) changes the monkey's mind about her as a
musical theatre actor - she deserves better and makes the most she can of what
she was given. Reeve Carney (Orpheus) is inoffensive as her lover, doing what he
can with limited music and a guitar. Amber Gray (Persephone) is either one funky
dancer or should switch from nylon to cotton costumes as she struts her stuff.
Patrick Page (Hades) and Andre De Shields (Hermes) at the times when they are
audible are reasonably watchable too. And a note for workers and fates,
supernumeries all, who at least fill the stage and move with co-ordination on
Rachel Hauck is at the top of her game with the set, as is Bradley King
on lighting, and the whole has the usual National Theatre feel. In the
subsidised theatre, a chance like this can be taken, but the show is
Broadway-bound and the monkey wonders at its chances in the far harsher
atmosphere. Decent performances, weak book, weaker lyrics is its conclusion.
Follies: (from the previous run, seen at the afternoon performance on 23rd
September 2017. Some actors have now left the cast). The latest incarnation
of many has arrived at the National Theatre, London. Dominic Cooke uses the full
resources of the National to present something remarkable. Played without an
interval, if it weren't for the structure of the show itself, probably nobody
would notice the passage of time - appropriate, as that is the key theme.
In a partly demolished theatre (perfectly realised by Vicki Mortimer) former
showgirls, their husbands and impresarios meet for a final time. Hauntingly
beautiful, their younger spirits shadow them, as lives are played and re-played
like the spectaculars in which all once participated.
The first two-thirds of the production could have been called "Ghosts" for the
construct, but the monkey preferred "triste" (Latin for "Sadness"). It's a
feeling that lifts as the evening progresses and re-connection is made with the
energies of youth. The final third, the tricky "Loveland" in which the muddled
emotions of the four leads are explored in four individual songs thus makes an
odd contrast - and is the singularity never really solved for the monkey.
Fortunately, the performances overcome all.
Imelda Staunton (Sally) re-claims "Losing My Mind" from cabaret, an internal
monologue sung with breathtaking control and punctilious phrasing. It's just one
of several other "standards," returning to their rightful home. Tracie Bennett
(Carlotta) gives "I'm Still Here" unique animation, Philip Quast (Ben) hold the
audience enthralled with "The Road You Didn't Take," Janie Dee's (Phyllis) late
"The Story of Lucy and Jessie" is pure emotional energy, and ensemble numbers
"Beautiful Girls" and "Loveland" are particularly impressive.
Notes too for the shadows - Adam Rhys-Charles (Young Ben) and Fred Haig (Young
Buddy) forming the principal male team, beautifully over-confident in their
naivety, with Zizi Strallen (Young Phyllis) and Alex Young (Young Sally) as
sisters in spirit (Ms Young, unusually managing without actual spirits, too).
The pairing bring out the most in each other, two rising musical theatre
performers a joy to watch.
A huge supporting cast, too numerous to mention* but every one of them
contributing unique movement, costume and background shadow (note in particular
the period showgirl costumes worn by youngsters, appropriate to each senior
character) and impressive orchestra under Nigel Lilley give the finishing
touches; as do the rare operatic vocals - performed, as with many numbers in the
show - in an almost spooky spotlight glare.
This version doesn't solve many issues the show may have in construction, pace
and resolution, but this deeply moving 5 star production uses the emotion that
is the personal passage of time in each one of us to weave a tale of age that
will live as vividly as youth in the memory.
If you can get a ticket, go see.
*Also impossible, as the programme has ditched decent photographs of each person
for "ensemble" shots too blurry to match with.
& Cleopatra: Not yet available.