sat 24/08/2019

Theatre Features

Why everyone should see The Mysteries from Cape Town

Jasper Rees

One night in Cape Town, I was caught in a power cut. Like an untenanted theatre, the city went utterly dark, darker than perhaps it had been since settlers first arrived three centuries earlier. Street lamps, restaurants, car showrooms, offices were all plunged into Stygian gloom.

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First Person: The Meaning of Mermaids

Polly Teale

As a child I was bewitched by the tale of The Little Mermaid. I had it on a record and would play it and sit and sob on the settee, much to the bewilderment of my brothers. It wasn’t until years later that I found myself wondering what it was about this dark coming of age story, about a mermaid who had her tongue cut out, that spoke to me so powerfully.

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'I'm the photographer. Any nudity? Any fighting?'

Bill Knight

We are sitting in the lobby of the National Theatre in the early afternoon waiting for the photocall for Dara to begin. Six or seven photographers, one woman, all dressed in jeans and dark jackets with large camera bags, some on wheels. There is not much conversation. As a relative newcomer I don't normally speak, but on this occasion I venture a remark.

“I have seen this play.”

After a pause one of the company says, “You're keen.”

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theartsdesk in Moscow: A Bewitching Eugene Onegin

Fisun Güner

As Shakespeare is to these native isles, so Pushkin is to Russia. And Eugene Onegin, Alexander Puskin’s enduring verse novel first published in serial form in 1825, is the most honoured and beloved of all Russian classics. Outside Russia, the story is, of course, most familiar to us through Tchaikovsky’s great opera. We also have John Cranko’s 1965 ballet, set to other music by Tchaikovsky, a production of which is currently selling out at the Royal Opera House.

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First Person: Finding Oppenheimer

Tom Morton-Smith

That the truth will always be so much bigger than we can comprehend is something I had to accept as I started to write Oppenheimer. There are so many sources, so much information, so many hundreds of books, declassified files, interviews and history. One biography of the man took its authors 25 years to write. And there are still the hidden thoughts that were never written down, conversations long forgotten by people now long dead.

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First Person: Doing The Walworth Farce

Sean Foley

The (pronoun) Walworth (area in South London, near the Elephant and Castle) Farce (a comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and improbable: often incomprehensible plot-wise, they are also characterised by physical comedy, the use of deliberate absurdity, and stylised performances).

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theartsdesk in Oslo: Two Peer Gynts and a Hamlet

David Nice

Not so much a national hero, more a national disgrace. That seems to be the current consensus on Peer Gynt as Norway moves forward from having canonized the wild-card wanderer of Ibsen's early epic. It’s now 200 years since Norway gained a constitution, and 114 since Peer first shone in the country's National Theatre, that elegant emblem of the Norwegian language.

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First Person: The lure of the lost play

Tom Littler

About a year ago, Alan Brodie, who is the agent for the estate of Terence Rattigan, sent me a handful of his more obscure plays. I had worked with Alan before on a revival of Graham Greene’s first play, The Living Room, so he knew I had a penchant for what are now termed "rediscoveries".

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theartsdesk in Limerick: A Royal Visit From Grandma

Veronica Lee

The traffic warning signs into Limerick City from Shannon Airport told their own story: first “Giant saga in progress”, then “City of Culture giant event”, followed by “Giant’s diversion”. Had Finn McCool made a return visit and started reciting ancient tales? No, but French street theatre company Royal de Luxe had come to town and Grandmother was walking the streets.

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Lauren Bacall: 'Just put your lips together and blow'

Matt Wolf

Lauren Bacall, who has died at the age of 89, was an iconic figure on screen. She spoke one of the immortal lines in film history when all but exhaling the remark, “You just put your lips together and blow” in Howard Hawks’s To Have and Have Not. But away from the screen and from such husbands as Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards, Bacall shone just as brightly on stage, a medium that made plain a quality hinted at by her work in movies.

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