Note from London
Here in London the last couple of weeks -- a time for much celebration. The last winner of my Award, "Key Change," was invited to play in Parliament. There were several members of the House of Lords who spoke after the highly charged performance, about the subject of prison reform. Two ex-inmates spoke about the importance of the company coming into the prison and working with them. The writer, Catrina McHugh, was also on BBC's Women's Hour, talking about the play's journey from Edinburgh to New York and now in London and being seen by members of Parliament. Maybe theatre can really help change the world!
Ella Hickson was our 2008 Award winner. Her talent has grown to epic proportions, as evidenced in "Oil," now on at The Almeida. She has recreated periods in history: beforeoil was available, on a gorgeously candlelit stage -- all the way to the future, when oil has run out. A fraught mother/daughter relationship continues throughout, giving an emotional center to the piece, enhanced by wonderful acting -- here's the rave Guardian review.
Al Smith, twice shortlisted for the Award, had "Harrogate" on at the Royal Court. It is truly harrowing, reminding me of both "Blackbird" (David Harrower) and Neil Labute's best. It's a disturbing, thoroughly misogynistic piece -- which continues to haunt. Now embarking on a U.K. tour -- I'll let you know if it transfers to New York.
"Life According to Saki," the most recent Award winner, is in rehearsals for its New York debut. You will not want to miss it, at the 4th Street Theatre, February 7 - March 4th, especially after reading this Edinburgh review.
A brief report on these as well, listed in no particular order:
"The Entertainer" by John Osborne, with the marvelous Kenneth Branagh, as a has been vaudevillian. After he said Lawrence Olivier was his inspiration, I'll surely see the film again.
"The Dresser" by Ronald Harwood, is having a terrific revival with all its emotion intact. Again, hard to forget the memory of the first time I saw it -- with Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay in the film version.
"The Red Barn,"a new play by David Hare, is adapted from a George Simenon novel. It's visually stunning, but has largely wasted the talent of Mark Strong (A View from the Bridge), Hope Davis, and Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager). This Guardian review sums up my feelings, exactly.
"A Man of Good Hope" is a South African, ear filling opera/play now at Young Vic. It's receiving standing ovations and rapturous reviews although I felt I was occasionally being taught, rather than entertained.
"Blue Heart" by Caryl Churchill is well worth a trip to Richmond! I hope this exciting, revived double bill will come to New York, where I expect it would be as well received as here.
"The Nest" is a 1970s German play, translated by Conor McPherson -- which feels very current. I hope this production, directed by Ian Rickson, will come to New York, where it would be so timely -- as you can tell from this Belfast review.
"Amadeus," by Peter Schaffer, is back. The National has put on a really big show, with a cast of thirty, an orchestra of twenty -- Broadway-ready! All those who love great spectacle, along with great theatre, will be pleased. It will be a National Theatre Live production early next year, for those of you not coming to London.
I've missed so much on the New York stage -- please send me info on plays I must try to see when back. Thanks.
Home soon and hope to see you at the theatre!