I’m still a week behind my normal posting schedule, after my week’s holiday in the Lake District, so apologies for that, but everything will be back to normal from next week! I didn’t manage to see very much theatre in March 2017, which is a shame, because there were lots are marvellous things I didn’t make it to, in Cambridge and beyond. I did, however, go see two plays: Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on 15 March, and How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying at the ADC Theatre on 18 March.
Escaped Alone, Caryl Churchill
If you’re a regular reader, or you know me in real life, you’re probably aware that I’m writing a dissertation about Caryl Churchill, and I’d originally booked to see this because I was considering including Escaped Alone in my analysis. By the time I went to see it, that was no longer the case, so I watched it purely for enjoyment. And enjoy it I did, despite it being, in true Churchill style, a bit weird. The couple sat beside me, and the group sat behind me clearly didn’t enjoy the structure (bitty and fractured) and hadn’t quite worked out that “indoor voices” (ie. speaking not shouting) can still be heard in an otherwise silent theatre, and if you do need to decide whether you want to leave a fifty minute show before the end (spoiler: they didn’t) you need to discuss that really quietly so as not to be heard.
Escaped Alone is a play written by Churchill very recently, which was first performed at the Royal Court in 2016, went to New York, and is now touring the UK. The play flicks between scenes of four women sat in a garden discussing their children, grandchildren, and lives (in shallow and deep ways), and monologues about horrors in the world, described in a surreal and dystopic way. The tra
It is only fifty minutes long, but it was followed by a Q&A session with the cast, discussing the possible meanings of the play, the rehearsal process, and their experience with Churchill.
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying
I saw How to Succeed with mixed expectations… I discovered the musical on Broadway six years ago, with Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role of J. Pierpont Finch (I admit, we went to see it because we’d heard of him, rather than the show) and it was phenomenal. It’s a parody of 1960s business culture, and it’s hilarious. So, in that sense I had high expectations: I’d seen it done just about as well as it could be… But. The reviews for the Cambridge version had been very mixed, with some finding the production not clear enough in its tongue-in-cheek nature, and therefore enormously sexist. I’d also noticed that many members of the cast – including the student playing J. Pierpont Finch – had never been in a large scale musical. Those, in combination, left me a little bit worried…
I didn’t need to worry. The cast were very strong, particularly the men (leads and chorus). Toby Waterworth was fantastic as J. Pierpont Finch: he carried the show wonderfully, and I hope to see more of him on stage! Joe Pieri as Bud Frump was hilarious, as was Stanley Thomas as his uncle JB Bigley. Robert Nicholas was probably the strongest male supporting role (quite an accolade, given the competition) as Twimble/Womper. The women, on the whole, weren’t quite as good as the men, which may have contributed to the reviews which thought the production was sexist: the chorus were good singers, but poorer dancers, and Rachel-Marie Weiss as Rosemary was sweet but less tongue-in-cheek than she could have been. Heather Conder, playing Smitty, was wonderful: witty, and a great singer and dancer.
The set was impressive, as were the costumes, and on the whole the production elements were good. The opening recording of the book went wrong, and there were a couple of slightly late mic balance adjustments, which was a shame (particularly half way through the run), but on the whole it was a fantastic show and I came out of the theatre feeling very happy.
That’s all for this week. Thank you as always for reading: please like the post if you enjoyed it, leave a comment if you saw anything particularly good last month – I’d love to hear about it, and follow the blog if you haven’t already. I’ll be back on Friday next week with a post telling you about my favourite plays by female playwrights!