Posts with the label Rufus Norris
Showing posts with label Rufus Norris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rufus Norris. Show all posts

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Macbeth, National Theatre | Review

Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 6th March 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I've seen and studied a fair few Shakespeare plays but I wouldn't say I'm an expert in any form. I do however, know what I like when going to the theatre and recognise brilliant acting when I see it. The National Theatre's current production of Macbeth does have brilliant acting but overall it just didn't do it for me.

Walking into the wonderful Olivier theatre we are greeted with an almost bare stage, there are four poles with ragged, witchy fabric attached to the top; in the centre there is a sloped wooden platform decorated with severed limbs from plastic baby toys. Rae Smith's minimalistic set works well with the sparse life of the characters within the show; with them all (including Duncan and Macbeth) looking as though they're on the poverty line in muddy, battered clothes.

Rory Kinnear is thoughtful and suitably plagued as Macbeth; his small comedic moments are particularly enjoyable and he proves why he's such an esteemed actor.  

The choice to make Alana Ramsey's Murderer a fishnet tights-clad alcoholic is a great one and she works very well to show the extents which people will go to when they feel they have nothing, just to get their fix or some quick cash.

Trevor Fox's alcoholic Porter is like a ghost moving around, silently hearing all the secrets he shouldn't know. It's refreshing to see him as a more serious, important character rather than mainly being onstage for comedic relief. This darker side emphasises him as the metaphor for the gates of hell, something which I feel is often missed in productions of Macbeth.

It's Anne-Marie Duff who steals the show as Lady Macbeth. Every movement is clearly well thought out and her transition from the headstrong wife who lacks humanity to the crumbling woman plagued by ghosts is striking. 

I didn't find anything specifically wrong with this production, I just didn't really feel, well, anything. It's not scary, it's not particularly gory, it's not emotional and it's not funny, it's just a bit uninspiring. There are elements which have brought Shakespeare's play into the modern world but the emotions didn't translate for a modern audience... at least for me.

If you're a Shakespeare fan then there's no reason why you shouldn't go and judge Rufus Norris' Macbeth for yourself but if not then I wouldn't rush along, as I don't think this is the production to make you a fan.

Macbeth runs at the National Theatre until June 23rd and will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on May 10th as part of NT Live.

photo credit: Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Macbeth, National Theatre | Review

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Cabaret (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Cabaret (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse 
Reviewed on Tuesday 14th November 2017 by Liv Ancell

With the two headliners of this show – Will Young and Louise Redknapp - being bona-fide British primetime celebrities and regular tabloid fodder, its no wonder that Edinburgh turned out in force to see Cabaret, director Rufus Norris’ latest show.

While Louise and Will may have been the initial draw for some, they will have no doubt left the theatre feeling utterly bowled over by the timeless storyline, endearing characters, and unbeatable music of Cabaret.

What a test of stamina this show is for all involved! The frantically pulsating and contorting cast whirl around the stage at an alarming rate. The choreography was a level above anything else I’ve seen in recent times – the cast members pulled off gruelling moves which were positively acrobatic and perfectly timed.

Belting out Cabaret’s signature songs must be a challenging task; this musical feat was made even more impressive while simultaneously cartwheeling, gyrating, prancing and frolicking. Such sophisticated choreography from Javier du Frutos – especially in Wilkommen and The Money Song – really reinforced this show’s status as world-class.

Louise Redknapp gave everything to this performance, and the volumes to her voice will be sure to silence anybody who may have been skeptical about whether her popstar voice would survive a stage performance. From charming to sultry, to showgirl and seductive, her singing was a complete triumph. Charles Hagerty played Clifford Bradshaw wonderfully; embodying the morally righteous and somewhat naïve American author. His acting was second to none and he subtly conveyed an impressive range of emotions on stage.

This being said, Will Young is just in a class of his own. He wears the garb of the inimitable Emcee with utter brilliance. With incredible expression and by masterful voice control, Will gave the ultimate portrayal of the quirky and coquettish clown of the Berlin cabaret scene. His Emcee was equal parts playful and dark, and his German accent and sing-song voice was perfectly measured.

The raciness and nudity in the show was perfectly balanced by a more despairing and serious storyline. Nazi undercurrents perfectly underpinned the storyline, with the rising prejudice of the time tastefully portrayed and immortalised in this production. The ever endearing Herr Shultz – our patient and adorable Jewish man – was a stand-out character, and Linal Haft gave a commendable performance in this crucial role. His companion, Fraulein Kost (Basienka Blake) was equally commanding, and she too gave a convincing performance, not breaking her accent even during song.

The final scene – which I won’t give away – was sad and beautiful. The high tempo energy of Cabaret couldn’t keep going forever, and it left viewers with a lesson in history to remember. This show is incredible; it will invoke all sorts of emotions, including wonder, amazement and awe. I’d highly recommend going along if it comes to a theatre near you next; it’s absolutely unmissable!

Cabaret is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until November 18th before continuing its tour.

Photo credit: Pamela Raith

Cabaret (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Thursday 28 September 2017

Jane Eyre, National Theatre | Review

Jane Eyre
Lyttleton Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 27th September 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

The National Theatre are outstanding at championing new, innovative work and thinking outside the box to bring audiences spectacular shows, something which they have once again succeeded at with this Sally Cookson's production of Jane Eyre. In Bristol, the tale was split into two parts but artistic director Rufus Norris has wisely squeezed the action into one performance.

I'm sure I'm not alone in having gruelling flashbacks to A-level English literature when I hear Brontë's novel mentioned, and what's lovely about this adaptation, thanks to the minimal sets, is that it allows the audience to create the world of Jane Eyre with their imagination as they would do when reading the book. The set is extremely modernistic in it's simplistic design with no grand structures to show the various momentous locations in Jane's life but instead using wooden platforms, metal structures and ladders as a framework for the action. The use of lighting is particularly impressive with white cloth backdrop that surrounds the stage being changed to different colours to show the various moods. The shocking red room is especially effective.

What struck me about this production is not only how modern it is in terms of aesthetics but how contemporary the character of Jane herself is. She's feisty with strong morals and a real feminist side. Although having seen her as ahead of her time when I read the novel, I'd never realised how truly relatable she is until watching this production. Her quest for freedom whilst not compromising her passions is joyous to watch.

The strong use of physical theatre added an intensity to the piece, as well as flow, especially in the running transitions during Jane's travels. The varying motion from smooth lyrical to frenzied, perfectly mirrored the changes in Jane's physical and metal health throughout. Another particularly interesting aspect was members of the ensemble speaking Jane's thought's aloud. This was humourous at times but also a very clever way of developing the character more without her having to tell the audience anything directly.

The trio of onstage musicians added a whole other layer with a number of musical styles accompanying crucial moments and transitions. Melanie Marshall was absolutely fantastic both physically and vocally; singing atmospheric pieces to fit with other characters or her own, Bertha. Her voice is strong and angelic whilst having a menacing and painful side. Her rendition of Crazy was notably unexpected but brilliant and perfectly woven into the story.

As Jane, Nadia Clifford exceptionally plays the fiery 10 year old girl who transitions into a headstrong but more rational woman. Clifford perfectly shows Jane's unyielding side but also her pain and love for Rochester. Tim Delap is suitably brooding as Rochester but adds a depth and awkwardness which makes him charming and attractive.

The entire ensemble are faultless but I must give a special mention firstly, to Paul Mundell who is hilarious as Pilot, adding some welcome humour. And secondly to Hannah Bristow who perfectly and distinctly plays Adele, Helen, Grace Poole and others.

This is a somewhat lengthy (3 hours and 15 minutes) play, but a striking production of a classic. The start is slightly slow but as we get into the action the momentum speeds up and we really get to see is the power of one of the first literary modern women.

Jane Eyre, National Theatre | Review

Thursday 28 September 2017

Saturday 23 September 2017

Cabaret (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Cabaret (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Friday September 22nd 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

After Germany's defeat in World War 1, the treaty of Versaille was set out to totally humiliate the nation; inflation rocketed and the economy flew into a downward spiral. This was eventually stabilised but people had seen themselves and those around them lose everything so the idea of 'seizing the day' was adopted and Berlin became a heaving Bohemian world where you lived to enjoy the here and now. This is when we are thrown into the world of Cabaret. It's 1930 New Years Eve, a young American writer, Clifford Bradshaw has just arrived in Berlin and is ready to see what the city has to offer.

The show is a full on combination of things with dance, drink and drugs taking the lead as people relished in the decadent, censorship free lifestyle. The set by Katrina Lindsay manages to be bright and dark at the same time. There are moments of intense glitz and glam with flashing lights and moving sets but also moments of dim, dark spaces which imply what's to come as the golden age passes. The rise of fascism is extremely prevalent in Rufus Norris' production especially during the chilling final scene of act 1 when the Emcee turns into a puppet master, holding overgrown children at the end of strings as he sings the Aryan folk song Tomorrow Belongs To Me.

As the Emcee, Will Young is outstanding, suitably wacky but all-knowing at once. His comedic timing is wonderful as he soars through the notes with a sinister hint always shining through. Young is certainly the star of this show and it's clear why he was asked back to be part of the tour and his balloon clad rendition of Money was the stand out performance of the production for me. 

Louise Redknapp takes on the iconic role of Sally Bowles, the British showgirl who has lost her way. Unfortunately Redknapp's performance fell flat at times; instead of showing a crumbling, emotional girl she was decadent, bold and showed very minimal signs of her struggle. At times her voice was strong but fell flat on her big number, Maybe This Time. Sally Bowles was originally written to be a somewhat second rate performer which is why she has previously been cast as an actress who can sing and opposed to a singer who can act however, Louise kind of fell in between the two and I felt a little underwhelmed. 

Charles Hagerty is strong as Clifford, developing his various relationships well. His voice is incredibly strong and his performance of Why Should I Wake Up? is a stand out moment. A large part of the action has to do with Clifford's landlady Fräulein Schneider (Susan Penhaligon) and her relationship with the local Jewish fruit seller (Linal Schultz) as their normal lives begin to be put in jeopardy. The pair are great together and their affection for one another is very sweet to see.

This show is worth seeing for Young's performance and for the bold imaginative design and choreography but it needs more oomph overall.

Cabaret (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Saturday 23 September 2017