Thursday, 17 December 2009

Inherit The Wind Review

Inherit The Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee
The Old Vic, London SE1

Heresy and Headlines

The trusty jalopy had to tractor along to Waterloo,  if only to see Kevin Spacey act on stage.  Such a celebrity reason was bound to be ambushed – luckily in the best possible way. TLT’s fuzzy historical perception was of a white-haired, short-waisted Spencer Tracey (in this case KS) verbally assailing a court, waving Darwin's Evolution of the Species. But the play turns out to be much more than that,  a gripping  ensemble tragedy, even if apparently noone's life, only a school curriculum, is at stake.  Hard to judge KS’s performance, through no fault of his own. Simply he's known as a brown-haired public personality and much younger than his white locks in this production. Still TLT thought, whether it’s celebrity pre-destination or not, he was fine. But that, to paraphrase a line in the play, is not the point. This communal drama puts everything on the scales and pays the dividends.  Honest voices rising above the mob are the schoolboy who declares he has to think things [pause] over before anyone tries to steamroller him into accusing his schoolteacher of heresy. And  the local merchant who says opinions are bad for business (though later breaks his own rule). Yet who are the lost souls of the play? Not the townsfolk, enveloped in charismatic religion,  nor the beleagured schoolteacher and his daughter-of-the-local-preacher girlfriend, nor the chequebook journalist. Rather it's the two lawyers (KS the defence and the prosecution cum politician played magnificently by David Troughton) left to duel in a fee-driven political limbo like two warring heads on the same body, fulfillling the biblical injunction of inheriting the wind. Definitely a green light.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Molière or The League of Hypocrites Review

Molière or The League of Hypocrites by Mikhail Bulgakov
Finborough Theatre, London SW10

Periwig and Sickle

Back to the Finborough to see an interesting take on the machinations of artistic life under Soviet rule through the prism of seventeenth century playwright Molière and the machinations of Louis XIV's French court. Lively direction and performances by all concerned, a mix of young and upcoming and more seasoned actors. An appreciative full house added to a play well-suited to the Finborough bijou stage with clever design making the most of the atmospheric fringe theatre. This is a play relying on the audience understanding cathartic codes to escape Stalinist censorship eg For Catholic Church descending on beleaguered playwright, read Communist Party while the farcical features lightly mask a deeply tragic reality. A stand out performance by Gyuri Sarossy as King Louis but all the cast did well in an engrossing piece of theatre. TLT felt it was well worth the price of a ticket and gives it a green/amber light.