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➤ LONDON STAGE, from p.20 and water that get thrown at each other. The only “costume” is Richard’s crown, not much more imposing than those silly paper hat crowns Brits pull out of Christmas crackers and don at dinner. It is a “Richard II” for our time, exposing the folly of those who seek and cling to power. And its center is Simon Russell Beale as the fading king, searingly showing us in this chaotic Brexit time that leadership is hard to come by in crises. “I wasted time,” he says, “and now doth time waste me.”


André De Shields and the company of Anaïs Mitchell’s “Hadestown,” directed by Rachel Chavkin.

hard-nosed detective investigating the murder, throw themselves into their roles with abandon but in the end it feels more like a sick joke on the audience than a worthwhile play.

“Antony & Cleopatra” (to Jan. 19 and on NTLive) is getting a sumptuous production from Simon Godwin at the National’s Olivier with two megastars, Ralph Fiennes, who is especially fine, and Sophie Okonedo as the middleaged lovers straddling two empires. Neither conveys their characters’ vaunted nobility, which is perhaps as Shakespeare intended — though it was my first go-round with this epic play. They both meet tragic demises in the classic sense of falling from high station, but they have played their jealousies and insecurities so much for laughs that it is tough to feel for them. It often felt more like “The Taming of the Shrew” than a tragedy. But this is a company masterful in conveying Shakespeare’s poetry and displaying the vulnerabilities and folly of people in power especially in their love lives.

ensemble — especially those Fates — and a New Orleans-worthy band, this is a show filled to the rafters with heart even though we know it must end tragically.

On a lighter note (even though it’s about a descent into Hell) is Anaïs Mitchell’s “Hadestown,” directed by Rachel Chavkin, which I missed at the Off-Broadway New York Theatre Workshop and is being given a grand production, also at the big Olivier house (to Jan. 26) prior to opening on Broadway in March. It’s a folk/ jazz musical riff on the young love of Orpheus (Reeve Carney, “Spider-Man” on Broadway) and Eurydice (Eva Noblezada, “Miss Saigon” in New York) delightfully narrated by veteran stage star André De Shields as Hermes. Broadway veteran Patrick Page with his bass baritone as Hades is truly chilling and overtly Trumpian, leavened only by his love for sweet Persephone (Amber Gray). Backed up by a boisterous

At the Royal Court Theatre (to Jan. 26), Mark Ravenhill, who stunned with “Shopping and Fucking” 22 years ago, is back with a vengeance with “The Cane,” a threehander directed by Vicky Featherstone about a soon-to-retire teacher (Alun Armstrong) who is discovered to have been responsible for caning misbehaving students — striking their open palms with a stick repeatedly — more than 30 years ago, when it was legal. As angry students demonstrate unseen outside his home, his long-suffering wife (Maggie Steed) has to contend with a visitation from their estranged daughter (Nicola Walker, late of the ITV detective series “Unforgotten” that aired on PBS), herself an education professional and whose agenda in returning is unclear. | January 03 - January 16, 2019


Patti LuPone and Rosalie Craig in Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” directed by Marianne Elliott.

These three pros hold the stage for a taut hour and 45 minutes in a story about a broken family, a mystery about who did what when and why, and a debate about applying today’s standards to yesteryear’s culture. Caning was banned in 1986. Do the scars still remain and what should be the punishment for inflicting them? Another veteran bad boy of the theater, Anthony Neilson, is back at the National’s Dorfman with a modern take on Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” (to Jan. 9). Tamara Lawrance (brilliant in the BBC adaptation of Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” about the end of slavery in Jamaica) plays an accomplished but blocked playwright vexed by her young landlady (Imogen Doel), who is hiding more than the Phantom of the Opera was before she turns up dead. The violence and gore is so out there that it produces more giggles than shock. These actors, along with David Carlyle as a

The great director Marianne Elliott (Tony for the “Angels” revival) convinced Stephen Sondheim to let her cast a woman, Rosalie Craig, as the 35-year-old commitment-averse Bobbie at the center of “Company” (to Mar. 30 and likely to come to New York in the future) at the Gielgud. Craig is fine and the music as engaging as ever, but the couples surrounding her and pushing her to couple up remain mostly cartoons in the George Furth book — except for Patti LuPone putting her stamp on the older, jaded Joanne, the role that made Elaine Stritch in 1970. As usual, LuPone is worth the price of admission. And the addition of a gay couple, Jamie (Jonathan Bailey) and Paul (Alex Gaumond), is a plus. Bailey is hysterical on their wedding day. But while the show is updated with the use of smart phones and said to take place in “modern day” New York, it still seems firmly rooted in the culture of the ‘70s — gay marriage notwithstanding. Also on or coming up: David Hare’s new Labour Party drama “I’m Not Running” at the National’s Lyttleton (to Jan. 31 and on NTLive); “Shipwreck” by American Anne Washburn at the Almeida (Feb. 11Mar. 30), a “nightmarish comedy” about Trump; Sondheim’s “Follies” at the National’s Olivier (from Feb. 12); and Matthew Bourne’s homoerotic “Swan Lake” at Sadler’s Wells (to Jan. 27).


Profile for Schneps Media

Gay City News - January 3, 2019  

January 3, 2019

Gay City News - January 3, 2019  

January 3, 2019