Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Marcell’

One of the most thrilling things about this evening is the youthfulness and diversity of the audience, one of the most attentive I’ve sat in too, and the production and performances prove just as thrilling. The Young Vic provided one of my favourite Hamlet’s (ten years ago with Michael Sheen) and now it has produced another, with Cush Jumbo.

Anna Fleische’s design is simple but elegant and does conjure up the battlements of Elsinore with its reflective towers, some of which move to reconfigure the space. Greg Hersov, a director whose work we’ve seen too little of in London (he ran the Royal Exchange in Manchester for 27 years) has made some cuts – notably the removal of the final scene arrival of Fortinbrass to take the crown – but taken no liberties. The verse is particularly well spoken and I found myself more than usually drawn in by Shakespeare’s words.

The attention paid to, and praise of, Cush Jumbo’s Hamlet is fully justified. It’s a youthful, subtle characterisation that displays distain with a simple facial expression and contempt with an casual offhand sign of the crucifix. There are so many other fine performances, though, including Jonathan Livingstone’s loyal Horatio, Jonathan Ajayi’s passionate Laertes and Norah Lopez Holden’s highly charged Ophelia. Taz Skylar & Joana Borja were a great pairing as Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, right from their animated arrival and Leo Wringer made much of the gravedigger in a particularly well staged scene. Joseph Marcell was terrific as Polonius, but I wasn’t sure what Adrian Dunbar was doing with Claudius. I came to the conclusion that it was my fault – I just couldn’t banish the iconic Line of Duty character.

This is an exceptional, very accessible Hamlet, another triumph for this indispensable theatre. Catch it if you can.

Read Full Post »

Playwrights often risk tarnishing their legacy by producing inferior work in later years, and this was very much the case with Sam Shepherd, who died just two years ago…..but we hadn’t seen this until now.

It’s a two-hander between old friends Ames and Byron on Ames’ front porch. Byron has come at his friend’s request to provide support at a difficult time. They go back a long way and they reminisce, drinking way too much bourbon, as they wait for the eclipse due that night. The alcohol brings with it some conflict, as alcohol has a habit of doing. It’s very much a play about friendship and seems like a ‘signing off’ play, with echoes of Beckett and Pinter.

It’s beautifully staged by Alexander Lass on an evocative set by Holly Pigott, with great lighting by Jai Morjaria. It should be seen for the performances alone – Christopher Fairbank and Joseph Marcell, both on fine form. It’s a gentle, reflective hour which brought back memories of the many Shepherd plays that have enthralled me. A must for Shepherd fans.

Read Full Post »