Galia is Lead practitioner for English in her school, a member of the LATE committee and is an avid theatre goer. Below she shares some of the theatre she’s loved recently and in future we’ll be posting about some of the other theatrical and cultural highlights for London English teachers. Please do comment if you’ve got any other ideas or recommendations. Personally I loved Rozencrantz and Guildenstern and am still really looking forward to Salome and the Ferryman later this month.
I see things…by Galia Melon
I’m really excited to be sharing my top theatre picks with you this month and I look forward to hearing your views too – you can comment below or follow me on twitter here: @galiamelon
So read on, and turn yourself into a regular Samuel Beckett with conversation starters like… “what is that unforgettable line?”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (The Old Vic) – playing until 6th May
What they say: Against the backdrop of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this mind-bending situation comedy sees two hapless minor characters, Rosencrantz (Daniel Radcliffe) and Guildenstern (Joshua McGuire), take centre stage with David Haig as The Player. Increasingly out of their depth, the young double act stumble their way in and out of the action of this iconic drama. In a literary hall of mirrors, Stoppard’s brilliantly funny, existential labyrinth sees us witness the ultimate identity crisis.
What I say: Existentialism at its finest here. It’s definitely a thinker, but beautifully performed and Radcliffe and McGuire have an electric chemistry. There is just the right amount of Shakespeare to keep a Bardolator like myself interested and this, alongside some lovely sets and costumes, make this a very enjoyable piece to watch.
See this if: you like a bit of puzzlement and humour when you see a play.
The Treatment by Martin Crimp (Almeida Theatre) – playing until 10th June
What they say: New York. A film studio. A young woman has an urgent story to tell. But here, people are products, movies are money and sex sells. And the rights to your life can be a dangerous commodity to exploit. Martin Crimp’s contemporary satire is directed by Lyndsey Turner, who returns to the Almeida following her award-winning production of Chimerica.
What I say: Power. Control. Blindness. Truth. A truly engaging play; still very fresh and seemingly timeless considering it’s about 20 years old. I loved the use of technology here – it was apt to use film considering the filmic content of the story and it didn’t jar at all. The performances from the whole company were fascinating, often verging on menacing.
See this if: you enjoy powerful pieces that comment on current social issues.
Salome by Yaël Farber (National Theatre) – playing until 15th July
What they say: The tale retold. The story has been told before, but never like this. An occupied desert nation. A radical from the wilderness on hunger strike. A girl whose mysterious dance will change the course of the world. This charged retelling turns the infamous biblical tale on its head, placing the girl we call Salomé at the centre of a revolution. Internationally acclaimed director Yaël Farber (Les Blancs) draws on multiple accounts to create her urgent, hypnotic production on the Olivier stage.
What I say: Frustrating and beautiful in equal measure. This is an absolutely stunning production – the music, design, staging and choreography really push the boundaries of what the National can do. The opening sequence alone is worth going to see the whole play for. What a shame then that the script is so jarringly clunky! It really does the actors a disservice, though they do the best they can with what they’ve been given.
See this if: you value style over substance and are able to overlook cringe-worthy dialogue!
Woyzeck by Georg Buchner/Jack Thorne (Old Vic Theatre) – playing until 24th June
What they say: The multi-award-winning Jack Thorne (This is England, Let The Right One In, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) breathes new life into Woyzeck, one of the most extraordinary plays ever written. It’s 1980s Berlin. The Cold War rages and the world sits at a crossroads between Capitalism and Communism. On the border between East and West, a young soldier (John Boyega) and the love of his life are desperately trying to build a better future for their child. But the cost of escaping poverty is high in this searing tale of the people society leaves behind.
What I say: Grotesque. Uncomfortable. Sort of beautiful. The set and music design for this production are outstanding – I really like the choice the designers made to show the world through Woyzeck’s eyes, where things become less and less trustworthy and it all feels a little like it’s going to fall in at any moment. The performances, while engaging, were for me a little too much like watching ‘acting’ rather than real people, which is maybe what a play like this needs in order to really hit home. Certainly worth a watch though.
See this if: you like to feel moderately uncomfortable and have a thing for ‘heightened’ acting.
Angels in America by Tony Kushner (National Theatre) – playing until 19th August
What they say: America in the mid-1980s. In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell. The cast includes Andrew Garfield playing Prior Walter, Denise Gough playing Harper Pitt, Nathan Lane playing Roy Cohn, James McArdle playing Louis Ironson and Russell Tovey playing Joe Pitt.
What I say: 7 hours and 40 mins. A marathon of suffering and joy. What I love most about this play is that it’s not afraid of the ridiculous, which is vital to get through this slog of a piece. How anyone can write a play this funny about a subject matter so devastating is beyond me. Watching the pain and suffering of these characters is at times beyond uncomfortable and yet impossible to turn away from. Performances by the entire company are phenomenal, including Russell Tovey, Nathan Lane, Denise Gough, James McArdle and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett but the highlight has to be Andrew Garfield, whose luminous performance as Prior is captivatingly magical. Alongside classically stunning National Theatre design, this production is truly once in a lifetime and this performance, for me, was one that I will remember and treasure forever.
See this if: you can get a ticket! There are no other reasons not to see this!