ShentonSTAGE Daily for FRIDAY MARCH 4

Mark ShentonInclude in homepage slide?, Thought of the day3 Comments

Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE.

New ShentonSTAGE LIVE Theatre Dates rolling blog

I have introduced a new live rolling blog on my website, ShentonSTAGE LIVE Theatre Dates that will highlight new announcements as they happen, including today’s announcement of a big Stephen Sondheim gala, appropriately of course to take place at the Sondheim Theatre, on May 3.

You can access the blog here: http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-live-diary-dates/

 The line-up (shown above) so far includes Julia McKenzie, Bernadette Peters, Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench, Adrian Lester, Michael Ball and Elaine Paige, all of whom headlined in his work.

Website:  sondheimoldfriends.com

Press enquiries: Janine Shalom at Premier  Janine.shalom@premiercomms.com

ShentonSTAGE Theatre Openings Feature

The new LIVE Theatre DIary above is in addition to the ongoing Theatre Openings feature, which is also updated regularly to include London theatre openings in the West End and beyond, selected regional houses and Broadway. You can access it here:  http://shentonstage.com/theatre-openings-from-w-c-feb-28-onwards/

It includes details of this year’s Chichester Festival Theatre season that was announced yesterday, including a brand-new production of CRAZY FOR YOU, and co-productions with the Bridge Theatre with a Nick Hytner directed production of Stephen Beresford’s THE SOUTHBURY CHILD starring Alex Jennings and with Theatr Clwyd of a new musical THE FAMOUS FIVE, based on Enid Blyton’s books. In addition, former Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church returns to direct MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, that will play at Bath Theatre Royal after its run in Chichester.

Notes on and by critics

  • Laura Collins-Hughes, a theatre critic for the New York Times who likes nothing more than popping over to catch theatre in London, last year described her experience of contracting COVID soon after arriving here. This week, she has filed a column on her latest trip, itemising some of the shows she saw. But she points out, too, how little she saw of mask wearing in theatres:

“It boggles my mind that so many theatergoers in London, sitting side by side for hours, don’t bother with that elementary precaution — if not for themselves, then for the actors, who are not masked, and for other people in the audience who might be medically vulnerable, not able to be vaccinated yet or in close contact with people in either of those groups. It is such a simple kindness. It is also an act of inclusion.”

And she writes of trying to go to see the National’s transfer of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE at the Duke of York’s:

“The show hadn’t started yet when I noticed that the guy on one side of me wasn’t wearing a mask. Then a barefaced guy sat down on my other side. I thought: If this were the subway, I would get up immediately. So I left.

How does a city — or an industry — that wants to welcome the world and its wallet not worry about things like that? The contrast between playgoing in New York and in London isn’t about quirky cultural differences. These are fundamentally divergent ways of navigating the pandemic.

One is cautious, cognizant of the frailty of bodies; of the gaps that remain in our knowledge of Covid and long Covid; of the fact that we learn of new variants only after they start spreading. The other seems heedless — telling the audience, in effect, that they can take their chances or stay home. I wonder how many people, surveying the options, have decided to keep their money and keep safe.”

  • In a review of HENRY V that opened at the Donmar Warehouse on Wednesday for LondonTheatre.co.uk, Suzy Evans — who is also editor of the site — wrote of Kit Harington’s performance in the title role, “There are few actors who can deliver a Shakespearean line as well as he. His St. Crispin’s Day speech is astounding.”

Never mind that she doesn’t explain just WHY or HOW his reading of that speech is astounding; it just is (in her critical opinion). But it is the first sentence that gives me pause. It’s one of those absurd generalisations that just doesn’t bear scrutiny. I’m pretty sure Ian McKellen — or Adrian Lester or MIchelle Terry or Sam West  or Jamie Parker, all of whom have played Henry V —  can give Harington a run for his money when it comes to delivering Shakspeare. Not to mention any number of less well-known actors at The RSC or Globe, for that matter…. But we’re enslaved to CELEBRITY now.

SEE YOU ON MONDAY

If you can’t wait that long, I can also be found regularly on Twitter (though not as often on weekends!) here:  https://twitter.com/ShentonStage/

3 Comments on “ShentonSTAGE Daily for FRIDAY MARCH 4”

  1. Jo

    I understand people frustrated by what they see as unfair criticism of actors, but it seems unnecessarily churlish to complain about a positive review. It does come across as hyperbolic, but you seem to have confused the phrase ‘few actors’ with ‘no actors’. No need to take offence on behalf of McKellan or the less well known regulars you have in mind – they may well be amongst ‘the few’ the writer had in mind!

    If I were to judge the writing, I’d say describing an actor’s skill at Shakespeare (in general) based on a single performance is premature, but it’s a lazy turn of phrase, which most readers understand. She heaps praise on the less famous cast too, and most other reviews make a point of praising Harington’s performance even if they didn’t like other aspects of the staging.

    The idea that a theatre reviewer’s praise can only be due to obsession with celebrity and that she might (even though she didn’t actually say it) think he’s better than the well known actors you’ve listed (who are themselves celebrities) requires a number of assumptions and judgements of the author, without presenting any evidence for this.

    1. Paul

      I suppose we can’t assume that she hasn’t seen all the other actors you mention (and I’d add Jude Law, my favourite Henry V) and isn’t including some or all of them in her ‘few’. Even so, she would have been better saying simply that she was impressed by Mr Harington’s delivery.

  2. Paul Seven Lewis

    I suppose we can’t assume that she hasn’t seen all the other actors you mention (and I’d add Jude Law, my favourite Henry V) and isn’t including some or all of them in her ‘few’. She would have been better to say simply that she was impressed by Mr Harington’s delivery.

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