Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily, on the first day of my sixties! So happy birthday to me!
It’s certainly been an eventful life (so far) — and, hopefully, it is far from over yet. If there is a birthday message I can share with you, it is the importance of facing up to — and dealing with — past trauma.
About eight months before the pandemic arrived, I stumbled, by chance (or Higher Power, as we like to say, in 12-steps), into a fellowship that has helped me finally resolve the effects of the rejection I’ve endured all my life from my narcissistic father, which has kept both my brother and I locked in long cycles of depression.
We’ve both managed the soothing of our pain differently, but both of us have sought comfort in addictions of various kinds. It was investigating the destructiveness of one of my outlets through one twelve-step fellowship that led me directly to my second fellowship: having addressed HOW I act out on my pain, I now know WHY I did, too. It has freed me finally, I believe, from the past, as I’ve learnt to re-parent myself.
If anyone wants to know more, please feel free to email me directly.
ADDICTED TO THEATRE….
Those that know me will know that I freely admit to being addicted to theatre: I’ve deflected living in the pain of my own life to living vicariously through other people’s lives that I experience in drama.
I like to think this is a relatively healthy addiction — and one I turned to constructive use as a source of employment! — but even so I have over-indulged it at times. And lust as an alcoholic would find living above a pub difficult, living in London meant that I was able to indulge my addiction to theatre seven days a week. This was one of the factors that played into the choice of my husband and I to move to West Sussex, where I’d be forced to ration (and rationalise) my theatregoing.
I usually take myself to London for one overnight stay a week (seeing two shows on each day, before taking the train back after the show on the second day), and then again most Saturdays (where I attend a 12-step meeting and then see a matinee, before heading home).
Last week my overnight stay was Wednesday; I’ve already reported on seeing the openings of REHAB THE MUSICAL on Wednesday and WHO KILLED MY FATHER on Thursday, both of which coincidentally relate to the recovery work I’ve been doing.
I was also able to catch a couple of matinees, too: on Wednesday, I saw HORSE-PLAY at Riverside Studios, whose opening I’d missed the week before; and on Thursday, I revisited BACK TO THE FUTURE at the Adelphi. Neither of these were strictly ‘necessary’, but I certainly enjoyed seeing the latter again more than I expected to!
And on Friday, I was due to return to see the West End opening night of Gabriel Byrne’s solo autobiographical show WALKING WITH GHOSTS, ahead of its Broadway transfer next month, but on the day itself I decided to give myself a break instead. So perhaps living outside London is helping cure my addiction!
HORSE-PLAY (Riverside Studios)
Actor-turned-playwright Ian Hallett’s HORSE-PLAY is a modern gay spin on a classic sex farce, that old hoary theatrical chestnut (or maybe it should be whore-y), in which a long-established gay couple try to inject new adventure into their sex life by hiring a male escort and his sex dungeon.
It’s the sort of amiable niche comedy that would have played well at the gay-dedicated Above the Stag; but that venue is, alas, no more. Plays like this need a sympathetic context, and a thin matinee audience in Hammersmith didn’t exactly rise to the occasion (so to speak). But a valiant cast led by David Ames, dashing Matt Lapinskas and Jake Maskall (above left to right) did their best.
BACK TO THE FUTURE (Adelphi Theatre)
I also revisited BACK TO THE FUTURE on Thursday afternoon, following a major cast change, which provides thrilling theatrical spectacle in abundance. But it gives it ALL to you instead of letting you fill in the gaps, as Ivo van Hove does. (I wish I’d seen his WEST SIDE STORY).
Broadway star Roger Bart is still in stunning comic form as “Doc” Brown, newly joined by the terrific Ben Joyce as Marty McFly (pictured above), trying to ensure his own future isn’t re-written by a time travelling interruption that has him meeting his own parents when they were teenagers.
It’s this central duo who make the human side of the show; but the immense skill of a vibrant, mostly new company provides plenty of background colour. It’s ultimately still the car that is the star — and incredible sound (Gary Owen), lighting and video that truly thrills.
THIS WEEK’S OPENINGS
My regularly updated list of theatre openings in London, selected regional theatres and on Broadway is here: http://shentonstage.com/theatre-openings-from-w-c-september-12/
This week’s openings are:
- Monday September 12:
LONDON: The Clinic (Almeida Theatre) September 3-October 1, press night September 12. Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s new play, written during a year-long residency at the Almeida as part of Channel 4’s Playwright’s bursary, receives its world premiere in a production directed by Monique Touko. Press contact: Alexander Milward at Almeida; firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: https://almeida.co.uk/whats-on/the-clinic/3-sep-2022-1-oct-2022
- Tuesday September 13:
LONDON: The Cherry Orchard (The Yard) September 5-October 22, press night September 13. James Macdonald directs Chekhov’s play in a new adaptation by Vinay Patel, who comments: ”It’s safe to say that when I started out writing I never thought I’d get to set The Cherry Orchard on a spaceship. So this is a properly delightful, fever dream of a production, one that connects fifteen-year old me – marooned in the suburbs, looking for escape through science fiction – with my older self who adores Chekhov’s ability to speak with profound playfulness about what it means to find yourself stuck between worlds (in every sense) and how our hopes for the future flow inescapably along the contours of the past.” Press contact; Susie Safavi, email@example.com. Website: https://theyardtheatre.co.uk/theatre/events/the-cherry-orchard
- Wednesday September 14
LONDON: The Snail House (Hampstead Theatre) September 7-October 15, press night September 14. Richard Eyre directs the world premiere of his own first completely original play. Press contact: Clare McCormack, ClareM@HampsteadTheatre.com Website: https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2022/the-snail-house/
LONDON: The P Word (Bush Theatre) September 9-October 22, press night September 14. Waleed Akhtar’s play, a Bush commission, charts the parallel lives of two gay Pakistani men. It is directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike. Press contact: Martin Shippen, firstname.lastname@example.org. https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/the-p-word/
- Thursday September 15:
LONDON: Handbagged (Kiln Theatre) September 9-October 22, press night September 15. Indhu Rubasingham directed a revival of Moira Buffini’s comedy that was originally premiered at the Kiln in 2013 before going on to a West End run, starring Marion Bailey, reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth II, and Kate Fahy as Margaret Thatcher. Press contact: Kate Morley, email@example.com. Website: https://kilntheatre.com/whats-on/handbagged
- Friday September 16:
REGIONAL: The Color Purple (Birmingham Hippodrome) September 13-17, then touring. Tinuke Craig’s production of the Broadway musical , originally premiered at Curve in Leicester in 2019 in a co-production with Birmingham Hippodrome, now launches a new UK tour at the latter. Press contact: Arabella Neville-Rolfe, firstname.lastname@example.org; website: https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/the-color-purple-2/
SEE YOU ON THURSDAY
I’ll be back here on Thursday. If you can’t wait that long, I may also be found on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ShentonStage/ (though not as regularly on weekends)