Violence, bad language, blasphemy and a bit of nudity. If that offends you, it’s even more reason why you must see this play. Philip Ridley is probably the most exciting playwright in Britain today and even if this is not his greatest play, it’s a very good example of his work. It starts with the tense domesticity of The Fastest Clock in the Universe and ends in a surreal vision more akin to Mercury Fur. One of the more extreme characters even suggests that we are seeing the end of the old world and the beginning of their new one. Despite its in your face, violent presentation, there is so much subtlety and ambiguity that any description is impossible: just go and see it and ask yourself why doesn’t the National Theatre have the courage to commission him?
If Michael Billington’s four star review in the Guardian can’t pack them in, my little blog will hardly matter. Shape of the Table was brilliantly performed by this American company, and to say Pentecost was not quite as good is hardly a criticism, but I suspect the gem will be The Prisoner’s Dilemma which I saw a very good version of a year or two back. Written following the fall of the Berlin Wall almost exactly 25 years ago, it is fascinating to see how David Edgar’s analysis has played out – it’s certainly a more accurate forecast than any of the politicians gave us. Two parts of the trilogy in one day, a Philip Ridley next Thursday and a brand new opera to come on Saturday. What a week!
Aeternum was the star piece in this triple bill and Claire Calvert was the star in Aeternum. If there were another matinee I’d go back and see it all again and maybe appreciate the other two ballets better. I missed Aeternum last time as I was nodding off after 24 Preludes due to the Chopin effect and went home early. This time, the preceding ballets were more interesting. They were both narrative ballets – they are obviously coming back into fashion – not that I’m sure what the story of Cermemony of Innocence actually was. It was good to watch and Britten’s music was excellent. The Age of Anxiety had a much clearer story, apparently based on an Auden poem but very reminiscent of Coward’s Design for Living. Set in New York to music by Bernstein, it made me think of Jerome Robbins’ choreography for West Side Story. I knew it was an unfair comparison: the dancing was superb but I still haven’t seen a British company manage to swing like that, although Boston Ballet did when they visited London. These were only the second performances of both works and I suspect they’ll be just that bit better when they are revived – they are certainly worth seeing again. For Aeternum, everything was superb: the choice of music by Britten, the orchestra under Barry Wordsworth, the choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and the dancing, but it felt like it was all there to support the stunning performance by Claire Calvert. She is still only a soloist but on the basis of this I strongly look forward to seeing her in other major roles.
No review for Ghost Stories @GhostStoriesUK as they ask you not to give anything away. It was fun and a bit scary, but nothing like as scary as the stage version of Let the Right One In
(which was scarier than the film) but why were there no women in the cast? Many of the parts could easily have been played by women or adapted for women. Sometimes gender is important to the story. The whole point of ENO’s The Girl of the Golden West was to look at the role of a lone woman in the tough world of the California gold rush and the wonderfully expressive conducting of Keri-Lynn Wilson helped make up for the lack of women on stage. There was no excuse in Ghost Stories.