charloween: (pure style)
The to-do list is alive and well, but I've ~bought theatre tickets~ so spending money fannishly in the last 12 hours has usurped more immediate concerns.

I'm going to see a broadcast version of that Company staging with Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone and Christina Hendricks in March (at my local cinema, woo). I think I have purchased the only ticket, or at least, no other tickets showed as being sold when I was selecting my seats. Good job, marketing department!

In May, a friend and I* are going to see Cillian Murphy play an entire Irish town in the one-man play Misterman. So, that should be good. Had better be good. You know how long it's been since 28 Days Later? Nearly a decade. That pre-dates my fannish notice of Doctor Who.

*When we steward together, this friend and I get very silly indeed. Should be a good trip.

And just now, I convinced the BF ("I've only been to the theatre like twice ever, I think." HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?) that we totally need to see Christopher Eccleston get his Greek tragedy on in Antigone. Of course, even before Danny Boyle directed both Murphy and Eccleston in 28 Days Later, Boyle directed Eccleston in Shallow Grave. Which... ♥

I mean, Boyle's Frankenstein was good and all (:D :D :D) but I've, um, respected the work of these other actors for quite a while.

I didn't mean to make this post all about Danny Boyle, but hey: I can also share that a former denizen of this office left behind his Trainspotting poster that's currently right above my desk...
charloween: (pure style)
I like the National Theatre's Frankenstein even more now that I've seen the reverse cast.

It's such a different show, but also the same show, but the casting makes a big difference.

The departure point is (I think) summed up in comments made by the actors in the pre-show interview clips: Cumberbatch researched the Creature by looking at stroke victims, trauma victims, adults who have to re-learn what it is to move and feel, and to communicate. Miller researched his Creature by watching his two-year-old kid. And now, having seen both, that distinction makes perfect sense.

I liked both equally, but enjoyed seeing Cumberbatch's ridiculous and imperious mad scientist Frankenstein against Miller's more innocent and less fundamentally broken Creature. It was a more fun version? Cumberbatch as the Creature had a depth of intensity (his pain-filled howls will haunt me) whereas Miller as Frankenstein was much more lost, helpless and pathetic than Cumberbatch's confident insanity.

There was still the problem in the script where Frankenstein goes from No I Will Not Create A Woman-Creature to Yes I WILL Create a Woman-Creature in, like, a line and it doesn't seem (at that moment) like he's saying yes for any reason.

There's - of course - still the wonderful fact that the scenes between Miller and Cumberbatch were amazing. Their chemistry has gotten even better since the first time I saw the show. ...I hope they release this on DVD before too long.

(And, [ profile] piratefanatic, I know you said to pay attention to Frankenstein's jackets, but the shirt he was wearing in that first confrontation scene was also amazing. Clothes look good on his body.)
charloween: (Default)
If you're still wondering about whether or not to buy tickets to Frankenstein (the NT Live broadcast version): do it.

There's a whole lot of theatre going on, and a whole lot of acting, and it's always interesting to see how a book gets turned into a stage performance.

We didn't know the casting before the show started (this is the third preview - it hasn't officially opened), so we spent the first few seconds of the show trying to figure out who was playing the (SPOILER) naked Creature writhing around the stage. (It was Cumberbatch! A whole lot of naked Cumberbatch. Unexpected, but not, ah, unwelcome.)

Ah, Danny Boyle. You sure know how to create compelling theatre. I want to see this cast again, but also with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature. The flailing excitement I had before has only abated a little bit.

- Naomie Harris was excellent!
- there was a set piece/effect with lots of lights (and by lots I mean thousands): I could feel the heat from them when they were used. (We had front row, centre on the balcony. Good seats!)
- Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller were both fantastic, but since the show is from the Creature's perspective Cumberbatch got to show off in this performance. The physicality, the vocal work, everything. As a character, Victor has less to do (besides being a messed-up and mostly unsympathetic a-hole).
- Cumberbatch can roar. And he's scary when he did so. (By turns I was feeling sorry for and very scared of the Creature, and feeling it deeply.)
- looking forward to seeing a more polished and complete production when it gets broadcast. There were a succession of props and wardrobe bits (but mostly props) that failed in obvious ways. The crowd was fairly young (lots of giggling teenagers) and I'm not sure how many of the laughs were off lines that were meant to be funny. (I have a slight inkling that the cast lost the audience part way through and played some bits a little more silly than they'd rehearsed.)
charloween: (Default)

GUESS WHO'S PLAYING ELIZABETH IN FRANKENSTEIN? (You know, the adoptive sister and, er, muse? of crazy Dr. Frankenstein?) NAOMIE FREAKING HARRIS, THAT'S WHO.


Ahem. Back to the original post. STILL FREAKING OUT, HERE.

And if that wasn't enough, George Harris - Kingsley Shacklebolt in the Harry Potter movies - is apparently playing Dad Frankenstein.

Tomorrow is Frankenstein day! Ah, so excited about this. We're going to spend the afternoon wandering London (I get to play tour guide by virtue of having ever been there before, and from having dragged [ profile] extrathursday around above-ground rather than using the Tube the whole time, and because I really like maps) before going to the show. I think I managed to get pretty decent seats, too. Either at the front the balcony or pretty close to the front.

I have reading that I really should be getting on with, but instead I'm blogging about theatre. YAY. Not much else has been going on. I've been puttering around, wasting time, wandering the Warwickshire countryside armed with an Ordnance Survey map, enjoying (what for me is) unseasonably warm weather.

Also, the NT has decided to broadcast both versions of the show. The original schedule was for one broadcast, with one casting arrangement. Now, they've added another broadcast (and, presumably, another performance?) two weeks after to broadcast the other casting arrangement. That means I get to see it three times. (Its run may get extended because it's sold out, but that's just my wishful thinking.)

I have high hopes for the show, and even if it's bad (unthinkable! heresy! how dare I suggest it?!) it'll be neat to see a show once in previews and then again after it's been running almost daily performances for five weeks.
charloween: (Default)
Yesterday was very long. Today I'm making up for it by sitting around, eating leftover Chinese food and reading.

Next week I'm going to see Frankenstein at the National Theatre. My friend L hasn't been to London before, so we're going to take the afternoon to wander. I get to play slightly-more-familiar tour guide. I wanted to go back to the National Gallery and people-watch in Trafalgar Square. She wants to see that famous square thing, and the place with the pictures by the famous people. I think we're both going to be satisfied.

And this is the important part of my post in May we're going back because L bought us tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing. You know, the one with Catherine Tate and David Tennant as Beatrice and Benedick. *glee* L is excited to see Tennant, and I'm... well. I have great expectations re: the delivery of snarky exchanges.

For example: )
charloween: (fly)
Today I bought my airfare to the conference in April (now I really hope those grants come through), despite a computer in my office that did its best to trip me up at every step. But I won. (As I said over of FB, I'll always win because I don't have a power button to force a hard reboot.) I've paid my registration, have my flight, and know where I'm staying for all but one night. Done and done. (Now I have to write my presentation. Heh.)

I'm also about to send off job applications for jobs that have more responsibility and higher pay than my current volunteer gig (within the same organization). After the conference airfare, that's two big things off the ol' to-do list.

All the while, I've been falling (back) in love with Hawksley Workman (yet again). In my enthusiasm I might've hooked my friend (the video for "Jealous of Your Cigarette" has that effect), the one I'm travelling with to the conference-in-April referred to in the first paragraph. Too many of his videos are geoblocked, but that's okay (I guess) because I have the music. Music that's sweet, and silly, and raunchy, and sexy, and vulnerable, and bad-ass, and acousticy, and rockin', and snarky and sincere, and funny, and sad and uplifting and witty and... well, fearless.

And there's so much of it. Two albums in 2008, and another two in 2010, and he still found time to run around and produce other people's work. It's not that I forgot how much I like his work, it's that it's nice to take the time to remind myself why I like his work in the first place.

He's playing London next month, but since I had to drop mad cash up-front on the plane tickets I can't really afford to head down. Especially since it would be less than a week after Frankenstein. I need to make more friends in London so I can crash with them after shows.

Speaking of, Frankenstein will apparently be from the monster's point of view. (After the Messianic travesty of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that's probably a very wise choice.) Since I bought tickets for a preview I don't know the casting in advance. Oh, the anticipation.
charloween: (Default)
You may have already heard this, but I just found out today:

From February to April, the National Theatre in London is presenting Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller.

If that wasn't enough, the two actors are alternating the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature.

*starry eyes*
charloween: (goaty grin)
Today I got my culture on.

Mum and I went to see Sweeney Todd, had meat pies for dinner (for some reason, we both had a craving), and then later went with Amy, her sister and some peeps to see Enchanted.

Together, they made for an interesting day.

Actually, together, they make me wonder about the way you can tell stories. Enchanted, for obvious reasons, 'cause it's a Disney film that simultaneously is a typical Disney film while sending itself up. Too clever by half. Predictable, but pleasant: more than pleasant, really. The actors were all committed to the wacky, and it really worked. I'm so buying it on DVD when it comes out. Unlike something like Spamalot, they stayed away from being mockingly ironic, and it worked very well.

Sweeney Todd, on the other hand, took some huge chances, and almost made it. It's worth to see for the incredible technical accomplishment. Ten people, on stage for nearly three hours, playing all the instruments (there's no orchestra, just the actors), performing an opera (it's all singing, no talking). There aren't any entrances or exits, the curtain doesn't go up or down. All the props are at the back of the stage, and the set changes are achieved by the same ten people moving stuff around. The fact they pull off any show at all is remarkable. I mean, it's an insane amount of work these people do when you think about how much support is usual for a big show. For that alone, it's worth seeing. It's an incredibly risky move to put so much of your show in ten pairs of hands. With this production, it's almost successful.

The problem is you're watching this Brechtian theatre, and this kind of theatre doesn't necessarily serve the story all that well. We spend so much time watching the production being produced that we lose plot and characters in the technical accomplishment. The story is fantastic (by which I mean: music, lyrics and plot), and the technical stuff was mind-blowing, but they didn't work as well together as they could have. As a show, Sweeney can be brutally disturbing, morally complex and deeply creepy in all its gothic glory. They way they did it, they didn't let the story take precidence, so they skirted over the nuances of the plot. Doing so, they also stripped it of any moral shades-of-grey. I mean, for a story about revenge and murder and cannibalism, the only stance they took was that killing people... happens, sometimes. I've seen this show performed when they got deep into the characters, playing with themes of insanity and whether or not Todd is justified in murdering lots of people. With this? It's an opera about a man's descent into madness turned into light musical comedy.

So the question I'm left with - comparing the two ways of telling this story - is simply: if the story is strong, does it matter how it's told? Just as long as you get the core of it, does it matter so much what variations are thrown on top? Yes, the variations are what you watch for, what make it interesting. But you go for the story itself, right? Enchanted would argue that no, it doesn't matter. Disney films have been telling the same story since the 40s, with minute variations, but the story is still pretty solid (or maybe just 'marketable').

With Sweeney Todd, this production had iffy moments and the risks it took didn't quite pan out, but since I love the show itself so much, the way it was mounted did in no way hamper my enjoyment of it.
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