Top Three London Plays

Showbiz insider, Sabine Koch takes her pick of three shows this summer…

After a long absence from London I had an insatiable appetite for the current theatre offerings. I managed to squeeze in a lot and

these 3 are my favorites:

The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Being an ardent fan of Martin McDonagh’s film work, I was really looking forward to see one of his plays and this funny, fast and thoroughly entertaining play didn’t disappoint. Many fans will come to see tv heartthrob Aidan Turner in the title role and rightly so – he is outstanding! Charming and menacing and outright funny, he has a brilliant command of the stage and a wonderful rapport with his fellow actors.
But there is much more to be enjoyed. Michael Grandage’s production emphasizes the slapstick, the absurd notions and the craziness and that really resonates in this day and age. Somehow it feels very current in times of fake news and twitter wars, that an Irish freedom fighter/terrorist would put a cat’s wellbeing at the top of his priority list. Next to Turner another standout was Chris Walley as Davey. With his mullet, pink bike and a growing desperation at his impending fate, he was weary and both hysterical and hysterically funny. You couldn’t take your eyes of him.
Of course the squeamish shouldn’t think of seeing this play, because yes, there is bloodshed and torture and cat cadavers. But for all others I highly recommend it!

Jellyfish

I got intrigued by the wonderful photo of main actress Sarah Gordy on the website of Bush Theatre. It is strikingly beautiful and so was her performance. Jellyfish by Ben Weatherill tells the story of Kelly, a young woman with Down Syndrome who tries to emancipate herself from the loving clutches of her mother. While all 4 actors did a marvelous job, there was no denying the star power of Gordy. The story is simple, depicting experiences all of us have from starting a new job to meeting a guy. But then there is the idea of what people with disabilities can do and are allowed to do on their own and for themselves. Kelly’s mum certainly has her opinion. But so does headstrong Kelly. It is an empowering story and the tiny Bush theatre studio lets you be a close witness. The set design is lovely, evoking a beach scene complete with sand to put your feet in. You can relate to all of these characters, especially to the broken Neil, wonderfully played by Ian Bonar. The run of Jellyfish was a short one and with just 60 seats in the theatre not many people had the chance to see it. Let’s hope for a quick revival!

King Lear

Sir Ian McKellen has said, that this might be his last major Shakespearean role on the stage. One more reason to go and see this production. But even without the threat of missing out on one of the legends of modern theatre, this production has great value. Sir Ian played this role before and he is in full command of the inner workings of Lear. Up until now I found it hard to relate to a man, who dismisses his favorite daughter almost on a whim. But this time I somehow got it. At almost 80 years old, you can feel the immediate closeness between actor and character. It really is marvelous to witness the descent of a once strong mind into frailty and madness. The other actors did their bit as well. Danny Webb’s Gloucester was equally heart-breaking in his journey and I found the jester of Lloyd Hutchinson funny and piercing in equal measure. Sinéad Cusack was wonderful as Kent, although the gender swap in itself did not bring any new nuance to the play.
The play starts with a bang and remains engaging all through the 3 hours and 20 minutes run time, but a few nips and tucks would not be unwelcome.
Thanks to the clarity and precision of the production, I left with much food for thought – what more can you wish for?

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

 

 

Speak Your Mind