Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thankful for Theatre

Quite a lot of the time I wish that I had been born fifty or sixty years ago. This may seem strange, but when you consider that my parents have seen people like Laurence Olivier in the flesh, it's not so hard to understand why I feel a bit left out!

So when I head that Kenneth Branagh (my all time Shakespeare idol) was kicking off a Donmar season in London with Ivanov, I went all weak at the knees and begged my father for tickets. Strangely the only day dad could get them was on his birthday, so he kinda ended up paying for his own birthday evening out!

I love Chekhov - The Cherry Orchard being by favourite, until last week that is. Never mind that I was at the back of the theatre, and there was tall people in front of me, none of that mattered, because the moment Branagh walked onto the stage, he owned every inch of it, and took my breath away countless times.
Two parts in particular were awe inspiring - at one point Branagh breaks down and falls to the floor, but instead of just collapsing in a heap, he did it in stages, from dropping his head onto his chest, bowing, going on to his knees, sitting down and finally lying on the floor. The control it took to do, and keep the audience spell bound was the work of genius.
The other part was right at the end, when Ivanov has his final breakdown. Branagh has a speech which gets faster and faster, going more and more out of control as it progresses, until he is told to shut up, where upon he slows right down to a word a second, and then almost falls backwards. I'd tell you all to go and see it, but it's finished - sob!

Of course I went and stood by the stage door, and got a few signatures - Gina Mckee was very nice (and very tall), whilst I made an arse out of myself in front of Tom Hiddleston (mixed up Miss Austen Regrets and Lost in Austen, oh the shame) and he was very kind too. Absolute thrill to meet Kevin McNally (pirate Gibbs in Pirates of the Caribbean), who then went and sat at the next table to where my parents were sitting waiting for me, so they got to talk to him too.

I would say it was a thrill to meet Kenneth Branagh, but he didn't come out of the stage door. Apparently Wydham's theatre has 15 exits, so it's anyone's guess how he slid off into the night!

I got tickets for Twelfth Night (Derek Jacobi) and Madame de Sade (Judi Dench) whilst I was there too, so I was a very happy bunny.

I am so thankful for living this close to London that I can whizz back and forth to see such things. And I can only hope that people I know in 50 or 60 years are as jealous of who I've seen now, as I am of who my father has seen!


Anonymous said...

Really good post, thank you. I am seriously jealous, would love to have seen Ivanov, it sounds amazing. Wallender was so very good, I thought it seemed more like a European film than the usual T.V drama.


Anonymous said...

I, too, am thoroughly envious of your being able to zip over to London and see wonderful plays with wonderful actors. I was privileged to have seen Dame Judith Anderson perform Hamlet in Baltimore, Maryland and Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronym in the Gin Game in NYC. Living in the sticks in Kansas, as I do now, does not lend itself to much in the way of theatrical productions, although we do have a good little community theatre. When I read your and similar blogs from Britain, I am envious of all the literary, musical and artistic wealth so easily available to you. Thanks for all you do to spread the wealth across the pond. Enjoy your blessings. Stacey

oxford-reader said...

Wallender was filed in Sweden, which is probably why it looked so European.
I do realise how lucky I am living here, although sometimes I wish I lived in America. I was lucky enough to see Patti LuPone in Gyspy earlier in the year. There's always something we wish we could see that we've missed.

GeraniumCat said...

It was good, wasn't it! and very funny, but goodness, how did they stand those long evenings, no wonder poor Ivanov was a bit of a flake. I'm glad you saw it too.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that the weather stays clear until Christmas, I've got a ticket for Eliot's Family Reunion, which I've never seen. Eliot being one of my two favourite poets, I'm very pleased about it.

oxford-reader said...

You're the second person in as many days who has told me they are seeing this. My turn to be jealous now! It's got Gemma Jones and Penelope Wilton - my life would be complete!!!

J.Danger said...

Ivanov is playing over here too! Well, last week actually. I tried to get tickets, but there were only three days available, and waaaay out of my price range. So sad.