Review: 4**** Private Lives – The Gielgud Theatre Via@digitaltheatre @tobysnews @GielgudTheatre @PlowmanAL

Tweetingit: 4* Noel Coward’s comedy of manners still seems fresh as a sparkling production mixes a sharp script with some wonderfully manic slapstick sequences.

When Private Lives premiered in 1930 Noel Coward was approaching the peak of his powers as a playwright.

It landed in the middle of a prolific spell that saw 26 of his plays performed in a twenty year period following the Great War. Book-ended by The Vortex and Blithe Spirit it stands out as an enduring example of his finest work. Billed as a comedy of manners it relies on a series of coincidences that stretch credibility to breaking point. But Coward’s rhythmic prose makes the plot work with the assistance of a poised and skilful cast.

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Review: Henry V – Live from Stratford-upon-Avon Via @digitaltheatre @HassellAlex @TheRSC

Tweetingit: 5***** A peerless performance from a superlative cast delving into the mind and machinations of a most charismatic King.

Accessing Digital Theatre for the first time, I felt like a kid cut loose in a sweet shop. The theatrical equivalent to Netflix is easy to navigate and provides a mouth-watering selection of shows recorded live.

A crystal clear high definition picture greets the viewer via a simple click. I plumped for this brilliant RSC production of the final part in a tetralogy of history plays. Henry V is a seminal work in the Bard’s canon with its thrusting dialogue and moments of dry humour. Although the final part of a ‘boxed set’ the play works superbly as a stand-alone piece. We now see a monarch that is mature and ambitious; a natural leader poised to reclaim his birth right.

The Chorus (Oliver Ford Davies) acts as narrator appearing at pivotal moments in the story. Henry (Alex Hassell) is convinced of his right to the throne of France by ancestry. He resolves to invade but is initially dismissed by the Dauphin (Robert Gilbert) who scornfully presents him with tennis balls. Henry is undaunted as he foils a plot against him and prepares to cross the Channel. Henry rallies the troops as the tension builds between two warring nations. The battle ebbs and flows as the conquest reaches its climax at Agincourt.

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Review: 5***** Two Gentleman of Verona – HALF TIME REVIEW #theshowmustgoonline @robmyles

We are in a weird times. You will hear people say it again and again. But during this time, we get to experience new things, in new ways. And I feel honoured and lucky to have experienced TheShowMustGoOnline performing their first show.

Every week, Rob Myles and a group of talented actors will perform a read through of Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which they were written. Tonight is The Two Gentleman of Verona.

After being introduced to the cast, we had the most beautiful introduction to the play by Ben Crystal, actor, producer and writer and the author of Shakespeare on Toast. His voice is easy to listen to and his message, while tinged with sorrow that we face the times we do, is hopeful and brings some positivity.

Ben Crystal on my TV introducing the play

I will paraphrase, but here is what Ben said.

For everyone out there who has lost a project, who has lost a job, it may not be a great deal of comfort to know, The Globe went down due to the plague…and look what can be done [in relation to what Shakespeare managed to create]. Hopefully this coming together throughout art, is positive for me, and I hope for everyone else.

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@benadamsuk talks to us about the importance of creativity and how he is working to support his fellow actors as well as bring some joy to us all

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I would be talking to people in the entertainment industry about how they are managing now, why creativity is important and what they are doing to keep arts and culture available to us during this time.

Ben Adams, British singer, songwriter, producer, creator of Eugenius and member of band a1 , is the first to speak to us.

We are extremely grateful to Ben for taking the time when he is in the middle of organising the live streaming of Eugenius, which will be on Facebook tomorrow (Friday 20th March) at 7pm.

PP: What do you think the importance of creativity right now is and how do you think people use it to manage in times of crisis?

BA: It’s probably the best thing we can do to stay sane. The arts are created for people’s enjoyment, their own and others. As the world is a very scary place right now it’s the one medicine that is widely available and obtainable by anyone. 

PP: What do you think it means to people to be able to watch contemporary theatre and arts and do you think art is a counter to the anxiety of this time?

BA: Eugenius being streamed is a great example of this. We have already seen hundreds of messages from people who have expressed how thankful they are that they have something to take their minds off the panic and scare of everyday life at the moment. That was the point of the show in the first place and there is never a time I can remember that that kind of escapism has been more needed. 

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Eugenius streaming on Friday 20th March on Facebook benadamsuk @eugeniusuk

With the theatre industry in an unprecedented position and venues closed across the UK due to the COVID – 19 outbreak, industry leaders are creatively seeking ways to support theatre and bring it directly to you – at home. Following their hugely popular run at the Other Palace in 2018, the out-of-this-world British musical Eugenius! will release the full archive footage of the show online on Friday 20th March at 7pm in order to raisemoney for Acting for Others and provide some much-needed relief to those self-isolating.

The writers Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins say “THEY CAN’T STOP US, WE’RE A TEAM!…. as shows close across the globe and people are forced to stay at home, there’s never been a more important time to bring the joy of live theatre right to your doorstep! Unlike some other shows that have recordings intended for release this was never intended to be seen BUT as the cast are incredible, the music rocks and it still delivers the same heart felt story and feel good factor that audiences took away with them when they saw the show live, we thought you should see it anyway!  Team Eugenius thanks you in advance for all your support  – Go Hygienius! Go Hygiene!”

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