Tag Archives: trevor fox

The Tempest – William Shakespeare (Shakespeare’s Globe)

I am a long term fan of Shakespeare’s Globe.  I bought a brick for £5 when it was being built in 1996, and having now seen 8 excellent productions on its stage, I’d say it was a great investment.  If your back, legs and feet can handle it, standing in the yard with the groundlings is the best ‘seat’ in the house – you get a great view of the stage and can always move if someone tall stands in front of you.  At just £5.00, it’s also the cheapest theatre ticket in London.

tempest

Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan was banished by his brother Antonio and 12 years later, he still wants revenge.  When Antonio’s ship sails near the island, Prospero uses his magic to conjure a tempestuous storm.  The play opens with its iconic shipwreck scene, with all sound effects provided by the percussionists in the gallery – the matinee sunshine is a little at odds with the sounds of rolling thunder and howling wind, but the men onboard the ship become separated in the storm and each in turn wash up on the island.  There we meet Prospero (Roger Allam), his daughter Miranda (Jessie Buckley), his spirit companion Ariel (Colin Morgan – Merlin in the BBC TV series of the same name) and his deformed feral servant Caliban (James Garnon).

Roger Allam gives a great performance as a man whose bitterness has been reignited by the reappearance of his brother and he proceeds to play tricks on the shipwrecked men, aided by Ariel.  Colin Morgan imbues his character with an almost childlike mischievousness and proves himself more that worthy in a stage role.  Jessie Buckley gives Miranda a glow of naivety, almost drunk with joy when she first encounters the strangers arriving on the island.  But it is James Garnon whose wronged simian-like Caliban steals the show at times with his vocal gymnastics, swinging from deeply guttural to high pitched squeaking.

The highlight of the play is a typical Shakespeare slapstick scene; drunken jester Trinculo (Trevor Fox – last seen in The Pitmen Painters) stumbles ashore, wrings out his oversized codpiece and hides under a blanket waiting for the storm to pass, only to find Caliban underneath and the two proceed to get tangled up in the fabric.  The writhing, shouting mass of limbs is found by Stephano (Sam Fox, a regular face in Shakespeare comedy roles) a drunken steward from the shipwreck who believes it to be creature that is either ill or possessed: “four legs and two voices: a most delicate monster!”  Shakespearean comic acting at its best.

The Tempest runs on selected nights up until Sunday 18th August, however it forms part of the ‘Season of Plenty’ at the Globe which includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth which are running until Sunday 13th October.

Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, LONDON, SE1 9DT

http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/

Shakespeare’s Globe is currently building a traditional indoor Jacobean theatre which will be open for its first performances in January 2014.  To be named the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, after the Globe’s visionary founder, this will be an exquisite candlelit venue in which Shakespeare would have felt right at home.  They have so far raised 94% of their £7.5million target.  If you would like to contribute towards this exciting new venture, you can do so by clicking this link.

The Pitmen Painters – Lee Hall (Duchess Theatre)

pitmen

It has to be said that The Pitmen Painters is something of an art and history lesson rolled into one.  Written by Lee Hall – most famous for writing the movie Billy Elliot and the subsequent West End musical – The Pitmen Painters is based on the true story of the miners who hired a professor to teach them art appreciation and quickly abandoned theory in favour of practise, painting the life that they knew.  Although the original collective numbered more than 30 men, that has been scaled down to 5 distinct personalities for theatrical purposes.

Set in Ashington in the north of England in 1934, life is tough, work is scarce and money is tight – and yet this play opens with great humour and warmth as the men bicker amongst themselves about what art is, the hidden meanings in paintings, and the rules by which they must abide if the class is to take place at all.

Led by the bureaucratic George (Joe Caffrey) who had quite a remarkable ability to turn his face almost purple with each vitriolic rant about anything from the plugging in of a projector to the immorality of accepting money for their paintings, the group consists of Oliver (Trevor Fox), Jimmy (David Whitaker), Harry (Michael Hodgson) and George’s nephew (Brian Lonsdale) and their esteemed teacher, Robert Lyon (Ian Kelly).  The cast is completed by life model Susan Parks (Joy Brook) who seems determined to take her clothes off and art collector Helen Sutherland (Joy Brook) a keen admirer of modern art and raw talent.

The men begin with simple lino cuttings and slowly move on to painting, each developing his own style.  Amongst the pacy lines and hilarious dialogue, there are some very poignant moments, particularly when Oliver (the most talented of the group) struggles to come to terms with his new-found ability and Trevor Fox plays this with great depth and subtlety; he has grown to love painting but does not consider it to be an honest day’s work – he comes from a long line of pitmen and even when he’s offered a weekly wage to paint full-time, he fears leaving behind the only life he has ever known.

I am always in awe of any actor who can multi-task; it is one thing to learn lines, develop a character and follow stage directions – it is quite another to do a chalk/charcoal sketch live on stage that so closely mimics the original it is based on (shown on a screen above the stage), whilst still continuing with a scene of dialogue as though this were the most natural thing in the world.  I was completely spellbound – Ian Kelly, I take my hat off to you.

 

The Pitmen Painters is at The Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street, Aldwych, WC2B 5LA and is currently booking until Saturday, April 14, 2012

Contains some strong language – suitable for ages 10+

http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/66843/productions/the-pitmen-painters.html