So here, finally, is my recent theatre round up:
London Assurance, National Theatre - Loved it, loved it, loved it. Written by Irish playwright Dion Boucicault, who was a contemporary of Dickens, it is essentially an old school farce with larger than life characters plotting, scheming and getting tricked along the way.
Simon Russell Beale is superb as Sir Harcourt Courtly, the city gent who mistakenly believes he is still young, good looking and fashionable and whom is off to marry a woman young enough to be his daughter. And Fiona Shaw is equally superb as the horsey and loud Lady Gay Spanker (the name was enough to sell it to me) who plots to woo Sir Harcourt for a bit of fun.
There are too many other delicious characters to mention but if you are expecting an evening of thought provoking theatre, look elsewhere. If instead you want to sit back with a glass of something nice and have a bit of fun with plenty of laughter along the way then do what you can to get your hands on the quickly disappearing tickets.
Juliet and her Romeo, Bristol Old Vic - This was a work related freebie so I had nothing to lose. Romeo and Juliet with a twist: it's set in an old people's home. A nice idea but it just didn't work for me.
The script pretty much kept to what Shakespeare wrote and while I don't have problem at all with love stories set around older generations, the energy and passion and subsequent violence and tragedy that comes with this famous teen love story just can't be adequately replicated in the over 70s. For example, when Juliet is being threatened with a nunnery if she doesn't marry Paris you empathise with her as a young girl at the mercy of the grown ups but with an 80 year old? I couldn't help thinking: 'Stop bullying that old lady or I'll report you to social'.
Sian Phillips did as marvellous a job as Juliet as she could and looked so elegant throughout but the whole thing just clunked and grinded along at a geriatric pace and I got a little bit bored.
Sweet Nothings, Young Vic - I saw this back at the beginning of the month and I'm actually struggling to remember much about it, which is quite telling. I've had to check the programme as an aid memoir and it is about a man who lives in fear of his married lover's husband finding out about the affair while dallying with another young woman who is very much in love with him. I didn't get much of a sense of his fear nor of the depth of the young woman's love. Mitzi the flirtatious but more worldly-wise friend is a more interesting character (played by Natalie Dormer of Anne Boleyn/Tudors fame) but otherwise there was little that was engaging which subdued what should have been quite a tragic ending.
Serenading Louie, Donmar Warehouse - Described as 30-somethings reflecting on how their lives haven't quite turned out how they imagined it had potential. It was written in the 70s and is set in the 60s and follows the lives of two couples who are friends.
None are totally happy in their marriage (one of the women is having an affair, one of the men befriends young students in an attempt to feel young). Neither are they happy with their jobs or role as housewives.
The first half sees their unhappiness and discontent slowly revealed like some cankerous growth. The second half sees them confront the growth with shocking results. Or it should be.
Maybe I was too tired. Yes I could see how nicely it all fitted together and how the clues were there all along. It was well acted but I found the characters a bit grating and just wanted them to get on and explode or do whatever they were going to do at the end. And afterwards my accomplices and I talked more about the dresses the actresses wore than anything else. I've probably enjoyed it more thinking and writing about it than I did actually sitting through it.