London and NY -- Dublin, too
I'm happy to report that the London theatre scene is still thriving, as is the rest of the city, despite recent terrible events.
The two great standout plays for me were "Ferryman" at the Gielgud and "Ink" at Almeida. Both have garnered so much interest that I'd be shocked if they don't show up in NY.
Jez Butterworth, of "Jerusalem" fame, has outdone himself with "Ferryman." The cast of 23 are uniformly wonderful, led by Paddy Considine. The direction by Sam Mendes is so fine, it's virtually invisible. Days after, I've been wondering how the Carney clan is faring -- at 3 1/2 hours in length, it will seem too short, I promise. When it announces a NY run, I'll entreat you to stop everything and buy tickets!
"Ink," by James Graham, brings Rupert Murdoch's 1969 takeover of the Sun, a British tabloid, to exuberant life. The cast is great, and Bertie Carvel as Murdoch, is the greatest. They glow withjournalistic zeal and Rupert Goold's terrific direction. The play is remarkably evenhanded in explaining Murdoch's ferocious ambition to create a paper for the people -- and Carvel is so attractive, there's nary a worry of a lawsuit!
Wonderfully entertaining, was the revival of Terence Rattigan's "Love In Idleness," starring the inimitable Eve Best. Not so bad to see a play with intelligent and witty dialogue, beautiful scenery and costumes, and a happy ending!
Less involving for me were the well-received "Barber Shop Chronicles" at The National, and "The Life of Galileo" at the Young Vic. There were other plays, alas, not worthy of a mention...
A short side trip to Dublin was a perfect delight, for the extraordinary all Irish cast in "Once". The joy is palpable in this video. The play has seasoned since its beginning at New York Theater Workshop, and it was quite magical back then. If you know anyone going to Dublin, urge them to run to the historic Olympia Theatre this summer.
Now, I'll get back to the real business of this missive -- what to see in New York.
The annual Lincoln Center Festival is on, and I'll be seeing three:
"Opening Skinner's Box" comes from Britain's Improbable Theatre Company, and is having a very short run, as are all these plays. Although it received mixed reviews when presented in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, I'll be there because the subject fascinates me and perhaps you, too.
I look forward to "While I Was Waiting" because the problems of the Middle East are riveting, especially when seen through the eyes of a Syrian company. I want to celebratethe performance here, fingers crossed they can get visas -- read this New York Times article.
"To the End of the Land" gives us a chance to see the conflict from an Israeli perspective. After a sold-out run in Tel Aviv I shan't miss it.
I always anticipate PTP/NYC's return to Atlantic Two. This year, they'll grace us with "Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard (happy 80th birthday!) -- a personal favorite among his many masterful plays; and "Pity in History," another of Howard Barker's often challenging historical dramas.
I'll be going to Second Stage for "A Parallelogram" by the well regarded playwright, Bruce Norris ("The Pain and the Itch"), which began at Steppenwolf -- here's a review. Will his vision of the future still seem quite so improbable, seven years after its first production?
Finally, try to make time for "Pipeline" at Mitzi Newhouse by Dominique Morisseau. After meeting her wonderfully drawn characters in "Skeleton Crew," I won't miss anything she writes.
Since I'll again be spending August at the august (pardon me!) Edinburgh Festival Fringe, looking for the next winner of my Award -- I won't be communicating until September. If you find the time -- please join me. Drop me an email for any guidance you may need -- the 70 year-old Festival is indeed the largest arts festival in the world, but navigable with a bit of planning, and well worth the effort.
Enjoy the rest of the summer!