Monday, January 19, 2009

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn, Olivier Theatre, 12-Jan-2009 – Directed by Felix Barrett and Tom Morris

My immediate thought after the play was that this was a Russian short story (or what I think of as a Russian short story given almost zero knowledge - blackly comic with authoritarian overtones anyway) with orchestra. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve wondered if the music and the play meshed. Certainly with one actor seemingly imagining or controlling the orchestra and another actor and sundry dancers in the orchestra, there was a great deal of integration but with the benefit of hindsight I’m remembering them as being separate; existing in the same space but not communicating. I’m not absolutely certain that I felt this at the time and it does seem to belie the facts of the play. However I get the feeling of the music and the play allowing for and acknowledging the others presence but not actually talking rather like a long married couple who still communicate but have nothing to say to each other anymore.
I’m not going to say that it wasn’t good because it was and I enjoyed myself and my initial thoughts might have more to do with me mulling it over too long. If I had problems with the piece it was that I wanted more substance from the play. One example is that the comic pay-off of the play happens as a result of two characters having the same name and although I was aware of the fact I didn’t think that it had been clearly enough stated or that other comic misunderstandings had been attempted. Of course it would have been very easy to overdo the setup and make the joke too obvious. I wanted to feel that the two characters with the same name were really cellmates and, possibly, had bonded in some way. I would have also liked a more complete picture of the Doctor or at least something that left me wanting more rather than feeling that I hadn’t seen enough (I realise that it’s a fine, maybe non-existent, distinction).
I was completely taken in by Bryony Hannah’s portrayal of the boy Sasha, in that, in spite of having a programme and reading the cast list, I missed that fact that he was a she.


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