#LLLPLay – about the play

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I literally spent only some 54h in total from touch down to departure in NY and this includes travel to and from airport so unfortunately this trip did not include a lot of sight-seeing. You’re calculating right now and wondering what did I do that left so little time for such an amazing city?

Well, from Friday evening to Sunday mid afternoon I attended 2 matinees and 2 evening performances of the #LLLPlay. However, I did manage to do more touristy things than I imagined I would get the chance. And jholland has described our out-of-theatre activities so well I won’t repeat it 😉

Suffice to say I loved the city much more than I thought I would! I am a very loyal Londoner 😉 And I am not cheating on my home city when I say NY is wonderful, vibrant and relaxed. I look forward to going back hopefully sometime soon and getting to see more of it, exploring some of its quieter parts and not just the 24h tourist sites 🙂 There is an air of energy about the city which is amazing. I didn’t think living in London I could be overwhelmed by the rhythm of it but I was. Maybe because I was feeling under the weather and winter is also a factor. But I enjoyed walking through the city Sunday morning when there were less people around and just looking at the buildings and shops and what felt like normal life. I’d love more of that. I hope I’ll get to do that, immerse myself more in normal life in NY in various areas, do a bit more of what NY-ers do around town.

And I really really hope I get to return the favour to our lovely guides around town when they come to London next. I hope we’ll get an occasion for it! 😉

So the following will be mostly impressions about the play. Not descriptions and I think by now we have much better accounts of the details than I could ever give! There are detailed insights into the play act by act from Serv here  (act 3 ) , here (act 2  ) and here (act 1 )   (which I can now finally read!) And you’ll also find in these further links to her impressions, which I am also looking forward to reading more of.

A few more things before I dive in, sorry for the many digressions. Unfortunately I didn’t take any notebook with me nor did I even have time to find scraps of paper to write down any notes on. So these are just the most prominent impressions in my mind. I don’t think having a cold made a difference in the end although I feared it would. I was wide awake and gave it all the energy and concentration I had and luckily between the small space and the excellent diction my clogged up hearing didn’t affect my enjoyment of the experience.

There has been a lot of debate around it being useful or not to read the play in advance. I don’t think I could have resisted the temptation 😉 I was never sure I was able to go so I wanted to take part in some small way. I also wanted to understand what people were commenting on better and sometimes  when the subject can be more difficult I like to have some prior prep, especially when I know I am not going to be able to see something many times. Knowing something about it in avance allows me to absorb more details in one go rather than getting totally distracted or absorbed by the plot itself and finding out what happens next. But I only read it once for information purposes and didn’t go back over the detail beyond that before seeing it.

I also watched Wild (the broadcast from Hampstead theatre of another of Mike Bartlett’s plays) and absorbed Dr Foster (which is absolutely loved). I was less enamoured with Wild as some others because clever stagecraft does not mean great play in my mind. I do think he found a clever solution for the ending of Wild and since the Snowden issue is indeed still open in most ways I think it was a good was to deal with the lack of resolution of the happenings in the plot. Sometimes I felt with Wild that I was being preached at, but only minimally. It could also be that I’ve had way too many experienced of productions in opera where people assume the audience is uninformed, ignorant or just not alive to current happenings that they felt they needed to hammer subjects home a bit too much. I’m sorry for my temporary bias 🙂 I did enjoy the play itself and the back and forth of themes and he debate. And in hindsight, experiencing another work of his live has brought out some characteristics of his writing which I appreciate very much. While some of the subject I may already be familiar with I’ve come to appreciate his craft very very much. And I’ll explain why #LLLPLay was a key to that.

But to start with I was a bit ambivalent about Wild and very much won over by Dr Foster. I found Love Love Love to be a heavy meal on the page. Easy to read but the subject itself was very disturbing. The dialogue and the words flow with amazing easy and natural feel and it is one of Bartlett’s greatest skills! Theatre feels many times as interchanges of opinions where somebody speaks and everyone else listens and then somebody else takes a turn. And there is nothing wrong with that as it often allows us to hear not only what people say but also what they really think and feel. But it is not necessarily how people speak in real life 🙂 Replicating that in a play is much harder! Writing dialogue that is as natural as normal talk is an art and I’ve come to appreciate just how good Bartlett is at it. I think it is this great skill of his which made Dr Foster so good! Well, that and a very clever plot and great characters (superbly acted!). But you can’t be a great script writer without that skill 🙂

But when something reads so naturally it’s easy to get drawn into the characters and to dig your heals into the plot noticing less of the skill behind it. It’s fair to say I was appalled and disgusted by both Sandra and Kennet when I read the play. I felt pity for Jamie and Rose , but the latter also annoyed me. My feelings felt offended by the egoistic vein of these people, by their shocking lack of compassion. I didn’t even crack a smile while reading and the dark irony of it made me rather angry. Not because it felt unrealistic, quite the contrary. Rose’s realities are very close to my own, I understand the world she lives in. But the total oblivion of the parents to the needs of their children, their complete lack of evolution, maturity almost is not a pretty sight.

I seriously doubted I could sit through repeat viewings of the play without becoming depressed. I did by no means hate the playwright or think it was a bad play. But the characters themselves I didn’t enjoy and I felt the play did take me to a very dark place. I guess it is also context. It’s not been a great year for realities around us and struggles with housing and daily life are all too real in London. So the sudden excitement of seeing RA back on stage took a nosedive upon realising that the experience might be anything but uplifting and only one more reminder about the stuff going on all around me. It was clear this was going to be nothing like the emotional deep dive and cathartic experience the Crucible was. At least from reading the play. It felt as if this too was just forcing me to deal with the things that I already saw every day around me, every day at work on the news screens around me, every month when I pay the ridiculous rent and so on.

So I was anxious about the experience while I was at the same time looking forward to seeing him act live on stage again. The balance tipped in favour of the experience at an odd moment.  Every play I’ve seen since the summer has been depressing in its own way:  The Entertainer, Hamlet, Richard III 2x, No man’s land, young Chekov (Platanov), Les Blancs and the Red barn. None of them a barrel of laughs.  Or certainly not meant to be that.  But there were laughs, in most of them! And I wouldn’t miss seeing any of them, even though they are not cheerer-uppers. The plays and the acting was so great! And watching Mark Strong in the Red Barn it suddenly hit me. He’s excellent, just as good as I remember him from a View from the bridge which won him the Olivier. The Olivier for which Richard was also nominated. Richard who I very clearly remembered being as good on stage as the man I was watching. As many of the actors I’ve been watching. Of course the play itself matters but what matters even more is how it is brought to life and what you remember is the performance that made it real and memorable. I will remember not just the plays but I will remember the actors who made the plays stand out. And the vividness and intensity of the experience would always be worth it!

And the experience does not have to necessarily be emotionally overwhelming, or even cathartic (although I’ll always have a soft spot for an expertly closed emotional and story arc – thanks to Shakespeare) , all it has to be is intense. It has to make a difference, it has to grab you and in the best of cases it will make a lasting impact and make you think about it for a long long time. And sometimes it is much harder to put an open ended and un-resolved play to rest than it is a neatly tied up story (if done right).

I was still wondering though why people laughed so much during Love Love Love!

Turns out the play lifts off the page very well indeed. It’s a perfect mix of sparkling, witty writing, clever and clean production and excellent acting. Had I not read a bit about Michael Mayer before I would be convinced of his directing skills after seeing the play the first time. I love directions which support and enhance the play without being in your face. Of course that won’t work with all plays, but one as ‘verbose’ as this does not need distractions form excess of physical activity or props or sets. This is simple, yet elegant and leaves space for the family and generational drama to unfold.

You probably can’t really call the 1st act sets elegant 😉 But they give you in small details the exact feel of a student flat well lived in. The half eaten half burnt toast (I guess beans on toast as is the eternal student staple diet and because they have run out of beans), the dirty pint glasses, the lack of food but abundance of drink bottles. Clothes dropped carelessly around the old sofa, the portable telly sat on anything available (in this case an old suitcase). The only thing that drew my attention as potential miss match is the mixer tap in the kitchen. I tried to find out if this was available or typical in London flats in the 70s and earlier, but I doubt it since separate taps were the bane of my life in rented flats even a few years ago. But, it’s kitchen not bathroom so it is possible, I am sure they did their research more thoroughly than I did. Love the 2 seater sofa which effectively isolates Henry away from Sandra and Kenneth and is just big enough for Kenneth to splay on it in all his length. It also forces Henry to sit where he would look even sterner, in the armchair, rather than more relaxed on the sofa. And it emphasises the contrast between brothers when Kenneth bounces round on it or wriggles suggestively in it as soon as he has sussed out his brother is bringing a date tonight to the apartment. The simple use of that armchair and sofa is not in the words but is a subtle and yet very telling addition by the director.

Generally the movement in and around the furniture, especially the sitting down and getting up provided a continuous source of entertainment and discovery. And was one of the most creatively used acting props I have seen. Such detail! So telling! ( what would Kenneth do with himself if he didn’t bounce round the furniture in act1? I’d love to know how the movement was choreographed and how much input was given by director, actor, script, etc)

Act 2’s house is a gem of discovery, loved looking for the books, the paintings fit the style and money around, the furniture is spot on. Even the layout speaks to us! The table is set out just so that you can see dad and 14! Year old son mirror each other while smoking and drinking red wine. And again use of furniture tells us so much about the people and also defines their age so well! Both Jamie and Rose rarely sit on anything normally 🙂

And act 3 is as posh as it gets! The big doors to the gardens, the restrained furniture in pastel colours elegantly spaced out. Small details which tell you everything you need to know about their wealth/status/lifestyle. And again there is much acting of age, degree of comfort with oneself, physical state in just the sitting on the sofa.

The production puts just enough props around to boost key moments and I have to say the director has honed in on those perfectly. There is hardly a breather in this 2h fast paced play but where there is a pause it’s filled very effectively. It’s utterly entertaining and riveting. I could have seen it not 4 times consecutively, but many more without getting bored.

I even enjoyed the almost constant smoking if it didn’t make me cough! Those herbals are the worst!

The costumes where equally brilliant in shaping personalities and times and ages. Not too much as it could have easily gone overboard with Sandra but managed not to outshine her personality 😉 And not just Sandra, but the kids too. The parents are so elegant and wealthy in their old age, Sandra certainly likes her bling, while the kids are blatantly dressed very basically and practically. I am sure I’ll find the time for another post to talk about how some of the clothing detail contributed to the entertainment factor 😉 The hair was great too! I am glad we didn’t see a wig on Kenneth in act 1, they managed for both him and Sandra to go through very fast and very natural hairstyle changes. Impressive given the short time available for those changes. They even thought about details like the watches Kenneth wears which travel appropriately through time.

It’s testament to the great cast and direction that it stays fresh night after night after night. I would say it almost takes more than one viewing to start to appreciate what an intricate and fragile construction it is and the level of attention to detail and precise executive it requires to work the way that it does.

I can’t begin to imagine how dialogue that is so messy and natural gets puts together! Not only do they talk over each other like people do, but sometimes people talk and don’t listen to each other at all. At least with dialogue, even if broken you have clues to latch onto but if you just speak and other people talk over you it must be even more difficult to land the punchlines! Hats off to absolutely all of them! The word ping pong alone was worth the price of the ticket, after the first time I literally looked forward to the vocal sparing and to the next line!

And while I didn’t laugh as much as maybe others in the public the first time round I certainly did the other 3 times and probably more. They are shockingly horrible yes, but also funny because so outrageous. And even Sandra who is almost a caricature of a person has her moments. It’s not brutal all the time, there are flashes of all sorts of different feelings, even if only in mood changes on faces between words. Also the way the booze loosens tongues and makes all inhibitions crumble is done gradually and with subtlety.

What also keeps it interesting on repeat viewings are the variety of themes hidden in the play as well as all the things that are left unsaid. On first reading 2 things prevail – they are horrible egoistic parents who have screwed up their kids overlain on the social and generational problems of their times  – with compounded effect. But on stage there is so much more. Kenneth and Henry do have some things in common, at least in their relationship to their parents and there is some level of affection or understanding there even through the resentment and rivalry. And you are left wondering what happened through the years between this moment and Henrys death with some loss of connection being obvious (though hard to put down just to stealing a girlfriend).

Then there is Kenneth and Sandra’s relationship – their poor quality as parents can distract from the relationship they have with each other. There is obvious chemistry there and there is openness even though with horrible aspects in their discussion of their mutual cheating. They fully understand each other and love each other with flaws and all. It’s sad that they are into each other at the exclusion of their children but nevertheless the strength of their bond is really interesting and I have to say on stage, quite charming. There is something to be admired about the brutality with which they tell each other truths and their general commitment to be open with each other. And much to be laughed at when they recognise each other’s faults and irresponsibility so accurately but don’t see their own. I also find myself wondering who drives their relationship. The obvious answer would be Sandra, but it’s not always the case, as we are reminded of in the last act. She’s the more vocal one but I don’t get a sense of her making all decisions.

There is also the question of why both of them change so little in their lifetime? Yes they have jobs and houses and so on but emotionally, as adults they are equally or even more irresponsible as when they were 19. And whatever limitations society has put on them in their 40 they seem to be all too happy to ditch in their 60 to behave almost like 19 year olds again. I find that as sad as what they do to their own children.

I also found it interesting how prominent the mental health issues the children have are when you watch the staged play in comparison to when you read it. And this is down to mostly direction and acting, not text. But it is one more issue the older generation does not know how to handle and chooses to mostly ignore. And yet, while Kenneth ignores the depth of Jamie’s problems there is the other argument he mentions about Jamie being his own man, accepting him the way he is. Surely the solution would be in the middle ground between adequate help and acceptance. But I don’t feel like completely rejecting Kenneth’s view about the individuality of each person, in this case even if misguided as extreme parenting with his children.

And there is the big unexplained gap between their teenage years ruined by parents and their adulthood. I guess it’s why I don’t find it that easy to sympathise with Rose especially until the end, 20 years of decisions cannot be down solely to parental influence! Not when parents have obviously been happy to be hands off as soon as they could.

There are also of course the politics of the times, the issues around freedom and career development, of realising your dreams, especially for women, the cost of education and the choices available, the political views and so on. The passion for music and the idea of realising your early dreams and settling for less or trying to recapture the dreams…  It certainly leaves you with the feeling that there is so much more to talk about! Not least about whether or not the parents should have bought Rose the house which they could afford and she never can on her income. Yes, she’s made poor career choices not just because of her parents,  but can her parents simply ignore the lack of any security in her life when they can do something about it? After all he is doing something for Jamie, even if only because it is no bother and effort for him. With Rose it feels like out of sight, out of mind. While I don’t agree with her arguments I know that she has no other choice than to ask them for help.

What is interesting and also comes across I think stronger at first viewing is the change in writing between acts 1 and 2 and act 3. Act 3 has those key speeches from Rose , Kenneth and partially also Sandra and they cause some confusion in the audience reactions. People are unsure if to go on laughing because this time the various statements about each other’s lives but also society in general are more on the truthful than on the funny side. This time there is no funny come back, or very little of it. I understand why the choice but it makes it more difficult to hit the right mood with the audience I think. Especially as it starts in similar fashion as before with Rose fighting to get her parents to listen to her. It’s also the act which I think shifts most in feel from one performance to the next based on both audience reaction but also on stage atmosphere. Sometimes both parents are more outraged at the demands and accusations and sometimes less. I am a bit split about it as I am not sure it works completely. Especially as the end goes back to a similar mood as the previous acts.

There is also only a partial response to Rose’s assertions about society and I think it is a pity we don’t get a bit more of it. We’re left to wonder if these parents, as horrible as they are really are guilty of all the behaviours Rose heaps upon them. I think we are inclined to believe so based on what we’ve seen so far but I am not entirely convinced.

Lots to think about and I still crave seeing it more time to peel of more layers or turn some questions in my head some more and try and guess some answers from the detail of the acting. Which I will need to come back to in another post as I do want to pick them apart a bit more, especially in light of RA’s recent comments that it is all in the text 🙂 I want to have a word about that!

#LLLplay is certainly a very interesting and good play to sink one’s teeth in. One which doesn’t provide answers to all the questions it raises but I don’t think it needs to. It certainly throws the questions out there in a most entertaining way. I guess we’re allowed to laugh at their expense because we’ll try to avoid at least some of their mistakes 🙂

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28 thoughts on “#LLLPLay – about the play

  1. Pingback: Hariclea’s reaction to #LLLPlay #richardarmitage | Me + Richard Armitage

  2. Thanks for the link love and for sharing your impressions!

    –I didn’t watch Wild but I did read the script — I thought it was facile in the worst way. However, I thought Charles III (also read script) was quite clever. (But it’s started to open in different places in the US now and I’ve read a lot of reviews of it b/c I get a Google Alert for Bartlett now, and a lot of critics also think it’s facile.) I think the way Bartlett structures his plays makes them both highly topical but also very liable to the charge of superficiality and where one settles on that line as a viewer will be highly individual.

    –Agree that it’s almost impossible to imagine how this play could be funny until you see it and that sometimes you’re laughing but wondering why.

    –I guess I don’t see what’s so hard about writing dialogue like this (Hewson said something similar), but dialogue is not the cross I struggle with as a writer.

    –re Crucible vs this play: The comparison between this play and Crucible was also on my mind. The Crucible never provokes catharsis in me, only anger and exhaustion. My fear with this play was that I (as you refer to) have too much in common with Rose for entire comfort. I think the constant laughter meant that I didn’t think about this question on a conscious level (too distracted) but it definitely penetrated my dreams.

    –I agree Act Three was problematic (spilled a lot of ink on that). I’m not necessarily looking for a closed story arc (actually, it’s something I’ve really started to hate in literature, the need to tie up all the ends) but it often gives the impression that the play doesn’t know quite what it’s about.

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    • I thought Wild also worked well on stage, the various discussions with the bunch of all sort of secret service people where quite interesting and it did raise a lot of questions that i imagine have been raised in reality too. Ultimately it’s a more interesting way to deal with subjects than just watch the news. I think Love love love works better for me. For Charles III i am waiting for the TV adaptation to be shown on the BBC to make up my mind 🙂 I think it wrongly may come across as facile because the themes are known or we are familiar with them, but i think he approaches them in fresh ways.

      I find dialogue is very hard to get right, i had mayor problems with it in BS in long stretches, it was everything but natural. It’s a funny thing when done well you don’t notice it but it jars when done not so well. And there is also the question of consistency, to make a character identifiable through his speech. I often find it’s where good writers come into trouble when they try to write scripts, they find it’s a very different beast. You’re lucky if it comes easier 🙂

      I think i thought i had more in common with Rose than i did, it’s maybe more common time and circumstance but certainly much less in common in terms of personality. We may struggle with similar challenges but we deal with them in very different ways. Which made the play easier to digest as it gave more distance than i thought i’d have.

      I like both resolved and open ended plays, both can work well if done well, but i can see how it can be a bit of a struggle with this one in particular. Its frustrating for the awful parents to just waltz happily into retirement while the children and fated to struggle.
      What made it enjoyable on so many levels was the acting for sure, so i am looking forward to thinking about it some more.

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      • It never occurred to me to expect Berlin Station’s dialogue to be realistic in the sense of being natural, so I guess I wasn’t looking for that.

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        • Well, it is the least one can expect from Tv series because they rely on dialogue and many of them are 🙂 It got better but it was truly awful in my opinion to begin with, but probably OS is learning, he’s new at this after all. We’ll see. Separate post before the end on BS coming up but had to take a break in the evening due to stupid migraine grrr.

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        • I think they are going for a particular style that is explicitly not supposed to seem realistic. I think that’s part of the aesthetic of the series, in fact.

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  3. Great post, Hari! As you know, I did no advanced reading leading up to the play, but reading this, I’m glad I didn’t. I think I might have almost dreaded the play if I read it- better for me to go in with a more open mind and let myself be surprised. I agree with many of your observations here, including the slightly problematic Act 3- not quite as successful, but overall still a great play with great performances. I’ve been looking forward to this post, and look forward to more as you continue to process your thoughts. =)

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    • Thanks a mill! so wish we had had more time to talk about it in person! Even if i don’t think we’ll ever find the answers to some of the questions we are asking 😉 I thought i’d separate the more ‘serious’ business of play impressions for the more drooling comments about his acting. And i think they deserve a post on their own, he’s talking down on his performance in this way too much! It’s so much more than just delivering the text! 🙂

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  4. I like your discussion of how it works on and off the page. I have noticed this too, that you can’t tell until you see it in production. It makes wonder how the playwrights know, whether their work will live on the stage or not. A mysterious talent. And what a wonderful trip you had, even if it was short & sweet. I hope you get a return visit to enjoy the Big Apple. That energy you felt is definitely a characteristic of the city!

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    • I hope i’ll be back, really really loved it! wish you’d had a chance to see it, i think you would have enjoyed it. And sometimes you can tell how it will feel or how it should feel if done right and sometimes it’s such a surprise. I too wonder how Mike Bartlett knows? But his timing and the atmosphere he manages to create really works. The characters may not be people we recognise completely but they come alive very well. I think he’s really talented.
      PS need to do a lot of catching up on your posts, sorry for the delays, it’s been manic and i am just slowing getting on top of things.

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      • I wanted to see it! My dates just barely missed, as we will be there over Christmas. But I am going to see Les Liaisons Dangereuses and of course Nabucco, which just got a great review in the NYT! Exciting!
        Don’t worry about the posts, I’ve been slammed too with all the travel the past two months.

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  5. Thanks so much for this post! Not having a chance to see the play, I was looking forward to your general thoughts and impressions. I wasn’t disappointed!

    On a few random thoughts:

    I so often find that a play (and often certain playwrights in particular) read on the page differently than they speak out loud. I was surprised when I first read Sarah Ruhl’s work, who is known for her lightness of touch, and found it kind of flat and dense. But as soon as I had actors read it aloud, it was really funny. When they performed a staged reading with the audience, it was sparkling and had an unexpected depth of feeling.

    I sometimes think the thing about writing for spoken dialogue (rather than the kind that’s read in novels or on the pages of playbooks) is about how the words are physically formed in the mouth and how the vowels and consonants tickle the receiver’s ear. When we actually hear them out loud and the sound waves hit our inner ear, there’s a different quality to it. A physical response. At least for me! I think that may have been why I was attracted to the theater, even though I was a scribbler as a kid.

    Re: Charles III. As it is the only Bartlett I’ve seen a production of (and I have read the script of the Broadway production), I can say that I didn’t find it facile, but I found some aspects of the actor who played Charles to be facile. The first 2/3 of the play are full of a clever combining of modern language in iambic pentameter that it’s really engaging. Along with the plot, it had a buoyant quality that made it all seem easy and fun to follow. But in the final 1/3 when events and other people are closing in on Charles, the writing turns quite dark. In the production I saw at ACT, the actor playing Charles wasn’t quite up to the demands of that final 1/3. He was great up until then, but his performance lost steam somewhere in there. That was my take on it, anyway. It may all depend on the central actor.

    But like LLL, Charles III is definitely a play people either respond very well to or they take it with distaste. At least Bartlett inspires a point of view!

    Finally: ” It has to make a difference, it has to grab you and in the best of cases it will make a lasting impact and make you think about it for a long long time.” The next play I direct, this is going inside my director’s binder!

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      • Don’t worry got it and we’ll get into it in more detail once the Bbc airs tje newly filmed version with pretty much same cast as on stage here. Gotta survive work Xmas stuff tomorrow which i had to organise too and xmas shopping but will get back. Thanks for taking time to read my ramblings!

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    • I promise i will get back to you in detail! Head still achy from earlier migrane grr. But you are very right and I’m finding it so fascinating to discover ever new things about the secrets of theatre! Xx

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    • Charles III: I thought the philosophical and political problems at the core of the play were important (and connect the play really effectively to the “great” thinkers of the modern West), I thought the decision to parody (mildly) a Shakespeare play was a brilliant one, and if anyone in the US will laugh at jokes in iambic pentameter, well, I’ll stand overnight in that line to get front row seats. I really thought that the meter was one of the best aesthetic ideas I’ve seen from him (even if sometimes the execution of the speeches on the page falls somewhat flat — but I forgive him, it’s hard to write believable dialogue in verse these days). One reason the play succeeds on paper, I think, is that the way he sets up the problem (as in all of his plays I read) is paradoxical (Charles, the monarch / monarchist (?) is supposed to do the thing that will have the practical consequence of ending the monarchy; in protecting monarchic privilege, he seeks to defend democracy against the forces arrayed to destroy it) but also the problem itself is much bigger than the one in LLL. (This may be the source of my disappointment with Wild — the problem being explored is way bigger than the play suggests. The script as it is now reads like a first draft.)

      In one of the reviews I read (don’t remember which theater anymore — I think there have been four productions in the US this fall, no? that I’m aware of anyway), the critic seemed to suggest that the casting was severely at issue, that the actors had been cast primarily to mimic the real people. To me this implied a bit that the people making the play had elevated the play’s practical effect of parodying the monarchy as it is over its bigger dramatic or philosophical questions about how democracy should work. If that’s the real problem, then the play is just suffering from having been written too soon — it will have legs because its questions are so significant, and we just have to get out of this phase where an audience subliminally expects Charles to look a certain way and so on.

      I’d really like to see it, anyway. I’ll also be awaiting with interest the broadcast of the BBC version.

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      • The review may have been the ACT production as so many of the actors in that production were dead ringers (from the stage, at least) for the people they were playing.

        My husband really enjoyed the play for those philosophical and political problems. I know because we had conversations about them for weeks after we saw it, and if he finds a lot to chew on he considers it good work. It’s his favorite kind of playwrighting and he doesn’t get enough of it these days, so Bartlett is right up his alley.

        For me, there was a key moment when William was lowering the boom on Charles that was really effective. It spoke to the political quagmire they were in as public figures and as family members. The scene as played also had a distinct generational conflict that had echoes of Love, Love, Love.

        I’m looking forward to the BBC version of it, too.

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        • … and that, too, is very Shakespearan (and early modern in general): the idea that disorder in the family = disorder in the polity. I suppose maybe one could argue that this is something that Bartlett is trying to say in LLL as well (for a mass world, so to speak), although I don’t think it comes across so clearly. (it’s also interesting to me how excited Terry Teachout has been about this play and I think that’s a sentiment he would agree with. Family relationships are out of order and that has all kinds of other political, economic, consequences.)

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      • Sounds like he had a bit more time to spend with Charles III and form is very interesting in this case indeed. Am curious enough now to go and look out for the script to read before i see it on TV 🙂

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    • Sorry for the late reply! I am flying home to see parents on the 23rd and it is a bit crazy getting ready as usual.
      So, thank you again for your kind words 🙂 I think you have a very good point there about the way the words reach our ears. It’s very true in opera where the words and the sounds they make are so important and of course it would be similar in theatre, though i never have stopped to think about it before! I do wonder how the writers know how it will sounds, do you think they realise the different ways it will read and speak? They must since some of them are obviously so good at it!
      I find it hard to tell just by reading. I can’t imagine how much more fascinating it must be for you to discover it during rehearsals, since we only either read it beforehand or discover it ready made on stage 🙂

      I wish i had managed to see Charles III, it seems MB often turns in his last act to a different, more somber mood. I may read it before i get to see the filmed version. It certainly poses challenged for an actor, such a change in mood and atmosphere. There is some of that in LLL as well but maybe less radical. We’ll definitely need to talk about once we’ve seen that adaptation 🙂

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  6. Great insights about LLL and sharing your experiences. Since I didn’t get to see the play, I appreciate your sharing your thoughts! And I, too, am conflicted with the entitlement whining Rose–but then, also sympathetic toward her. I especially was struck by your mention of the seeming shift of the “tone” of the play–both from page to stage and between the various acts. Holiday Cheers!

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  7. Thanks for this Hari! Wish I could have seen this as well. Interesting to read the difference between reading the play and experiencing it. Sometimes acting can make a text come more to life than you ever could imagine in your own head, this post really reiterates that.

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