Category Archives: Performance

HAROLD PINTER: ‘THE BIRTHDAY PARTY’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

HAROLD PINTER: ‘THE BIRTHDAY PARTY’ 

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The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter
Stanley, an erstwhile pianist lives in a dingy seaside boarding house run by Meg and Petey. He is comfortable there, like a surrogate son. Two sinister strangers turn up – Goldberg and McCann. They claim to know him from the past. They turn Stanley’s birthday party into a menacing and terrifying encounter. Franz Kafka meets Donald McGill in Pinter’s iconic comedy of menace.

Stanley ….. Toby Jones
Goldberg ….. Henry Goodman
McCann ….. Stephen Rae
Meg ….. Maggie Steed
Petey ….. Peter Wight
Lulu ….. Jaime Winstone

Director/Producer Gary Brown

An Irishman and a Jew walk into a seaside boarding house. And what? A parable about power and persecution? Or maybe it’s marginalised minorities taking their revenge against seedy Albion? Pinter’s slippery and sly black comedy has a huge resonance for today.

Harold Pinter was one of the writers championed by the Third Programme – and in the late 1950s commissioned one of his early plays before he had his first stage hit. Pinter himself acknowledged the role the Third had had in his own cultural education. For the 70th anniversary, Drama on 3 presents a new production of The Birthday Party, now considered a Pinter classic, but which on its first London opening only lasted a week.

Photo: BBC Radio 3

 

EDITH WHARTON: ‘THE SHADOW OF A DOUBT’ (HER NEWLY DISCOVERED PLAY–LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3) ·

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World premiere of a newly discovered play by Edith Wharton from 1901, starring Phoebe Fox, Francesca Annis, Paul Ready, David Horovitch and Don Gilet.

Introduced by Laura Rattray, Reader in American Studies, University of Glasgow
Adapted for radio by Melissa Murray
Directed by Emma Harding

Long before she achieved fame with her novel, ‘The Age of Innocence’, Edith Wharton wrote a number of plays. But they were all believed lost until two academics, Laura Rattray and Mary Chinery, discovered the complete manuscript of ‘The Shadow of a Doubt’ in 2017. Wharton’s play – which pivots on the issue of assisted suicide – was about to be staged in New York in early 1901, before the production was abandoned for unknown reasons.

Kate, a former nurse, has recently married above her class to John Derwent, whose first wife Kate had nursed following an horrific accident. But others are suspicious of Kate’s social ascent. And others have knowledge that could destroy her.

Kate Derwent…..Phoebe Fox
John Derwent…..Paul Ready
Sylvia Derwent…..Rosie Boore
Lord Osterleigh…..David Horovitch
Lady Uske…..Francesca Annis
Dr Carruthers…..Don Gilet
Clodagh Nevil…..Alexandra Constantinidi
Bobby Mazaret…..Cameron Percival
Footman…..Lewis Bray
Mrs Fullerton…..Emma Handy

Photo: WBUR

AN EVENING WITH ANGELA CARTER (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

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Two iconic radio plays, first produced in the 1970s, now given brand new productions.
Introduced by Fiona Shaw as Angela Carter.

VAMPIRELLA
A young Englishman, travelling by bicycle through Transylvania, finds himself at the mercy of a ‘lovely lady vampire’ and her governess.

THE COUNTESS … Jessica Raine
THE COUNT … Anton Lesser
HERO … Oliver Chris
MRS BEANE … Doon Mackichan
SAWNEY/GATEKEEPER/PRIEST … Kevin McMonagle
BOY … William Gidney
YOUNG COUNTESS … Tilly Meeson
VILLAGERS/PEASANTS … Pip Williams, Rose Reade, Lucy Mangan, Tré Gordon

Director/Producer – Fiona McAlpine
Sound Design – Wilfredo Acosta

COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS
Carter’s hallucinatory documentary drama about the murderous Victorian painter, Richard Dadd.

CARTER … Fiona Shaw
RICHARD DADD … James Anthony Rose
SIR THOMAS PHILLIPS … Pip Torrens
FRITH … Keith Hill
OBERON … Robert Pugh
TITANIA … Monica Dolan
PUCK/ROBERT DADD … Tom Forrister
SHOPKEEPER/FAIRY FELLER … Noof McEwan
CRAZY JANE … Jasmine Jones
LANDLADY … Tilly Vosburgh
DOCTOR/HOWARD … Nicholas Murchie

Violinist – Madeleine Brooks
Director – Robin Brooks
Producer – Fiona McAlpine
Sound Design – Wilfredo Acosta

Radio 3 presents new interpretations of two radio scripts by Angela Carter, originally written and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in the 1970s. Both these scripts embody the combination of stylistic daring, playful wit, dazzling language, and high intellectual seriousness which is a hallmark of Carter’s best work. These productions will be introduced by Fiona Shaw, playing Carter, so that she may explain in her own words how she came to write them, and why she felt so strongly attracted to Radio drama as a medium.

VAMPIRELLA, Angela Carter’s first radio play was produced by Glyn Dearman, and broadcast in July 1976. As Carter describes it: the “lovely lady vampire’ skulks in her Transylvanian castle, “bored with the endless deaths and resurrections”, and caged by “hereditary appetites that she found both compulsive and loathsome”. A young British officer arrives, who kills her with the innocence of his kiss, and then goes off to die in a war “far more hideous than any of our fearful superstitious imaginings”.

COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS tells the story of the painter Richard Dadd, who murdered his father and was confined to Broadmoor, where he created the Fairy paintings for which he is now famous. Carter uses the story, and animates the fairy figures themselves, in order to explore how “the distorted style of the paintings of Dadd’s madness, together with his archetypical crime of parricide, seems to be expressions of the dislocation of the real relations of humankind to itself, during Britain’s great period of high capitalism and imperialist triumph.”

Photo: BBC Radio 3

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: ‘THE GLASS MENAGERIE’ (LISTEN NOW ON DRAMA ON 3–LINK BELOW) ·

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‘The Glass Menagerie’

By Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie was Tennessee Williams’ first big success when it opened on Broadway in 1945, and has remained the most touching, tender and painful of his works. Closely based on the playwright’s own life and family in St Louis in the 1930s, Williams breaks away from naturalism to create a dream-like atmosphere. The narrator Tom conjures up recollections of the cramped and claustrophobic tenement home he shares with his often over-bearing mother Amanda, and his painfully shy sister, Laura.

The play simmers with frustration as each character is trapped in their own unhappy situation. Tom (also Williams’ birth name) works in a warehouse but dreams of being a poet and escaping his mundane life supporting his mother and sister. Laura hides at home lacking the confidence to engage meaningfully with the outside world, preferring instead to get lose herself in her collection of fragile glass animals. Amanda sells magazine subscriptions over the phone and commits herself to finding a match for her daughter. One day, Tom succumbs to his mother’s pressure and brings home a gentleman caller to visit his sister, and their quiet existence is shattered.

The programme is introduced by John Lahr, author of the acclaimed biography Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh.

Amanda . . . . . Anastasia Hille
Tom . . . . . George MacKay
Laura . . . . . Patsy Ferran
Jim . . . . . Sope Dirisu

Music for violin arranged and performed by Bogdan Vacarescu.

Director: Sasha Yevtushenko.

Photo: BBC

 

CHEKHOV/FRAYN: ‘WILD HONEY’ WITH DAVID TENNANT (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 4—LINK BELOW) ·

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David Tennant stars in Michael Frayn’s brilliant adaptation of the riotous Chekhov comedy.

When Wild Honey was first produced at the National in 1984, Ian McKellan played Platonov at exactly the same age as David Tennant is now. It’s a rumbustious cornucopia of characters and themes covering sexual comedy, morality, melodramatics, the state of contemporary Russia and a hint of tragedy.

The play was famously discovered in a bank vault in 1920, sixteen years after Chekhov’s death – with the title page of the play missing, leading to its rather varied history of titles. The original piece was nearly six hours long and Michael Frayn has done a masterful job of turning the work into something quintessentially Checkhovian. Most critics agree that if it shows examples of Chekhov’s juvenilia – it also shows clear displays of what a genius he was to become.

Platonov himself is half Hamlet, half Benedict. A sharp and witty tongue – but somehow incapable of decision. Comedic with an underpinning of the tragic.

“I love everyone – and everyone loves me. I insult them, I treat them abominably – and they love me just the same!”

Village schoolmaster Platonov has it all – wit, intelligence, a comfortable and respectable life in provincial Russia, and the attentions of four beautiful women – one of whom is his devoted wife. As summer arrives and the seasonal festivities commence, the rapidly intensifying heat makes everyone giddy with sunlight, vodka and passion.

Platonov – What’s going to become of us all?
Anna – You seem just a tiny bit less married
Platonov – How are we going to survive our lives?
Anna – First of all by enjoying the fireworks.

And fireworks is what follows…..

Adapted by Michael Frayn

Produced and Directed by Clive Brill
A Brill production for BBC Radio 4.

Photo: BBC Radio 4

 

OSCAR WILDE: ‘LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN’ WITH MIRA SORVINO–ON BBC RADIO 3 ·

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A fresh look at Wilde’s masterpiece of secrets, lies andb betrayal. His subtitle: ‘A play about a good woman’. 

Produced by award-winning Jarvis & Ayres Productions. Martin Jarvis directs a star cast: Mira Sorvino, Susannah Fielding, Jonathan Cake, James Callis, Ian Ogilvy, Rosalind Ayres, Peter Woodward. Social outsider Mrs Erlynne and respectable Lord Windermere share a secret. Are they having an affair? Confronted by young wife Margaret, her husband denies it. Unconvinced, she decides to leave him. A roller-coaster examination of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Deceit. Infidelity. Love. The tell-tale fan becomes a vital clue as the truth finally becomes clear. But who actually is the ‘good’ woman? 

Masterly thriller – its timelessness reflected in specially composed music. Drawing-room-comedy turned on its head in Wilde’s amazingly up-to-date study of hypocrisy.

 

Mrs Erlynne ….. Mira Sorvino
Lady Windermere ….. Susannah Fielding
Lord Windermere ….. James Callis 
Lord Darlington ….. Jonathan Cake 
Duchess of Berwick ….. Rosalind Ayres
Lord Lorton ….. Ian Ogilvy 
Mr Dumby ….. Peter Woodward
Cecil Graham …… Matthew Wolf 
Mr Hopper ….. Darren Keefe 
Parker ….. Darren Richardson
Agatha/Lady Stutfield ….. Elizabeth Knowelden 
Lady Plymdale/Rosalie ….. Edita Brychta
Lady Jedburgh ….. Jean Gilpin

Sound Design: Mark Holden
Specially composed music: A-Mnemonic 
Director: Martin Jarvis 
A Jarvis & Ayres Production.

Photo: BBC Radio 3

IBSEN: ‘THE WILD DUCK’ TRANSLATED AND ADAPTED BY CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON ·

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David Threlfall, Samuel West and James Fox star in Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece – as strong on comedy as profound, tragic drama. A family creates an imaginary forest in their loft room for a wounded wild duck.But will someone come to shatter their dreams?

Translated and adapted by Christopher Hampton

Hjalmar ….. David Threlfall
Gregers ….. Samuel West
Werle ….. James Fox
Gina ….. Lise-Ann McLaughlin
Hedvig ….. Lauren Cornelius
Ekdal ….. Clive Hayward
Relling ….. Michael Bertenshaw
Mrs Sørby ….. Georgie Glen

Solo flute played by Martin Feinstein

Director: Peter Kavanagh.

‘SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM’: LISTEN TO BBC RADIO 3 IN CONCERT ·

SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM: LISTEN TO RADIO 3 IN CONCERT

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Keith Lockhart conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra and a host of music theatre stars in the European premiere of a brand new review of the work of Stephen Sondheim, featuring some of his best-known songs such as ‘Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Losing my Mind’, from some of his greatest shows including Company, Follies, Gypsy and A Little Night Music. The concert includes specially recorded introductions to some of the songs by Stephen Sondheim himself.

Singers: Liz Callaway, Claire Moore, Julian Ovenden; Rebecca Trehearn, Tyrone Huntley, Damian Humbley

BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Keith Lockhart
Director: Bill Deamer.

Photo: BBC Radio 3

JON FOSSE: ‘THE NAME’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC 3—LINK BELOW) ·

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Norwegian Jon Fosse, winner of the prestigious International Ibsen Prize in 2010, is one of the world’s most performed playwrights. His breakthrough came with Namnet (‘The Name’), written in 1995, and itremains one of his most widely produced plays. It tells the story of a pregnant young woman’s return to the claustrophobia of family home with the reluctant father-to-be in tow. Translated by Gregory Motton.

The Girl ….. Norah Lopez Holden
The Boy ….. Joseph Ayre
The Mother ….. Ellie Darvill
The Father ….. Philip Bretherton
The Sister ….. Isabella Inchbald
Bjarne ….. Nikhil Parmar

Directed by Toby Swift

British playwright Simon Stephens introduces the drama. His adaptation of Fosse’s play I AM THE WIND was performed at the Young Vic in 2011.