Monthly Archives: January 2013


(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/8.)

Is there anything funnier in the history of farce than the central act of this 1896 Georges Feydeau play, originally entitled Le Dindon? The comic highpoint comes when a retired army doctor and his deaf wife retire to their hotel bed blissfully unaware of the fact that two alarm bells have been placed under their mattress. As the bells go off, the room fills with people on the watch for adulterous hanky-panky; what I shall not quickly forget is the look of aghast horror on the face of Auriol Smith, playing the doctor's wife, as total strangers rummage under her bedclothes to stifle a sound she cannot hear.

Needless to say, all this is plotted by Feydeau with mathematical precision. But what is unusual about Sam Walters's production is that it treats the characters as real people rather than whirling automata. Feydeau himself carefully prepares the ground by showing a respectable Parisian bourgeois, Lucienne, declaring that she herself will take a lover if ever she finds her husband, Vatelin, being unfaithful; and, in this production, you feel a marriage is genuinely at stake. There is a rueful tenderness between Beth Cordingly's beguiling Lucienne and the fraught Stuart Fox as her lawyer-husband, guiltily tormented by the sudden arrival of an old, long-quenched flame. The attention to character pays off handsomely in the final act, when Cordingly calculatedly excites a prospective lover, played by David Antrobus with feverishly twitching lust, without offering him the least physical satisfaction.


(Hannah Furness’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 1/8.)

The seductive Dark Lady who inspired some of Shakespeare's most famous and explicit sonnets has remained a mystery for centuries.

Now, one expert has claimed to have finally identified the elusive woman, revealing her to be the wanton wife of an Italian translator.

The hitherto secret identify of Shakespeare's mistress has troubled literary historians, who believe she inspired sonnets 127 to 154 and some of his most memorable lines.

Dr Aubrey Burl, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, now believes she can be revealed as Aline Florio, the wife of an Italian translator, who "loved for her own gratification", "hurt and harmed poets and earls", and indulged in "temptation and callously self-satisfied betrayal of her husband".



Openings and Previews 

Event: Amandine

Venue: Cherry Lane Theatre

Cherry Lane presents a new musical, with a book and lyrics by . . .

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Event: Bethany

Venue: City Center Stage II

Laura Marks’s dark comedy, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, is about a . . .

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Event: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Venue: Richard Rodgers Theatre

Scarlett Johansson, Benjamin Walker, Ciarán Hinds, and Debra Monk star in a . . .

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Event: The Jammer

Venue: Atlantic Stage Two

Atlantic Theatre Company presents a play by Rolin Jones, about the world . . .

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Event: Tar Baby

Venue: DR2

Desiree Burch wrote and performs in a solo comedy about race relations . . .


Event: Working on a Special Day

Venue: 59E59 Theatres

The Play Company and Por Piedad Teatro present this drama about a . . .

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Twelfth Night or What You Will,
by William Shakespeare.

Duration  2 hours

First broadcast Sunday 22 April 2012

Shakespeare's comedy of disguise, madness and love, starring David Tennant as Malvolio.

Listen at:

A comedy of misrule and a trenchant attack on puritanism as disguise and deceit leads to misadventure, madness and mistaken love in one of Shakespeare's happiest plays. Orsino loves Olivia but she loves Cesario who really does love Orsino for Cesario is actually Viola. But Malvolio believes his mistress Olivia loves him as he is a victim of a trick played on him by those who would make him mad. Shakespeare unravels a comic knot and fashions a masterpiece.

Viola/Cesario ….. Naomi Frederick.
Sebastian ….. Trystan Gravelle.
Sea Captain ….. Gerard McDermott.
Orsino ….. Paul Ready.
Valentine ….. Harry Livingstone.
Maria ….. Rosie Cavaliero.
Sir Toby Belch ….. Ron Cook.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek ….. Adam James.
Olivia ….. Vanessa Kirby.
Feste ….. James Lailey.
Malvolio …. David Tennant.
Fabian ….. Don Gilet.
Antonio ….. Peter Hamilton Dyer.

Music composed by Roger Goula.

Directed by Sally Avens.

First broadcast in April 2012.


(Interview in the Telegraph by Daisy Bowie-Sell; Anna McMullan is a professor of Theatre at the University of Reading.)

Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot premiered as En attendant Godot at a small theatre on the Left Bank in Paris the Théâtre de Babylone, sixty years ago, on January 5 1953.

It has since become one of the most important and best known plays of the 20th and 21st century and has been performed countless times the world over. Samuel Beckett expert Anna McMullan answers some questions about the seminal work:

What are the standout productions of Waiting for Godot?

Obviously there's Roger Blin's first production in Paris. A number of French critics who watched it said: "We've never seen anything like this, this is not theatre as we know it."

Then of course the 24-year-old Peter Hall directed the English language premiere in 1955 just two years later at the Arts Theatre in London. The theatre critic Kenneth Tynan said it changed the rules of theatre.

British critics were initially more confused by it than the French, who had experienced a similar sort of existential drama. But then Tynan and a number of other significant critics began to write about the play. It's difficult to remember now, but nothing like it had been seen before. It began to change the way people thought about theatre.

Beckett's own production was important too. He directed it at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin in 1975. The production toured internationally and was described as a very balletic production. Beckett took extraordinary care over the costume and design. It's seen as a definitive version, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't reinterpret the play.

The relationship between the two characters Pozzo and Lucky can be very disturbing. It's an oppressive and dependent relationship which has lead to the play being interpreted in a number of situations of conflict throughout the world, such as South Africa and Sarajevo – the latter by Susan Sontag under the siege.

PATTI PAGE, REST IN PEACE (1927 -2013) ·

(From the Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/2/13.)

Patti Page, the "Singing Rage" who stumbled across "Tennessee Waltz" and made it one of the best-selling recordings ever, has died. She was 85.

Ms. Page died on New Year's Day in Encinitas (San Diego County), according to publicist Schatzi Hageman.

Ms. Page was the top-selling female singer of the 1950s with more than 100 million records sold. Her most enduring songs remain "Tennessee Waltz," one of two songs the state of Tennessee has officially adopted, and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window."

"I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer, but was told I could sing," she said in a 1999 interview. "And things snowballed." 



(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 12/26.)

Can a work of art be complete and unfinished at the same time? In her new play, The Great God Pan (Playwrights Horizons), Amy Herzog tells a complete story and yet leaves you to decide for yourself not only what might happen after the last scene, but also what happened before the story began. Ambiguity is her game; within its fascinating parade of alternate possibilities, she has packed a set of big, beautiful, perpetually troubling questions, moral and philosophical. The work is tiny (six characters, 85 minutes), but it runs deep.

Pan, the play's presiding deity, is a woodland god, and Mark Wendland's striking set, echoing the script's noncommittal simplicity, puts an alluring woodland onstage. At once tempting and forbidding, its photo-realist tangle of green boughs compels the actors, in Carolyn Cantor's taut, quietly pitch-perfect production, to stay downstage most of the time. Going deeper into the woods, it suggests, could be dangerous, no matter how enticing they look.

And, as Herzog makes clear, danger lurks everywhere. Another person's mind, another family's home, a parent's or spouse's seemingly rational decision might turn out to be an unexpectedly deep forest, holding perils we never knew existed. Somewhere in the middle of our life's journey, we all, like Dante, find ourselves in a dark wood. 



Openings and Previews

Event: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Venue: Richard Rodgers Theatre

Scarlett Johansson, Benjamin Walker, Ciarán Hinds, and Debra Monk star in a . . .

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Event: The Other Place

Venue: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Laurie Metcalf stars in a thriller by Sharr White, about a neurologist . . .

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Event: Picnic

Venue: American Airlines Theatre

Roundabout Theatre Company presents William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play from 1953, in . . .

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Event: Tar Baby

Venue: DR2