When you’re asked to review a production of a play like Arthur Miller’s 1949 play Death of a Salesman, it’s difficult to tell if you should just review the production or attempt to make some comment upon the play itself. The problem is that Death of a Salesman is so embedded in western theatrical tradition, and even in the wider cultural imagination, making any attempt at criticism seem far outside the scope of this review. Suffice it to say that it’s a classic for a reason. To paraphrase W. H. Auden: Some plays are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is a place no one ever wants to be, but most of us find ourselves there at some point in our lifetime. This play was about one day in the life of Hester Collyer (Annabel Steele), beginning with her attempted suicide and ending with her choosing to live to see another day. Hester must ride the line between the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis, which in a way reflects the line that this production walked so expertly.
It’s very rare that I can honestly recommend a show to anyone and everyone, but rare things have a habit of happening on occasion. This is one of those occasions. As far as I know the plan is to take this show to the Edinburgh Fringe festival this August. If you find yourself in Edinburgh for the festival, you should absolutely see this show.
Hedda Gabler is a very hard play to get right. Henrik Ibsen’s late play is about a recently married woman (the titular Hedda) who proceeds to destroy the lives of almost everyone around her for no other apparent reason than she is “bored.” This is where the difficulty comes in: if the tone of the play is misjudged, Hedda (here played by Misha Leggett) can seem like a petulant psychopath, while the play’s other characters come across as stupid. This production had a difficult job to do and it delivered.
The Real Thing is not Tom Stoppard at his finest. It meanders, it’s too long, makes its points too loudly, and to be honest by the time the last half of act two rolled around I really had no time for any of the characters. One gets the sense that we’re supposed to find these people charming, but their affluence and pretentious musings on the nature of love just came across as arrogant. But perhaps that’s the point.