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Posts Tagged ‘National Theatre’

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

October 5th, 2014 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler reviews the Olivier Award-winning play based on a novel by Mark Haddon.

'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The opening tableau of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a new play by Simpon Stephens based on the novel by Mark Haddon, is so shocking that it elicited audible gasps from the audience. Gasps that eventually melted into laughter, tears and an extraordinary emotional journey that follows the escapades of 15-year-old Christopher as he attempts to solve the “incident” that has occurred in his neighbor’s yard.

Alex Sharp (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Alex Sharp (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Christopher (played by Alex Sharp with some performances by Taylor Transch) is a special boy. Most will recognize his behaviors as signs of Asperger’s syndrome, but Haddon is quick to point out that this is not the central focus of the character, saying that it’s a novel about “difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. It’s as much a novel about us as it is about Christopher.

Playwright Simon Stephens transforms the storyline into a piece that feels as if it was originally intended for the theater, weaving the adults in Christopher’s life into a complicated 21st century algorithm of fractured relationships. Director Marianne Elliott (who helmed the Oliver Award-winning production at the National Theatre) along with choreographers Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett utilize the 10-member ensemble in ingenious and infinite ways—as animate as well as inanimate objects. Ian Barford as Christopher’s prone-to-violence father, Enid Grahm as his less-than-maternal mother Judy and Francesca Faridany as his educator lead the company of actors that is the primary conduit for Christopher’s emotional journey.

Curious1Providing a sensory framework Christopher’s hyper-focused journey is an ingenious set by Bunny Christie (who also designed costumes), video design by Finn Ross, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Ian Dickinson and music by Adrian Sutton. Yes—they all deserve mention because it is the sum of the parts that makes Curious so compelling.

Mr. Sharp, a recent Julliard graduate making his Broadway debut, taps into Christopher’s mathematically driven consciousness with voltage and vulnerability. It’s a nearly impossible task, given the seemingly vast social limitations of the character. Prone to social anxiety, Christopher lives comfortably in his calculated inner world, avoiding physical touch and eye contact wherever possible. He often lacks empathy, instead, concerned only about the next step in his linear and hyper-focused plan. But buried deep within these characteristics often associated with Asperger’s, Mr. Sharp reveals a vulnerable boy on the brink of manhood—one who (in the briefest of moments) feels love, hurt and the infinity of emotions that seem like a privilege to the rest of us.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of those rare evenings of theater that is both joyous as well as heartbreaking. Christopher is the unlikeliest of heroes, but one you can’t help rooting for. And when the final bow is taken (be sure to stay for the “encore”), perhaps those in the audience will carry with them a tad more compassion, empathy and love for those who are considered “different.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Barrymore Theatre
243 West 47th Street
Open-ended run.

Three to See: January

January 2nd, 2014 Comments off

New for 2014, The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler offers three picks at the beginning of each month: what’s opening on Broadway and beyond and why you shouldn’t miss them.

The cast of "Beautiful - the Carole King Musical." (photo: Joan Marcus)

The cast of “Beautiful – the Carole King Musical.” (photo: Joan Marcus)

BROADWAY
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

“You make me feel like a natural woman.” — at least that’s what Tony Award-nominee Jessie Mueller hopes as she takes on the iconic singer/songwriter in this latest attempt at a musical memoire. If anyone has the chops, it’s Mueller, who was the saving grace in a recent revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever as well as standout performances in Into the Woods in Central Park and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Our prediction is another Tony nomination for Mueller and if Douglas McGrath’s book holds up to the Carole King songbook, a win.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Opening night: January 12

Simon Russell Beale as King Lear at the National Theatre. (photo: Paul Stewart)

Simon Russell Beale as King Lear at the National Theatre. (photo: Paul Stewart)

LONDON
King Lear

For those of us stateside with a penchant for iambic pentameter, Frank Langella takes on the title role in King Lear at BAM beginning January 7, but it is the National Theatre’s production in London that has us screaming “come not between the dragon and his wrath.” The production, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Simon Russell Beale, is so hotly anticipated that you can’t even get a ticket until March. If you’re not heading across the pond this spring, mark your calendar for May 1, when the production will be broadcast live throughout the world as part of National Theatre Live.

King Lear
Opening night: January 14

 venus

BOSTON
Venus in Fur

If you didn’t catch the Broadway production of this sexually charged play by David Ives, head to Beantown where Huntington Theatre Company’s (winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best regional theater) production opens on January 8. “This savage, sexy, smart, and funny new play took my breath away. Director Daniel Goldstein set our stage on fire with God of Carnage, and I know he will make our new production the hottest date night in Boston,” says artistic director Peter Dubois. Hear what he has to say…

Venus in Fur
Opening night: January 8

 

A Lesson in Casting from London’s National Theatre

April 9th, 2012 Comments off

Simon Russell Beale & Hayley Atwell. Image via YouTube.

London’s National Theatre (currently represented on Broadway by War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors) is one of the world’s great arts institutions, so it’s a treat when they let us behind the scenes. They’ve released a series of informative, relaxed and no-nonsense web videos that detail the real process of theater creation without the usual layer of PR hype. It’s like a master class without any diva behavior.

I thought I’d share some of my favorites here, kicking things off with one of the early steps in any production, casting. As a bonus treat, the video features the luminous Haley Atwell (Captain America) remembering her first audition for the National.

Read more…

National’s Frankenstein Comes to Life on US Screens

March 17th, 2011 Comments off

Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature (Photo by Catherine Ashmore)

For those of us who can’t jet off to London on a whim for an evening of theater and fresh crumpets, National Theatre Live presents current hits from the National’s stages, taped live and screened at cinemas worldwide. Tonight, catch a performance of their much-lauded Frankenstein, directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and starring the very attractive pairing of Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch.

If that’s not enough stomping and smashing and icky birth metaphors, see it again next Thursday—but this time with the lead actors switching roles (from “Victor” to “The Creature” and vice versa.) Could it be implying that there’s a little of both sides in all of us? Did somebody make a drunken bet? Either way, it sounds completely fascinating and visually impressive based on the reviews I’ve read. Plus, there’s no trans-Atlantic flight to leave you dehydrated and wishing you hadn’t put the Ambien in your checked luggage.

Go to National Theater Live for more info on screening venues and alternate dates.