Recent Posts

Sunday, 10 October 2021

REVIEW: The Cherry Orchard at the Windsor Theatre Royal

As lockdown struck in 2020 the Harold Pinter Theatre was presenting a wonderful adaptation of Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya with an all-star ensemble cast and a dramatic evocative staging and witty modernisation of the language. It made the classic period piece seem relevant and exciting and emotionally engaging. As the first Lockdown eased Bill Kenwright announced a bold programming plan to assemble a repertory company of high-quality actors to stage two classics, Hamlet and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard with gender-, colour-, and age-blind casting. It sounded an exciting basis to reopen his Windsor Theatre Royal but further lockdowns have delayed the project until 2021. His Hamlet has now come and gone, and the Cherry Orchard has now opened and will run until 13th November. As they note in the programme Hamlet broke box office records (despite some mixed reviews) as many like us booked on the basis of Ian McKellen’s name alone, but Cherry Orchard may prove a tougher sell.

Sean Mathias again directs with a set design by Lee Newby and an adaption by Martin Sherman but from the start you question the underlying creative concept behind their production. They again put the audience on either side of the stage for no obvious reason except to increase capacity but in their brightly coloured clothes and blue face masks, they become a massive distraction when your attention drifts from the action on stage which in this three-hour show it often does. Whereas the Uncle Vanya staging created an evocative theatrical setting for that show, the design here is half baked. A pale grey sketchy floor and audience seating create a cartoonish setting with a rear door flown in to symbolise indoor scenes and flown out to create outdoor locations. The rear wall of the stage is whitewashed but the effect is to highlight the wires and holes in it which keep catching your eyes. When they open the stage access door to create a visible offstage space for servants, they too become a distraction to the on-stage words. Curiously the bare indoor floor of the nursery is covered with rugs and cushions when the story takes us outside. The Cherry Orchard itself is viewed through the fourth wall and chopped down behind the main auditorium. Only the sound effects of birds, horse-drawn carriage and chopping add any sense of realism to the setting.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

REVIEW: Rain Man at the Windsor Theatre Royal

Bill Kenwright is a prolific producer and his latest production under the "Classic screen to stage" banner is the 1988 four times Oscar winning film Rain Man which starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise . It is a "road movie" in which two brothers discover themselves during a drive from Cincinnati to Las Vegas in their late father's 1949 Buick Roadmaster vintage car. It is quite ambitious to translate the story to the stage for a UK tour but writer Dan Gordon does a very good job.

The show opened at Windsor Theatre Royal with Mathew Horne in the Dustin Hoffman role of the autistic elder brother Raymond. It is a remarkable physical and emotional performance that dominates the stage from his first entrance and when ever he is on. He fully deserves the standing ovation at the end. Raymond's disabilities have meant he has been in a care home for much of his life but his brother discovers he has some remarkable abilities which make him endearing, funny and useful to Charlie. He can memorise a phone book and read two books at same time , one with each eye! He has great fun with an old Abbott and Costello routine, now often seen in pantomime, about "who is on first base and what's now on second base" which he resorts to under stress. 
Blog Design by pipdig