Friday, 14 March 2014

Theatre 2014: Review 8

Red Velvet, The Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London. March 2014.

With surprising ease we managed to cross London, find our hotel and then find this gem of a theatre. In fact it was the last step that was almost the hardest as the Tricycle Theatre is situated right on Kilburn High Road but hidden in plain sight. Once we'd collected our tickets there was time for a lovely cup of tea and slice of cake in the cafe-bar.  We did decide to have the Victoria sponge rather than the Red Velvet however - that just felt a step too far!

Now for the play.

Wow - what a powerful piece of the theatre. Put simply it is a play about one of the first black actors to make it to the big time in the 1800s. On a smaller level it is about acting styles, the importance of the audience, the power of the media and racism.

With so many themes you'd think that the play would be stodgy, but it is anything but and while that is mostly down to the fantastic Adrian Lester credit must go to the whole cast as there wasn't a weak link in the thing.

Once more this play linked in to my studies of performance through the ages and it was great to see various, now archaic, styles come to life in front of my eyes. It was also interesting to see Lester play Othello in this style having seen him in the same role last year at the National Theatre.

This was a straight drama but I don't think I have been so impressed by the actors in a long time. Lester convincingly turned himself from a young man just about to reach the heights of fame into an old, tired man in the time it took him to turn around.  Oliver Ryan, playing Charles Kean, terrified me.

I am so pleased that we had the chance to see this before it transfers to New York, it will stay with me for a long time.

For those of you wondering Rebecca was wonderfully patient with me as I got excited about seeing history come to life and listened as I regurgitated what I've learned this term.  She then took me to see the Picasso prints recently acquired by the British Museum and gave me a fascinating run through of how they were made.

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