Red Velvet, The Garrick Theatre, London. February 2016.
After the disastrous visit to the Garrick to see The Winter's Tale last November I was feeling rather anxious about having booked Mr Norfolkbookworm and I seats to see Red Velvet in the same venue. I'd picked different seats and held by breath that it would all be okay on the night - luckily it was and we got to see a wonderful play.
I saw this for the first time just under two years ago with Rebecca and raved about it then, it was in fact my second best play of 2014, and I was so enthusiastic about it that as soon as a West End rerun was announced Mr Norfolkbookworm instantly agreed to go and see what was so special about this play when I suggested it.
I was a little nervous, could such a powerful play have the same impact on second viewing? Was it really that goo? Would himself enjoy it as much as I'd intimated? Again the answer to all of these questions really was yes.
A little of the intimacy of the smaller venue is lost but the piece itself is just as powerful and again has as much to say to the audience of 2016 as it had in the 1800s. All of the performances were spot on and the final scene is still a devastating reminder of the racism that still pervades our society. The audience in our performance were particularly engaged with the play for at some of the most outrageous racist lines there were audible hisses throughout the theatre and no inappropriate laughter.
I did find the actor playing Charles Kean to be less terrifying this time around (I'm sorry I don't have his name to hand, £5 for a programme was a step too far for a re-watch), he certainly seemed to be playing up the comic aspect of his character but his casual, throwaway lines and disguised racism was still present.
I'm really happy we got to see this and if anyone reading this can grab a seat before it closed I recommend doing so - Row O had excellent sightlines!