Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Theatre 2014: Review Fifteen

The Malcontent. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London. April 2014.

The Malcontent is almost an experiment by the SWP/Globe as it is performed entirely by children/young adults - like the boy players of Jacobean times.  If it is taken as an experiment then that is all well and good however this was staged, and priced, as all of the other plays this season have been and that is where I have a slight problem.

On the whole the actors were good, the costumes fine and on the whole you could hear all of the voices.  But they weren't, and possibly shouldn't have been, as good as the professionals.  They were a little self conscious, you couldn't tell if pauses were dramatic or where lines had been forgotten and they just weren't as good at the little stage actions that make a play special.  There was also the problem that when you couldn't see the actor it often wasn't possible to tell who was speaking (male or female) due to the unbroken voices.

However that sounds a very harsh review and the more I think about it the more the good parts did come through. I am not alone in this uncertainty about the play as after the interval an awful lot of people in all areas of the theatre did not come back - the first time I have seen this at the Globe or SWP.

I think that many of the problems I have are actually with the theatre space itself.

I said after seeing The Duchess of Malfi that I didn't think there was enough space to sit comfortably in the high priced seats of the upper gallery.  This problem isn't so noticeable in the side sections of the mid or upper galleries however and so I know know to avoid these.

However these more comfortable seats to the side in the upper gallery give such a restricted view that probably a third of the action is missed, plus a lot of what happens in the pit.  From here you are also looking through the candles and it was only afterwards that I notice how uncomfortable this was and both Rebecca and I attribute our headaches to this.

The seats we had for The Knight of the Burning Pestle, to the side of the lower gallery, were very good - if you can be at the back or front and have something to lean on.

I love the physical space of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and I appreciate that in an inaugural season there are things to work out (between my first and second visits for example the slightly padded carpeted benches have been recovered with much softer cushions) but after three plays - one excellent, one good and one okay - I think that I will probably return to try it again but only if I can get the exact seats I want.

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