Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Woman Killed with Kindness 8th August 2011

Who's in it: Lots and lots and lots of actors but notably there is Liz White from Life on Mars and Gawn Grainger, well respected theatre and screen actor plus he's married to Zoe Wannamaker, who is in The Cherry Orchard

Where did you see it? Lyttelton Theatre at the National Theatre, South Bank

I will admit going to the theatre whilst London burns is a little decadent but to be honest after this disappointing, boring and at times iaudible production I was left wishing I was looting some Kentucky chicken somewhere.

Okay, so I am being a bitch but it was that bad. A Woman Killed with Kindness was written in around 1603 by Thomas Heywood. It is the story of two women...actually I cannot explain because I had no idea what was going on. Here's a summary from the National

Two women fight for their emotional survival in a rural wilderness dominated by men, money and an unbending morality.That it were possible
To undo things done, to call back yesterday,
That Time could turn up his swift sandy glass
To untell the days, and to redeem these hours.

A startling domestic thriller written in 1603, A Woman Killed with Kindness  strips bare two women’s lives – with forensic realism – in one of the first tragedies ever to be written about ordinary people.

Fast-moving, frightening and erotic: a major play in a radical production.

It is none of those things, unless you count a naked man running down the stairs towards the end. None of the two female leads are likable (One is spoilt with an out of control brother and the other drops her knickers at the first opportunity then gets all arsey when she gets caught!) and the male characters; ALL PUSSIES.

It didn't help that I was in the Circle (literally the cheap seats, Entry pass ticket for £5!) so I couldn't actually hear anything. The first scene for example contained a wedding. I know this because she (Liz White) was wearing a wedding dress and there was a big cake and I think somebody (Leo Bill) made a speech that when I strained my ears sounded like it might be for a wedding.

Quite simply the production and stunnign set seemed to overwhelm its cast. I don't doubt these are theatre veterans but it felt like I was watching a first year Theatre Studies class who had won a competition to appear at the National. Nobody stood out as a strong performer, Gawn Grainger as the butler happened to have some good lines but I wasn't left feeling Grainger made the part his own. My respect for them remains because if I had been on that stage I'm sure I would have died from boredom. It is unchallenging, uninteresting and not doing anything new with theatre. Sandy McDade gets my jeers; why was she doing an Irish accent when nobody else was Irish in the play? She's not even Irish according to IMDB. It was weird and distracting.

The direction was awful. Katie Mitchell has been at National long enough to know the Lyttelton is a big theatre, did she not sit at the back to work out if we could hear her cast, did she wonder why her 'excellent' idea of moving the action from the 17th century to 1919 never came across or was it because she could do her "BIG INTER-WAR HOUSE" thing that she always does.

What I don't understand is how a theatre like the National even let this get to a readthrough let alone a prime spot in the Lyttelton during the summer? Sir Nick Hytner claims, frequently, that he wants less white middle class people at the National. This really isn't the play to get us ethnics flocking in and judging by the lack of interval (apparently a last minute change) I suspect they thought the audience would be flocking out.

I never leave a theatre before a play has ended but if there had been an interval I would have gone and I think the lack of interval, meaning you are stuck in uncomfortable seating for two hours, is prove that the National didn't have confidence in this production.

Here are some much, less bitter reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment