Plays in the UK

My first day in London was marred by a lack of sleep.  I decided to keep going and attend the matinee of Remembrance Monday.  All I knew about the play was that it was less than 90 minutes, and featured two hot guys in their underwear.  If that couldn’t keep me awake, nothing would.  Michael Batten’s play about a gay couple is a provocative one that addresses issues many of us can identify with.  He gets there by way of one clichéd plot twist that I could well have done without.  As to the lads – Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers are both not only talented, but worth seeing in their scanties.  And there was one member of my audience who put them both to shame – and he knows who he is.  The production at the Seven Dials Theatre has closed, but the memory lingers on.

I also saw John Cleese’s stage version of Fawlty Towers.  I remember the television show with some fondness, but was never a fanatic.  Therefore, I think I’m the perfect audience member.  I found it a total delight.  Using classic plot points to structure an interweaving play was a perfect way into the characters and the material.  If it left one wanting more, I suppose all’s the better.  The cast was evocative of the originals, but with their own personalization.  I must single out Adam Jackson-Smith, who bears the most fleeting of resemblances to Cleese, and yet mines the role for nuances and ticks that all felt genuinely fresh and effortless.


My last day in London was spent with Sir Ian McKellen.  He’s appearing in an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 by Robert Icke.  This puts Sir Ian’s portrayal of Sir John Falstaff front and center in Player Kings.  Shockingly, his Falstaff has more vigour than pathos – quite a feat for the 85-year-old actor, who has had a busy few years (including again playing Hamlet, himself).  Falstaff is a challenging character who rarely leaves the stage during this four-hour presentation.  Special kudos to Toheeb Jimoh, whose Prince Hal makes his entrance as a butt-baring go-go dancer!  Not only is he a fine actor, his arse gets two thumbs up from me.  That Richard Coyle is old enough to play Henry IV makes me feel ancient.  But he’s as splendid as ever – as is the entire cast.

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