16 March 2012: One Man Two Guv’nors, Going Dark, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl

Weekly review roundup: 16 March 2012

One Man, Two Guv’nors gave a resounding Yes to the question of “will it still be as remarkably funny with a new cast?”, with a 4.7-star average from the five pro critics who have reviewed it so far. Though the original cast has gone to Broadway, the new production at the Theatre Royal Haymarket is built around several understudies who’ve had months to perfect their efforts, and apparently the chemistry was there right from opening night.

 

Fiona Mountford (Evening Standard) said “Nicholas Hytner’s impeccable production fizzes along on waves of joy and slapstick,” and as for Owain Arthur, the new big man in the big plaid suit, “Whisper it softly, but I found the show even better this time around, without Corden’s occasionally distracting presence. The laughs come more easily courtesy of a wonderfully calibrated ensemble” – and “[Richard] Bean’s writing reaches that rare and dizzying pinnacle where we can’t tell if the script is smart enough to include its own ‘impromptu’ gags or whether these actors are simply the best ad-libbers ever.” (full reviewRuns to 15 Sept

 

Going Dark at the Young Vic also picked up two five-star reviews, and a 4.3-star average overall. The immersive show, from company Sound&Fury and part of the Fuel festival, concerns an astronomer who is going blind – a conceit which worried Paul Taylor (Independent) as “all too susceptible to cliche.” But not here, in this “quite wonderful piece of theatre,” which “manages to marry the best aspects of such dazzling text-based plays as Stoppard’s Arcadia and Frayn’s Copenhagen – which make profound use of science as metaphor – with state-of-the art deployment of theatre-as-atmosphere techniques.”

 

The immersiveness comes from a combination of projections and soundscapes, which take place “in a spectral environment where the lighting ranges from semi-darkness to black so dense it is like being wrapped in weightless fur.” These physical aspects are combined with a script which poses questions on the nature of reality and the future of the universe, which “turn this magnificent evening into a pulse-quickening poem.” (full reviewRuns to 24 March

 

Finally, two shows at the National Theatre came through with straight four-star averages, but with different distributions. Can We Talk About This?, in which dance company DV8 explores attitudes towards radical Islam, was reviewed very broadly and got two 3-stars, four 4-stars, and two 5-stars: where some saw didactic lecturing from the Ministry of Silly Walks, others saw bold questions and creative physicality. Still, strong reactions and a four-star average make it an intriguing choice for anyone who likes to take a risk in their theatregoing. Sarah Hemming (FT) said the piece takes on “a huge, significant and real problem and does so in a style that is in itself restless and challenging. It is also beautiful and occasionally surprisingly droll” – in all, “a daring, serious piece of theatre.” (full reviewRuns to 28 Mar

 

Moon on a Rainbow Shawl took the safer route to a four-star average, simply getting four stars from everyone who saw it. Henry Hitchings (Evening Standard) called the 1958 play about tangled relationships in a Trinidad neighbourhood “an intriguing mix of kitchen sink drama and tragicomedy – poignant, yet dense with slang and warm humanity,” and Michael Billington (Guardian) said the play “amply justifies revival since, in its vivid portrait of life in a Trinidadian backyard in the immediate postwar period, it explains much about Caribbean history.” (full HH review) (full MB review). Runs to Mar 27

 

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