Thursday, 8 July 2010

Ticket Offer: 40th Anniversary Season, Young Vic

A more general ticket offer this time for the Young Vic's 40th anniversary autumn season. Just announced today, it includes: an Icelandic production of Goethe's Faust; Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie; and the stage adaptation of DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little, I must confess I hated the book of the latter so much that I didn't finish it (a rarity for me), but with the Young Vic's offer, I've just bought my tickets for Faust and The Glass Menagerie.

And the offer is! Buy any tickets for one show in the autumn season, and get tickets half price for a second show. Buy two shows and see a third for free! So I've just managed to get two pairs of tickets, all for £30. And for some rather good seats. Cheap theatre tickets galore!

It can be done in person or over the phone, or by pre-ordering online, but not with ordinary web sales. And it doesn't apply to previews. See here for the small print of the offer, or visit the Young Vic's What's On page for more about their season.

Happy 40th to the Young Vic!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Ticket Offer: Nevermore / I was looking at the ceiling, Barbican

I'm not entirely sure I understand the ins-and-outs of this, but I do understand that it's cheap theatre tickets, which can't be a bad thing. This summer, the Barbican is offering Facebook fans not one, but two shows for just £10!

The first is Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe (6th - 10th July). When you purchase a £5 ticket to this delightfully grotesque musical fable you are also entitled to a £5 ticket for John Adam's music theatre show I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky (2nd - 17th July at Theatre Royal Stratford East)

To book a £5 ticket for Nevermore, go online and enter the promo code 06710.
Your I was looking at the ceiling £5 ticket can then be brought over the phone or in person, by quoting your customer reference number for your previously purchased Nevermore ticket.

I think I understand that, but alas, with work commitments and La Bête on Saturday, I'm not sure I'm going to make Nevermore, but hopefully some of you out there will get the chance to take BOGOF (in the nicest possible way).

Monday, 5 July 2010

Review: Elektra, Young Vic

Because I was only able to get a free ticket for the penultimate show, and because there was no press night, this post should be thought of as a reflection, rather than a review.

Way back in May, you may remember that Views From The Cheap Seats posted an offer for free tickets to a production of Elektra at the Young Vic. The reason for this generosity according to the Young Vic website was that "with no press night and no previews, Elektra will be an experience that we can't put a price on". I still haven't been able to find or figure out quite how the Young Vic were able to undertake such a project with no public income, and before going, was worried that it was going to be displayed as 'a work in progress'. But there was nothing half-finished about this production.

Instead, this was a tightly directed piece, where dim lighting and discordant sounds worked to create a hauntingly oppressive backdrop against which some highly polished performances stood out.

Onstage from the outset and throughout the entire evening, Lydia Leonard as Elektra lies curled up outside the door to her family home. She is haunted by the murder of her father Agamemnon, and like a female precursor to Hamlet, wants justice by planning revenge on the perpetrators: her mother Clymenestra and her new stepfather, Aegisthus. Leonard brings an intensity to Elektra, a steely certainty at the heart of her rage that I haven't seen before. Her grief is perversely compelling, at one moment shoulder-slumped with hollow eyes, the next all fire and mercury. Carson's translation manages to retain the weight and rhythm of the original while also seemingly suitably modern, and Leonard exploits this tension to great effect.

But there is strong support from the rest of the cast as well, not a single weak link to be seen. This is a play that is preoccupied with the impact of tragic violence upon women - mothers, daughters, sisters. Amanda Hale as Chrysothemis, Elektra's sister who suffers in silence, is perfect in her nerviness; one of the most touching moments was her discovery of her brother's supposed death, where she attempts to keep smiling though her tears.

And Nadia Cameron Blakely is sublime as Clymenestra, bringing a regal elegance and haugtiness to the part (although this is perhaps also the effect of her startling resemblance to Cate Blanchett?). Indeed it is Cameron Blakely who draws out the ambivalence that lies at the heart of this play's moral. While Elektra's righteous indignation seems to be entirely justified, Cameron Blakely's Clymenestra confuses the simple binaries of right and wrong, humanising the problem of revenge yet ultimately offering no solutions to this cycle of violence.

Free, as mentioned above.

A free cast list was available.

Total Cost:
Free! Which is a first for Views From The Cheap Seats, all the more encouraging for it actually having been a great night.

Elektra has now finished, but for more information, visit the Young Vic's website.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Review: Plucker, Southwark Playhouse

In her program note to the audience, Plucker's playwright Alena Smith claims that the play is her attempt "to write an old-fashioned farce about a new generation". If this is the case, then it's a failure. But thankfully, postmodern criticism is quite happy to say it doesn't really matter what a writer thinks they are doing; it's how it's perceived is more important.

Which is a very good thing. Because once you ignore the irrelevance that is the defeathered parrot of the title and the truth serum-cum-tequila, this play is actually quite a competent look at the issues facing late twenty-somethings conducting relationships outside of the traditional model of marriage.

Alexis (Emily Bevan) and Louis (Jamal Rodriguez) have recently moved in together, but aren't feeling the domestic bliss; Julian and Thomasina on the other hand are moving towards marriage quite contentedly. Cue a dinner party, copious amounts of alcohol and a love interest from the past and the holes in the relationships quickly widen.

There's nothing radical about this premise, but it's handled well. Smith's script manages to balance the more outright comedic moments of the night ("I need an IV drip of pinot or I stop having fun") with the serious reflection. And if at times it can all feel a little self-centred, Smith is careful to make sure this sort of naval-gazing provokes is held up for equal mockery.

£8, early bird ticket offer. Southwark Playhouse operates what it refers to as 'Airline Style' pricing, so the earlier you book, the cheaper the seat. However, the airline in question is clearly Ryanair, at the seats are unassigned, and on busy nights it can be hard to get two together if you arrive late. You have been warned.

£2. Brief note form writer with cast biogs - nothing outstanding.

Plucker plays at the Southwark Playhouse until July 3. Phone the box office on 020 7407 0234 or visit the website.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Review: All My Sons, Apollo Theatre

At this late stage, there's not much more of originality that can be added to the superlative reviews already heaped on the revival of Howard Davies' production of All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre. This is a stunningly good production of Arthur Miller's first successful play, a tale of conscience and culpability in post-war America that has obvious resonances today.

Joe Keller is the archetypal Miller protagonist, an everyman pursuing the American Dream, apparently with success. William Dudley's solidly realistic house and garden not only provide a beautifully naturalistic backdrop, but represent the material security he has established for his family. But based on wartime profiteering and his "talent for ignoring things", this comfortable lifestyle is under threat.

David Suchet gives a virtuoso performance as Keller, winning over friends, family and neighbourhood children alike with his blend of charisma and beneficence. His mistake, of course, is that he is all too ready to believe his own spin, clinging to his lies for support long after they unravel. There is something utterly compelling about his downfall, as Suchet's confident entertainer is diminished to a bewildered shell of man.

Wife Kate, played by Zoë Wanamaker, is too preoccupied with her own pretenses to fall under his spell fully. Clinging to the belief that her youngest son is still alive, Wanamaker wrings every ounce of sympathy and emotional turmoil from the script to create a multi-layered portrayal that I still find myself thinking about days later.

With this powerful pairing then, it's equally impressive that the supporting cast is quite so good as well. Stephen Campbell Moore as the son that survived the war manages exceptionally well in a part that can be rather unforgiving, while Jemima Rooper as his fiancée maintains the necessary uncertainty that her role as outsider and catalyst demands, particularly in the final scenes.

The narrative tension mounts up slowly - a line here, a reference there - but the pieces slide into place just a split second before the audience is aware of the outcome, and the tragic denouement manages to be shocking in its inevitability. Theatre as its best.

£30 for the balcony. Ah, the West End, nemesis to the theatregoer on a shoestring. I will certainly be keeping my ear to the ground for any word of cheap tickets for All My Sons, but with such great reviews, I wouldn't hold out much hope.


Total Cost:
£33.50, but worth every penny.

All My Sons is currently running at the Apollo until 2nd October 2010. Tickets can be booked online here.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Ticket Offer: Sucker Punch / Ingredient X, Royal Court

Two special offers from the Royal Court, who are clearly feeling very sociable at the minute!

1) Sucker Punch by Roy Williams: see the show for just £10 from Friday 11th – 17th June.

2) Nick Grosso's Ingredient X at the Royal Court his Saturday matinee (12th June) with a 2-4-1 offer – two tickets for £15.

To book, call the box office on 020 7565 5000 and quote 'Social offer' and the name of the play (subject to availability). For more information on the plays, visit the Royal Court website.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Review: The Concise Dictionary of Dress, Blythe House

Despite being a curated fashion exhibition, and therefore somewhat beyond the ken of Views From The Cheap Seats, The Concise Dictionary of Dress was first brought to my attention by Lyn Gardner's recent Guardian blog entry 'Theatre that really takes us places'. And there is something decidedly theatrical about this site-specific installation at Blythe House - previously the Post Office Savings bank, now the depository for the the V&A's surplus collections.

Designed by fashion curator Judith Clark with definitions provided by psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, small groups are led around 11 exhibits exploring concepts of fashion (from 'Armoured' through to 'Tight'), located within the museum's vast storerooms. Objects from the collection along with specially commissioned works are used to create each tableau. Usually closed to the public, a large part of the thrill of this experience comes from accessing areas normally off-limits behind card keys and cargo lifts. Albeit under the watchful eye of a chaperone, who is less a guide than an usher. Questions are discouraged until the end of the tour, and so the individual is left to import meaning from the exhibit, its location and Phillips' definitions.

The definitions are at once illuminating and confusing. Subjective, conflicting, and at times down right impenetrable (quite how 'Essential' can be understood as 'distracting', I'm still not sure), Clark and Phillips seem to be deliberately toying with the idea that fashion can be summed up meaningfully in one word or a choice phrase, and by extension, that it can be sensibly archived into a museum catalogue.

Instead, the exhibit relies on the context of the spaces, both past and present. From the wax resin figure of 'Armoured' on the roof (where there were apparently used to be segregated shooting ranges for male and female Post Office employees), to the mobile archive shelves wheeled open to reveal 'Comfortable' and 'Conformist', to the former meat larder housing 'Tight', the ghosts of the past jostle with the present to conjure up layers of meaning. Indeed, that Blythe House is a functioning building has led to some fascinating juxtapositions, all the more so for being unintentional. The simple paper structures created for 'Plain' are coincidentally reflected in the protective white shroud covering, what is labelled, a 'flaky paint dress' - part of the actual V&A collection - which was supposedly moved there after Concise Dictionary had opened. As with the best fashion then, it is the accidental accessories that set off this exhibition best.



Total Cost:

The Concise Dictionary of Dress
continues until 27 June 2010. Tours of Blythe House run every 20 mins during open hours. Places on the tours are strictly limited and tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets online or call 0871 231 0847, price £12.50/£10 concessions.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Ticket Offer: Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare's Globe

Another 2 for 1 in the yard offer from Shakespeare's Globe, this time for Henry IV Part 1. i'm getting the feeling that the audience for these histories might be of an age where they prefer (and can afford) sitting down to standing. But for cheap ticket lovers, it now means you can bring a date at no extra cost!

To take advantage of the offer use the promo code 'pcdyard' when booking online or call Box Office on 020 7401 9919 and quote the code.

Offer subject to availability.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Ticket Update: The Duchess of Malfi, Punchdrunk / ENO

This isn't so much a ticket offer, as let's be honest, Punchdrunk and the ENO aren't going to be struggling to shift these tickets. But for all those interested, they go on sale tomorrow (Friday 4th June) at 10am. Looks like they're £35 a pop, so get in there quick as you know they are going to go like the proverbial cakes what are hot.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Ticket Offer: Lulu, Gate Theatre; Welcome to Thebes, National Theatre

Apologies for the lull in reviews and ticket offers around here, but I was back in the old country for a week's holiday and it's left me with a bit of a backlog of reviews: expect my thoughts on Henry VIII and All My Sons imminently! But to tide you over, here's not one but two ticket offers!

The first is from the Gate (London, not Dublin) who are offering £8 Gatecrasher tickets for their collaboration with Headlong, Lulu, on 10th June. Quite what a Gatecrasher ticket is or how one books it, I'm not quite sure, but I'm sure if you mention to Box Office that you read it on their Facebook page, they'll know what you are talking about!

The other is a special preview offer from the National and their world premiere of Welcome to Thebes by Moira Buffini. Book by Friday 4 June (so hurry!) and get top price tickets for £20 (or just £10 for performances 15 and 16 June). To book call 020 7452 3000 and quote ‘Thebes Preview Offer’ or book online and enter promotion code 2768.

Valid with top price tickets for performances 15-23 June only. Subject to availability.