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The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

May the power of the brolly live on!

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The Recruiting Officer, Donmar Warehouse, starring Mark Gatiss
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rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly

Photo credit: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/article-24030360-theatres-new-power-couple.do

Cut and pasted from the Guardian website:

Restoration comedy The Recruiting Officer by Irish playwright George Farquhar was the first play ever to be staged in Australia, by convicts of the First Fleet in 1789. It now notches up another first, being the inaugural production by the Donmar Warehouse's new artistic director, Josie Rourke. Combining strategies both military and sexual, it follows the exploits of the womanising Captain Plume as he scours Shrewsbury for army recruits, and attempts to bed heiress Sylvia; and of cowardly Captain Brazen as he too is toyed with by a scheming minx. Rourke's cast includes Mark Gatiss, Rachael Stirling and Mackenzie Crook.

Previews started today and run until Monday 13 February; Press Night is on Tuesday 14 February.
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Season's Greetings vs Frankenstein. No contest. Season's Greetings was a proper play, with a beginning, a middle and an end, and an outstanding ensemble cast. Again, if you didn't get a chance to see it, you can catch it at the National Theatre Archive when you come over.

I loved Frankenstein because of Benedict's performance as the Creature but there were huge problems with the play. Firstly, the ensemble cast, excepting Benedict and Jonny was, I felt, poor for a National Theatre production. Benedict and Jonny were carrying the play. Secondly, I like plays that focus on actors and acting; I am not a fan of special effects; to me if you have to have special effects and big set pieces something is lacking in the writing of the play or the acting. So yes the train was impressive, but it was a trick and an effect. That is not really my thing. The main flaw in the play for me was that Nick Dear the playwright wrote Victor Frankenstein out of the play. For me, the Creator was the interesting character, not the Creation. I love Kenneth Branagh's film version of the book where Kenneth Branagh plays Victor Frankenstein. He captures all the context and the complexities of the character. I love the idea of a scientific pioneer, someone pushing the boundaries of science, someone obsessed with the pursuit of a goal, so much so that he forgets to think about the moral dimension. He wants to create life; he creates life. What he forgets to think through is what will this life be like, will the new life be accepted by society, how will the new life be treated by society, will the new life have a soul, will the new life have human feelings and emotions, what will become of the new life, will the new life want to reproduce, will the new life want and need love etc. For Victor, his goal is the creation of life, when he achieves that he does not know what to do, he does not want to take on the consequences, and so he flees. The character is so interesting and so complex; there are so many possibilities. I was really looking forward to Benedict playing the role and taking on the challenge. Then I saw the play and realised that Nick Dear had written Victor out of the story. My heart sank. To me it was a missed opportunity. I was also upset that the National marketed this as a two-hander when it so clearly wasn't; the story and the play was all about the Creature, the other actor had nothing to do on the nights he was playing Victor, and both Benedict and Jonny admitted as much at the Q&A. So on any given night, one of the two star actors was wasted. This upset me greatly, especially as fans might have got the tickets for the wrong version of the play as it were. I myself made the mistake of getting tickets to see Benedict as Victor and as soon as I realised I offloaded them and switched so I had tickets for Benedict as Creature. Anyway, enough on that.

By contrast, Season's Greetings was perfect. Great play, great story, excellent ensemble cast, everyone had a proper role and their moment in the spotlight, and it was a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. No special effects or tricks, it didn't need it, as the story was strong and all the acting was first rate. So for me, without a doubt, Season's Greetings as a production was way better.

Thank you so much for your compliments on my writing. My writing is something that I have been working on and developing over the last year. I have worked very hard to improve my style and to make my writing sharper, more readable and more accessible. So it is nice to get feedback that says you enjoyed reading me piece. It makes me happy :) and it means something coming from a fellow fan. I will email you some news re what I am doing on the writing front.

You now have my PM!

Finally, I have to say that the excellence of your English puts me to shame. It is amazing how you can express yourself perfectly in English. I am a true Brit and the only language I have is English. All you Europeans with your perfect English embarrass the hell out of me!

(I said in my PM that I was heading to bed -- 1.49am, I made a late night to write, will pay it tomorrow... uh... later)

I'm actually VERY happy to read what you think about "Frankenstein", because you know what? I agree 100%. You expressed all my confused and blurred feeling of "there is something rotten in this play" with the precision I was lacking.

I like the idea behind the play: the creature being the topic. But... it wasn't done the right way, it was simply too plain and lacked all the philosophical aspects you mentioned above. Because as you mentioned, there is some good thinking to be done about "Frankenstein" (let's not forget it was written by a woman at a time when women writer were not that popular, let alone on the gothic litterature scene).

For the rest, as I said, I echo what you wrote, because it is all true. Really.
I'll only mention the train once more, just to clarify. I'm a railwayac, love trains to the bone, so seeing a train on stage was just a little girl's amazement. BUT the first time I saw the play, I wondered what the train was doing there. The second time, I considered that it was only a way to show that some important industrial discoveries were made in the 19th Century (railways and at the same time, people had an easier access to education and became more literate (in the sense: reading + writing). But again, this was a fail. Because "Frankenstein" was published in 1818 and at that time, railways were merely an idea (first line opened in 1825 in the UK), so I feel betrayed by the play again as I wrote those lines...

And finally, regarding my English... well, reading and watching plays (along with TV shows without subtitles did help a lot). Also, the fact that I consider that I shouldn't expect people to speak my language when I visit a different country, but should show some respect and speak the nation's language, might also be another reason why I try to improve myself! ^^
(but don't ask me about grammar, I missed all the basics in English, ooch...)
But thanks anyway, I feel like you saying you find it nice to get feedback about your writing ^^

(and now, now I go to bed. Really. Will read your other links tomorrow! And thanks for sharing the news on the writing front. And my happy congratulations stay!!)

Watch this and you will see the difference:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Shelleys-Frankenstein-Robert-Niro/dp/B00004CWWL/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1329011650&sr=1-1

This film, although panned by the critics, is an excellent and intelligent adaptation of the book. It tells the story of both the Creator and the Creation, and you feel sympathy and empathy for both characters. Victor is given centre stage and it explores all the science and the morality of the piece.

It tells Victor's backstory, from childhood onwards, so you understand his motivations and what drives him, and why he is the person that he is. Again, Nick Dear's play, by starting at the point that the Creature is born, skips the whole of the Victor backstory and is poorer for doing so.

From a gender perspective, Elizabeth (played by Helena Bonham-Carter) is a strong, independent, gutsy heroine, who loves her man, and does everything to try and understand him, reach him, and help him. She is not a passive sponge, she makes things happen and drives the action. Nick Dear's Elizabeth was nothing; pathetic by comparison. She had no independence, no character, no fire, no passion. No wonder Victor felt nothing for her!

Edited at 2012-02-12 02:03 am (UTC)

I am glad you agree re Frankenstein - its nice to know that at least one person agrees!

It is really interesting what you said re the train. You have better knowledge than me. I assumed railways and trains WERE around at the time; now you tell me that they weren't! Which really begs the question why include it in the first place, except as a big set-piece stunt? But yes, like you, I assumed that what they were trying to show, regardless of whether trains were around in reality or not, was the Industrial Revolution, the coming of machines, the destruction of the countryside, the emergence of cities, the breakdown of communities etc.

Re your English - it is excellent. And yes, I too agree with you that I shouldn't expect people to speak my language when I visit a different country, but should show some respect and speak the nation's language. However, I am just rubbish at languages! I have travelled extensively in the Middle East, and every time I go there I try to improve my Arabic, but I always have to start from square one again. I have been countless times, and yet all I can say is hello, goodbye, praise be to God!, and count from one to ten! I also know the words for water and a few key food items but that is it!

Finally, I too am now going to bed, but thank you for your congratulations!

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