LIVE events at The Wellesley in May bring three fine drama productions to local audiences.
On Wednesday 18 May the National Theatre’s staging of Edward Albee’s intense drama ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ is transmitted at 7pm.
First produced in 1962 the play is concerned with reality and illusion. Middle-aged couple Martha and George who are locked in a bitter, frustrated relationship play dangerous emotional games with one another – and with their young guests Nick and Honey. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred together in a memorable film version in 1966.
The National Theatre’s production stars Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill as Martha and George. The Guardian’s theatre critic said, “This is one of those rare occasions when play, performance and production perfectly coalesce. Imelda Staunton brilliantly embodies Edward Albee’s campus Medusa in the shape of Martha. Conleth Hill matches her every inch of the way as her seemingly ineffectual husband, George. Watching the two of them pummel each other senseless in a three-hour verbal slugfest may be exhausting but is ultimately uplifting and cathartic.”
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Roman Season continues in May with ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’ on Wednesday 24 May at 7pm.
In the play Shakespeare presents Rome some time after Julius Caesar’s assassination with a triumvarate – Mark Anthony, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus – sharing power. But Mark Anthony’s infatuation with Egypt’s enigmatic Queen Cleopatra keeps him from Rome. In his absence Senator Pompey challenges for power. Mark Anthony returns to Rome but his military brilliance and political strategy are compromised by Cleopatra’s presence.
As in the RSC’s staging of ‘Julius Caesar’, the Director, Iqbal Khan, has taken a more traditional approach to the production with togas, swords, colonades and muscled armour all conveying a sense of time and place.
Ben Allen plays Octavius Caesar, Josette Simon’s is described as “a study of boredom, caprice and petulance” as Cleopatra and Anthony Byrne is a virile, bear-like Mark Anthony.
On Thursday 25 May there’s a second opportunity to see the Encore transmission of the National Theatre’s production of ‘Obsession’ starring Jude Law.
The play, based on James M Cain’s novel ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’, is directed by Ivo van Hove who was responsible for the stunning production of ‘Hedda Gabler’ at The National Theatre and seen by local audiences last month.
Jude Law leads a cast of British and Dutch actors as the down-and-out drifter Gino whose encounter with Giovanna, the wife of filling station owner Giuseppe, leads to an intense relationship. Their affair drives them to commit murder, trapping them both in mutual obsession.
Jude Law and Halina Reijn have both attracted critical praise for their performances. Sarah Crompton said, “Jude Law is better at anger and desperation than love but touchingly reveals a dreadful self-knowledge as he realises he is trapped by a web of his own making.” Halina Reijn is described as “extraordinarily uninhibited” in a performance that “beautifully matches Law’s”