A Week At The Theatre | That Is Not Who I Am, The Unfriend, The Glass Menagerie.

It’s been quite a full week of plays! One off west end, one trip to Chichester and one West End revival. Bit of a mixed bag, but glad to have experienced all three.

That Is Not Who I Am at the Royal Court
Rating: it’s been a few days and I still have no idea how to rate this
Booking until: 16th July
Ticket link: https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/that-is-not-who-i-am/

Oh, the drama. There’s been a lot of talk about this play written by a Dave Davidson who apparently was plucked from out of nowhere and the Royal Court decided to put on his play about surveillance, since he worked in security for 38 years. The whole gimmick about this isn’t great, because it makes the idea of putting on a play by a first time writer look like something that’s laughable. Which is not great optics.

It’s a strange play to talk about without going into spoiler territory – although all other reviews seemed to have spoiled it, which I think is reductive given it’s a play that’s surrounded in moderate secrecy. It was actually quite nice going into this not knowing a whole lot about it. From my understanding, the play is about the internet, how we’re always being watched and a commentary on bringing down establishments. But then there are some scenes that just completely throw that out, to the point where my friend Sabrina and I were sat there wondering what it was we actually were meant to take away from the play. The three central performances are fantastic (particularly Siena Kelly). It’s worth watching but I feel like it could’ve done without the massive hoo-hah/kerfuffle it caused in it’s publicity.

The Unfriend at Chichester Festival Theatre (Minerva Theatre)
Rating: 4/5
Booking until: 9th July
Ticket link: https://www.cft.org.uk/whats-on/event/the-unfriend

The Chichester Festival Theatre is a place I’ve wanted to visit for sometime, due to their incredible reputation and the amount of imports into the West End they’ve produced. I was super excited to go on a day off to see The Unfriend, which is Steven Moffat’s debut play about a British couple who are too polite to tell their larger than life American houseguest who they meet on holiday, to jog on. This was a truly wonderful surprise that I absolutely loved. It’s a hilarious comedy that is a bit slapstick at times, but an absolute riot. Mark Gatiss direction is really strong and hones in on the comedic elements that heighten the script.

Across the board are really strong performances, particularly from Reece Shearsmith and Amanda Abbington as the central couple Peter and Debbie. Both have great chemistry together and are absolutely hilarious. Also loved Frances Barber as Elsa, the couple’s houseguest who was brilliant, the over the top personality she gave to Elsa worked so well and actually felt believable. There’s a great supporting cast as well who all have their own moments to shine.

I had such a great time watching this and keeping my fingers crossed for a West End transfer and more plays from the Moffatt/Gatiss duo. I can’t wait to go back to Chichester Festival Theatre for more great theatre in the future.

The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre
Rating: 3/5
Booking until: 27th August 2022
Ticket link: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-glass-menagerie/duke-of-yorks-theatre/

The classic Tennessee Williams play returns to London in a brand new production directed by Jeremy Herrin. The play focuses on Amanda Wingfield who essentially spends the play worrying about her children after her husband abandons the family. The play is narrated by an older version of her son Tom who recounts a troubling time where he was pressured into finding a suitor for his younger sister. This was actually a play I had never seen before and was excited to experience for the first time. While the play has strong performances, it feels like there is always something missing throughout.

Amy Adams makes her West End debut as Amanda Wingfield and she is marvellous throughout. I really liked that, in this production, the role of Tom was split between two actors. In this case we have Paul Hilton as the older Tom and the narrator who is utterly brilliant. Playing the younger version is Tom Glynn-Carney who is rather excellent too. But for me, the standouts really were Lizzie Annis as Laura and Victor Alli as Jim. There’s a rather long scene in the second half with just the two of them that felt like it was written as filler. But the two are so magnetic, you can’t really help but watch them.

With the ending of the play, it feels like there’s no real resolution – it just ends. There was quite a big opportunity for the play to end on such a dramatic high but it doesn’t. It just feels a bit lacklustre in that case. I also wasn’t quite sure what I was meant to take away from the play and what the point of it was. It is worth seeing for some excellent performances but there are better plays in London to go and see, in my opinion.

What have you seen in the last week? Let me know!

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