Into Battle - Greenwich Theatre
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Into Battle is a new play, a world premiere by Hugh Salmon, directed by Ellie Jones, which unearths a true story that has remained buried for over 100 years, a story which shows how the political and social divisions tearing Britain apart at the beginning of the 20th century were reflected at Balliol College, Oxford through the bitter feud between Hon. Billy Grenfell, the future war poets Hon. Julian Grenfell and Patrick Shaw Stewart and those dedicated to the Balliol Boys Club founded by Keith Rae and England rugby international Ronald Poulton.
1910. Balliol College. Dangerous rifts are appearing between the ‘have’ and the ‘have-nots’. Of the fifty-three freshers who went up some four years earlier, eighteen had been to Eton. In an increasingly personalised and bitter feud, will social influence and wealth prevail over those dedicated to improving the lives of the poor and hungry on the back streets of Oxford? And when facing far greater adversary will vicious personal differences be put aside in the face of a common enemy?
Iain Fletcher plays the real-life figure Revd. Neville Talbot who steers audiences through the play. Other cast members, all playing real people, include Alexander Knox, Nik Salmon, Gabriel Freilich, Anna Bradley, Joe Gill, Molly Gaisford and Sam Barrett.
Nov 1-Jan 31 on demand.
The Dante Project – Royal Ballet
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The Dante Project is presented as part of the 700th anniversary celebrations of the poet’s death, Dante’s epic journey through the afterlife, The Divine Comedy, is realised in a major artistic collaboration between trailblazing forces of the contemporary arts scene.
In an inaugural co-production between the Paris Opera Ballet, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wayne McGregor’s choreography and a virtuoso new score by composer-conductor Thomas Adès, this is a three-part work for the full Royal Ballet Company to illuminate the extraordinary vision of Dante.
On a related subject, I am of the opinion that the Royal Opera House hates us and really wants to discourage us from sharing what promises to be a wonderful performance. No, not really, of course not, but they do make it as difficult as possible. In order to watch one of their livestreams, such as The Dante Project, you must open an ROH Stream Account. Your existing Royal Opera House username and password will not be valid here. To make it even more of a faff, the ROH Stream Account must be separately purchased. Bear with it, you only have to do it once. When you’ve opened an ROH Stream Account, future access is automatic with the password you use to create the account.
Here’s how to do it. Browse the stream events (https://stream.roh.org.uk/browse) and select the event you want to watch first, in this case The Dante Project. Click on that and then click to create a new account. Enter your payment details to buy access. When you have purchased a ticket, you will receive a confirmation email. This email will include instructions on how to watch and also a link that leads directly to the event you have purchased. Voila! Well, sort of Voila.
29 Oct- 28 Nov. £16 + local taxes if you are outside the UK.
The Merry Wives of Windsor – Royal Shakespeare Company
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Tradition has it that Sir John Falstaff was Queen Elizabeth 1’s favourite character and that, after seeing Henry IV Part I, she asked Shakespeare to write a play about Falstaff in love. The result was The Merry Wives of Windsor, his only contemporary play, set in an ordinary English town, in his own time, among middle class people. There’s not a king, earl or duke in sight and the only knight is Sir John. Although the more toffee-nosed among the critical fraternity have always been a bit sniffy about it, it’s one of my favourites and arguably the funniest of all Shakespeare’s comedies, especially in this production for the RSC, directed by Fiona Laird and designed by Lez Brotherston.
I don’t know what Queen Elizabeth’s reaction to it was but, as the RSC reopens in Stratford upon Avon this week, post-pandemic, it’s worth celebrating the Company’s archive of past productions. This The Merry Wives of Windsor stars David Troughton as Falstaff and Ishia Bennison as Mistress Quickly. The ‘wives’ are played by Beth Cordingly, Karen Fishwick, and Rebecca Lacey.
To jog your memory, Sir John Falstaff plans to hustle his way to comfortable retirement by seducing the wives of two wealthy men. But it’s the women of Windsor who pull the strings in this story...
Clouds, Ice, and Bounty – National Gallery of Art
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The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC recently mounted a spectacular exhibition of 27 Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings collected by Lee and Juliet Folger.
A vast trading empire blossomed during the “Little Ice Age” of the 1600s, bringing great wealth to the Dutch Republic and neighbouring Flanders. In this introduction to the exhibition, curator Betsy Wieseman, head of the National Gallery’s department of northern European paintings, explores a few of the meticulously detailed landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, genre scenes, and portraits seen in Clouds, Ice, and Bounty. Clouds and ice abound in these wide-ranging works, but how much of the bounty did artists exaggerate to create a stronger impression of abundance? Learn how to untangle these subtly distorted realities.
A Touch of the Poet - Irish Rep at home
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In 1828, proud and tempestuous Cornelius Melody (Con) owns a run-down inn and tavern near Boston. Laden with debt, Con clings to his tenuous identity as a landed gentleman and war hero and chastises his wife and daughter for actions that expose the family’s humble Irish origins. When his daughter, Sara, falls in love with a wealthy American guest at their inn, Con’s pride drives him to an explosive reckoning with his true place in the New World.
This is a digital production from the Irish Rep of A Touch of the Poet, Eugene O’Neill’s tragic tale about the immigrant experience and generational aspiration, which first saw light of day in 1958. This production should have been part of the Irish Rep’s live season in November 2020, but we know what happened to that. It was postponed due to Covid-19. Fortunately, the cast and creative team have reconvened remotely to rehearse and reimagine the play for digital presentation.
Directed by Ciarán O’Reilly, the cast includes Belle Aykroyd, Ciaran Byrne, Robert Cuccioli, Kate Forbes, Mary McCann, Andy Murray, David O’Hara, Tim Ruddy, David Sitler, and John C. Vennema
$25 24hr rental.
Love is Sweeping the Country - The Mabel Mercer Fndn’s NY Cabaret Convention 2021
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This is, in any normal year, the week of the Cabaret Convention, the week when every singer worth his or her sequins heads to Manhattan to the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, to sing out for the glory of the songwriting greats – Gershwin, Hart, Berlin, Kern, Porter, and the rest – and for the delectation of those of us who love their Great American Songbook.
This year there was just one public concert, dedicated to the songs of Irving Berlin, and several online presentations where the singers did their thing in clubs and living rooms all over America, instead of among the glitter of Manhattan’s showcase. This, Love is Sweeping the Country, is one of those online specials, hosted by Natalie Douglas, giving us a chance to hear many of the artists who couldn't get to New York this year for the Convention.
I have rarely missed a Cabaret Convention over the 32 years of its annual life but I did this year. In mitigation for not being there, here’s some wonderful singing by a number of US cabaret artists, some of whom you may never have encountered before.
Ruth Leon is a writer and critic specialising in music and theatre.