Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Till The Stars Come Down @ Dorfman Theatre...

Sometimes a play comes along that just blows you away. And Till The Stars Come Down at the National was just such a play. Everything came together; the writing, the acting, the casting, the tone, the simple set, the lighting, the glitterball, everything. We just loved it.
True to life, a little bit sad, thoroughly relatable, and very, very funny; the play takes place over a single day - a wedding day.
Stuart and I weren't quite sure what to expect when we took our seats at the Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank last Friday night. All we did know was that playwright Beth Steel knows how to write a good play (Wonderland, The House of Shades). And boy, did she deliver here.
When the action first started we were like, "ok, so this seems like rather familiar territory. A wedding. Can it really show us anything new? We've seen dozens of wedding day dramas and comedies"  How wrong we were to even question it. The play came hurtling out the traps like a prize greyhound. We were laughing at the first line.
The family consisted of three sisters (think Chekov meets The Royle Family) where the youngest Sylvia (beautifully played by Sinéad Matthews) was the one getting married - to Polish boy Marek (played by Marc Wootton). Sylvia's two sisters Maggie (the fantastic Lisa McGrillis) and Hazel (the sublime Lucy Black) were both on hand and seemed determined that the day went without a hitch. In every sense of the expression. Not everyone approved of the match.
Enter stage right their fantastically gobby aunt Carol (played riotously by Lorraine Ashbourne). She entered with the line, “I don’t know my arsehole from my fanny this morning.” You get the picture.
And then the men arrived; the aforementioned Marek, the sisters' Dad Tony (ex-miner Alan Williams), estranged Uncle Pete (also ex-miner Philip Whitchurch), and Hazel's husband John (nicely played by Derek Riddel). And all hell broke loose. Old rivalries, miners' strike grievances, family feuds, sexual tensions, sexual politics, European politics, and lots and lots of knob gags! It had it all. 
As the wedding day progressed and the secrets were revealed there were genuine gasps from the audience. We'd all bought into the family dynamics already - perhaps it was at the audience sing-a-long.  We were invested.  The power of good writing. 
So, when the ending came it was a genuine shock. 
At the blackout the audience were stunned into silence for a few thumping heartbeats - before rapturous applause and everyone jumping to their feet.
A winner. Go see.



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