New Boy

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while might have noticed that I’m a fan of Tracy Chevalier. One of the things that I like about her books is that they are so well written but also very varied which always has an element of surprise.

The latest book, New Boy, is part of a project where different authors have written new stories from Shakespeare’s many plays. Chevalier chose Othello. Even if I love Shakespeare, Othello is not one of my favourites, but I have never seen it performed on stage.

Chevalier has moved the story to the 1970’s at a school yard. The main characters are in their pre-teens when they still move easily between children’s games and the new interest in the opposite sex. Into this homogenious suburban school with white kids who have grown up together, arrives Osei – the son of a Ghanian diplomate.

The book was so easy to read, I plowed through the first few chapters without thinking. When the plot then started to thicken I thought: “no, I really don’t like Othello”. The ending however is so strong that I’ve had to change my mind. I do like Tracy Chevalier’s Othello very much and I think I need to go and see a theatre production of the play. Perhaps I misjudged this story many years ago.

In any case, well done Tracy Chevalier for pulling off transporting the story to its new setting the way she has done. It works brilliantly.


Much Ado About Nothing

This past weekend, I watched a friend of mine perform in Fox and Chips’ production of Much Ado About Nothing at The Pack and Carriage Pub close to Mornington Crescent station, North London.

This is the upbeat Shakespeare play about Claudio and Hero, sorry Benedick and Beatrice. Let’s be honest the storyline of Benedick and Beatrice does tend to steal the show. What can be more interesting than two people who are determined to never fall in love – who do fall in love – with each other…?

Much Ado About Nothing may be familiar to some who’ve seen the movie adaptation with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Those of you who are not Shakespeare fans, of course, and who have read it or seen it performed before.

The Fox and Chips’ production is set in the 80’s and, as it’s being performed in a pub, it allows the actors to interact with the audience in a way that a traditional theatre space rarely allows. Overall, the actors are very good and do justice to Shakespeare. I would say, the difficulty with Shakespeare is to make the text sound like natural speech. With a play like Much Ado About Nothing, were most of the action seems to take place in the middle of a party, to speak your lines naturally, would be essential.There’s also a good chemistry between the actors, especially important if there is a romance invloved.

As you may have already figured out, I truly enjoyed watching this production. Despite it’s darker elements and a bit of melodrama, it’s very light-hearted. It runs Sundays and Mondays until July 26, if anyone should get inspired to go see it.


Jane Eyre at National Theatre

Yesterday, another dream of mine came true. As much as I am gutted that I missed seeing Frankenstein at National Theatre, am I delighted that I finally got tickets to see a play there.

The play in question was Jane Eyre. I read the book and other Brontë stories after I fell in love with Jane Austen’s writing in my late teens. Jane Eyre is probably my favourite. It is a fantastic tale about independence and romance, with a bit of mystery and horror thrown in. I think I especially like Jane’s humble but strong minded person.

National Theatre has done a good job capturing everything you like about the story. I was especially impressed with the lighting design, sound design and the music. On the whole, it is a very clever, well thought through and brilliant production. With that said, I still haven’t made up my mind if I really liked it.

One thing that strikes me with the story is why men can be so cruel to the woman they love. Rochester tries to make Jane jealous, tries to provoke a reaction from her by courting another woman. My experience is that that kind of behaviour can only cause pain since a woman who truely loves will want what will make the object of her affection happy, even when that happiness lies together with someone else. She will withdraw; she will lick her wounds.

In conclusion, I’m very happy with my choice of play to experience the greatness of National Theatre and if you do get a chance to see it – do so.