England people very nice / Mrs Affleck / Pitman Painters – National Theatre 2009

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Thoughts: England People very nice – looked like the animation guy had fun

Billed as a riotous journey through four waves of immigration – and I guess that is exactly what you get. The direction, animation and design were all very pleasing to the eye –(Nicholas Hytner, Pete Bishop, Mark Thompson) the content (written by Richard Bean) however leaves you wanting a bit more than just a walk through immigration from 17th century to today. We see the Irish, the Jews, the Bangladeshis…..all in turn enter a chaotic England and repeat the violence gone before – the question is – why have we had four waves of chaos? Or maybe it’s just a walk through four waves of immigration.

Our rating: 3 cones (equivalent to 3 stars out of 5)3 Cones!

Thoughts: Mrs Affleck (from Ibsen’s Little Eyolf) – Why wasn’t this very interesting?

It’s hard to know quite what to say about this show – This came with all the right ingredients – but a little bit like my cooking – the result didn’t come out quite as it should.

Set in 1950’s England – You get an expensive set – an over size kitchen and real rain.(set – Bunny Christie) You get a good director (Marianne Elliott) and some fine actors (Claire Skinner, Angus Wright …and a good playwright (Samuel Adamson) – so…. It was almost as it tried to hard, that the spontaneity and freedom of the piece got stuck – I didn’t need real rain – I have a great imagination. I didn’t need a large impressive kitchen, what I needed was to care about the relationship of the actors – and I didn’t and as I looked across the auditorium I saw a man sitting opposite, texting on his mobile phone while the play meandered on – I was not alone.

Our rating: 2 cones (equivalent to 2 stars out of 5)2 Cones!

Thoughts: The Pitman Painters – National Theatre – after last years successful run (Cottesloe) It returns, this time to the big stage (Lyttelton) and I think it works well

This is a nicely written piece,(Lee Hall) it makes you laugh, but it makes you think and question society and it’s class. All the performances are good and it’s a well constructed and directed play.( Max Roberts)

The play is about the Ashington Group, a group of miners who sign up for an art appreciation class and with the help of their tutor explore art, paint their own pictures and stage exhibitions. The play journeys from 1934 to the Nationalisation of the mines.

What’s nice about this piece is that you get a real sense of their inexperience, their naiveté, their sheer love of art, their journey as they make a stir in the art world, and then their struggle as one miner is singled out and offered a paid career in art. His struggle is touching as he is left to choose between the life as an artist or the life as a pitman miner. A funny and touching play. What’s more, afterwards you can view their actual paintings – on display in the Lyttelton circle foyer – nice touch

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