Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Introduction to The Restricted Review

Hi! I am the Restricted Reviewer.
I am absolutely passionate about performances of actors, particularly on stage but also on screen.
I really enjoy writing about my experiences as an audience member and they include both my point of view on the performances but also the entire experience I have had around those performances.
You may find my reviews are restricted (enhanced) by OCD and walking disabilities ;). They are my own personal take and as such not reviews written in any standard or conventional way.
I very much hope you will enjoy reading and feel inspired to go see the performances yourselves.
Thank you and Best Wishes,
The Restricted Reviewer X

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Thanks for reading my musings.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

‘Anatomy of a Suicide’ – Royal Court Theatre – Tuesday 4th July 2017

(Rated 10/5 ) 

My ‘section’ of this review is highly likely to be very personal – not quite sure what will come out yet – will see in a few minutes – so before I go ahead I wanted to share a less personal but certainly ‘bang on’ review – shared by my lovely friend who booked us to see this production. From Time Out…
“***** Birch has crafted a rich, haunting, technically dazzling script. It is gut-level, subliminal: a depiction of tragedy as a disease that swims silently through the bloodstream.”
Warning: the following contains spoilers and personal processing!
Now my turn… I had no expectations on this at all – aside from an intriguing and highly suggestive of darkness and trauma title – such things always fascinate me I’ll admit – I’d read nothing at all about it and knew nothing – not even the basic premise. So I learned all exactly as the script and actors taught me performing from start to finish. Now I don’t know what to write. I’m still struggling to find words, which kind of reflects the single word responses from Carol (Hattie Morahan) – the eldest of the three generations of women. The depth of emotion and trauma and lack of emotion as a result of trauma is palpable – like a penetrating vibe from actors to audience – there’s no hiding from it even though in her emotional shut-down – Bonnie (Adelle Leonce) – the youngest of the three - attempts to do so. And in between them we have Anna (Kate O’Flynn) – daughter of Carol, mostly absent-mother to Bonnie – whose effervescence and hyper-expressiveness are a stark contrast to the other two. All three actors are absolutely outstandingly brilliant!! I fell completely and utterly in love with them and they all had my fullest empathy also. The supporting cast were all equally as good – not just acting a multitude of characters but also moving scenery around and undressing/dressing the three leads onstage between scenes - An exceptionally good ensemble-piece. As actors say they can’t be good without good writing and this is probably the most-skilful, accomplished, sensitive, natural, deep yet concise, character-rich writing in a play I have ever encountered. Alice Birch is such a talent! I’m so envious! In this play she is writing three scenes at any one time – taking place on the same stage at the same time – linking them up beautifully and timing all the characters words to absolute perfection. It’s extraordinary! The timing of delivery had to be spot on and was. The actors were so in synch. In some ways it reminds me of one of my favourite films ‘The Hours’ – again three women in three different time periods – but the scenes were separated and the characters connected but unrelated. This play is structured so that the audience can watch all three scenes simultaneously without losing anything, which is pretty amazing!
And here comes the personal. This play resonated in so many ways with my own life experience – mind- and heart-blowing. I was witnessing this with goosebumps on my goosebumps and my eyes welling up with tears. Carol and Anna between them embody aspects of my own mother. Carol holds the quiet brooding drowning-in-despair aspect of Mum whilst Anna the hyperactive, talkative, edgy and ‘fun’/funny parts of her personality. Both characters actually so beautiful and tantalising - irresistibly attractive. As the title suggests suicide is forever casting a shadow over them/us and it’s a question of when not if. For me it was always a question of if with Mum. And I identified so much with Bonnie’s subdued, reserved and withdrawn character… who becomes a doctor(caring professional), who struggles in relationships with fellow human beings, who seems more devastated by the loss of her companion rabbit but who finds it so difficult to let go of the family home in which so many of her grandmother and mother’s dramas took place. Bonnie felt like an unhealed me. Yet what she expresses towards the end of the play struck the deepest most profound chord with me. She is determined there should be no possibility of having children – “I have to know – biologically, completely, with absolute certainty that I am where it ends… That it goes no further, no deeper, no longer… That it finishes here.” And then we are faced with the ultimate question at the very end of the play… can Bonnie also let go of it all emotionally and psychologically and let the house of the stage go and move on… Can she live her life? Can she finally engage?
This is the best play/production I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m not saying it is the absolute most-accomplished but with all its personal resonances it wins out. And happily with no big names in it! But an absolute wealth of talent! Yet again – as with my most recent review – I am writing this towards the end of the run and it is sold out. The Royal Court Theatre with its relatively small, intimate space is perfect for this play, though I do hope it transfers somewhere else so others get an opportunity to witness it. I had to have the script which was only £3. We ate in the Bar/Kitchen beforehand and I had a delicious gazpacho and we shared chips with mayonnaise, salad, Coronas and passion fruit crème brulee and tasty truffles – highly recommended. I happen to know the risotto is also very tasty ;)
Excellent Emotionally-Charged, Extremely Personally-Developing Experience!


Anatomy of a Suicide – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017

Sunday, 11 June 2017

‘Don Juan in Soho’ – Wyndham’s Theatre – Saturday 3rd and Wednesday 7th June 2017

(Rated 5/5 ) 

It had to happen – DT as DJ – David Tennant as Don Juan ;) - a totally charming man playing a despicable seduction-crazed rogue – and his adorable long-suffering servant / companion / sidekick Stan - played delightfully by Adrian Scarborough – does warn us not to be charmed by him. And yet we completely are, whilst maybe feeling a little discomfort that we are watching the deplorable yet hilarious almost sexual exploitation – though as he says ‘I am not a pussy grabber’ – of many women, and a few men. DJ is eminently ‘fuckable’ yet ‘unhaveable’ and he celebrates that. He cares not a jot for anybody, being totally untouched by the pain he is causing his new wife Elvira – Danielle Vitalis.
Don Juan has appeared many times over in Operas, poems, plays, philosophical writings and other and there are lovely refs to Don Giovanni in this production. Yet this is a very deliberately contemporary version – ever so much a version for our times making multitudes of references to our experiences of today. In fact so much so that DJ’s rant speech in Act 2 was changed through the run to reflect current events – more on that later but for example including ‘climate change denial by an orange orangutan’ (actually an offence to orangutans ;)). I wish I’d seen it after the UK general election result to see what may have been added then.
David is Delicious as DJ!! And Hilarious and Wonderfully Vile too! He clearly thoroughly enjoyed playing a character so different to himself in behaviour and attitude. DJ is a very clever witty cynic. He loves seduction more than sex itself and will go to any lengths without worrying about who gets hurt – even killed along the way. Being attached won’t save you – in fact will make him want you even more – like the newlywed bride – of whom he hears about in the gents and tells Stan about whilst changing character from himself to the newlywed husband by respectively increasing and decreasing the space between his thumb and forefinger held down as his crotch! And there are so many similar hilarities – including a blanket covering yet another young lady satisfying him – and his responses in facial expressions and sounds - whilst he chats up the bride.
There’s dancing and singing too – most notably between DJ and Stan – DJ moves so sensually and naturally whilst Stan is both funnily awkward yet really good too.
The production is excellent and includes a moving statue of Charles II, staging of Soho itself and a flying bicycle J
This stage-play is by award-winning writer Patrick Marber - a radical entertaining adaptation of Molière’s original play - and was first performed at The Donmar Warehouse in 2006. I did not see that version – in which Rhys Ifans played DJ – but get the impression this one is more impressive. I also have a very strong suspicion that DT did some co-writing with his friend Patrick J I really enjoyed the whole show – especially on second seeing being much closer to the stage in stalls second row – so well worth it! – my favourite part of it is DJ’s rant speech on hypocrisy and the ‘development of man’. It’s highly amusing, clever, witty, scathing, cynical and in some ways self-deprecating eg. the ref to the insincere work of actors and doing the ‘ancestry show’. He comments how we have developed from the caveman drawing an animal on his wall – ‘Well Done’ – to Vlogging and telling each other ‘I bought a plum’. How we are obsessed by others ‘Follow Me, Follow Me, Like Me, Like Me’ – which he demonstrates with a thumbs up. How a ‘concrete block’ is now an iPhone! We just have ‘different tools’.
I’d highly recommend this except that I can’t because the final performance was yesterday! Whoops and apologies. Though selfishly it’s good to have my own experience of it to look back on and remind me of those feelings being an audience member for one of the shows I have found most enjoyable and entertaining J Sadly no DVD but the stage-play is available.
Wyndham’s is a lovely theatre in Louis XVI style from 1899. A more classic space in SOHO!


Don Juan in Soho – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

‘Lazarus’ – King’s Cross Theatre - Tuesday 6th January 2016

(Rated 7/5 ) 

I had no words coming out of this show. I was literally speechless – struck dumb in awe of what I had just witnessed and the experience of the journey on which these highly talented beings had taken me. When I did manage to speak it was just a ‘Wow… Just Wow!’, to my friend and companion on the theatrical journey. She was equally unable to speak but her reaction was clearly visible on her face. As were all Michael C. Hall’s reactions of his alien being Newton on his. When my companion was finally able to say something -‘That is how theatre should be – that is what I’ve missed’. We’d both gone for the sake of Bowie – Dear David – well of course how could you not? ;) – and also for dear Michael because of Dexter… because of Six Feet Under… because we wanted to see one of our favourite actors ‘live’. We weren’t bothered about how good the play was – just to have some time in the combined worlds of those two great artistic talents was easily good enough. So the fact that there seemed to be so much in the play – that we felt so transported from earth to this extraordinary surreal place – and yes we did have our passports with us as instructed though were never asked to show them – sitting on purple chairs – well they had to be ;) – was beyond all expectation. That said I wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened or what it was really about, but that didn’t actually matter lol! It’s about life and death, it’s about being, it’s about existence and not being able to escape it… ever. It’s about true love, true hate, true feelings of all kinds. I suppose it’s about whatever you get from it – which sounds like a cop out – but I truly feel it’s the sort of show which each of us can get our own messages from. Sort of being about whatever you feel ready to receive and depending on your mood at the time. I have a passion for seeing things from POVs other than human ones and of course that is also what we get – a study of us from a Man Who Fell To Earth and from characters in his imagination or who have passed over to the other side or to another planet… to Mars maybe?!
David Bowie has given SO much! I really don’t need to say more and his songs are beautifully incorporated into Enda Walsh’s script. Again whether it actually makes sense doesn’t matter! We don’t make sense anyway ;). For me Bowie truly was a gloriously multiple personality and each one as ridiculously hugely talented as the next. Every performer in this production was brilliant! I’ve already noted how expressive Michael C. Hall (MCH) is and his face was so alien and troubled. Even when smiling it had an other-worldliness – something I haven’t seen in any of his other characters. I was also particularly impressed by Girl as played by Hannah Rose Thompson – and had goosebumps when she sang Life on Mars - and Amy Lennox as Elly who blew me away with all the ‘business’ she had to handle while performing someone going through a multitude of Changes and singing beautifully all at the same time. I wish MCH had had more singing to do. My favourite was his Heroes duet with Girl.
Great production in their purpose-built ‘tent’ ;)  Oh, and as I was advised, if you do go, look at the stage as soon as you get into your seat J And Wish You a Wonderful Ride!


Lazarus – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2016

Friday, 18 March 2016

'The Father' - Duke of York's Theatre - Tuesday 8th March 2016

(Rated 5/5 )
Is it 'very sensible' - to use the words of my mother - to go see a play about old age and the gradual loss of a parent be it physically or mentally, when you have just recently lost one of your own - and 2 days before scattered their ashes - and with that parent's sister? As usual I am not someone to shy away from anything challenging like that - I am not one to be 'sensible' to protect myself emotionally, and neither is my aunt, my companion on this occasion. And whilst I did have some concern about how 'devastating' this production may feel - especially given some previous reviews - in the event I was interested, fascinated and even entertained rather than devastated. Saddened yes but also encouraged to smile and be amused at points during the performance. 
The Father is written unelaborately and extremely cleverly by Florian Zeller. He writes from the perspective of his title character, Andre, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. As Zeller says theatre 'holds a mirror up to its audience, allowing us to recognise and understand ourselves a little better… I was keen that on this particular journey we shouldn't only be spectators, that we too should become lost in this mental labyrinth - so as to experience more completely, from the inside, the tragedy of old age and that fragility to life which makes us all equal'. I felt I was trying to solve a puzzle - the same puzzle as Andre was, which enabled empathy in a way almost impossible from the outside. Kenneth Cranham was very convincingly lost, confused, distressed and vulnerable acting full on to the point of giving us genuine concern for his sake at the end that he wouldn't do himself permanent damage. Amanda Drew acted with great sensitivity experiencing and conveying so many of the challenging and conflicting emotions we would all feel as the caring/er and trapped daughter in such circumstances. The leads were beautifully supported by their fellow actors. The staging, lighting and sound effects played the biggest supporting role in a sense by not supporting or helping. We experience increased loss of sense and memory in and of Andre's world as furniture is gradually moved or changed around. The music introducing each scene sounded at times like a broken record covered in dust - can't quite sound the right note, recall the right memory and trying to play it over and over to grasp something lost beneath jumble and damage.
Profoundly powerful theatre so true to life.

I highly recommend The Duke of York's Theatre. It feels more intimate than many of the older theatres and has the most caring and friendly staff I have ever experienced. Even though I decided not to take up the offer of moving seats to the Royal Circle to save me having to descend and climb stairs - I wanted to be in the stalls right up close and personal with the actors - I really appreciated the care and attention to my disability needs.


The Father – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2016

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

‘Everyman’ – Olivier, National Theatre - Monday 29th June 2015


(Rated 7/5 )
When you’re feeling down and bombarded by the passing of some loved-ones and worried to the core by other loved-ones’ difficult circumstances, do you really want to go and see a morality play about death and be challenged by that?! Well I wasn’t sure but I went anyway and I was thoroughly moved and uplifted by it! It took me out of a kind of numb detachment to highly sensitive connection to all feelings in our human toolbox and a sense of amazement and joy of being.
Chiwetel Ejiofor – the man who performed my most favourite piece of emotive expression as Othello breaking down at the Donmar Warehouse - does it yet again as the Everyman of the title in this superbly clever updated version of a 15th century morality play by Carol Ann Duffy. He is supremely stunning as he conveys his character’s journey from materialistic 40-year old - throwing money at everything to buy things, people, make him feel good, to generally fix things without any insight into the issues truly affecting our world – to awakened enriched soul. Like so many of us blinkered by wanting to ‘enjoy’ life without any thought for the consequences he ignores current issues concerning the environment, the amount of rubbish we create, poverty, the impact of his self-absorption on others… Yet in facing death – in the form of Dermot Crowley with a Roy Cropper-style tote shopping bag – and God incarnated as a cleaning lady; played by Kate Duchene who opens the play - in addition to a highly talented cast of ‘Fellowship’, ‘Senses and Wits’, ‘Kindred’, ‘Goods’, ‘Knowledge’ – in the form of a down-and-out Penny Layden and perhaps most poignantly touching his younger self ‘Everyboy’ – he finds understanding, transformation and in some ways makes amends and instead of fighting and railing against death he come to peace with it/him.
The staging and production are tremendous! Of greatest note the tsunami which affects performers and audience alike. I couldn’t breathe! I really enjoyed Carol Ann Duffy’s rhyming script accompanied by the music of William Lyons.
I admit I went in order to get to see Chiwetel giving his goods again – in the hopes that he may come close to his best – if possible he exceeded that with his outstanding expressiveness, but also I came away with so much more. Of course this is a play about the meaning of life and a psychological journey. It is about our morals! It is about the meaning of life and learning in the face of death and our beliefs around that final curtain.
Do go see – you will not be disappointed!

Everyman – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2015

Thursday, 15 May 2014

‘Birland’ - Royal Court Theatre - Saturday 10th May 2014

(Rated 4/5 )

Birdland’ by Simon Stephens – who previously adapted Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ for the stage – is described as a play about empathy, money and fame. The second two are very immediately obvious as subjects of the play: Rock Star Paul played by Andrew Scott – probably best known recently as Moriaty in ‘Sherlock’ – is at the height of his fame on a massive world tour, talking to anyone who will listen about bucketloads of money and material wealth and worth whilst buying anything and everything he wants, including people, with ‘his’ money and fame. Given that he doesn’t seem to care about the consequences of any of this the empathy subject is less obvious, but I guess that is one of the crucial points – it’s about empathy by exploring the corrupting effects of focusing too far away from empathy and humanity and more on superficial pleasures, which in the end have no worth at all. The play is also highly empathic in its treatment of the personal, the subtext, beneath the superficiality of the words and the dynamics of the relationships between the characters.
The staging is a lot of fun and very active. The ‘set’ mainly consists of 6 chairs - for the 6 actors playing between them a total of 18 characters - and an archway, which the actors’ and audience’s imaginations turn into whatever it needs to be in context. Later we have water gradually flooding the stage, which alarmed me a little reflecting the dangers and drowning-feeling later in the play as reality hits and fantasy fades.
Andrew Scott is very impressive and very ably supported by Nikki Amuka-Bird, Daniel Cerqueira, Yolanda Kettle and Charlotte Randle all of whom play a range of characters – gifts as acting challenges in character development – and Alex Price as Paul’s friend and fellow musician Johnny. This movement of actors into different people and of all the props by the actors rather than stage-hands, also endow the play with a lot of energy – again empathic to the life-style associated with the music business. The core of the play is the relationship between Paul and Johnny and their – yes sorry going to use this word – journey together and apart.
There is such a great deal going on in this play – so many aspects explored. Well worth a look especially if you have an interest in the entertainment business or thinking of going into it. It may have you wanting to think again.


Birdland – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2014