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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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

‘Julius Caesar’ – Bridge Theatre – Wednesday 7th March 2018

(Rated 7/5 ) 

Wow, wow and wow again to such a compelling production of William Shakespeare’s political thriller. It starts with a rock concert involving many of the actors including David Morrissey (Mark Antony) singing and Fred Fergus (Lucius) on guitar. Lots of fun and really got us going and into the tone of this modern production – which, without any alterations to Shakespeare’s original words – aside from cutting play-length – hinted so much to the struggles of our times. Julius Caesar (David Calder) is the popular dictator with a red baseball cap and slogan ‘Do This!’ – worshipped and adored by the masses. Ben Whishaw’s Marcus Brutus comes across as an intellectual Liberal – caught in a dilemma as to what action or inaction is best to achieve democracy – we could see him fighting anything he feels would do damage to the good of the people in spite of what they have been wooed to believe - Brexit
J Michelle Fairley plays Caius Cassius and is such a wonderful double-act with Ben Whishaw. They feel like brother and sister though I imagine for Shakespeare they weren’t siblings and of course in his time would have been played by a man. In this production there is a lovely balance of men and women. And all in all it feels far more emotional, personal and engaging than any other production of this I remember seeing. OK well to be fair I don’t remember the only other production of this which I have seen, but maybe that in itself says a great deal. My theatre companion at the time found it very dull.
The staging in this production is extraordinary and so exciting. Bridge theatre is an amazing space. Similarly to Shakespeare’s Globe there is seating in the round and then members of the audience can also stand around the stage. In this production’s performance the pieces of stage move scene to scene – coming out of and then disappearing back into the floor. Standing members of the audience are guided to locations required and also to participate as appropriate as though being members of the crowd welcoming a victorious Caesar home, senators, soldiers involved in battle etc. If I were more able I would have loved to be a standing audience person ;)
I didn’t used to be very political and maybe I enjoyed it more as it relates so much to our time too and the serious issues we are facing. But without that I still think it’s very good!
The talent in all areas of this production is so, so strong. Sheer impressive excellence.
I highly recommend it!

Julius Caesar – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2018

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

‘Beginning’ – Ambassador’s Theatre – Tuesday 27th February 2018

(Rated 5/5 ) 

A wonderful night including a wonderfully ordinarily real play with two of my wonderfully extraordinary friends, which could have been prevented by the weather! It tried its hardest… snow on and off all day… and as I tentatively made my way to the theatre to collect tickets I slipped ever so slightly on icy pavements… very anxious not to fall and break yet something else adding to my restrictedness. In a way just that little journey reflects the play itself – but I’ll come to that in a little bit.
So tickets collected and another shaky potentially perilous trip of just a minute to get to the nearest Rosa’s Thai café – awkwardly struggling along to get nicely fed and then back again to the theatre. Still thankfully no major catastrophes… We also managed to navigate a very tiny ladies’ bathroom – with just 2 cubicles – trying not to bump into each other and strangers as we shuffled around and in and out… Getting to our seats relatively easy thankfully – asked by a lovely young man to ‘find your way to your row, for me, please’ - and then enjoying some of my favourite music from the 80s – maybe representing the end of Laura’s party at which the play starts…
Awkwardness resumes as Laura (Justine Mitchell) tries to begin a liaison with stranger Danny (Sam Troughton), the last lingering guest at her party. Ok and here’s where I want to be careful to avoid spoilers – though her motivation becomes clear and their attraction yet avoidance – the dance of intimacy so to speak – is all together charming, funny, painfully embarrassing and endearingly uncomfortable. It feels so honest and as such so refreshing compared to maybe the more usual rom-coms. Their revealing and hiding interaction is played out in real time as we can see too from the clock on the wall of Laura’s kitchen. Two-handers seem to be becoming more common in plays – I’ve seen some excellent ones in TV soaps before now ;)… back to that in a moment too – and I love them and feel in huge admiration for the actors carrying that. Right and here’s the soap connection that I got totally wrong and feel the need to apologise to my friends and Sam Troughton – who I mistakenly thought was Declan Bennett who played Charlie Cotton – Dot’s (June Brown) grandson in ‘Eastenders’. Yes she has been in fantastic two- and even single- handers in that show. Anyway Sam is in fact – in real life ;) – the grandson of The Second Doctor – in real life lol Patrick Troughton. So my muddledness prevails ;) Sam is excellent! And so is Justine, but for some reason I found it slightly harder to engage with her character initially. The play is written by David Eldridge and I wonder if – for me – he didn’t quite connect with the woman’s POV in places. Still his dialogue was perfect in its naturalness and keeps us hooked all in one scene with the ebb and flow of underlying emotion and external actions of his characters. The play’s director is the highly accomplished Polly Findlay – who also directed ‘Antigone’ starring two Doctors ;) – the Ninth (Christopher Eccleston) and Thirteenth (Jodie Whittaker).  Great set – just enough room for the two characters to be able to avoid each other - and yet small enough so they can collide.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and do like the space-restricted Ambassador’s in keeping with some of the themes of this play and evening.

Beginning – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2018

Sunday, 31 December 2017


(Rated 20/5 ;)) 

Before this year ends I wanted to give a shout-out – so to speak – to four films which have wowed me this year! Unlike theatre I can see them again of course but for the record wanted to note them down on here for posterity with my initial reactions…
Blade Runner 2049
Wow wow wow and wow again!!!! Utterly Stupendous Experience in the company of G, Ryan and Harrison. Excellently Clever links to the original film. Fascinating Exploration of Identity through SciFi again. Superb Script. Amazing Acting. Very good VueXtreme and Comfy leather seats. Absolutely Fab-u-lous!!!
Paddington 2
Such a special day seeing Paddington 2 with one of my oldest friends and then to receive this lovely book as a Christmas gift!! Paddington and Dogs all teach us really important stuff
Star Wars VIII : The Last Jedi
Wow what an experience seeing this with G today. Thank you for being there with me! A really excellent film - back to great Star Wars quality and revolutionary in its own way as was A New Hope. A good powerful story with familiar welcome Star Wars themes. Very well acted by all concerned. And genuinely outstanding from Mark and Carrie - who both for me seemed to step up a gear or more. Carrie's performance the best I've ever seen her. I coped with the emotion til Leia says there's been too much loss - I totally broke down and so good to be able to hold G's hand n him mine! As widely stated - so not a spoiler - the next film was intended to focus more on Leia - and I can see where that could've been going - so absolutely devastating Carrie can't do it. What will they do for Leia now?! Though as her SciFi Twin said #AlwaysWithUs #CarrieOnForever
Excellent suspenseful very real-feeling drama about this extraordinary event which literally changed the world and showing communal humanity against adversity. Filmed as much as was possible at Dunkirk itself and with authentic action, planes, ships and young men! Stunning.

– Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017

Saturday, 30 December 2017

‘Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle’ – Wyndham’s Theatre – Saturday 16th December 2017

(Rated 7/5 ) 

This review has been uncertain – in fact I have not been able to predict whether it would be written at all. I saw the play with my father 9 days before Christmas and then the very fact of Christmas coming and preparations for that made it difficult for me to be certain of finding time to write it. I have also not been able to be sure of getting it done since and now I sit typing I feel uncertain – as to be fair I do for all reviews and all my writing – as to what words and in what order and with what spaces in between will come out of me right now. What I can be certain of is that it was such a special evening that I would be very disappointed not to have this review to permanently try to record my experience of it for the future. That said I feel doubtful as to how much I will remember and - when I read it back at some uncertain future date – what memories of emotion will be triggered. Life is of course very uncertain. There is very little we can hold on to for sure. If we look hard at something and keep focusing on it as though to capture it forever we may not even realise it is moving away from us… until perhaps it has totally gone. Decades earlier I would never have known having seen a stage show with both my parents – that it would be the last time I would do so with Mum and that it would be years before Dad and I did so with just her spirit – but oh what a spirit filled with love of the theatre – with us. The thought of that on that night and now makes my head spin with the unpredictability of us beings and our being in this world…
So maybe I should end my philosophising a la Heisenberg and get on with writing what I thought about it! For this one I had no real expectations and was very pleasantly surprised. A play about a chance meeting between two very different people – both who have spent years trying to control their existences in this uncertain world – and found strategies to cope creating – apparently – a resistance to any kind of a relationship between them. And having met once by chance why would they meet again and so develop any connection at all in any case? In the development of his two-hander, writer Simon Stephens plays with numerous ideas involving Heisenberg’s Principle and has it as a third character constantly impacting on Georgie and Alex’s interactions, their dialogue, their circumstances and discussion of ideas on how the principle plays out in music, dance and many other aspects of life. It is as though the scientist Heisenberg – with us the audience of researchers - is studying these two humans in an experiment and the wonderful staging and production – so minimal yet capable of expressing so much – reflect that concept. With just a very few props - which the actors assist the mechanics of the staging to appear and disappear – different locations and rooms are created with the aid of the audience’s imaginations and actors descriptions. The lighting is used to either stark or hazy effect as though to create chemical solvents into which to add the substances – the characters. Will they attract or repel?
Alex (Kenneth Cranham) does seem to be initially repelled by the unwanted advances of Georgie (Anne-Marie Duff) at the busy railway station where they first meet. She is American, out-spoken, kind of crazy and much younger than himself. He is a quiet English butcher who loves the silence of walks, dancing and the spaces between the notes of Bach. Anne-Marie Duff is exceptional giving us a character of maddening attractiveness and humour and whom we can’t believe as she lies! Kenneth Cranham provides the perfect foil. Together their performances are mesmerizing. Her exuberance complimented by his stillness, they go on a journey together through the wealth of human feelings with Simon Stevens giving us just enough information about their backstories and the actors emoting so well as to make us fully empathise with them both and fascinated by how things will turn out for them. What will be the results of the experiment? What can be we conclude about uncertain human behaviour in our unpredictable settings?


Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017

Friday, 8 September 2017

‘Yerma’ – National Theatre Live Screen on the Green – Thursday 31st August2017

(Rated 7/5 ) 
Have to do a quick review of this as don’t want it to disappear out of my heart, mind and memory before I record my experiences of it for posterity.
Sadly I was in a fair amount of pain and discomfort as I watched and wasn’t able to fully engage or experience it – massive shame for such an exceptional performance!
Original poem by Federico Garcia Lorca – this version was a modern day interpretation by Simon Stone. Well written, moving, clever use of flowing dialogue – people talking over each other etc - and humour but so clearly written by a bloke lol. I miss what I imagine was the powerful beauty of Lorca’s original and hope to at least read that one day. This version made a huge impact though and the entire cast excellent.
Billie Piper – as ‘Her’ – is astonishingly powerfully natural and 1000% believable! Even pretending to be happy you get that – you get the realness of her faking. Her Method is Living in Perfect Genuine Emotion 🎭 💖

Yerma – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017

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