The Lemon Table at Malvern Theatres - Review

The Lemon Table at Malvern Theatres - Review


Posted 2021-11-24 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 23 Nov 2021 - Sat 27 Nov 2021

What started out as a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 for during an interval at The Proms, sparked an idea that has now led to this world premiere tour.

The Lemon Table began life as a collection of short stories from acclaimed author Julian Barnes in 2004, which had a theme of old age.

When actor Ian McDiarmid recorded one of the stories, The Silence, for the radio station, Barnes wrote to him praising the performance, which led to the idea of transferring it to stage.

McDiarmid takes on both The Silence again and also story Vigilance under the directorship of Michael Grandage in this one-hander - meaning it rests heavily on the shoulders of the actor.

I caught the production at Malvern Theatres, where it stays until November 27.

This play runs for 70 minutes with no interval but is also split into two parts, starting off with the funnier of the two, Vigilance first.

During the first section McDiarmid, also known to Star Wars fans as the evil Emporer, plays an obsessive concert-goer who goes to unorthodox lengths to enjoy his evening listening to classical music, including work by composer Jean Sibelius.

McDiarmid is mesmerising as the eccentric, ridiculous character, along with voicing the live-in lover. He makes the role vivaciously animated, catty and even sentimental at times.

With an interlude of orchestral music and a quick change behind an elegant curtain, the Play moves on to a second-half where McDiarmid becomes the concert's composer, Sibelius.

This section is more morose and refers to the lemon table, where Sibelius meets others to talk about death. It's a reflective story of a great man reduced to much less by alcohol and looking back on his successes, failures, and turning point.

Despite only one actor on stage, the pace and superb acting keeps you enthralled in this production by Wiltshire Creative, Malvern Theatres, Sheffield Theatres and HOME in association with MGC.

Grandage, who is also MGC's Artistic Director along with this production's director, has done well with the acute choreography set around a large table and two chairs. They really are used well as a simple but effective set as McDiarmid moves around, under and on top of the table.

It's suitable for ages 12 and up as it contains very strong language and swearing, but the themes around age wouldn't connect as much with a young audience.

As a play, The Lemon Table is a darkly funny and beautifully written piece that has been carefully handled in its adaptation to stage.

It works fantastically well on stage but that is also because of such a scintillating performance by McDiarmid. I've no doubt, Julian Barnes will be writing his approval for this intriguing play too.

Rating: & #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9734 ;

#theatre -reviews
!date 23/11/2021 -- 27/11/2021
70558 - 2023-01-26 01:47:44


Copyright 2024 OatLabs ABN 18113479226