The Show Must Go On….(?)

Criticism is relevant and specific, just as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. For me, a person gains or loses credibility after a three part examination of :  how they eat, how they speak and their understanding of culture, all within a 10 minute face to face conversation. That’s more than enough info to give you a balanced idea of what that person is all about.

In the past month, I have done a lot of moving around…so I haven’t had time to write any new posts. I promise once everything makes senses again, Memoirs Of A Retina will be back on track. For the time being though, here are some good and bad experiences I’ve had in London recently…a basic argument of “triumph vs trash”.

What’s On (and should stay on) :

Clybourne Park @ Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0DA – It’s been a while since I’ve laughed so hard in a play and was so impressed by such impeccable acting.  Every single member of the cast was perfect. Simply put, this in-your-face comedy is nothing less than superb. The best chance you have to get tickets is to queue up before the theatre opens and hope you are one of 10 lucky people to score day tickets for that night’s performance. Each person can only get 2, so bring along a friend & some coffee for the wait.

Frankenstein @ The National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX (Until Mon May 2…so hurry!) – Make sure you go on the night where Jonny Lee Miller is acting as the monster…otherwise, I’m not sure if the performance will be what you expect. Miller was by far the star of the show, who was awe-inspiring…but I’m still trying to figure out where they found the rest of the cast. PEOPLE, don’t get caught up in the hype, pay attention to the acting……(for more incite on the play see previous post)

The Woman in Black @ The Fortune Theater, Russell Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5HH – If you’re into getting spooked, this is the show for you. The play asks the audience to use their imagination in order to get into the essence of what the actors are trying to convey, but its easy when you have such brilliant performers like Patrick Drury and Antony Eden.

Ghost Stories @ Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4BG – A dark, damp, eerie and heart-pounding theatrical experience that should not be missed. I would recommend a drink or two before the show to get you into the mood….

The 39 Steps @ The Criterion Theatre, 2 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 4XA – Definitely this show falls into the category of “Entertaining things to do on a night out”. Well worth the visit and the money spent on the tickets. In addition, there are a lot of British cultural references…so if you’re from here, this is right up your alley!

Roller Disco @ The Renaissance Rooms in Vauxhall, London – Its a bit random that I added this here but…..Wooooohoooooooooooooooo!!! Get your pink spandex out and party it up roller disco style. I never knew drinking & skating was so much fun when done together. Watch out for the expert skaters, don’t get in their way…and make sure you take EXTRA comfortable shoes for when the night is over.

What Should Be Off (forever…) :

The King and The Minotaur @ a weird and unknown location – …………..I still don’t know how to describe that night. A part of me wants to forget, and another part of me wants to deal with the tragedy of the whole situation. If the purpose of 21st Century “artists” is to disgust, annoy and make you feel pity for them, this is was a great success. For those who appreciate art exhibitions, galleries, and talented people….STAY AWAY from this place. Being weird for the sake of being weird is not artistic or special. Some people need an earth shattering dose of reality.

The Children’s Hour @ The Comedy Theater, Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN – You would think that an AMAZING cast would produce an AMAZING product. Turns out…it really doesn’t. I cannot fault Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane because they are fabulous no matter what…but as for the rest………oh dear lord. As a result of this play I will never watch another Keira Knightley movie again and every time Elisabeth Moss has a scene in Mad Men, I promise to close my eyes. As for Bryony Hannah , she has officially canceled out her amazing performance in Every Good Boy Deserves  a Favour, and is now on my Top 10 most hated actresses list. It truly is disappointing when the audience & certain critics don’t try to find quality in what they are watching, and instead are mesmerized by movie stars acting like crap on stage. I might just write a review for this play because there is SO much to say….In a nutshell: terrible acting, unbelievably bad American accents (that switched back and forth to British every now and then), stupid dialogue and mind-numbingly boring.

P.S:  Head over to Mr. Kong for a bite to eat if you’re ever in lost in Chinatown….or if you’re hungry after a night out in the West End.

Mixed reviews for Danny Boyle’s FRANKENSTEIN

Slowly I learnt the ways of humans: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.


This was by far my most anticipated play of the year… Having booked tickets 2 months in advance, I was ecstatic when the day finally arrived that I would see Danny Boyle’s vision of Frankenstein come alive on stage. And come alive it did…

From the opening moment when Jonny Lee Miller flopped around on stage naked as the creature, stripped off everything, bare and exposed, to the closing scene, where we see him evolved to an almost human – he delivered a beautiful charismatic performance making me laugh, cry and simply fall in love with his character. I cannot stress how amazing and genuine he was! Told almost entirely from his viewpoint – he became the beast who was hated on stage but embraced and adored by the audience.

What was most unfortunate however and really made me furious was the remaining atrocious supporting cast – who were not even remotely close to the standard of the National Theatre actors. I have never seen such weak performances in a professional play, a play of such notoriety and with such a huge production. What was Danny Boyle thinking while casting these actors?! It almost mocked and demeaned the high rate – vastly superior performance of the creature.

The production itself was impressive, with a live fire, sparks and rain falling on stage. I sat right at the front and it all seemed very real to me…with JLM gracing me with his extremely close presence on several occasions… but regardless of the brilliant lead performance, the spectacular set & atmospheric visuals, the play was let down by the supporting cast who fell flat and lacked depth. Even Victor Frankenstein was not given the adequate opportunity to develop as a character. The script itself, adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel by Nick Dear was shockingly weak, and regardless of tackling some of the existential questions posed in the original novel, this rendition came off as superficial and amateur. You could almost have a hit with the muted performance of the creature alone, without the drab and shallow dialogues.

Perhaps it was the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch was taken ill that evening and it may have upset the order of things (granted his understudy was not bad at all)… Or perhaps too much work went into perfecting the role of the creature and not enough attention was given to hiring decent actors for the minor roles, but whatever it was, it took so much away from what could have truly been the best play on the London stage!

5* for JLM

3* for the play

1* for the supporting cast

So…Red

Greetings fellow bloggers, this is Red – glad to be joining as a contributor to The Critical Eye‘s blog… So why Red? Other than being my favorite color, it just stands for so much more. Let me explain:

About a year ago, I saw one of the most captivating plays on the London Stage – a play about Mark Rothko called RED, written by John Logan. Being an avid theatre goer, this was a must see for me. The play was sold out but I somehow still managed to get standing tickets for the closing night performance.. let me just say it was definitely worth every uncomfortable second I stood leaning over the bar, mesmerized by each word that came out of Alfred Molina‘s mouth. It was one of those raw, beautiful experiences which you can only get from live theatre. Brilliant performances & brilliant writing. See below extract from the play:

ROTHKO: What does ‘red’ mean to me? You mean scarlet? You mean crimson? You mean plum-mulberry-magenta-burgundy-salmon-carmine-carnelian-coral? Anything but ‘red’! What is ‘RED’?

KEN: Sunrise is red and red is sunrise… Red is a heart beat. Red is passion. Red wine. Red roses. Red lipstick. Beets. Tulips. Peppers.
ROTHKO: Arterial blood.
KEN: That too.
ROTHKO: Rust on the bike on the lawn.
KEN: And apples…And tomatoes.
ROTHKO: Dresden firestorm at night. The sun in Rousseau, the flag in Delacroix, the robe in El Greco.
KEN: A rabbit’s nose. An albino’s eye. A parakeet.
ROTHKO: Florentine marble. Atomic flash. Nick yourself shaving, blood in the Barbasol.
KEN: The Ruby Slippers. Technicolor. That phone to the Kremlin on the President’s desk.
ROTHKO: Russian flag, Nazi flag, Chinese flag.
KEN: Persimmons. Pomegranates. Red Light District. Red tape. Rouge.
ROTHKO: Lava. Lobsters. Scorpions.
KEN: Stop sign. Sports car. A blush.
ROTHKO: Viscera. Flame. Dead Fauvists.
KEN: Traffic lights. Titian hair.
ROTHKO: Slash your wrists. Blood in the sink.
KEN: Santa Claus.
ROTHKO: Satan.

ROTHKO: So…red.