Sunday, 22 June 2008

Major Barbara

Finally caught up with Major Barbara at the National Theatre. It's coming to the end of its run and there is a sense of settled assurance in the playing. I'd go a long way to see Simon Russell Beale and even further to see Claire Higgins on stage. Can't help feeling a little that it's unfair on the other actors. They're both so brilliant, so in tune with the audience and having so much fun (it was a matinee) that you fear for the evenness of the production.

Once again Nick Hytner, who is one of only a handful of directors to really tame the vast Olivier stage, brought an almost operatic touch to the work making visual links between Shaw's understanding of the arms trade and our own continued compromised involvement in the Middle East. The final image of Russell Beale sorting out his ledger whilst a soundtrack of bombs and screams increased in volume wasn't subtle, but it made it point.

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