Skip to main content

A second reviewing of The Hook by Arthur Miller at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

An unexpected availability last night left me back at the Royal & Derngate for not only a second helping of The Hook but also its post show talk. I confess I love a post show talk, even if I haven't yet been brave enough to ask a question at one. Other people always seem to have more interesting questions and I also tend to take a sleep on it to think of relevant ones in any case.

In hindsight however, I should have asked about thoughts on development between the previews and the end product that I saw on my second viewing. Having seen the final preview exactly a week before, it was quite amazing to see the alterations to the show I had seen then, both subtle and in one case quite a revelation.

Although I didn't dwell on the negatives in my review at the time (I leave the criticism to them "professional" critics), also it being a preview it was wrong to do so. I was amazed to see how pretty much all of them I had spotted had been addressed. It's true to say that most were tech moments of issue. The second viewing saw no alarmingly writhing safe as it tried its best not to go back down the trap. There was also no moment where the stage crew were starkly visible removing that step ladder. It was indeed a triumph of building a perfect form on the back of the previews and for the first time it made it quite clear to me as just a paying punter how important they are to the director and his team.

There were other little moments that I saw as well, for me I felt that Joe Alessi as Louis had suitably toned down the ballot antics a notch, making it less comical and therefore that bit more powerful. Also unless my memory is completely failing me, I was sure there was a scene missing involving Jamie Sives (Marty) and Sean Aydon (with the baseball).

The big revelation though was the ending. The final scene which I had felt at the time was a tad on the clumsy side, with it leaving an awkward few moments of darkness as the cast assembled to take their bow, had been cut altogether. It did perhaps leave it finishing spectacularly suddenly (although the original was still quite sudden), but it was however a much smoother and professional presentation. An excellent evolution from preview to main performances.

The Q&A was once again excellently informative as director James Dacre and a selection of the cast (including the wonderfully Scottish and quite fidgety Jamie Sives) offered their thoughts on a number of very good questions from the audience. There was "How do you remember your lines?" question as someone who will remain nameless was happy about. There were however a number that offered interesting insights into the development of the piece. We learnt that in all of Miller's papers on the piece the screenplay ended with the same ballot results of the actual story. We also learnt that there were many different endings offered, and that the team took the deliberate decision to use the ambiguous version. This was deliberately to engender post show discussion. It did this, as myself and a few others in the crowd had already discussed the rather unclear ending before the Q&A. I think we all had different hopes for what lay ahead for Marty and that is a credit to Miller's piece and James Dacre's production that it truly stimulated this.


My original review of The Hook can be found here: The Hook Review

Performance reviewed: Monday 15th June, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

The Hook runs at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 27th June, 2015 before touring.

For further details visit the Royal & Derngate website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

  1. Very interesting that they made the deliberate point of keeping the ending ambiguous - as I felt it was an optimistic ending but my good lady wife thought it was pessimistic. Clever lot, these theatre people!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes they are there to make us think. I saw from your review that you were a split camp, so it very much created talk over the ending.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Bombshell by Contact Light Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Warning: This review contains spoilers

Whether it is an overwhelming success or mostly a failure, I have over the years grown a huge affinity for fresh new work on the stage. The need to regurgitate and rework old pieces continuously may well get easy bums on seats, but at the end of the night, it has no doubt pleased a few but it hasn't really made any future impact on theatre of the future. Presenting a new play and new work, however, who knows what it might have seeded in the years to come?

Therefore as I watched Bombshell, not only a new play, but also the first offering from a new theatre company, I was thrilled that first of all, it leaned much more towards the success line, and also that over half filling the theatre, it had also put quite a few of the bums on seats as well.

Curiously I have recently read Festen by David Eldridge, and while Bombshell goes much its own way, I felt early on, I (and perhaps others in the audience), felt I had a distinct advantage over some of …

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …