Page 13, 9th November 2007

9th November 2007
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Page 13, 9th November 2007 — Slick satire falls apart
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Slick satire falls apart

YOUNG VIC

More than six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. Peter Weiss's documentary play is based on the testimonies of victims from Auschwitz. The accused pretend ignorance of the atrocities, deny that they had anything to do with them, argue that the death figures are gross/3,exaggerated, and, when fmally trapped that they were actively involved, always say that they were only obeying orders. Dorcy Rugamba's production is staged and acted with the utmost simplicity and dignity by a group of Rwandan actors in French. Their understatement is admirable, but there have been so many books, documentaries, films and plays about the Holocaust that, inevitably, they do not tell us anything that we do not already know. It would have been more interesting to have had a verbatim report from the victims of genocide in Rwanda.

Swimming with Sharks

VAUDEVILLE THEATRE

The shark is a movie producer and, since he is in the business solely to make money, he produces trashy horror flicks. There is nothing subtle about either the character or Christian Slater's swaggering bad guy performance, but it works. The play, adapted from George Huang's 1994 cult film, is slick and has lots of witty one-liners, and only goes to pieces after the interval when Hollywood satire becomes hysterical melodrama and the actors are at a loss how to act it. Matt Smith is very amusing as the naive dogsbody whom the mogul constantly humiliates.

Carlos Acosta

SADLER'S WELLS

It is not surprising that Carlos Acosta should want to celebrate his Cuban culture. The programme he has devised showcases guest artists of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and the choreographer Alberto Mendez. Such is his drawing power these days that the show sold out the moment that booking opened. He offers a very slight and very short entertainment, which includes a lover's tiff, two dolls falling in love, an amorous encounter between the God of the River and the God of the Forest, a bit of slapstick, and the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. Marius Petipa's virtuoso choreography for virtuoso performers is worth the price of the ticket, if you have never seen it; and even if you have, especially when it is performed like it is here. Acosta, leaping at speed and at an impossible height, and Viengsay Valdes, holding an arabesque for what seems an eternity, are a knockout.

Rent

DUKE OF YORK'S

"Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?" So goes the song. It's a good question to ask about this remixed revival. Rent is the stuff of theatrical legend. Author, composer and lyricist Jonathan Larson, aged 35, earning his living as a waiter in New York, finally got his rock opera staged in 1996 after a seven-year wait, only to die of an aortic aneurism a few hours before the final dress rehearsal. The show went ahead, opening in a downtown 150-seat theatre and getting rave reviews. It sold out, won the Pulitzer Prize, and then transferred to a 1,800-seat theatre on Broadway. The story is an update of Puccini'sLa Boheme and tells a sordid tale of love, poverty, threats of eviction, drug addiction and death. A newsreel tape ticker lists the names of famous people who died from Aids-related diseases. The show was premiered (a sheer fluke, this) on the 100th anniversary of the original La BoUme premiere. The score is great, but the story is not easy to follow and characterisation is nil. William Baker's production is poorly staged and vulgar.

Robert Tanitch

Robert Tanitch's lavishly illustrated year-by-year chronicle London Stage in the 20th Century is published by Haus Publishing.




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