Andersen’s English (Out of Joint at West Yorkshire Playhouse), Jerusalem (Apollo Theatre), An Enemy of the People (Sheffield Crucible), Beating Berlusconi (York Theatre Royal), Murder in Samarkand (BBC Radio 4) w/c 22nd February 2010

The outsider seemed to be dominating the theatre in the performances that I have seen over the last few weeks.  I had listened  to David Hare’s radio play Murder in Samarkand on iPlayer, and following this saw several theatre productions which had the outsider as an ongoing theme.  Murder in Samarkand told the story of Craig Murray (played by David Tennant), who was the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was removed from his post in October 2004 when stood up to the British establishment.  This seemed to set the tone for the week which  ended with watching Paul Duckworth solo performance in the studio at York Theatre Royal in Beating Berlusconi.  I also saw incredible performances from Mark Rylance as John ‘Rooster’ Byron in the spellbinding Jerusalem and Antony Sher as Tomas Stockmann in Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People at the newly opened  Sheffield Crucible.

Connections have been made between An Enemy of the People and Murder in Samarkand, and listening and watching the two productions so close together it is impossible not to miss the similarities of the two men standing out against society and standing up for their beliefs.*  In the Out of Stock Company production of Anderson’s English at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the outsider Hans Christian Andersen observes the domestic life of Charles Dickens, as he stays with him and his family at Gads Hill Place in Kent.  Andersen does not fit in well with this English world, and in many ways Andersen does not pick up on Dickens’ cruelty to his wife and children, but he presents the household to the audience who can clearly see this.  The Out of Stock production is thoughtful and surprising as well.  With its pretty domestic set, we think we are in for a comfortable evening, but without laying it on, the production subtly reveals Dickens’ rejection of his wife and lack of understanding of his children.

I addition, the theme of the outsider, Anderson’s English and Beating Berlusconi and Jerusalem explore nationality and specifically what is to be English.  Paul Duckworth plays a Liverpool fan, Kenny, who desperately tires to get a ticket for the 2005 European Cup Final.  Though this trip to the match in Istanbul  is the focus of the show, the play actually tells the like of Kenny Noonan, a lifelong Liverpool against the political background of Thatcherism and Blair.  it is clear from which political perspective Kenny comes from as invites the audience to boo at an image of Margaret Thatcher.  On the other hand, Jerusalem explores what it is to be English now, and deals with many issues which we are uncomfortable in discussing.  In his portrayal of Byron, Rylance takes the audience on his side.  We  laugh so much, but at the end I was left shocked.  It felt like a the destruction of a man, an individual, but also a way of life and to make choices in life.

Further Information


WOS on Jerusalem transfer to Apollo
Jerusalem at the Apollo in The Independent
Jerusalem at the Apollo in The Telegraph
Interview with Mark Rylance in The Telegraph
Mark Rylance interviewed in Official London Theatre
Jerusalem at the Apollo in The Evening Standard
The Independent on Royal Court Jerusalem
The Mail on Jerusalem
The Times on Jerusalem transfer interviews with Rylance…
Jerusalem article in The Telegraph
Jerusalem transfer to Apollo reviewed in The Guardian
Jerusalem at the Apollo in The Financial Times

An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People in The Independent
An Enemy of the People in the IOS
What the Critics say about The Enemy of the People
An Enemy of the People in The Telegraph
An Enemy of the People in The Observer
An Enemy of the People in The Financial Times
An Enemy of the People in The Times
An Enemy of the People in The Stage
An Enemy of the People in The Guardian

Andersen’s English…

Beating Berlusconi

Beating Berlusconi in the Press
Beating Berlusconi (in Edinburgh) reviewed in The Stage

* Poly G on Twitter said:  
Having listened to David Hare’s Murder in Samarkand on Rd4 two plays 130 years apart complimenting each other perfectly

Andersen's English Antony Sher Beating Berlusconi David Hare David Tennant Jerusalem Mark Rylance Max Stafford Clark Murder in Samarkand Out of Joint Shaftsbury Avenue Sheffield Crucible West Yorkshire Playhouse York Theatre Royal

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