Saturday, 13 February 2010

In Praise Of... Three of a Kind

Last night I saw a great little play called Madness in Valencia. It was at the Trafalgar Studios, which I'd forgotten I'd been to once before, in pre-VL life and seen Sejanus: His Fall for londonist. Back in the days when londonist's theatre reviews were called "Stage Whispers" and I had even less regard for word count...

Anyway, Madness in Valencia was in another of the studios: number two, which is tiny, and makes for quite a nice pub-theatre-y experience in the West End. And I really liked the show and the space. I think what the company (Black and White Rainbow) are doing, taking neglected classics and twisting them up-to-date, is great. I loved seeing something a bit Shakespearean, a bit Spanish, a bit sexy and a bit silly. Here's the review on londonist.

Read the review, and you'll see I mentioned William Belchambers:
Belchambers (Floriano) benfits from an on-trend David Tennant look; the same kind of hugely watchable, doe-eyed skinny lad with a compelling way with a script that makes you think he's just plucked his lines from the air.
I compared him to Mr Tennant for the londonist readers. Really, I thought he was more like the lovely Dominic Rowan, but I'm afraid that's not a very helpful reference for readers less theatrically obsessed than me. Belchambers had the same totally natural way of speaking his lines, with abrupt stops and pauses, a magical dusting of something like surprise covering everything he utters, as if he'd just thought of it. And this is something I really, really, really like.

I remember loving Dominic Rowan's way with words at The Globe last summer, when he played Touchstone in As You Like It (not my review). He was just tremendous in the hugely entertaining The Spanish Tragedy at the Arcola. And I loved the fact that even when he was stuck in the middle of all the nuttiness of Martin Crimp's rhyming Misanthrope, his characteristic naturalism was still there.

So that's got me thinking about another big-eyed, natural-speaking, heart-rate-increasing favourite of mine. Someone I'd forgotten about for a while; until I saw him in a bottom right-hand box (a box!) in that star-studded audience at Jerusalem earlier in the month.

Yes, Clive Owen was in the audience. Whatever. So too was the lovely Jack Laskey.  Which I was much more impressed about.

And so my triumvirate of talent is complete.

When I first saw Laskey, he was playing Robert Hooke in The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes at Wilton's. It was an odd play, but he shone, even in an awkward hunchback costume, for the amazing quality he brought to his lines. Again, that slight, stop-start speaking style; again, a sense that this is the first time these words have ever been spoken; again, an element of surprise, amazement, a slight theatrical magic about the delivery. It's almost otherworldly, or like they're slightly, somehow possessed when they speak this way. It really sends shivers down my spine. It was the same when he played Orlando in As You Like It at The Globe with Rowan.

So there we have it. An attractive, likeable, hugely watchable threesome. I'll be looking out for all of them in future.

And, of course, it would be wrong for me not to mention the other (celeb) guy with all these qualities again: David Tennant. I'll be watching his TV Hamlet on Sky+ soon (as close as some of us will get to seeing him in teatro), and be able to report back as to whether he's able to keep up his surprised, sparkly style when it come to Shakespeare.

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