Rupert is the character Codename Lazar in this production of David Hare’s play Plenty, at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 7 to 29 June 2019. The director is Kate Hewitt, and Rachael Stirling plays the lead character Susan Traherne.
5 stars from Gary Naylor for Broadway World UK: Rachael Stirling holds the narrative together, her Susan frightened, ecstatic, cruel, seductive, charming and charmless. She’s never at ease, the old espionage agent’s compulsive desire to look over the shoulder of the person to whom one is speaking, both a literal and metaphorical compulsion.
Amongst the fine support, Yolanda Kettle shines as would-be artist Alice, the dilettante surrogate daughter, whose on-off emotional, sexual and financial dependency on Susan appeals to her fantasy of replaying the rescue scene in the forest over and over again.
4 stars from Ian Murray for WhatsOnStage: Some will no doubt see Plenty as a dissection of madness, yet it is more than that. It is the question of what someone will do to be truly free regardless of the consequences.
Rachael Stirling gives us no cute, idealised portrait of bravery: the character’s trembling need kindles reciprocal ardour in Rupert Young’s insouciant-acting stranger (Code name Lazar); in their embrace lies the adrenal romance of wartime.
“The fact that you could meet someone for an hour or two and see the very best of them and then move on. Can you understand?” she [later] tells a diplomat called Brock …
Phil Hewitt for Chichester Observer: There are fine moments in Kate Hewitt’s revival, and she’s assembled a fine cast; but it’s difficult to believe that this is David Hare at his best or even a David Hare particularly worth revisiting.
Matt Merritt for The Portsmouth News: Rachael Stirling gives a fine performance in the leading role; building to eruptions of grief, purposely baiting Brock’s bosses over Suez. She’s never really served by the material though. It doesn’t help that some of her most important dialogue is thrown away as a recording to cover a scene change.
This, we’re told, is a modern classic. For the life of me I have no idea why and the hard work of the cast can do nothing to dissuade me.
4 stars from Tim Walker for The New European: On the surface, this is an incredibly stylish piece of theatre complete with great recreations of ambassadorial black tie dinner parties and parachute jumps into enemy territory. Nina Dunn’s video design is superb with its moody images of Stirling projected on to the walls, and, at the end, the whole stage opens up as much as the characters.
On a deeper level, it amounts to a timely full-blown exercise in psycho-analysis for the nation, and it asks a question pertinent to our times: what ultimately have we got, when we take away the occasional historic moments of unity and acts of heroism, to bind us all together? In short, who are we? I’m honestly not sure any more.
Alas, Rupert is only in a couple of scenes in the early parts of the episode. James is interviewing Leila (Desiree Akhavan) and Sadie (Maxine Peake) about their personal and professional relationships with each other.
The interview seems pleasant enough, but once James starts directing the photo shoot, things start getting a bit weird … and come to think of it, perhaps it’s just as well that we don’t see him again!
Leila does accuse him of being “so fucking pretty”, so obviously Rupert was cast for more than one reason!
Rupert stars as the Duke Orsino in this musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. The adaptation was conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with Taub writing the music and lyrics, and is co-directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis. It is Kwei-Armah’s first offering as Artistic Director at the Young Vic Theatre.
The show runs from 2 October to 17 November 2018 at the Young Vic in London. More details and tickets available at the official website.
You can read an interesting interview with Gabrielle Brooks (Viola) by Kate Berrington, about the accessibility of Shakespeare, in the British Vogue, 14 October 2018.
I’ve been lucky enough to see this play twice now, and I’ve loved it. I have to admit to being a bit wary the first time, as the reviews (quoted below) had led me to fear the play was Not Quite Shakespeare, and maybe there wouldn’t be enough Orsino, either. So I was very relieved to find that none of this was so.
The story we’re already familiar with from Shakespeare’s play was certainly compressed in this adaptation, but it was all in there. (And it’s not one of his longer plays, anyway.) The romance and comedy from the original was emphasised in this version, and the cruelty and pain featured less so, but again it was all there. Or maybe I just didn’t miss a lesser emphasis on the aspects of the play I find most challenging and/or problematic…?
Or maybe we feel the pain less because in this production Malvolio retains his self-love, his belief in his own intrinsic greatness, despite being so cruelly dealt with. I’ve seen productions which end things very bitterly, with Sir Toby’s marriage to Maria being foreshadowed as disastrous, Malvolio’s threat of revenge coming from a broken man, Feste alone, Andrew Aguecheek dismissed, and so on. This adaptation does not interpret the outcomes in such ways, and I don’t know that there’s any reason in the original text why it shouldn’t do so. Why not, instead, end with not only the main romances being properly aligned, but also with a joyous song including everyone in a renewed community, and Orsino and Antonio (formerly wartime enemies) shaking hands in a spirit of kindness and reconciliation…?
The themes of this show are love and joy, acceptance of others as they are, and having the courage to be one’s own full self. To find such subject matter in Twelfth Night is no stretch at all.
Much of the spoken dialogue came directly from Shakespeare, and the lyrics were often inspired by the original play as well. I can’t imagine Shakespeare himself being fastidious about such a joyous and accessible experience. He created popular entertainment, too, after all!
As for Rupert … oh, he does play a lover so very well! Orsino isn’t exactly the largest role in the original play. However, this adaptation focuses more on the confused triangle of love between Orsino, Olivia and Cesario/Viola, and so we are blessed with more Rupert than I’d feared! Alas, he is absent for a longish stretch in the latter parts of the play, but he has so much lovely stuff to do in the early parts and in the last scenes, that I can cope with that.
It’s not unexpected to find Rupert called “effortlessly charming” in reviews, including one reviewer this time who wondered why on earth Olivia was resisting him at all! But we know that love doesn’t work like that, or at least not in this play. It was sweet to watch Orsino feeling heart-wrenched by Olivia, but also responding despite himself to Cesario. Right from the start he’s noticing Cesario’s irresistible smile, and soon he’s returning it in kind. (This comes with extra frisson, as Brooks is the most convincing Cesario I’ve seen.) The love triangle is all very genuine, as is the resolution once Sebastian makes a fourth – which compares nicely to the irresponsible antics of Sir Toby’s crew, and to Malvolio’s self-important dramatics.
Everyone does an absolutely terrific job here, though my heart was mostly caught up by Rupert, Gabrielle Brooks (Cesario/Viola) and Natalie Dew (Olivia). There is lots of laughter and lots of energy along the way, and only one scene which left me a bit indifferent. The community chorus were superb, and it was great to see they were diverse in all kinds of ways – including age, with a few older characters. Inclusion is, self-evidently, the way to go!
So, it’s five stars and three cheers from me for the Young Vic and the artistic directions of Kwame Kwei-Armah!
Review Round-Up by Fergus Morgan, The Stage, 10 October 2018.
The first show by a new Artistic Director is an important indicator of what’s to come, a chance to establish the tone for the ensuing years with a memorable statement about the kind of theatre they want to make. In assuming responsibility for the Young Vic, a musical version of Twelfth Night may not be the obvious choice for an inaugural show but it’s community-based inclusive staging and strong equality message has Kwame Kwei-Armah setting-out his stall from the start. … This version of Twelfth Night is designed to engage the audience as much as possible beginning with barbecue food and interaction with some of the performers. Robert Jones’ cartoonish set juts-out into the audience guaranteeing everyone a good view, while maximum use is made of the auditorium’s exit points and staircases. They really want you to have a good time and with plenty of comic focus and a rousing love-in finale the feel-good factor is dialled-up to the max. … Gerard Carey may be the best Malvolio you’ve ever seen, utterly embodying Olivia’s taunt that “you are sick of self-love” and given the most astonishing tap routine with a hilarious interpretation of the yellow stockings segment. … Olivia (Natalie Drew) becomes amusingly beguiled by Cesario, an interaction played for comic effect which Drew sells superbly, but Orsino’s devotion is almost entirely serious and Rupert Young is charming as the heartbroken Duke aching with unrequited love. Brooks is equally enchanting as the suffering Viola in disguise, but the emphasis on the humour takes away from some of the pain of Shakespeare’s original, that fine balance between light and dark captured in the songs isn’t reflected in the storytelling as well as it could be.3.5 stars from Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub, 12 October 2018
Rupert features as Atticus, in this series of audio plays focussed on “ambitious young lawyer” Cicero, and set amidst the politics, crimes and scandals of ancient Rome.
Episode VI (May 2018)
Director: Scott Handcock
Unfortunately Atticus only appears in the last of the six episodes – which is particularly frustrating when most of the episodes are framed by Cicero’s letters to his BFF Atticus, who lives in Athens. The episodes are all well worth a listen, though, with some interesting stories told. Samuel Barnett is utterly charming as the main character, Marcus Tullius Cicero, finding a nice balance between naivety and wisdom. George Naylor as his brother Quintus Tullius Cicero, and Laura Riseborough as his wife Terentia, round out a superb main team. Which is not to say I wasn’t delighted to hear Atticus finally cry out a hearty greeting when the Cicero brothers go visit him in Athens!
And Rupert does a fine job with the character, of course. It doesn’t take us long to suspect there’s a lot more to Atticus than the expansive cheer and expensive estate.
The first episode of this series was recorded on 3 October 2016, at The Moat Studios. The remaining episodes were recorded on 18-22 September 2017, at The Soundhouse.
You can purchase the CD or audio files from the Big Finish website.
I was blown and overblown with bliss to discover that Rupert was taking part in the London workshop for a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, titled Emma, A New Musical. Rupert was quite naturally cast as that quintessential English gentleman Mr Knightley. A separate (presumably concurrent) production is planned for Broadway.
We don’t have any details of dates yet, but here’s the announcement in broadwayworld.com.
Rupert appeared as the defendant, James Byron, in this first episode (shown in two parts) of Judge Rinder’s Crown Court. This is the ‘pilot’ for a return of the long-running drama Crown Court, which aired on ITV from 1972 to 1984. The idea is that a ‘real life’ court case is explored through the show, and we can then form our own opinions on the guilt or innocence of the accused, and on whether the verdict and sentence were appropriate.
In this case, James Byron was accused of murdering his wife, Anna Byron, with poison. More than that, I will not say! And I haven’t looked up the original case. I’m just enjoying the sheer drama of it all at the moment.
There are a number of ‘flashback’ scenes in the first episode, which are lovely, of course – though I always find them a bit problematic. Are we meant to take them as the truth, or are they dramatised versions of the current testimony?
Anyway, Rupert does a lovely job, and also looks superbly handsome in the court room. But, you know, this impression may well change once we learn more in the second part of the ep!
I’ve taken the liberty of capturing some screenshots below (with great respect, but without permission). The episode is available to play on the ITV Hub for the next thirty days.
Rupert appeared as Sunshine ‘Sunny’ Macintosh in an episode of The Good Karma Hospital, a six-episode tv series created by Dan Sefton. The character’s unusual first name can be explained by the fact that his father is an artist – and of course Sunny was a lovely baby!
The series is set in a coastal town in South India, but I understand that filming took place in Sri Lanka. Wherever it is, that’s one beautiful beach!
Sunny has come to India to find his estranged father Desmond (an excellent turn from Clive Russell), who wrote to Sunny, apparently unwell and asking to see him. Dr Fonseca (Amanda Redman) drives Sunny through the town’s Holi celebrations (hence the random scatterings of colour!) to track down Desmond in his artist’s lair.
Here’s some screen captures from the episode, which I copy here with the greatest respect but without permission. (All rights remain with Tiger Aspect Productions and ITV.)
Well, those of us able to catch Gaslight on its tour through England are in for another theatrical treat! This play is a classic thriller, written in 1938 by Patrick Hamilton, and set in a drawing room in Victorian-era London. This production is directed by Anthony Banks.
I loved the set, which was small and neat yet intricate, allowing for all kinds of surprises. The lighting and sound helped place the room in the real world, and also added greatly to the changing moods and a creeping sense of dread. Kudos to designer David Woodhead, lighting designer Howard Hudson, and composition and sound designers Ben and Max Ringham.
Rupert is wonderful as Jack Manningham, the plausible, handsome husband who has turned into a plausible, manipulative terror. I’ve said it before, I know, but he really is far too good at this sort of thing. You can see why his young wife Bella married him, and why she still finds moments of happiness in their marriage – and you can also see how he could get away for too long with cruelly undermining her. Luckily for Bella, she has a friend or two she’s not yet aware of.
Kara Tointon is terrific as Bella, a bright young woman haunted by the memory of her mother dying insane. I won’t spoil anything, but even as the mysteries are revealed and her innocence reaffirmed, she still fears she’ll end up with the same fate.
Keith Allen is, of course, delightful as ‘Rough (a visitor)’ and delivers some of the funniest lines with great aplomb, while managing a great deal of stage business.
The main three actors are wonderfully supported by Helen Anderson, Charlotte Blackledge and the ensemble.
If you can go, I’d recommend it! The first night’s audience really enjoyed it, and I suspect we won’t be the only ones.
The play is touring England as follows. You can buy tickets via ATG Tickets, except where a separate ‘booking info’ link is provided below.
Birmingham, New Alexandra Theatre: 6-14 January 2017
Aylesbury, Waterside Theatre: 16-21 January 2017
Woking, New Victoria Theatre: 23-28 January 2017
York, Grand Opera House: 30 January – 4 February 2017
P.S. It doesn’t hurt that Rupert looks so damned dapper in those clothes!
ETA: There is an interesting article about the lighting here. The lighting equipment was provided by the company White Light.
It’s not, as Hamilton himself admitted, “a great work of art”. Poor Rupert Young – playing the manipulative bounder Jack with a judicious mixture of lordly but kindly condescension and explosive viciousness – even got booed at the opening-night curtain-call in Birmingham, as if this was panto. But the psychological essentials of this potboiler hold good, and, as with The Archers’ abuse storyline, who’s to say that real-life doesn’t acquire the hue of dark melodrama when male-female relations hit their nadir? 4 stars from Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph, 11 January 2017
… the production relies heavily on the performances of its small cast as the plot gradually thickens. 4 stars from Diane Parkes, What’s On Stage, 12 January 2017
Testament to the terrifyingly convincing performance of the sadistic, psychotic Jack Manningham came by the chorus of boos actor Rupert Young received as he took a final bow at the New Alexandra Theatre where the production this week begins a national tour. Young oozed menace as he both charmed and petrified his tormented wife in a twisted power game. Humiliating her with his roving eye and deliberately shaming her before the servants to undermine and ostracise her, a cold chill swept the theatre as a hatred of the character developed. In his Victorian costume, Young swept onto the dimly-lit stage with his huge Jekyll-like shadow looming large and leaving the gripped audience biting their nails in apprehension as the tension built. Review by Diane Davies, Express and Star, 11 January 2017
While Rupert Young’s Jack Manningham is perhaps underplayed in the first half, after the interval he becomes frighteningly intense and scarily unpredictable as the air of threat increases. His moods swing ever more widely as he begins to suspect that something is now happening that is beyond even his control. 4 stars from Selwyn Knight, The Reviews Hub, 11 January 2017
… the real brilliance of Gaslight is unearthed in the joy of the actors’ craft … Going by the stellar performance the cast gave on opening night, you need to get your hands on some tickets, because it sounds like they have a whole lot more, if that’s even possible, to pull out of their theatrical bag. Review by Madeleine Bourne, Redbrick, 11 January 2017
As her bullying husband, Jack, Rupert Young domineers, exuding evil. What begins as a study in mental cruelty swiftly becomes something even darker as the true nature of the man Bella married is brought to light. … You can tell it’s working when the villain is booed during his curtain call! Review by William Stafford, Bum on a Seat, 11 January 2017
… the play’s real chill lies in the warped dynamic between Bella and her husband. Young oozes psychological menace as he slowly picks away at his wife’s grip on sanity … 4 stars from Claire Allfree, Metro, 13 January 2017
This suspenseful play kept me engaged throughout, with each character easily holding my attention. It’s a production that had everything, from gradually building tension to surprising but greatly welcome humour. It’s a shame it wasn’t longer, though – it was such a pleasure to watch that the time flew by way too quickly. Gaslight is definitely one not to be missed. 5 stars from Rhian Atherton, What’s On Birmingham, 11 January 2017
Jack is an increasingly unstable person and there were moments during the performance where the audience were genuinely shocked at the relationship breakdown between the couple; however this is to the credit of Young and Tointon with some incredibly intense and believable action on stage. … If you want to watch a play and like a twist, then this is for you. Witty, mysterious and beautiful all at the same time. Review by Matt Dudley, Black Country Radio, 11 January 2017
Rounding out the cast is the brilliant Helen Anderson as Elizabeth the housekeeper, and the delightful Charlotte Blackledge as the sassy and flirtacious maid Nancy. Anderson is a master at playing an audience and her scenes with Rupert Young’s darkly disturbing Mr Manningham are particularly enjoyable. Charlotte Blackledge, as Nancy, gets the majority of the laughs of the night, flouncing about with a sour look for her mistress and a lusty one for her master. It is clear director Anthony Banks has had lots of fun in the rehearsal room and the cast mesh beautifully. … A thoroughly exciting evening, with a great cast, Gaslight remains a pertinent piece. 4 stars from Carly Halse, Female Arts, 16 January 2017
Rupert Young gives an outstanding performance. He is completely despicable as Jack Manning the coercive, cruel and calculating husband. His manipulative, menacing character is truly hateful. … This psychological thriller, with palpable moments of edge of the seat tension is a real must see production. 3 stars from Melanie Mitchell, Rewrite This Story, 23 January 2017
The plot is by no mean the most challenging of whodunnits, but the production is well worth seeing. The casting is excellent. Rupert Young towers over Kara Tointon’s slight and frail-looking figure, emphasising visually how his character is able to dominate her. And Keith Allen’s bewhiskered detective adds many moments of levity to such a dark plot. The play is driven along by the skills of the lead actors. In particular, Keith Allen, who encompasses the voracious, and sometimes excitable, character of Rough with great aplomb and adds some wonderful comedic moments. Review by Steve Cowell, York Mix, 31 January 2017
Rupert Young as Jack shows enormous stage presence, physically towering over the frail and pasty Bella as he switches from unctuous and patronising to a furious bully in an instant. … The wonderful set and costumes focus our attention on the drama and the details. However, it’s the acting of the three main characters that carry this through – as an audience we know what’s coming, and Gaslight is all the more fun for that. A great evening, catch it if you can. Review by Gary Cook, The Brighton Magazine, 7 February 2017
Rupert Young plays manipulative and deceiving husband Jack with a mixture of haughtiness, condescension and even, at some points, he’s down right vicious. His character is booed at curtain-call, as if this were panto. Not because the character was terribly played, far from that, but without wishing to spoil what happens, the character got what he deserved. Overall, Gaslight is a dark, yet shining example of a thriller done good. Thoroughly recommend. Review by Hannah Hopkins, Quench, 14 March 2017