This one does not have any of the interviews or the digressing into the making-of, and that was kinda disappointing, though I was not for it when I saw them being done in earlier National Theater 'Live' productions. I wish there was more, but perhaps I could find them online sometime.
Not a big fan of Carey Mulligan, though I did enjoy her turns since her debut. Enjoyed 'An Education', 'Inside Llewyn Davis', 'Brothers', 'Drive', 'Shame' and 'Never let me go' most of all. A big fan of maker Stephen Daldry. His talent behind-the-scenes on 'The Reader' made me wish that that had a National Theater version too, since that would play well in front of an audience with taste, most of whom you might not find in a typical multiplex. I had the fortune to watch 'The reader' screened in a great Indie cinema, as well as the misfortune of watching it with a local, tasteless audience.
None of those issues plague this screening, other than for the fact that this is being screened not 'Live', but perhaps after 9 months of being performed and screened internationally. While I'm thankful that this at least got a screening locally, I do wish that it was done at the same time as the other regions, and it was given as big as push is it is done in other, so-called 'developed' regions.
Once again, none of that are ever in the way of enjoying this master-work of writing and enactment.
The score is sparse, and though it might sound as though I am complaining, I am actually not, since what score is there is so eclectic and unique, that it makes one appreciate the courage that the makers had to let this one play out without any (almost), while they had major talent on hand for the same.
I won't go into the plot, but I have to say that Mulligan is perfect, though I have seen her play younger characters, the way she plays this not-so-young one, whose arc has evolved before we get to meet her, is apt, and perhaps one of the best works I have seen her do. To be fair, I did notice her slip outta character a few times, almost as though a character on 'SNL' or 'Whose line...' is also responding to the work both they and their co-stars are doing. While I know that it might get distracting at times, this is not one of those.
Nighy is perfect, playing, ahem, an imperfect character.
Going in, based on what I read about this before, I ended up having a few expectations that weren't met, and that's not a bad thing by any stretch. The expectations I had were more in the line of hoping for the makers treating both leads equally, with both their infallibilities being brought to the fore over the course of this 160-minute play. While that does happen, what was surprising, by the end, is that this work firmly takes a stand in favor of one character over the other, and perhaps that's not such a bad thing since it kept me on my toes waiting, until the curtains fell. This encompasses everything from class-conflict to treatises on democracy/aristocracy, with a smattering of couch/google-psychology thrown into this seemingly-eclectic mix, while weaving this, on the surface, around marital infidelity, betrayal and such. Real-life. Almost every line made me harken back to similar situations/circumstances/discussions I've had with my significant other, and to say that everything going on around us has something to do with who we are, what we think of ourselves, and how we mean to eventually lead our lives / carve a new path, is perfectly accurate, whether/not this truth is recognized. This play, embodies that reality, in a way so strong as to leave no room for doubt. Reality might not be as certain on certain viewpoints as this one is, but if a case were to be made in a fashion mirroring how its done in this, why not give a listen?
Mathew Beard (Imitation Game, Riot Club), re- unites with Mulligan after 'An Education' (he did not have much to do in that), and his character's integration into the main plot before and after the culmination of the main narrative, forces us to think of things that are important to us, while they might actually be mundane things often taken for granted.
I have to say though, that I still am figuring out the significance of the title (it IS referenced over the course of the play), and also am trying to get used to how the moving parts come together from the perspective of the set design that seems to play a great role as kind of an active backdrop for the characters to interact, almost being an enabler-of-sorts. Repeat viewing might give me better perspective on that, and those who read me regularly will know by now that I live for worthy repeat viewings.
Before signing off, one of the best and perhaps most unique things about this work-of-art is the act of cooking a meal, by someone who did not have the taste or the knack for that earlier. That seemed to tie in to the arc of that character, and illustrated, that this character had moved on, while the one you'd expect to have done so, perhaps did not.