Karen – Review of “A Life in the Theatre”
February 02, 2005 – Apollo Theatre – London, UK
I have just been to see ‘A Life in the Theatre’ for the second time tonight. (I also went to the very first preview night on January 27th.)
Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I MET JOSH TONIGHT!!! I waited at the stage door with a crowd of others. He came out with Patrick Stewart about half an hour after the performance ended, dressed very nattily in a silvery blue suit, white and blue shirt and trilby hat. He was incredibly polite and charming to everyone, including me!! I asked him to autograph my programme and when he did, I said thanks. He then said “No, thank you for coming to the show”. I said “This is actually the second time I’ve seen it” and he looked me right in the eye and said “Oh really?” I told him I had been to the first night and that I thought he was great tonight. He then smiled at me and thanked me again for coming.
(By the way, he was really sweet to a young boy who was waiting at the front of the crowd and who was getting pushed by all the teenage females who were trying to get noticed. Josh made a point of signing his programme first and then he pointed him out to Patrick Stewart so that Patrick went over and gave him an autograph as well. Awwww!)
Anyway, the play, like the other reviewers, I thought the first preview night’s performance was pretty good, but I did think that Josh seemed a little nervous (not surprisingly). However, tonight, he was fully on top of his game and I could easily see how much more relaxed he had become after just one week.
Patrick and Josh work incredibly well together – their comic timing is impeccable and they both show great flair for doing accents including a Southern drawl and a Scottish accent (Patrick’s). They also have to cope with an enormous amount of costume changes, both onstage and off. Luckily for the women in the audience, this means that they get a good look at Josh in his underwear on several occasions!
Overall, the play is very funny, although there is one heart-rending scene towards the end, in which the characters’ relationship is very touching. The audience laughed a lot tonight, which I hope is a sign that the reviews will be favourable.
In keeping with his character, Patrick has the lion’s share of the dialogue. Josh mainly gets to say ‘Mmmm’, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ but despite this, he manages to convey sarcasm, bewilderment and exasperation very effectively at various points during the play. It was clear from tonight’s performance that Josh has the potential to be a great stage actor if that’s the direction he wants to go in.
My favourite scenes are the ‘play within a play’ scene set in a Southern attorney’s office where Josh’s character is a cuckolded husband and Patrick’s character messes up his lines (hilarious) and also the scene set offstage where Josh’s character misses his cue (fabulous). I also enjoyed the scene towards the end where Josh’s character is trying to rehearse in the empty theatre, but Patrick’s character keeps interrupting him. I thought this worked really well tonight as Josh seemed comfortable holding the stage on his own and making the scene extra funny (Patrick’s contribution mainly comes from the wings in this scene).
This is definitely one to see for any Josh fans living or visiting London – I thoroughly recommend it!