PATRICK MARMION reviews Touching The Void  – News Live
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Touching The Void (Duke of York’s, London)Verdict: Visually impressive theatrical adventure Rating: Let’s be absolutely clear: to my mind, mountaineering is incomprehensible and reprehensibly pointless I find it bad enough going up the London Eye, let alone scaling an icy rock face But none of that stopped me from thoroughly enjoying this staging of Joe Simpson’s bestselling book about how, in 1985, he found himself crawling down a Peruvian mountainside, with a broken leg and shattered ankle, after his climbing buddy cut the rope binding them together to save himself — leaving Joe for dead Interestingly enough my climbing mate Paul was less indulgent than me. I’d brought him along as a consultant, and he was able to offer his comparatively trivial experience of waking up in a freezing river in the Alps at 4am But Paul felt the staging made light of the serious business of getting yourself into a life-threatening fix He was also irritated by the plot device of holding a wake for Simpson, at the Clachaig Inn in Scotland OK, so it was a fake wake (we all know Simpson survived). But I was rather impressed by the stagecraft of Tom Morris’s gaunt production; and by how Ti Green recreated the Andes using props from the Highland hostelry where the made-up memorial was held Actors climb over tables and chairs with a glass gents’ loo sign acting as the treacherous glacier that leads to the shard of white rigging covered in tattered paper that serves as Siula Grande’s pitiless summit Movement director Sasha Milavic Davies then ingeniously shifts perspective from vertical to horizontal on the perilous escapade I was also amused by the tense music, in the style of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire For the book’s adaptor, David Greig, who is himself an extreme fell-runner, the story is a mystical journey into the heart of human experience His big dramatic device is to have Joe tormented and driven on by his sister Sarah, who appears in his agonised hallucinations and refuses to let him die Played with plucky bounce and effing and blinding verve by Fiona Hampton, she is not a very sympathetic character This is made worse by Greig’s leadenly four-letter script, which reaches its own nadir in the line ‘some of these icicles are ****ing big’ Shakespeare it’s not.     More from Patrick Marmion for the Daily Mail.   Zizi Strallen will sweep you away as the new Mary Poppins and she’s flying: PATRICK MARMION reviews the first night of the new West End production of Mary Poppins  13/11/19   Alleluia! A satire straight from heaven: PATRICK MARMION reviews God’s Dice 01/11/19   Not even the writer of TV’s Doctor Foster can lift the gloom of this 1910 Russian ‘comedy’: PATRICK MARMION reviews Vassa at Almeida Theatre  24/10/19   This sci-fi tale set on a spooky spaceship where eerie dreams come to life adds creepiness to downright weirdness, writes PATRICK MARMION 17/10/19   Great cast just a pity this suit does not fit like a glove: PATRICK MARMION reviews The Man in the White Suit  11/10/19   Bittersweet portrait of parental pain: PATRICK MARMION reviews A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg  04/10/19   Vote winners? Not these First Ladies: PATRICK MARMION is disappointed by Two Ladies at Bridge Theatre  26/09/19   Is there a doctor in the house? PATRICK MARMION reviews An Enemy Of The People  20/09/19   BIG shoes to fill but this musical’s a real whopper: PATRICK MARMION reviews the new West End stage version of hit Tom Hanks movie  17/09/19   VIEW FULL ARCHIVE What it is, though, is a thrillingly original spectacle that’s also highly informative about ‘Alpine-style’ mountaineering, in which climbers carry very little It’s like riding a high-performance motorbike on black ice wearing only underpants If you’re looking for psychological complexity, you’re in the wrong theatre. Even Angus Yellowlees, as Joe’s climbing companion Simon, admits he doesn’t really know Joe And this from the man who spent a lot of time cowering with him in tiny tents and icy foxholes, before cutting the rope that held Simpson dangling over a crevasse As Joe, Josh Williams puts in a faultless display of screaming and writhing as he drags himself out of danger and into his lucrative future as a writer and motivational speaker But we don’t get to know him in any meaningful way.If it’s characters you want, Patrick McNamee is your man as the imaginary nerdy novelist who looked after Joe and Simon’s base camp Otherwise, this is basically one long theatrical cliffhanger that could probably do without the interval which serves only to break the tension by releasing you into a snug bar, to drink cold beer Mind you, that is every inch as close as I want to get to this kind of extreme experience It’s good to know there are people out there, doing it for you.  A helping of cheese and hamMuch Ado About Nothing (Wilton’s Music Hall)Rating: All’s Well That Ends Well (Jermyn Street Theatre) Rating: Two new updates in London prove once more how versatile the Bard can be Much Ado is a gutsy take on Shakespeare’s rom-com that has transferred to Wilton’s after opening at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory The other show is a heavily reworked look at the shadowy world of All’s Well That Ends Well, turning the play into a melancholy romance with a Seventies rock soundtrack Much Ado is meant to feel very ‘now’, with a superhero disco instead of a masked ball The Sicilian setting has the feel of a country fete, where the ruling Duke and Duchess are like parish treasurers Beatrice and Benedick are modern kidults, necking beer and firing comic salvos . . until the Duke’s sweetly grungy daughter is stood up at the altar.Elizabeth Freestone’s vigorous production ensures the language feels like office banter Geoffrey Lumb’s Benedick is outstanding: bigger and heartier than usual, but also nicely cheesy when falling in love Dorothea Myer-Bennett is no less ruddy as Beatrice, launching verbal Exocets from beneath her tangle of ginger curls Yes, actorly ham is served — Shakespeare seems to render some actors helplessly un-vegan — but overall it’s a robust and enjoyable evening Tom Littler’s All’s Well, a co-production with Guildford Shakespeare Company, will interest silver-haired fans of Fleetwood Mac and F1 by opening with the famous bass throb of The Chain The six-strong cast is lead by Hannah Morrish as Helena, the young woman nursing unrequited love for a youth above her station In lesser hands the character can be a bunny boiler. Morrish ensures her story works, as a piningly sentimental torch song Again, there are moments of hamminess, but on the whole, this is a sweetly nostalgic take on a sometimes sinister yarn

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