08 March, 2009

My Review of The Creditors - Directed by Alan Rickman - Seen on Wednesday, October 29th 2008

Seeing the play Creditors at the Donmar in London was my birthday present to myself and Alan Rickman was directing, so my expectations were high. And, I am happy to report, they were met. In fact, met and exceeded - beginning with the first moment I walked into the building.

First, a foreword: I restore vintage buildings for a living, so for me the experience began upon entering the front door. Charm and atmosphere to spare. Then you walk into the theater itself and the pleasure continues. It's small and the seats are extremely comfortable - long, upholstered benches which you share with people to your left and right, so you truly do get a feeling of intimacy - and there is not a bad seat in the house. Personally, I think a play, because it is so public an activity, is enhanced when it is shared with others. At this theater, known as the Donmar Warehouse, because of the way the seats are constructed (mind you, this was my first trip to England, so if this is a common occurrence, please forgive my ignorance), you get to meet - and laugh with and gasp with - your neighbors. A perfect, delightful venue for a play with a topic so intimate.

I had heard about the water trough but could not imagine it until I actually saw it. For anyone who's not been there, it is indeed a trough - conveniently painted black so you're nearly guaranteed to not see it if you're checking the seat backs for you letter and number! - about 30 inches wide and probably just as high, which surrounds the stage on three sides - so it is between the audience and the stage. I had a second row seat so I was not effected by it, just a bit perplexed. I mean, I understand the significance of it - if I'm remembering correctly, I believe I've read it's supposed to be a reminder that one is not far from the water. But GB's not all that ghastly huge and, after all, it IS an island, so why anyone would NEED reminding . . . . well, anyway, it added to the fun and surprise of the evening.

Upon entering the theater, a recorded voice admonishes you to turn off your cell phone and mind the water trough. Safely in my seat, one of my neighboring seat-mates asked me how anyone could possibly fall into it, as it really is not in the way. No sooner had the words left his mouth when a patron directly in front of us lost his footing and doused not only himself but another patron who was sitting in the front row, reading his program, minding his own business. Everyone - and I do mean everyone, remember, there's not a bad seat in the house - got a good look at it and a good laugh.

Regarding the play itself, there has been so much written to date that I would only parrot 99% of what's already out there, so let me say simply that I honestly felt as though I was part of the drama which unfolded between these three amazing actors - and it was intense drama. There were lots of laughs, to be sure, Owen Teale's character garnering the lions' share of them. Lies slid so smoothly off of Gustav's tongue that even the most appalling ones were appreciated. In fact, the more appalling they were (such as sex being the cause of Epilepsy and 12 months of complete celibacy Adolph's only hope at survival!), the more I loved to hate Gustav.

If I had to pick which of the three actors was the most powerful, the most memorable, I would definitely have to say Mr. Teale. He shifted from duplicity to disgust to callousness to passion to rage and back again with such ease and silky smoothness, he was a human version of a Stradivarius. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him so, and would have enjoyed the opportunity to do the same with the illustrious director, Mr. Alan Rickman, but alas, that was not to be.

For anyone who has never seen anything directed by Alan Rickman or has never seen Owen Teale in action, do yourself a HUGE favor and GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO DO JUST THAT! Creditors was everything I'd hoped it would be - and a fabulous way to celebrate by birthday.

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