Theatre review: A Monster Calls at The Old Vic

I’ve done a lot of crying over this story.

First on a train as I pulled into a local station, red-eyed, having feverishly rushed through the last few, devastating pages of the book on the way home. Then at the London Film Festival, where I can only assume that the last twenty minutes looked as beautiful as the rest because I was viewing it through some sort of blurry waterfall. So I have history with A Monster Calls.

Still, I had to wonder how the the creative team setting up shop at The Old Vic was going to cope with the mixture of mundane school settings and storytelling flights of fancy. Continue reading →

Things to do in London asap: See Constellations at Trafalgar Studios

Tom Scutt's deceptively simple set.

Tom Scutt’s deceptively simple set.

So, let’s start with the bad news: this is only running until the 1st of August, so be quick about picking up some tickets, yes?

And now, in five lovingly constructed bullet points, the main reasons you should get your rear in gear and book them.

  • It’s sweet, smart and surprising. Each scene is replayed multiple times, from multiple angles, but lightly and deftly and without the moralistic awkwardness of something like Sliding Doors.
  • Louise Brealey (Molly off Sherlock if you’re wondering why this sounds familiar) is wonderful. As is Joe Armstrong, and it’s very much a partnership as they feed back and forth off each other – but she is especially captivating. And it’s one of those plays in which the hard work is evident, in a good way. Switching back and forth in moods, times; almost the same but subtly different conversations and multiple character arcs that develop over a non-linear narrative. It’s a masterclass in skill, as well as talent.
  • It’s 70 minutes long, with no break. Even you can concentrate for 70 minutes. And the lack of interval means you can completely dive into the story and not be shaken by the non-linear narrative.
  • The set is gorgeous, and the subtle use of it as a mirror for the on-stage action is beautifully judged and not distracting or hokey.
  • I loved it. I appreciate this might not sound like a convincing argument, but really why else does one bother to make a recommendation?

No disclaimer needed; I saw this thanks to the kindness of a friend, not a brand.