david murphy’s profile
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Seen, or going to see
- Spring Awakening, Old Vic, London, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and other locations, The National Theatre Company, 24th May – 20th July 1974
- Cato Street, Young Vic, London, Thistlewood Productions and Young Vic, 3rd – 27th November 1971
- Doctor Faustus, The Roundhouse, London, Royal Shakespeare Company, 23rd (press night) – 24th November 1970
- Joined 10th July 2013.
- Last logged in on 31st July 2021.
Last five observations
- To The National Theatre Company production of Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind, Old Vic, London, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and other locations, 24th May - 20th July 1974: “The play was controversial at the time and featured two actors at least who became household names, Dai Bradley and Michael Kitchen. I found the production at the Old Vic overwrought and confusing with an extraordinary large cast which made it hard to follow. At the end of the day, as a dramatic work, I thought it better suited to a smaller theatre or playhouse. The programme is quite interesting with a good deal of allusion, poetic and “highflying”, showing that the production team were inspired. For me at least, this was only partly translated into dramatic success.”
- To Thistlewood Productions and Young Vic production of Cato Street, by Robert Shaw, Young Vic, London, 3rd - 27th November 1971: “I was still at school at the time and you have to remember these were the years of anti-Vietnam protest (remember Blair Peach RIP) Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, CND and trades union unrest. Plus of course Northern Ireland. There was a widespread Left wing feeling which was palpable in schools (Chris Searle and Risinghill) universities, workplaces and in the arts and media. The fringe theatre in London, of which the Young Vic, but especially The Roundhouse and Royal Court Theatre (eg the plays of Edward Bond) offered just one aspect of a grass roots culture which, following the right wing reforms of Thatcher including massive cuts to arts funding etc and political jerrymandering such as abolition of the GLC and ILEA, has retreated and been largely replaced by minority rights issues and social media/technology. I think it is important to see Shaw’s 1970s Cato Street (as dramatised working class history similar to the work of Ken Loach on film or “Peterloo”) within that context and really treasure the effort made here, by a world famous highly successful actor of stage and screen who was nevertheless a committed socialist and republican, to uncover a hidden history of the English people which had been submerged beneath generations of orthodox establishment history teaching. It is important to balance this against the poor reviews the production garnered. My own (distant) impression of the evening was of a play built solidly around Vanessa Redgrave’s performance but going on for too long despite one or two dranatic moments and the obviously tragic finale. Bob Hoskins also made his mark… but nobody had a clue then what a major star he would become. Again we have two actors – and probably the whole production team plus much of the audience – in tune with the author’s values and the general feelings described above apart from, that is, the handful of critics. The script is available as a paperback and I also have the original “programme”, really an A4 photocopied leaflet, of this production which I will use to fill in the missing details. I did enjoy this play a lot at the time and was satisfied with its viewpoint which concurred with my own which hasn’t changed much. I had reservations about its dramatic quality, though it was quite in line with the great series of Young Vic productions under Frank Dunlop, and would love to see it again in a modern production. That time, those times will come again…”
- To Royal Shakespeare Company production of Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe, The Roundhouse, London, 23rd (press night) - 24th November 1970: “Well it is a long time ago, and I was a teenager, but I sure there was a rumour going around that Richard Burton was to reprise this role at the Roundhouse from his OUP production a few years earlier….was it a rumour, or did it actually happen? Certainly, the Roundhouse was trendy enough at the time…was it the only fringe venue in London at the time? Anything could have happened. I saw the play…Paul Newman was in the audience, he was spotted in the bar queue during interval. Is there anybody out there who can refute or confirm the facts of whether the great Welshman actually took his Faustus to the Roundhouse and therefore put to rest this tantalising memory or delusion I have.”
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