good morning future anna! how are things? good? good. ok cool!
Last night I went to the National Theatre to see Peter Gynt. I had a few afternoon/evening so I explored a bit of London I hadn't been to before and booked to see a play. I know the National, I love the National, and entry pass exists so I looked on the website! I wanted to see Jellyfish but it was sold out which is amazing but hopefully I can catch it whilst it's on! I then remembered that a friend had posted about seeing Peter Gynt (https://liamodell.com/2019/07/10/peter-gynt-review-james-mcardle-national-theatre-henrik-ibsen-david-hare-young-chekhov-london-olivier-theatre-the-lion-king-killing-eve/ ) so I decided to book that one!
After an afternoon of exploring London, I was pretty tired so a little nervous to be going to see a play which lasted over 3 hours, but I was excited also as one of the best things my eyes have ever seen was The Lehman Trilogy at the National and that was 3 hours and in 3 acts like this one.
The 5-act play (fashioned into 3 acts) felt long, but as it finished, I felt glad that I’d stayed to enjoy the production. It was modern and fresh, with jokes regarding Nandos and political topics. For me, the story felt like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Scrooge. Each act took the form of one of the ghosts of Christmas, looking at Gynt’s past, present and future, alongside a crazy fantasy with trolls, cowgirls, and sudden billionaire status which made the whole audience feel that they had fallen down the rabbit hole with Gynt. It was all very random, but all worked well to tell the story which you could see had used influence from its original folk story as well as others.
As always, the set was fantastic, the National always do a good job, and for me, the use of projections and the lighting was great. It represented heaven, the good and the bad, and helped the stage become a place of wonder and not just a grassy hill. Also, the costume and makeup, wow!!
Overall though, my biggest shoutout goes to the cast, especially James McArdle who played Peter Gynt. For nearly 3 and a half hours, he was on stage, sharing through monologues or climbing from hyenas. He was phenomenal, to be able to do that once in a day, but on days with a matinee too, he must be very very good. I occasionally felt a little lost with the story and didn’t know if we were seeing reality or a crazy fantasy, but Gynt stayed true to character the whole way through, never stopping for breath. He was constantly alert, even when noses were blown, or a phone rang from the audience. It must be so hard to do the same show over and over again, but I can imagine that McArdle gives the biggest amount of energy to each.
I’d also quickly like to talk about Ann Louise Ross, who played Agatha, Peter Gynt’s mother. She was fiery and quick; you could truly see that a mother/son relationship had been created between them. Ross was funny, and so strong, thanks to how the mother had been written in the script but also with what she bought to the role.
This definitely isn’t a show for everyone. It was long, it was weird, but if you have a few hours free and want to let your mind wonder to distant places, you leave the theatre feeling connected somehow to Gynt. Whatever we do can be forgiven, if we want it. We can find ourselves if we try.
Let me know what you think if you choose to see it! And future anna, I hope you don’t fall down any rabbit holes because I don’t quite fancy an adventure like that! Haha!