I thought this was banging, really well staged and a timely message about media and corporate interference. I like the influence of John Oliver, Jimmy Fallon etc on the later Howard Beale show, the idea that even our own prophets of liberalism are owned by big corporations is a great one.
Brilliant that Trump got a boo and anyone who thinks Trump isn't owned by big business and corporation is kidding themselves.
So I did the restaurant on stage tonight and it was a very fun experience.
We were shown to our tables a bit late because "the cast were working through a few scenes" which meant that curtain up was a bit late at about 7.35. Firstly I should say that the food was extremely good and the service was immaculate - well thought through and timed to be served in the parts of the play where it would be least distracting.
The view from the restaurant was very good, we were lucky in being placed in the front row, very close to the action. If you were in the bar section at the back, I'm not sure how involved you'd be, but you can't pick that in advance. But we were close and had the actors mingling with us and emoting just in front of us. I have to say that I was glad I'd seen the play from the auditorium previously, as the distraction of eating and the different 'camera angle' meant that it was a bit harder to follow some of the key scenes which were blocked for the main audience.
I have to say the Lyttelton auditorium looks smaller from onstage than I'd expected having been in the audience many times.
As for the play, well I still think it's an impeccably put together piece of work in terms of the video and sound design. I still think that it's not as clever as it thinks it is, and I hate the simplistic video at the end encouraging cheers and boos - let the people make the connections themselves!
One other observation I could make from the onstage seats was
the killer does a great job of being a normal audience member - whenever I glanced at them (knowing what was coming), they seemed to be as engaged in the play as any other member of the audience. Oh, and even watching more closely from the side, I couldn't see the join when they moved from live action to recording in the final scene. Very impressive.
I liked this but didn't love it. Cranston is great and when he was in stage I was riveted but when he wasn't, particularly when it was about the Henshall/Dockery relationship I was bored and busy watching the diners who were right in front of me.
Dockery I didn't mind overall but none of the rest of the cast really made a mark for me - agree with others that Henshall and Kasim in particular fell flat. Some of the ideas and themes are obviously very relevant today but it all felt a bit simplistic to me and the montage at the end didn't help in that regard.
Oh well the rest of the audience seemed to love it as I was one of the few that didn't stand at the end and at least I got a pat on the shoulder and a thank you from Cranston as I let him out the end of the row!