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From The Independent - with barely a mention of Orlando. Seems the reviewer has more problems with the play itself than anything else.

In Celebration, Duke of York's Theatre, London

Old steal the show from emotionally stilted brothers

By Rhoda Koenig

Published: 17 July 2007

"It's like a museum, this is!" says Andrew (Paul Hilton), back in his parents' Yorkshire home. "It hasn't changed in 500 years." The faded floral wallpaper, the unframed mirror, the protective covers on furniture any sane person would abandon to the elements - all these do look like exhibits in the Museum of Dull, but the play that inhabits this setting is something of a museum piece as well.

David Storey's drama of 1969 may be younger than most of the first-night audience, but already it seems a relic of a time when men were no good at expressing their feelings, and women weren't much better.

Andrew and his brothers, Colin (a sturdy Gareth Farr) and Steven (self-effacing Orlando Bloom), have returned to mark their parents' 40th wedding anniversary. But it is clear right away that their mother (Dearbhla Molloy) does not regard each son's arrival as something to celebrate. While Andrew and Steven, like their father (Tim Healy), get only a cheek tilted in their direction, mother rushes at Colin with open arms. The most successful of the sons, he manages an auto factory.

Andrew, a solicitor who has given up his career to paint, remains angry about an incident in his childhood and, in Hilton's rather busy performance, all bobbing head and wiggling fingers, still seems a restless youth. Steven, a writer, has dreams that make him cry in his sleep.

The father, at 64 still a coal miner, refuses to leave his job before mandatory retirement one year on, though he, too, is haunted - by the filth and danger of the pit. Needless to say, before the play is over, everyone will do some digging to undermine the family foundations.

Rhetorically, however, Storey has given his characters only a spoon with which to chip at four decades of resentment and guilt. The revelations wait till the end of the first act, then are prodded a bit in the second, without gaining in intensity or changing anyone. While one respects Storey's intention to write a drama as inconclusive and wayward as life, the result, at least in Anna Mackmin's sluggish production, lacks the tension and unease that one might expect from a long night of colliding egos.

The play also lacks the sympathy for women that would be expected of plays written a short time later. Mother is fingered as the family villain, a chilly expert in "domestic science" and "human hygiene." But the now-clichéd silent scream is Storey's only acknowledgment of her own pain. And some of the details of maternal contempt are droll - Steven, the youngest, had to stand at dinner because the family could afford only four chairs.

Amid all this mid-life anguish, the old people steal the show from the emotionally paralysed brothers. Healy's deliberate, hearty simplicity and Molloy's fierce restraint make a powerful double act, and Ciaran McIntyre and Lynda Baron provide amusing support as two garrulous neighbours, the former grandly offering to share his fallout shelter with the lady: "I shall take comfort in your good-natured incomprehension."

Geez, did she even stay until the end of the play?

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Thanks for posting this, Jan.

The reviewer's biggest problem with the play seems to be that it was written 38 years ago - before the sexual revolution hit its stride. We don't criticize Jane Eyre as being so 1850 so why would she criticize a play for being written in different decade?

That being said, I've had no opportunity to see this production; if the director has exaggerated these aspects of the play then the criticism might not be as unfair as it sounds. It will be interesting to compare the reviews as they're posted.

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This play has already been done and pretty much has been declared a classic play. So if this critic is going to comment on the play it self, rather than the directing and acting, it seems to show a lack of education. The play is not what is in question, but the way it was put on. She seemed to go on more about the content of the play, than anything else.

I think I am rambling. I just hope other critics will focus more on the execution of the play rather than the content.

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Thanks for posting this, Jan.

The reviewer's biggest problem with the play seems to be that it was written 38 years ago - before the sexual revolution hit its stride. We don't criticize Jane Eyre as being so 1850 so why would she criticize a play for being written in different decade?

I'm with you here LP. Her job is not to complain about what the play isn't, but to comment upon what it IS and how well the author's vision (whether we like it or not) was presented. I hope to see some reviewers who actually get that. It's pretty sad when we have to be content that she didn't attack Orlando. Did she understand that she was watching a play, and if he was being "self-effacing" it's because the character was written that way?

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Krissy

eta: pjfla Great minds think alike- and post simultaneously. :wink:

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It's easy to criticize any period piece, when considering it from a modern perspective. I don't much like the play in itself ( though I thought the performances were very good ), or that genre of play as a whole, but I do think you have to make an effort to think of the era it was written, and she hasn't made much effort at all.

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It's easy to criticize any period piece, when considering it from a modern perspective. I don't much like the play in itself ( though I thought the performances were very good ), or that genre of play as a whole, but I do think you have to make an effort to think of the era it was written, and she hasn't made much effort at all.

You are so right. That is exactly what citics are for. They are educated to have the possibility to judge from other point of view not only "What I think it was about/ think of it". This review would be better if she added more professional point of view focused on the actors' job, the drama etc.

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Thank you Jan for posting this. I have been waiting impatiently all day, and now this. How very disappointing! This is a critique of the play, not the performances. There is a wave in the direction of Colin Farr - sturdy. Orlando Bloom - self-effacing! did she actually see the play? I truly hope for better in the future.

Semmley

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As others have said, it interesting that she reviewed the text (of an established play) rather than the production. I'll be interested to read reviews which tell us what the critic thought of this version of the play, rather than the play itself.

FWIW, I don't think 'self-effacing' need necessarily be taken as a criticism of Orlando's performance. Steven is very self-effacing - Orlando plays him as visibly uncomfortable when attention is on him.

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FWIW, I don't think 'self-effacing' need necessarily be taken as a criticism of Orlando's performance. Steven is very self-effacing - Orlando plays him as visibly uncomfortable when attention is on him.
I agree. In fact, not having seen the play, I took it as a positive comment on his stage presence, indicating that he did not seek out the spotlight, or in any other way act as if he were some big movie star more deserving of attention than his co-stars. :)
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It's easy to criticize any period piece, when considering it from a modern perspective. I don't much like the play in itself ( though I thought the performances were very good ), or that genre of play as a whole, but I do think you have to make an effort to think of the era it was written, and she hasn't made much effort at all.

Agreed, on all counts. I also felt the review was incomplete and ended abruptly, as though the doorbell rang and she just never got round to finishing it. That in itself is disappointing and I'm not sure that would have pleased me very much were I her editor.

Like Kat has already said, it's not necessarily derogatory to describe one's performance as self-effacing. It simply means that Stephen's character didn't claim attention for himself, that his demeanor was modest and polite–which to my mind, is exactly what Storey wrote.

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From The Guardian:

In Celebration

Duke of York's, London

Michael Billington

Tuesday July 17, 2007

The Guardian

This revival of David Storey's 1969 drama exactly doubles the number of straight plays by living British dramatists in the West End. Even then, one assumes it owes its life largely to Orlando Bloom's theatrical debut. It is a melancholy situation - but one can report Storey's tough and sturdy play stands the test of time, and that Bloom should guarantee it a young audience.

Storey's family reunion is fraught with tension. Three sons travel up to a Yorkshire mining town to celebrate their parents' 40th wedding anniversary, and reveal their degrees of disfigurement. Colin, a miner's son, is now a middle-management careerist. Silently depressive Steven, a married teacher with four children, has now abandoned writing his epic social novel. But the most volatile is Andrew, who has given up the law to be an artist, and nurses a grievance over his childhood exclusion after the death of a fourth brother.

What makes it a fine play is Storey's use of the specifics of family life to explore a cultural malaise. Andrew's anger springs from the deification of a mother who, in Lawrentian terms, feels she married beneath her.

But Storey is also addressing the alienation of sons educated out of their class and suffering a peculiar English mix of guilt and insecurity. Andrew's explanation for his sense of hurt may be a bit glib. But through Steven, Storey nails the traumatised rootlessness that comes from feeling one's life has no significance. Bloom lends Steven exactly the right sense of haunted taciturnity and withdrawn moodiness.

Paul Hilton as the vengeful Andrew, however, really has to motor the action, and does so with a quivering, attenuated figure suggestive of a Wakefield Hamlet. Even his few gestures of affection, such as dancing with his mother, are replete with irony.

Gareth Farr as the managerial Colin also subtly hints his life is less successful than he claims and that his impending marriage is largely a career tactic.

Tim Healy as the father, obstinately refusing to retire after nearly half a century down a pit, conveys the right mix of pride and puzzlement at his bewildering offspring. Although Dearbhla Molloy's accent occasionally slips, she suggests the mother's faint sense of detachment from the family she has none too harmoniously nurtured.

The result is a richly satisfying evening that reminds you of Storey's ability to confront unpalatable domestic truths and to portray an England in which class is still a governing determinant.

Pretty good I think. :clap:

Bold is mine

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"The Times'" review is up too. Again, 4 stars out of 5. :clap:

From Times Online

July 17, 2007

In Celebration

Benedict Nightingale at the Duke of York's

Is David Storey alive and kicking? Yes, he’s just turned 74, is still writing and remains scandalously neglected by the theatres he once illumined. But Anna Mackmin’s revival of his second play, with the fashionable Orlando Bloom taking the role created by Brian Cox 40 years ago, gives a less literal answer to that question: Storey’s work isn’t just alive but has a kick capable of separating today’s audiences from their emotional teeth.

Bloom is Steven Shaw, one of three sons returning from the comfy, middle-class South to celebrate his parents’ ruby wedding in the Yorkshire village where his father works as a coalminer. Superficially it’s an unrewarding part, because he spends most of the time looking wan and saying little but that he’s “fine”, but an important one. He’s a teacher who hasn’t only abandoned the novel he was writing but has lost his old fire and ire. In his aloof, broken way he’s the most troubling proof of Storey’s thesis: that education and social mobility can damage the heart as well as open the mind.

Does this idea, which comes from Storey’s own experience as a miner’s son made good, date the play? A bit. Certainly, the drab coal community where the play is set must have disappeared during the Thatcher-Scargill wars. But we still read Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and in many ways In Celebration is wiser and more balanced than that. Here, it’s Dearbhla Molloy’s Mrs Shaw, a pathologically undemonstrative Yorkshire woman escaped from Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, who stands accused of causing the damage, and not her miner husband, in Tim Healy’s equally strong performance a genial, outgoing man who impregnated her when she was 20 and is still earnestly appeasing her 40 years later.

So where’s the drama? That comes, not from Bloom’s Steven, but from his oldest brother Andy, a lawyer-turned-artist who tries to use him as a weapon in a celebration that becomes an anti-celebration and abortive act of revenge. Taking a role created by Alan Bates, Paul Hilton terrifies his father, Gareth Farr, as the most conventional of the brothers and us in the audience with the possibility that he’ll smash his socially pretentious, guilt-mongering mother to emotional smithereens.

With him mocking, sniping and exuding fake-cheery menace there’s no danger of Storey’s family politics lacking tension.

But it’s the play’s humanity that’s most striking. Storey makes a case for everyone, including Molloy’s Mrs Shaw, who has her hidden sweetnesses. And his implied conclusion is one that hasn’t dated at all. OK, they f*** you up, your mum and dad, but, as Larkin went on to say, they don’t mean to. Healy’s Shaw may have a secret pride in his work his sons lack and envy, but he’s been sincere in his efforts to help them “better” themselves. So in her narrow way has Molloy’s Mrs Shaw. It’s a tragedy that the result isn’t what it should be: happiness.

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From thisislondon.co.uk. 3 out of 5 stars from Nicholas de Johng.

Orlando's West End Celebration

By Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard 17.07.07

Producer Sonia Friedman - our last, serious hope of keeping straight plays alive in a West End deluged by musicals - dares greatly by reviving this Sixties slice of northern, working class drama.

The test will be to see whether new-generation theatre audiences will be tempted both by Orlando Bloom, whose first shot at stage-acting is a bit of a miss, and the chance of learning some invaluable social history, theatrically conveyed.

In Celebration, by neglected Royal Court favourite David Storey, harks back to the social-realist school of novelists, dramatists and film directors who brought grimy, industrial England into national view. Storey deals principally with a family's tense, generational clash, at a time when university education began to alienate working class kids from their parents and their roots.

Tim Healy's grizzled, far too shouty Yorkshire coal miner Shaw and Dearbhla Molloy's sombre Mrs Shaw, welcome three sons for their ruby wedding celebrations. Everyone nurses secrets and resentments as if they were unhealable old wounds.

Storey tracks back to the theatrical territory of Ibsen and Arthur Miller, where the past is a misty, fearful country and skeletons lurk in closets. Yet how fresh the stage-scene looks! Designer Lez Brotherston presents a miner's faded sitting-room, right down to fire-side coal bucket on which Bloom's troubled, taciturn Steven is sometimes obliged to squat: Anna Mackmin's production needs more chairs and far greater charges of passion and engagement, particularly in the first torpid half. Furniture and clothes worn by the Shaws mainly come in endless, uninviting shades of brown, grey and beige. So too does some of the acting.

Bloom's sexual charisma and androgynous prettiness before the camera vanishes clean away on the stage's more distant perspective. He stands around looking caddish in his pencil-thin moustache, blankly disengaged and forever bathed in boredom. His cries of grief while asleep at night typify his performance, being unduly subdued.

All three sons, though, challenge belief. Paul Hilton, whose duffel-coated Andrew never conveys enough serious anger and scorn, resembles a superannuated student. Having abandoned his career as a solicitor to become a painter, it remains a mystery how he and his family could financially survive. Similarly, Bloom's Steven has given up writing his state-of-the-nation book yet needs to feed four kids. Gareth Farr's suave Colin invites further disbelief, vaulting from life as university communist to smart-suited industrial relations organiser.

Storey proves himself a master of allusiveness: his characters avoid dramatic clashes, conflicts and revelations. In the more dynamic second half, allusions to a fourth son who died when seven and Andrew's childhood exile, muted hints of murder, hints of child violence and Mrs Shaw's festering marital despair, convey Storey's acute awareness of the roots of family violence, dysfunction and despair. Healy's Shaw looks suitably shattered.

If only Storey engaged more dramatically with these family ghosts instead of allowing them to flit spectrally around, In Celebration would take a stronger theatrical hold.

Fortunately Dearbhla Molloy's astonishing Mrs Shaw does capture the play's complex essence. She exudes a strange, sad reserve, a sense of shuttered emotion. In the devastating last moments, her sons gone home, she bends to the waist and fights to muffle the dreadful noises of anguish wrenching their way out of her - a married life-time's grief expressed in this great acting display.

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This from Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph. Not a good review.

I have been banging on of late about the desperate shortage of serious drama in the West End, so I ought to be dancing a jig of joy about this revival of David Storey's In Celebration (1969).

But when I said serious, I didn't mean downright miserable, and this is the kind of show that sends you into the night wondering whether to slit your wrists at once or wait until you get back home.

That admirable producer Sonia Friedman is clearly determined to keep the flame of it's-grim-up-North working -class drama alive in the West End. And she doubtless hopes that the presence of Orlando Bloom, best known as the dashing love interest in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, will be enough to entice punters into enduring two and a half hours of punishing pessimism. In this I fear she may be over-optimistic.

The action is set in a miner's house in Yorkshire where Mr Shaw, who has been down t'pit for the past 49 years, and his wife are celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary. Their three surviving sons, all in their thirties, take them out for a slap up meal, which is no less than they deserve, for with great sacrifice and dedication the Shaws gave their boys an excellent education. One is now a qualified solicitor, who has thrown it in to become an artist, another has a management position in a huge car factory, the third is a teacher and would be writer.

But are they grateful? Are they hell. Steven (Bloom) cries himself to sleep at night and is on the brink of nervous collapse because he feels displaced and even "disfigured" by abandoning his class and not following his father into the mine, work which he believes has "significance".

Meanwhile his brother Andrew can't forget or forgive the fact that he was briefly made to live with a neighbour when the oldest of the Shaw children suddenly died of pneumonia at the age of seven and their mother couldn't cope. The dead child was conceived out of wedlock and Storey suggests that the whole family has been haunted and warped by guilt ever since. At least Colin seems sane and decent but he's evidently an unhappily closeted homosexual. Like Larkin, Storey clearly believes that "they f*** you up, you mum and dad" and there is a strong impression of a dramatist attempting to resolve some personal psychological trauma of his own.

Director Anna Mackmin, with the help of suitably dreary designs by Lez Brotherston, certainly doesn't short change the audience when it comes to wretchedness, while a brilliantined and moustached Orlando Bloom spends the entire evening looking pale and interesting. It's not a challenging role but he remembers his lines and doesn't bump into the furniture.

Tim Healy and Dearbhla Molloy are genuinely moving as the parents who have done their best in vain and Paul Hilton brings an edge of danger to the stage as vengeful brother Andrew. But frankly you'd only recommend this play to your worst enemy.

I obviously watched the wrong play on Saturday!

emmy

x

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Thanks for posting the reviews.

Generally, Orlando seems to get favorable reveiws which surprises some critics and not others. Go figure. And the tone of most reviews seems to be criticism that the play is not a happy one. What's wrong with that? Not everything in life has a happy ending, yet these critics seem to be searching for one in this play.

I'm very proud of Orlando and the rest of the crew. The play certainly seems to get people talking and that's a good thing!

Ces

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Although some of the less favourable reviews are being torn down here I must say that I actually agree with them.

I had hoped that my reservations about the play, after watching it on Saturday night, had simply been down to me but I am seeing my thoughts repeated by the critics.

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