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“Nice, but not for me”
Review of The Old Vic

The Old Vic
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Ranked #120 of 1,828 things to do in London
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Victorian theater with a storied cast of famous performers including Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton.
Reviewed 20 October 2013

I purchased a ticket for Much ado about Nothing, because I never visited The Old Vic before. It is a nice theater with many period features, but the seats are very small and you're constantly touching your neighbour. I got a back ache very soon.
The play was transformed into the WWII period, which didn't bother me, although it was strange to hear WWII pilots addressing each other as 'My Lord'. They all acted very well, but perhaps this was just not my favorite play because I got bored with it completely, in spite of a few good moments.

Thank hdehoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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454 - 458 of 582 reviews

Reviewed 18 October 2013

Bought tickets ages ago, and tried to keep the reviews from professor husband and Shakespearian teenage daughter (to no avail). I can't deny what every reviewer of the press night seems to have felt was a blot on the Old Vic, because I wasn't there, BUT most of their objections seemed puerile last night (Oct. 17). Redgrave brilliant at underplaying Beatrice: Jones fluent and winning (not a prompt in sight): an exemplary Hero in Beth Cooke, a wonderful Ursula in Penelope Beaumont, a witty Don Pedro in James Garnon and can't imagine a better Dogberry and Friar than Peter Wight--or a saucier Margaret than Melody Grove.

Ignore the reviews. A great evening.

Thank Alice M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 October 2013

We saw Much Ado about nothing and loved it. The play was very well done. James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave were superb. The theater itself is wonderful, right near a metro stop.

Thank dtnh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 2013

A very sad disappointment indeed. The great attraction was of course to see two great actors, James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave. The idea of having them play the two young lovers Benedict and Beatrice was intriguing too, another demonstration of Shakespeare's flexibility in the hands of a good director and talented artists. So what went wrong?

The first and major problem was that Vanessa was 'indisposed' and her part was played by her understudy, Penelope Beaumont. Of course that was just bad luck. But while PB was good, I believe VR would have brought much more to the role; and with all respect to PB, I would not have gone to the trouble and time (an all-day trip) and expense to see her.

Things that were not bad luck, but just bad, astonishingly included James Earl Jones's diction - a problem shared by almost all the American actors. JEJ's acting and interpretation were good but his speaking was indistinct (not just my opinion either), and sometimes (for example) you only knew the other American actors had told a joke or a witticism made because of their colleagues' OTT laughter.

Americans? Yes, because it is set in England in 1944, in a country house close by an American camp. The main reason given for this was so that JEJ and VR could speak in their natural accents. Other reasons were given too but I tend to suspect that if a setting has to be explained to that degree, the director knows deep inside that it doesn't work.

The setting allowed the introduction of cigarette smoking, which added nothing and was done as if they neither liked it nor knew how to smoke. The 1940s dancing such as jitterbugging was good but the addition of 'She'll be coming round the mountain' was useless, and the tendency of people to walk across the stage at the back for no discernible reason, while action was going on at the front, was utterly puzzling.

I could go on about the direction. Overall I felt that Mark Rylance (whose photo suggests he has read a book on how to look like a theatrical director) was so thrilled to have two great stars that he let other aspects go by default; and possibly he might have got away with it if both great stars had been present.

Would I go to this production again with this cast? No. Would I go to it again if VR was definitely going to be present? I would consider it, but can't always take time away from work like that. As it was, at the end I felt I would rather have been working. Would I recommend it? Only if it is possible for you to check with the theatre on the day about VR's health and presence. If she's going to be there, Yes, go.

Thank StephenHowarth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 17 October 2013

The night I went Vanessa Redgrave was ill so I missed out on an icon of the British stage.
I enjoyed the evening but did find it difficult to understand what was being said and whilst I am sure James Earl Jones is a wonderful actor a lots of his words were garbled. The production of the play didn't really work for me but I will go again to hopefully see Vanessa Redgrave and experience the chemistry between the stars that so many people have mentioned.
The Old Vic is one of the most beautiful theaters in London and the staff are always very helpful.

1  Thank DEmac1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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