May 15, 2012

Big and Small at the Barbican

As a run up into the 2012 Olympics, London is hosting an assortment of cultural events throughout the city.  One of those events was the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Big and Small (Gross Und Klein) at the Barbican Theatre.  The adaptation of this Botho Strauss work by Martin Crimp is a co-commission from the Barbican Theatre and stars the great Cate Blanchett as Lotte.

I saw the play on April 26, 2012 during my trip to the UK.  As the play opens in Morocco, we learn that Lotte is estranged from her husband.  It then goes through a dream-like/Alice in Wonderland sequence of episodic scenes in which Lotte tries to find connections with people.   As the play progresses, one realizes that she's constantly rejected by people she longs to connect with.  I must confess that it's probably the most surreal play that I've seen.  I found myself, during the first half at least, very much like the central character.....lost (in terms of not understanding where or why the misconnections were happening).  I don't know if that was the intention of the playwright but that was my experience.  Not till the 2nd half does one get the idea of the fragility of Lotte's mind.  It's not an easy play to sit through but I did enjoy it.

What makes Big and Small enjoyable is the highs and lows it takes you through.  The comedy and the tragedy of the piece, which is completely controlled and molded by the magnificent Cate Blanchett.  She brings the audience to just about the edge of grimness then pulls you right back into laugh out loud moments.  That's a very difficult task to pull off and she makes it look easy.  Being onstage for almost the whole of the 2 hr 45min play, she is mesmerizing to watch particularly when she moves across the stage.  Transitioning from balletic movements from one scene to slap stick kooky comedy with ease.  It's just astounding!  By the end, there was an immediate standing ovation (that is RARE in London) and she had 4 curtain calls!  I should point out that the supporting cast of Sydney Theatre ensemble were good but let's face it, this is a piece that features the lead. 

Big and Small just finished it sold out performance in London and continues it's European Tour in Vienna.

Here are some photos I took that night:
The Barbican Centre

they have a great restaurant area

Poster for the Cultural Festival

The Stage Door

Oh yeah, celebrity sighting of the night,
actress Olivia Williams (Miss Austen Regrets and the hippie mom
from the movie Hanna )
came out of the stage door just before
Cate Blanchett (I didn't get a photo of her though)

The Programme

Cate Blanchett smiling and signing away!


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