Thursday, 16 July 2015


I just watched Everyman through National Theatre Live at Cineworld downtown and I have to say it was superb. Carol Ann Duffy has re-imagined it and it is a fierce, clever, funny and frightening, critique of our society; an ultimately compassionate realisation of our human condition and tragedy.
Everyman played by the wonderful actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, celebrates his fortieth birthday among his high-flying friends with snort, music and wild sex. The story takes off from there.

This updating of the play suits all Duffy's strengths as a poet (she's our Laureate to those abroad who may not know), and is the best thing she's done in my opinion except for her classic poems. Her contemporary ordinary-speech-like verse moves along at one hell of a pace. Her clever quick rhymes snap out; her use of our current tag words and cliches to hold up a comedic and pitiless mirror to all our failings, is hilarious and and biting. Her endless flexibility with common terms and lists is really on form and contrasts neatly with the medieval original text. Lastly, Duffy was brought up a northern Catholic --she's intimate with this material and can use it like putty as she needs. I was seriously impressed and moved.

But the casting and staging were also brilliant. From Everyman's motley crew of friends, to 'Goods' in their gold and quiffs ultimately unable to help; from God imagined as a female cleaner (who the audience ignored for fifteen minutes before the play began) to the incredible Irish Death who gets the very last words and all their echoes, a foot was never put wrong with casting.

As for staging, the tsunami was very violent and scary; the use of light and colour tones intriguing; the videos and photos a real atmospheric pull, and the rubbish train and snorting table, on a shocking epic scale. 'Wow' is what I wanted to yell out.

Then there were the dances, body rushes, and movements, music and songs. All these put together kept you breathless and on the hook throughout. I thoroughly recommend this production. If tickets are sold out, watch out for an Encore showing.

I came out and remembered running into Ed Morris recently after a Shakespeare play --I forget which now. We shared as usual a discussion of the play, had a brief catch up and an affectionate goodnight hug. Now suddenly he's two weeks dead, at 62 and while completely healthy.

Everyman speaks to us all --time is running out --we have a planet to save --or as this production makes clear, we have humanity to save on this planet. If not, the planet will shrug us off and have to regain its health without us. Four bereavements in one year tell me loud and clear we all have an appointment with death. But our human condition is also comedic. Go see this to have a great laugh too. Death will really get you in the end, but with an good old joke! 8--)

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