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The Independent Culture
THE PLAY: The Wood Demon

OVERVIEW The Playhouse re-opens with Anthony Clark's rare revival of Chekhov's early play, later rewritten as Uncle Vanya. A comedy about a family with too little to do, most of whom are desperately in love, the cast is led by Cal Macininch with Brian Protheroe, Philip Voss, Amanda Ryan and Abigail Cruttenden. CRITICAL VIEW Paul Taylor saluted fine acting. "Philip Voss is excellent ... striking Abigail Cruttenden ... Adam Godley's highly amusing Fyodor." "Anthony Clark's fine new production ... A more upbeat piece than any the dramatist wrote later ... should divert anyone," smiled The Times. "Clark's faultlessly sympathetic production has all the human and humane complexity of Chekhov's great plays minus the despairing pessimism ... Not to be missed," insisted the FT. "A good company with a reasonable flow of jokes," nodded The Express. "Never pushes the farce or melodrama to their extreme limits ... does not really convince," judged The Guardian. "This interesting but undercast curiosity

performances alone make the film worth seeing," approved The Guardian. ON VIEW Cert 15, 111 mins, on general release. OUR VIEW You'd have to be a die-hard fan of the stars to want to see this. Even Pitt referred to the final script as "dogshit". THE OPERA: Mark-Anthony Turnage OVERVIEW A double bill by composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. Twice Through the Heart is the true story of a woman who has stabbed her husband, from the poem by Jackie Kay, sung by Sally Burgess. Thomas Randle plays a mountaineer who falls into a strange kingdom in Clare Venables' The Country of the Blind. CRITICAL VIEW Nick Kimberley worried about Heart: "the voice struggles to find a pitch between bel canto and expressionist torture, leaving the orchestra to provide colour," but felt the second piece "succeeded much better ... the work has pace and point." "The actual standard of both stage and musical performance under the direction of Nicholas Kok was impeccable ... it is again the lyricism that impresses most ... quite brilliantly directed," cheered The Times. "Could hardly be faulted ... Turnage's musical treatment is frequently so magical and masterly that disbelief is temporarily suspended," sang The Guardian. "Several passages of spiky, thrilling originality showed the composer at his most convincing. Do I want to hear it again? Not wildly," moaned the Telegraph. ON VIEW Last performance at Aldeburgh, 22 July (01728 453543) plus 3 & 5 July at the South Bank Centre (0171-860 4242). OUR VIEW A strikingly imaginative staging by Emma Jenkins and a notable achievement for Aldeburgh and ENO's Contemporary Opera Studio.