Author Topic: House of Special Purpose  (Read 5387 times)

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Offline primrose

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House of Special Purpose
« on: May 29, 2009, 02:32:13 PM »
Those of you in the UK may be interested in seeing the World Premiere of The House of Special Purpose, presented by the Chichester Festival Theatre,  June 20 - August 22.

http://www.cft.org.uk/cft-productions_details.asp?pid=271

primrose... a new member
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Offline markjhnstn

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2009, 02:29:08 AM »
Hi primrose, welcome to the site. This is very interesting. Do you know if this play will tour around the country?

Offline primrose

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2009, 03:49:29 PM »
I don't know Mark... I came across it when I was doing a search of London theatre scene in June; this happened to pop up and I found it very interesting. I haven't seen anything about it anywhere else on the internet but I shall be watching the London newspapers after the first performance to see the reviews. As you no doubt know, Chichester Festival Theatre productions are among the most highly regarded in the UK, and I'm sure there'll be reviews in the broadsheets.

Thanks for the welcome... I've been a lurker for a very long time and am now happy to be a member.

primrose
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

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Offline markjhnstn

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2009, 05:17:13 AM »
Yes, will have to look out for the reviews. Be good to find out what approach to the story Heidi Thomas' play will take.

Thanks for the info!

Offline Imperial_Grounds

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2009, 11:10:22 AM »
Hmmm, this sounds rather interesting. Would love to hear more :)
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Offline primrose

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« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 07:17:53 PM by primrose »
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

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Offline primrose

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2009, 09:06:56 PM »
I've just noticed that next to the Telegraph review there is a box with links to related stories, one of which is entitled "Poignant letters from sister of Russia's last Tsar for sale". Poignant indeed, and sad that GD Olga will not be around to benefit financially from the sale...
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

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Offline markjhnstn

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2009, 03:54:42 AM »
Thanks for the review links primrose.

Even though the reviewers seem a bit underwhelmed, I'd still want to see it.

Offline Imperial_Grounds

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2009, 06:51:40 AM »
I've just noticed that next to the Telegraph review there is a box with links to related stories, one of which is entitled "Poignant letters from sister of Russia's last Tsar for sale". Poignant indeed, and sad that GD Olga will not be around to benefit financially from the sale...

Just read the article. Let us hope the letters end up in the right place. Perhaps they will also be used in books.

Now on to the play, after reading the reviews it seems to be nothing great, but yet something good.
Has anyone from here seen it?
Learn To Live With My Darker Side

Offline primrose

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 05:44:11 PM »
Here's the Guardian review... interesting that all four 'serious' London newspapers give the play the same rating -- 3*.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/jul/01/the-house-of-special-purpose
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Offline helenrappaport

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Re: House of Special Purpose at Chichester Festival Theatre
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2009, 02:02:02 PM »
I was in Chichester yesterday to give a talk on my book Ekaterinburg in conjunction with the production of House of Special Purpose and I stayed over so that I could see a matinee of the play.

Well, itís simple really: if you are a Romanov aficionado you will be irritated, if not infuriated, all the way through by the amount of dramatic licence and distortion of fact, if not blatant inaccuracy.  I winced so many times I gave up.  I had to watch it without my historianís hat on.   With dramatisations of real life historical events itís always a problem when you have to condense and encapsulate so much into two hours of theatre.  One has to accept that, but I have to say, for me, there was just too much conflation and distortion of the true story and I wasnít comfortable with it all.  But ordinary members of the audience seemed to like it; as a piece of theatre it clearly worked for them and to be fair, you just cannot be too purist about it.  But Russia Ė no it isnít; itís that old familiar ersatz Russia we get all the time in US and British dramatizations. Just not violent, gritty brutal, melancholic  or Russian enough.

As a play itís about this family stuck in a house in a place somewhere in the middle of Russia who finally get murdered. But itís not them. Itís not the Romanovs, not for me, not for one moment. The only actor who came close to touching a nerve with me was Adrian Rawlins Ė he certainly looked right. The girls didnít and worse they came across as common Ė I just couldnít believe in them as Russian grand duchesses. I could go on at length about all that was wrong about the play from my historianís point of view  Ė but thatís pointless.  It wasnít written as a history lesson but as a piece of theatre. I just wish they hadnít perpetuated one or two of the old chestnuts that are so highly contentious  - such as Olga being raped on the Rus.

In the end I found that for all my desire to like the play, it was just too superficial in its characterisation as well as in its political context. It just didnít move me one jot. So emotionally it failed me as a piece of theatre, no matter that it was supposed to be about the Romanovs. But thatís just my point of view. The experience of theatre is a very subjective thing.  If you can suspend your disbelief, then go and see it, but if you are wedded to the truth about the Romanovs, donít Ė you will hate it.

By the way, as regards a UK tour or London run Ė the producers tell me that this depends on how the play goes down at Chichester. Meanwhile, Robert Alexanderís The Kitchen Boy has now been dramatized by the top British screenwriter Ronald Harwood for a major film.

All best, Helen

Offline primrose

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2009, 03:46:19 PM »
Helen.... I'm delighted to see your post and read your views of the production. I didn't think it would be much good from reading the reviews but having your analysis is wonderful; can't imagine anyone who could speak to the veracity of the play with a sharper eye and wealth of knowledge of those last few weeks than you!

Thanks so much for posting your thoughts.... this is a real gift to the thread, rarely can one receive a reality check to such a grand distortion of facts so quickly and so articulately. I would hope that someone involved with the production would at some point see your post.... it seems to me that at the very least they should hang a "historical fiction" sign on the playboard.

primrose
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Winston Churchill

Offline markjhnstn

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Re: House of Special Purpose
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2009, 03:12:43 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts on this Helen.

If it did go on tour and came anywhere near me, I think I would go and take a look.

At least if you know what to expect then any historical inacurraies wouldn't be so annoying.........i think.