A reading in Camden of a new play by my friend Diane Samuels is enough of a reason for a trip to London: The Arrest of Rosa Gold had a sell-out showing at the Jewish Museum, which contains among other treasures a record, both actual and virtual, of the popularity of Yiddish theatre in Britain. Diane’s play begins in 1969 when Rosa, already under surveillance for spying for 20 years, meets the woman who will revitalise her revolutionary spirit; the story traces the following 30 years and the consequences of this encounter for her family, with revelations about this idealistic, perhaps naïve, heroine’s passions continuing right to the end. A wonderfully sensitive team of actors vibrantly brought alive a fascinating story and an era that still casts a long shadow.
A Life by Hugh Leonard, on at that smashing little theatre in Earls Court The Finborough, was sold-out too, and also covered a full span from youthful hopes to the painful realism of old age. This version of twentieth-century mores is more modest in scope though beautifully precise in detail as Drumm, an acidly-witty civil servant, confronts his past and mourns What I called principles was vanity, what I called friendship was malice in a superb script splendidly acted by the eight-strong cast headed by Hugh Ross who so reminded me of my father I wanted to wait by the stage door for him after.
Then, for as much contrast as another twentieth-century drama could offer, an evening at the Cockpit Theatre off Edgware Road for Rent, a rock musical with lashings of burlesque, queer-Glee set-pieces, and New York street tragedy. Jonathan Larson based his story of impoverished-artist life for the AIDS generation on La Bohème, and the student cast of Interval Productions brought heartfelt emotion to their triumphs and their tragedies, though a couple did look way off starving. Here's my favourites, Carlton Connell-Collins with his Angel, John McCrea.
Back in Bristol after a weekend so packed with theatrical action even the clocks took an hour off, and now it's officially winter.