Two plays Set in North London
I saw recently two very good plays written by two British playwrights: "Ecstasy", a revival of Mike Leigh's play at Hampstead Theatre, and "The Holy Rosenbergs", a new play by Ryan Craig at the Cottesloe Theatre (National Theatre). Two plays set in the North of London in two different neighborhoods and periods: 1979 in Kilburn for Ecstasy, 2009 in Edgware for The Holy Rosenberghs. In both plays, all of the scenes happen in one single location: Jean's bedsitting room in Ecstasy, the dining room of the Rosenbergs family's modest semi detached house. There is intense realism in both plays.
Ecstasy is an atmospherical play: Jean, the leading character lives alone. She doesn't seem happy. When the first scene opens, she is naked on her bed and the man she has just had sex with leaves her. In a big part of the play. we see Jean’s best friend Dawn with her Irish husband, Mick, Mick’s Lincolnshire mate, Len (whose wife has left him), and Jean, drinking, dancing, talking and singing in this sinister bedroom with a tiny kitchen attached to it. The accents of the characters are very strong and key to communicating the dark, sinister and depressing atmosphere. Through their drinking activities, these four friends express their loneliness and need for warmth and love.
"The Holy Rosenbergs" happens in a very different social environment: we follow a Jewish family from Edgware in its struggle to deal with the individual identities, personalities and opinions of the family members and the weight of the community to which they belong. Henry Goodman is very convincing as David, the father of the family who runs a struggling kosher catering business and who becomes more and more human, persuasive and touching particularly when at the end, he advises his daughter to stand up for what she believes to be right.
Ecstasy is now transferred to Duchess Theatre until 28 May 2011
The Holy Rosenbergs is at the National Theatre until 24 June 2011. http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/62809/productions/the-holy-rosenbergs.html