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Michael Gambon Withdraws From 'The Habit Of Art' At NT

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MamasDoin'Fine
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Michael Gambon Withdraws From 'The Habit Of Art' At NT
Michael Gambon has had to pull out of the world premier of Allan Bennet's new play at the National due to ill health.
Good old NT stalwart Richard Griffiths has stepped into the lead.

http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/51766/productions/the-habit-of-art.html

Updated On: 10/2/09 at 11:55 AM
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Mark_E
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Just wondering if anyone else has seen this yet?

I saw it thursday night thanks to a 5 entry pass ticket (the whole run is currently sold out, but entry pass tickets are still avaliable for pretty much all performances!). I was 2nd row stalls.

The show is just fantastic and should be top of the list for any theatre lover. The style of the play is so clever. It is a rehearsal of a play about Auden and Britten, and keeps getting interupted from the rehearsal room.

The acting from everyone is rather excellent. The play happens in "real-time" so to speak and I believed everything I saw could have actually happened.

The set is just gobsmacking. The busy look of it really suits this play. I really think this along with August: Osage County is one of the best plays I have ever seen!

Get yourself in the dayseats queue early for this one. It is NOT to be missed and i'll definitely be going again, as long as EP tickets remain avaliable.
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I can't wait to see this.

By the way, a question for Mark or anyone else who has an NT entry pass: A (younger!) friend of mine sent off for one recently and has been waiting nearly a month with no reply - do they normally take that long to arrive?
Updated On: 12/12/09 at 06:09 AM
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Mark_E
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It took AGESSSSS!
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Saw this today and I agree wholeheartedly with Mark's recommendation. Wonderful stuff. It's no History Boys, but it's great fun and packed full of classic Bennett lines - including one or two that, admittedly, he is not using for the first time here. I won't spoil the funniest moments by describing them, but I'll just say that I found the Old Man and the Sea bit hysterically funny, as well as (the wonderful, underrated) Adrian Scarborough's reply when he has been mistaken for a rent boy. And (the similarly under-famous) Stephen Wight's "something to tell the grandchildren" line.

A word of warning: if actors being very actorly luvvie-ish makes you cringe, stay well away from this one (Frances de la Tour says "darling" about two hundred times). But generally if you like Bennett I think you'll love it.
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I scored me a 10 ticket for next Friday's performance. Yes, I am VERY jammy. Looking forward to it, although not expecting great miracles. :)
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I got a £10 return too, booked it last month. Fairly central, second row of the stalls - perfect! Do post some thoughts when you've seen it.

Frances de la Tour is utterly brilliant in this: playing the stage manager, you forget she's even part of the show -- she's just the stage manager, trying (and failing) to keep the whole thing under control. It's sometimes as if she's just turned up and made up her own lines, she's incredibly natural. And without spoiling anything, the scenes where her and the assistant stage manager fill in for the absent actors (who are busy with a Chekhov matinee) are genius.

The one thing that really didn't work for me was the ending, when the de la Tour character is talking about the NT itself. It just didn't really work. I hope they change that bit when the play is done elsewhere. I wonder if it will be done panto-style - fill in the blanks with some appropriate jokes about whatever theatre company happens to be putting it on?

It's funny though, because I've been reading a lot of the (predictable) criticism of this play online, and I actually don't disagree with a lot of the points made. It's very self-indulgent, it's not especially original, etc. etc., but for me that didn't really matter. However, I can easily imagine someone not enjoying it for the same reasons I did enjoy it, if that makes sense.
Updated On: 2/12/10 at 09:42 AM
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Just booked up to see this again in May - but am now remembering reading something about Richard Griffiths only being in it until April? I would have thought it would say something on the NT's website if the cast was changing, though, so I'm guessing not.

I've been reading the script this week and it's just fantastic, though I can see exactly why it's detractors don't like it, to the extent that I wouldn't even be confident in recommending it unless I knew the person's tastes extremely well.

However I don't see how anyone could fail to see the brilliance of the performances - in the scenes where they're out of "character" (i.e. not rehearsing Caliban's Day) you completely forget that they're acting at all. Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour, Adrian Scarborough and Alex Jennings were as good as I expected (i.e. very), but the stand-out for me was Stephen Wight, who I don't think I'd seen before, but was just brilliant as Tim/Stuart. And he drops his trousers too, which gets him plenty of bonus points (not that I'd particularly like to see anyone else in the cast do that!).
Updated On: 2/19/10 at 12:34 PM
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Thanks for the reminder about this. I couldn't get a ticket as they were selling out instantly - I just went online and got a return, second row of the stalls for 10 - result!