lunes, 16 de marzo de 2015


From left, Tim McMullan, Indira Varma, Ralph Fiennes and Nicholas le Prevost in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘‘Man and Superman’’ at the National Theater. Credit Johan Persson

LONDON — It may seem strange at this late date to talk about a new Ralph Fiennes, given that this superb actor has been at the center of the British theater and screen industries for more than two decades.
But watching Mr. Fiennes seize the stage and then hold it across more than three hours in the National Theater’s rousing new production of “Man and Superman,” I felt as if an actor I’d long-known had been reborn. It’s not just that a bearded Mr. Fiennes looks somewhat like George Bernard Shaw, whose mammoth, dizzyingly discursive play proves a supreme fit for an actor whose rhetorical skills are second to none.
One senses in addition that the comic aplomb he brought to the concierge Gustave in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has perhaps released from within Mr. Fiennes a giddiness that one wouldn’t have thought likely in view of the severity of his early work. Whatever the reason, the actor tears into the role of the loquacious bachelor Jack Tanner in Shaw’s rarely performed 1903 play with a gleeful abandon, turning a potentially long haul into a largely happy one.
Presented in neatly filleted form by the director Simon Godwin — who proved a dab hand when he pared down Eugene O’Neill’s “Strange Interlude” at this same theater two summers ago — “Man and Superman” emerges afresh as an expansion upon “Much Ado About Nothing.”
The reluctantly coupled Benedick and Beatrice of Shakespeare’s comedy are here re-imagined as the proto-revolutionary Jack and the heiress Ann (Indira Varma), a coolly watchful younger woman who gets Jack as a guardian following her father’s death.
A rather chilly Ms. Varma doesn’t always justify the play’s focus on Ann’s amorous well-being, while Nicholas le Prevost, playing Ann’s other and still-older guardian, displays a discomfort with Shaw’s language that only shows up Mr. Fiennes’s ease in bolder relief. Let loose on the play’s inversion of the “Don Juan” saga, Mr. Fiennes ensures that prolixity has rarely sounded so pungent. “I’m in the grip of the life force,” Jack tells Ann as his heart gives way, to which, on this evidence, the response can only be that it takes one to know one: Mr. Fiennes constitutes a theatrical force all his own.
Two other, more contemporary plays find their own ways of pushing the envelope.
When “Closer” opened at the National Theater in 1997, Patrick Marber’s career-defining play became an immediate talking point because of a level of candor that suggested the sexual politics of Strindberg but with a much fouler mouth.
The play transferred to Broadway in 1999 and was filmed by Mike Nichols in 2004. It has now returned to the London stage in a new production from David Leveaux that doesn’t quite locate the lethal abrasions to the heart that marked out Mr. Marber’s own original production. This staging runs at the Donmar Warehouse through April 4.
A carnal roundelay between two couples who end up swapping allegiances, bedmates and — in one case — losing a life, the original “Closer” carried with it a real sense of anything-goes bravado.
The impression was that Mr. Marber was leading us, well, closer than any dramatist had in years to the havoc men and women wreak upon one another, whether between the sheets or not.

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