Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hangmen - Afterwards

Josef Davies as Hennessy CREDIT: ALASTAIR MUIR
I have been accustomed to going to NT Live with Alex and Duncan in Victoria.

The theatre is usually packed.

There are lots of treats before the show starts and during intermission.

Things were different tonight.  I went alone.  No treats and nobody to hear my horrified gasps and nervous laughter -- of which there were a lot, especially in the second act.

 I didn't think anything in the second act could come close to the tension of the scene in the first act which I shall call the swimming suit/sand episode.

But maybe even that is not true.  That opening scene where we are introduced to two of the hangmen, and where the person being hanged is holding onto the legs of his bedstead before he has the cover put on his face?  That opening scene felt like we had come right out of the gate, as it were, and were racing down the track toward an unholy end.

By the time I am writing this, Duncan and Alex are probably on their way home from the same show and Rebecca is either asking questions or answering them about things they remember in the movies.

Here is my list -- see if I would get paid $1 per question or incident.

1. I will always remember the scene where we hear the difference between definitely and vaguely, or would that be vaguely and definitely.  Definitely, it would be vaguely.

2. How did you like the character of the old man?  He couldn't hear, he didn't read, and did you see him wiping his hands on his trousers after he came out of the loo.  Oh, that made me shiver.

3. In the last five or ten minutes of the show, the tension was so high, and yet the writer kept so many jokes in the script.  Things get nastier and funnier, one reviewer said.  I didn't know what was happening behind that curtain.  I found myself sinking down in my chair and resting my head on the back of the theatre seat, I was so nervous.  I kept trying to remember it was billed as a dark, satiric comedy.

4. Harry Wade, Mooney, and Albert Pierrepoint were strong characters.  And the size of Pierrepoint, so tall, -- and when he slowly buttoned up his trench coat and then we saw the shadow of his umbrella and person pass by the pub window!  I couldn't help but laugh.  We had seen the same thing with Mooney when he left the chips and burger restaurant,  him passing by the window in the rain, giving that jaunty know-it-all sign with his finger back through the window.  Talk about fore-shadowing.

5. And only two women in the play (Shirley and her mom, Alice), though the 15 year old Phyllis seemed present, even though she was in a mental institution, because she kept repeating licence plates out loud.  I am never going to draw anyone's attention to a license plate again.

6.  How did you like the ambience of the pub?  Recognize it from your stay in London?  I guess you know the play got awards for the best set design.  We got to see the inside of a jail, a burger joint, the pub, all with minimal stage changes.  Brilliant.

7. If you were to pick one person in the play for whom there was the most character development, who would you choose?

8. I loved the way Shirley used the stairs as she would exit in and out of the play, going up to the family flat and then coming down to the pub.  Now that I think about it, we did get one view of the family flat in the scene when the reporter was interviewing the hangman up there.

9.  I laughed the loudest at this point:  remember when Albert Pierrepoint wanted to use the chair that was behind the curtain, the chair that Mooney was standing on.  Someone else gave up their chair instead, giving it to him saying it was a better chair for it had a cushion on it.  And then Pierrepoint just used it to put his foot on the cushion.  For some reason I was on tension-overload at that point, and I laughed so hard at that.

10. What did you think of that final scene, where the two men seemed to be glad to be back on the job?  Any discussion of that on your way home in the car?  What do you think the social theme of the play is.  What issues about human beings does the writer ask us to think about?

Thanks for the visit, Alex and Duncan.  Wish I had been there to watch you with your popcorn, drinks, hot dogs and candy.  Did your stop to get the sweets at 7-11 take more than 3 minutes?  I came home and ate 2 oranges -- still nervous from the tension in the play, I think.



  1. I feel like I am back in high school just reading your questions. However, I know the answers would be easy if I saw the play :-)

  2. The Encore is on May 21st. Maybe you will see it then. I have been looking for someone who has seen it. So far, no hits, even from people who generally go to National Theatre Live. My friend, Marilyn Gilson, just didn't have it in her calendar.

    These shows are not as well advertized. Since I have the taste for this kind of entertainment, I go to the website and pick up all kinds of brochures, hoping I won't miss much. I was noticing yesterday that there is both an Exhibition on Screen Series and a Gallery Series. And those are in addition to the Stratford Festival Hd Series, the National Theatre Live Series and the Metropolitan Opera Series.

    Tomorrow is the World Class Ballet Series, coming from the Bolshoi -- Don Quixote. I have to go out and read more on it. I did watch a pas de deux from this ballet, but from a 2014 production. Thank you utube.

  3. This play was unexpected and wonderful! (and horrifying and funny). i will for sure go again! Arta, your $1 questions are super! :-)