Finally caught up with Danton's Death at the National this afternoon - it was worth waiting for. Buchner was only 21 when he wrote the play and I was amazed by the beauty of the language and the clarity of the arguments. Directed by The Donmar's Michael Grandage, this production focuses on the dialectical dispute between Danton, darling of the revolution and maestro of sensual pleasure and the incorruptible Robespierre, who having engineered the initial terror now seeks to impose a concept of 'virtue' onto the tumult.
Elliot Levey is superb as Robespierre and finds a depth and rationale for his actions - taking him away from the cliched puritan villain. The psychopathic danger is always there, hinted at by the elongated vowels of a man used to leaving the boot in slightly longer than necessary; but beyond the calculated violence is the loneliness of the outsider wrestling the world to order in the face of a misconceived perception of looming danger. Constantly left alone with his own thoughts on the vast Olivier stage the picture is of a victim trying to give revenge a nobler name - and failing miserably.
Against him, Toby Stephens' Danton roams casually through the Parisian brothels looking for escape from the bloodshed. The playground bully tired of fighting and interested in cashing in for reward. His nobility and entitlement sits uneasily in the equality of the new world order unleashing the waves of envy that will eventually send him to the guillotine. Great play. Great production.
Straight up to Camden and the Etcetra Theatre where Stef has been directing Jennie's play When Women Wee for the Camden Fringe. Set in the women's toilet's at a club it was all froth and fun. A bit under rehearsed and probably a draft away from carrying a meaning - but nevertheless Stef got some neatly observed performances out of her young cast and it's another decent credit. Her turnover of work is really impressive at the minute. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.