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© Johan Persson 
Venice Footnotes 
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UNTIL 4 AUGUST presents:
Website Updated 23/07/14
This is a not-for-profit UK theatre-going group for our friends and colleagues and their own extended group of friends. It costs nothing to join us but must be by personal introduction from another member of the group. We provide tickets (and coach transport from Southend, if required) for London theatres.  
We do not sell tickets to the public
Welcome to our Theatre Group website - we hope you will find all the information you need.  
Organisers: Fredo & Mike - E-mail: or 
On this page -  click heading to jump to section or scroll down page
>Latest Offers: It's time to make a booking -  
Behind the Beautiful Forevers + King Charles III + Henry IV (Donmar Friends only)
Details of all Available Bookings are shown on the Current Bookings page - 
click HERE or on the individual ads above.  Extra Discounts for our Donmar Friends
>Next Theatre Visits:
6 August 
at the 
Young Vic 
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20 August 
at the 
No reviews available yet
Updated 20/07/14 -   
What we see without the Group:  click HERE  or on the ads below
>News and Information: Please scroll down the page    
  It's always exciting to see a new production at the Donmar before we take the group. Will we enjoy it? Will the group like it? What is the set like?  
  We felt reasonably confident that this would be a good evening: the play is directed by Lynsey Turner, who had great success with posh and Chimerica and her previous work at the Donmar on Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come was searingly successful.
  And this was one of those evenings that we knew as soon as we saw the set that we were in for a treat. Brian Friel deserted his usual location of Ballybeg in Donegal for a Russian dacha in this adaptation of Ivan Turgenev's 19th century novel, and indeed we were soon immersed in the world of social change for landowners and peasants, and fathers and sons.  
  Afterwards, the new Director of Development at the Donmar, Stephanie Dittmer, introduced Lynsey, and asked her to tell us how she came to direct the play. Lynsey had collaborated closely with Brian on Philadelpia; Friel is an elderly man now, and they communicated mainly by telephone. Following that production, Friel sent Lynsey a copy of Fathers and Sons. This play had been performed at the National Theatre in 1988, but appeared to have sunk without trace. At first Lynsey wondered if this was just a gift - did he have 10 copies on his shelf? Or did he want her to direct it? 
  When Lynsey was joined by Karl Johnson, Caolfhionn Dunne, Elaine Cassidy and David Fielder, the discussion turned to the relationships within the play, and how relevant they are to our society. Lynsey admitted that she was dreading her parents coming to see the play next week, as she was far from the model child. The society depicted in the play is in a state of evolution (prior to the Revolution) and all the actors felt that Friel had provided a fast-moving adaptation: he achieved in 7 scenes what Turgenev had the luxury of 29 chapters to relate. Lynsey pointed out that the intensely moving final scene was Friel's own invention. 
  We are used to hearing translations from Russsian and Norwegian and German by contemporary English dramatists; does this version have a distinctly Irish accent? Karl replied that Friel is one of those rare writers with whom you know that there is a right way of saying a line, and that when you find it, it makes perfect sense. Much of the rehearsal was a quest to find the correct way to say it. Lynsey added that Anthony Calf - that most generous of actors - was brilliant at this: he can launch into the long speeches with great openness and sensitivity, making perfect sense of the rhythm of the words. 
  Fortunately, Friel has been to see this production, and I'm sure he felt that Lynsey has returned his gift to him in full - and that she has restored the play to the repertoire. 
  We look forward to seeing it again. 
Fredo   13/07/14 
    I'm not deaf, I don't wear a hearing aid, and I just wish those actors would speak up and project! 
  Yes, I've often heard words saying as much and sometimes I think so myself. But I'm getting older, as we all are, and in everyday conversation we have words directed at us and can ask people to repeat themselves if necessary. Not in the theatre.
  As we age, our ability to hear and differentiate certain frequencies deteriorates, perhaps without us noticing.... until we are in the theatre. There we may receive Volume but not Clarity. Then we blame the actors or the director. We may even think we are hearing effectively, but some words are lost, concentration becomes more difficult, our involvement is reduced, then we are disappointed. 
  All this was brought into focus by my King Lear experience at the Olivier. I should have heeded Fredo's advice to try out a National Theatre hearing device, but I decided to trust my perfectly adequate ears. In the first half I realised I was missing words, I was following the plot but without being involved. Many in the audience were hearing, were responding, were engrossed, were impressed, when I was not. 
  At the interval I collected a (free) hearing device from the Olivier Information desk...what a difference! Instead of struggling to hear from afar, all the words (well, most) sounded as if I was standing next to the actors. The dialogue was not louder but it was clearer, much clearer. I was able to relax into the play without straining to understand. Part Two of King Lear was a much better experience for me. 
  I know the vast auditorium of the Olivier, and sometimes the Lyttelton and other theatres, can cause audibility problems in certain seats, not always the fault of our ears. But often it is Us and not Them. Let's not seek to apportion blame. Hearing devices for anyone finding it hard to hear can be borrowed free of charge and they DO make a difference. There are types for people wearing aids and for others like myself who normally have no hearing problems (well, none I recognise!). These devices are now available in most theatres so ask and give them a try. They may not suit everyone, but you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. 
  You can read about the facilities offered at the National Theatre HERE
Mike   20/05/14
Click on the Cat to read Libby's reviews
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Alternatively, you can go direct to the WhatsOnStage new website by clicking HERE.
Ticket Price Watch: For updates on higher prices and what the producers want you to pay. We also give you occasional news on any Discount offers -  
Click HERE
Ask us about Theatre Tokens: 
They make ideal gifts for theatre-going friends. They are available in denominations of £20, £10 and £5 and can be used to buy theatre tickets at all West End theatres and the half-price tkts booth in Leicester Square. You can buy them from us and we accept them too. 
Palace Theatre: 4.40  Chalkwell Schools: 4.45  Elms: 4.50 
Thames  Drive: 4.55   Hadleigh: 5.00  Tarpots: 5.15   Five Bells: 5.20 
All shows are evening performances unless matinee times are given (see below) - 
08/11/14 Ballet Triple Bill - this is a 2.00pm matinee.  
Please note coach departure times - 
Palace Theatre: 11.00  Chalkwell Schools: 11.05 Elms: 11.10 
Thames  Drive: 11.15   Hadleigh: 11.20  Tarpots: 11.25   Five Bells: 11.30 
04/01/15 Edward Scissorhands - this is a 2.00pm matinee.  
Please note coach departure times - 
Palace Theatre: 11.30  Chalkwell Schools: 11.35  Elms: 11.40 
Thames  Drive: 11.45   Hadleigh: 11.50  Tarpots: 11.55   Five Bells: 12.00 
Buy theatre tickets in advance and the curtain rises on countless pleasures, but wait for other options and the curtain falls on opportunity.  
Old West End Proverb