Tag Archives: Harry Lloyd

“Notes From Underground” at The Print Room

Established as a first-class fringe venue over the last four years, The Print Room has now moved from Hereford Road to the former Coronet Cinema. The potential to transform this Notting Hill icon is exciting and the theatre is off to a stunning start with Notes From Underground.

Arriving from Paris, this adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s work by all-round clever fellow Gérald Garutti, collaborating with the show’s performer Harry Lloyd, is a fantastic piece. Taking the dense text and making it feel naturally performable is a huge achievement: the intellectual rigour of the Russian master is retained and a piece of superb theatre created.

Garutti and Lloyd have worked hard to create an immediacy, which, in this intimate space, becomes almost intimidating. Lloyd greets the audience as they arrive: we are the “ladies and gentlemen” he addresses throughout. And there is no historic distance here – we are in the now: the office life he has abandoned, which made him “a slave and a coward” is our very own nine to five.

The anti-hero of the work is a recluse, living in a “hole” and “over-philosophising” about existence. Retelling the events of a dinner party and an experience with a prostitute, the underground he talks about isn’t just the underbelly of society but the underpinnings of the human mind. The “higher consciousness” he claims to possess isn’t exactly appealing – it would be easy to see posturing and pretension – but Lloyd brings out the humanity behind the anguished ruminating, making sure we aren’t alienated from the ideas and share their “sting”.

This is no easy monologue. Dostoyevsky’s philosophy is radical: a rejection of reason pushes his character to madness, and the masochism embraced is particularly hard to swallow. But the ideas are presented elegantly, forensically followed through and create a remarkable rhythm. We are warned, “You’re not going to like this”, but this assessment is a long way off the truth.

Until 1 November 2014


Photo by Mirco Cosimo Maglioca

Written 12 October 2014 for The London Magazine

“The Little Dog Laughed” at The Garrick Theatre

It is always satisfying to have a play’s title explained to you.  The Little Dog Laughed is set within the world of Hollywood so quoting a nursery rhyme to point out the nonsense that goes on in tinsel town makes a lot of sense.

The plot is simple.  A successful actor’s agent has to deal with her client’s ‘recurring case of homosexuality’ which threatens to come to light when he becomes involved with a prostitute, who in turn discovers he is about to be a father.

To complicate matters, the actor is about to start a new project in which he plays a gay character.  His agent insists this will only work, and acclaim only be awarded, if he is known to the world as heterosexual.

The potential for farce is plentiful and the play has lots of laughs.  Rupert Friend plays Mitchell the actor, Harry Lloyd the rent boy Alex, and Gemma Atherton his girlfriend Ellen.  All three manage to convey endearing characters we can warm to despite their faults.

It is a shame that with an English cast, the east coast/west coast division that the play contains isn’t fully conveyed.  Yet this hardly matters when the laughs are arriving so regularly.  Friend’s charming naivety compares wonderfully with Lloyds well-pitched sarcasm.  Atherton’s character has satisfying layers.

It is Michell’s agent Diane who really allows the piece to take off though.  Tamsin Greig plays the role of Diane masterfully – this is a great character and Greig knows it. Rapacious, ambitious or just a realist?  Diane has jokes about being all three, but it is not just a case of the devil getting all the good lines.  The scripts clever observations about theatre and how it differs from film are embodied in some delightful improvisation from Greig.  Her raised eyebrows deserve an award.

Just in case all this doesn’t sound fun enough and perhaps celebrity doesn’t attract you, Douglas Carter Beane’s award winning play concerns itself with much more – primarily that characteristic American theme – the pursuit of happiness.

For some characters this lies in a search for innocence.  In a touching speech about childhood recollections, Ellen’s captivation with the image of the good life will come to explain her strange decision-making.  Alex values freedom more and, while pragmatic, ends up as the one who makes the fewest compromises.

It is the omniscient Diane who presents to us what the pursuit of happiness is often substituted with – stories and the telling of them.  As author to several other people’s fate she is a delightfully sinister figure, all the more so since she insists on making sure everyone is happy. And the audience surely is.  The fast paced direction from Jamie Lloyd perfectly compliments the writing.  A minimalist design from Soutra Gilmour is both stylish and appropriate to the theatricality of the piece.  After all, you don’t need many props for a fantasy.  Carter Beane’s play has a British debut it deserves.  The quality of the writing makes it a play not to be missed.

Until 10 April 2010


Photo by Alastair Muir

Written 21 January 2010 for The London Magazine