Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Intimate Letters: Timothy West & The Pavao String Quartet


Mixed reviews on acclaimed, legendary actor Timothy West and sterling praise for the ladies of the Pavao String Quartet. 

Tracey's Review:

Another great performance at Hawthorne-Theatre Campus-West. Timothy West with the Pavao String Quartet in Intimate Letters. I've not heard of the Pavao String Quartet before but they were very good, lovely soothing sounds of 2 violins,1 viola and 1 cello :)

The show was to be a dramatic retelling of the passionate love affair between Janacek and a younger woman, mainly from letters Janacek sent to his love.  The music seemed to be the main part of the show, with Timothy appearing in the 2nd half. 

Timothy West who is a great actor with many shows and appearances behind him was the main headline and I felt he played the part of Janacek very well, reading out some of his letters with passion, humour and lots of expression.

Now and again the Quartet would play between each reading, sometimes soft and sometimes with the frustrations that Janacek must have felt when his love sometimes seemed un-returned which I suppose with a long suffering wife may well have.  Now and again I did have trouble hearing what he was saying (think I need a hearing aid) but perhaps it was because he was mainly on one end of the stage.

There is so much variety at Campus West and it's there to be enjoyed :)

Jane's Review:
Last night I saw Timothy West with the Pavao String Quartet performing ‘Intimate Letters’ at the Hawthorne Theatre, Campus West.

Billed as: ‘A dramatic retelling of the passionate illicit love affair that resulted in one of the finest and most passionate string quartets of the 20th century, researched by cellist Justin Pearson’, I was not really sure what to expect but certainly looked forward to seeing Timothy West, a well-known face from British stage and screen, appearing live on stage.

The Show opened with a beautiful rendition of Dvorak’s ‘American’ quartet, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Pavao String Quartet both looked and sounded elegant and graceful. The first half was short, lasting only just 30 minutes, which was slightly surprising, and Mr West did not make an appearance until the 2nd half.

It was in the 2nd half the ‘letters’ mentioned in the show’s title were read, and accompanied by the music written by Janácek whilst carrying on a (rather one sided it seems) love affair with a much younger woman, and writing to her of his feelings and desperate hopes for a union.

It was certainly interesting to hear the music alongside the words he wrote, allowing us to understand the deep emotions that inspired the piece; however I have to say I was rather disappointed with the performance as a whole for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I was expecting to be captured by a very strong performance by such an experienced actor and he did deliver the reading with passion, moments of lightness and moments of despair. However despite the fact that he was reading the letters from a book, he stumbled over the lines at least five or six times, and this left me feeling the performance was slightly under rehearsed – not what I had hoped for at all!

Secondly I felt that the lack of any attention to the stage picture made this seem more of a performance being recorded for radio than a show to watch. I understand that the most important part of the evening was in the listening, however with very little effort and slightly more imagination a much more pleasing atmosphere could have been created on the stage by, for example, using matching (or even period) furniture, or using lighting to spotlight the actor and produce a more intimate feeling.

Mr West was on stage for no longer than 25 or 30 minutes and the show ended with the rest of Janacek’s Quartet number 2 being played.

Overall I think it may have been that the name of the production was slightly misleading – it was billed as Timothy West with the Pavao String Quartet – when in fact it felt as if it should have been the other way around. The music definitely took centre stage and the readings helped to give an insight into the composer’s state of mind whilst writing.

The show is touring the country from now on and I am sure will bring great pleasure to any lover of Janacek’s work, and whilst I commend the musicianship of the String Quartet, I hope that the ‘rehearsal’ last night means Mr West will produce flawless performances from now on!!


We have a couple of  great comedies coming up at The Hawthorne Theatre over the next couple of months, check them out here http://hawthornetheatre.co.uk/whatsonstage.html

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