On my birthday itself, I went to see Hitchcock Blonde at the Lyric Theatre. It's an excellent, and weird, production, mostly set in 1959 and 1999, with a brief excursion to 1919, including a stunning performance from William Hootstein, playing (the 1959) Hitchcock. In 1999, a media studies professor and one of his students try to preserve what they can of some previously unknown Hitchcock footage. In 1959, Hitchcock auditions Janet Leigh's body double for Psycho. And in 1919, we come closer to discovering the reason for Hitchcock's obsession with cool, aloof blondes. It was, perhaps, an unfortunate coincidence that the 1999 plot involves a forty-something man suffering serious angst about his age, regretting his lost youth and trying to seduce a twenty-year-old, but I recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone who isn't turning forty. You'll have to hurry, though -- it closes on 20 September.
And then last week I saw Noises Off at the Piccadilly Theatre, with a cast including (although I failed to recognise him until I checked the web-site later) Sylvester McCoy. It's over twenty years old, but is having a revival in the West End and on tour -- although I think the tour is over now. It is a monumentally funny play. In act one, we see the final rehearsal of the first act of a (very bad) farce which is being staged by a touring rep company. In act two, we see a performance of the same act, halfway through the tour, from backstage. And in the final act, we see the final performance, from the front again. It would, perhaps, be an understatement to note that things do not go entirely according to plan. It's an immensely physically demanding play for the cast, with a lot of physical humour that has to be timed just right -- the second act is largely silent, and the script must have about a full page of stage directions for each line of dialogue. And they mostly pulled it off, although there were a few places where things seemed just a touch chaotic and hard to follow. It's a play where you wish the theatre had pause, rewind and slow-motion buttons so you could replay scenes to make sure you catch everything.
Noises Off was also, incidentally, less than a third the price of Hitchcock Blonde, and in fact cheaper than going to see a movie in Leicester Square, thanks to a two-for-one ticket offer.
Note to self: Must go see more live theatre.