London’s Furtive Nut, Donmar Trio, Gay Don Giovanni

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Photographer: Catherine Ashmore/NT via Bloomberg

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Magill in ``Misterman’’ at the National Theatre in London. Magill reveals a terrible, if predictable, secret at the end of the play.

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Photographer: Catherine Ashmore/NT via Bloomberg

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Magill in ``Misterman’’ at the National Theatre in London. Magill reveals a terrible, if predictable, secret at the end of the play. Close

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Magill in ``Misterman’’ at the National Theatre in London. Magill reveals a terrible, if... Read More

Photographer: Catherine Ashmore/NT via Bloomberg

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Magill in ``Misterman’’ at the National Theatre in London. Enda Walsh’s play deals with a day in the life of a troubled, religious man in a small Irish town. Close

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Magill in ``Misterman’’ at the National Theatre in London. Enda Walsh’s play deals with a... Read More

Photographer: Johan Persson/Kate Morley via Bloomberg

John Hollingworth and Susan Brown in ``Lost’’ the second play in ``Making Noise Quietly’’ by Robert Holman at the Donmar Warehouse in London. A naval officer tells a mother of the death of her son in the Falklands War. Close

John Hollingworth and Susan Brown in ``Lost’’ the second play in ``Making Noise Quietly’’ by Robert Holman at the... Read More

Photographer: Johan Persson/Kate Morley via Bloomberg

Jordan Dawes and Matthew Tennyson in ``Being Friends,’’ the first of three short plays together titled ``Making Noise Quietly,’’ by Robert Holman at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Oliver and Eric meet one day in 1944. Close

Jordan Dawes and Matthew Tennyson in ``Being Friends,’’ the first of three short plays together titled ``Making Noise... Read More

Photographer: Martin Cullum/Chloe Nelkin Consulting via Bloomberg

Stephanie Edwards, Patrick Ashcroft and Tamsin Dalley (on the floor) in ``Don Giovanni’’ at Heaven Nightclub in London. Alan and his best friend Olivia (formerly Donna Anna and Ottavio in the original) grieve over the body of Alan’s mother Petra (formerly the Commedatore). Close

Stephanie Edwards, Patrick Ashcroft and Tamsin Dalley (on the floor) in ``Don Giovanni’’ at Heaven Nightclub in... Read More

Photographer: Martin Cullum/Chloe Nelkin Consulting via Bloomberg

Duncan Rock as Don Giovanni in a gay version of the Mozart opera at Heaven Nightclub in London. In this version of the story conceived and directed by Dominic Gray, Giovanni’s conquests are Alan, Eddie and Zac instead of Anna, Elvira and Zerlina. Close

Duncan Rock as Don Giovanni in a gay version of the Mozart opera at Heaven Nightclub in London. In this version of... Read More

Sometimes interesting ideas and good performances combine into a big theatrical yawn. It’s a mystery that London’s theater seems happy to be exploring.

Enda Walsh’s one-man play “Misterman” at the National Theatre deals with a day in the life of small-town religious obsessive Thomas Magill (Cillian Murphy).

He lives in a decrepit warehouse surrounded by tape machines which play the voices of his mother and his neighbors. He speaks to an angel called Edel.

Eventually he reveals the terrible secret which has unhinged his mind.

Isn’t it nice that madmen of this literary type always seem to have a terrible secret which neatly explains their behavior? And they’re always lucid enough to reveal it?

Murphy’s 90-minute performance is a tour de force. He’s funny one minute and savage the next. It’s not enough to rescue a plodding, repetitive piece.

Rating: **.

‘Making Noise Quietly’

Robert Holman, 60, is sometimes called a writers’ writer. That usually means “his plays don’t sell any tickets”.

I’m not sure his cause will be helped by this 1987 triptych “Making Noise Quietly” at the Donmar Warehouse.

His three short plays examine the effects of war. In the first, a young homosexual meets a conscientious objector over a picnic in 1944.

In the second, a naval officer tells a mother that her estranged son has died in the Falklands War. In the final play, set in 1986, a holocaust survivor befriends a violent British soldier stationed in Germany.

Nothing much happens in any of them. People chat in question-and-answer format, like therapist and patient.

In the final play, the thuggish soldier has improbable flashes of insight. “How do I stop myself from enjoying hurting people?” he wails to Helene, the all-wise survivor. “I hurt myself to prove I’m not a coward, maybe.”

The acting is all good, Peter Gill’s direction unforced and straightforward.

Rating: **.

‘Don Giovanni’

A gay “Don Giovanni,” staged in Heaven nightclub, is providing provocative insights and laughs.

In Dominic Gray’s promenade opera production, set in 1987, Giovanni’s conquests are closeted Alan, businessman Eddie and recently-engaged Zac (two tenors and a baritone).

In Duncan Rock’s warmly-sung performance, Giovanni’s character represents all the fun, danger and selfish hedonism of the Thatcher boom years.

Giovanni accidentally murders Alan’s mother Petra (a mezzo). She comes back as a ghost and drags him to hell, which turns out to be a lonely old age in an underfunded hospital.

The translation by Ranjit Bolt and David Collier is whip- smart, and gets plenty of laughs.

It’s musically witty too. The singers perform their character’s arias up or down an octave. Then in the ensembles, they revert to singing the line originally suited to soprano, or tenor, and so on, so that Mozart’s textures are preserved.

The score is cut down to two hours, and it all feels seamless.

It’s not flawless. Once or twice the direction is too static, and not all the singing is top drawer. If you can put up with that, then there are plenty of other pleasures in this thoughtful, funny, and oddly engaging production.

Rating: **.

ENO Season

English National Opera has just announced its new season, and there are some intriguing curiosities there too.

Philip Glass’s new opera “The Perfect American” about Walt Disney has its U.K. premiere. Two rarities will be seen: Vaughan Williams’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and Charpentier’s “Medea.” The world premiere of Michel van der Aa’s “The Sunken Garden” promises to be the first opera ever to employ 3D film.

Star directors Richard Jones and David McVicar both get productions. The bizarre German director Peter Konwitschny tackles “La Traviata.”

If a gay “Don Giovanni” can work, maybe this will too.

What The Stars Mean:
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

“Don Giovanni’’ runs until April 30 at Heaven nightclub: http://www.dongiovannitheopera.com

For information about ENO: http://www.eno.org

“Misterman’’ is in repertoire at the National Theatre: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or +44-20-7452-3000

“Making Noise Quietly’’ is at the Donmar http://www.donmarwarehouse.com +44-833-871-7624

Today’s Muse highlights include: Lewis Lapham on history, Jeremy Gerard on New York theater.

(Warwick Thompson is a critic for Muse, the arts and lifestyle section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this review: Warwick Thompson, in London, at warwicktho@aol.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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