October 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of 3 very popular and famous characters – two on stage and one on screen.
George and Martha one of theatres most contentious married couples exploded on stage October 13, 1962 in Edward Albee’s masterpiece Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. A week earlier on October 5th the film premiere of Dr No and adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel introduced us to super spy James Bond.
A half a century later they are still going strong with the release of the latest Bond film Skyfall (number 23 in the franchise), and the opening of a new production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf on Broadway.
Sean Connery played James Bond first back then and he is arguably the best. Recently the mantle was taken over by actor Daniel Craig and some would say he may be ever better, he returns in Skyfall and the film itself has received very positive reviews from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. It has a serious director at the helm in Sam Mendes and with cinematography by the great Roger Deakins and production design by Dennis Gassner it is sure to be the best looking Bond film ever. Also quite exciting is that the latest Bond villian is played by Javier Bardem sure to be a highlight amongst many. It opens in Australia in early November.
The latest Broadway incarnation of Albee’s classic play comes by way of an acclaimed production by Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Playing the dysfunctional couple this time are actor/playwright Tracey Letts as George and Amy Morton as Martha. Morton played a leading role in Lett’s Tony winning hit play August: Osage County a few seasons back. It opened at the Booth theatre on October 13 exactly 50 years after the first premiere. Of course there was cinemas famous George and Martha played to perfection by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in a 1966 film adaptation directed by Mike Nichols, who can ever forget them! Legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill originated the roles.
From L-R Hagen & Hill, Taylor & Burton, Morton & Letts
Image via Wikipedia
It has been announced that a film adaptation of Tracey Lett’s Pulitzer Prize & Tony award winning play “August: Osage County” is being made.
Based on the 3 & 1/2 hour play set in an Oklahoma country house in which a single extended family — led by its pill popping matriarch Violet, and her headstrong eldest daughter Barbara. They are all grieving the mysterious death of it’s patriarch and then proceed to rip each other apart.
And what a starry cast is on the cards. In talks to play the drug addicted mum is Meryl Streep (no surprise there), and as her eldest daughter – Julia Roberts (not so sure about that choice).
It is to be directed by John Wells who has a TV background – he was show runner on the last few seasons of “West Wing”. Hardly an inspired choice for such an acclaimed play. Surely he is a 2nd or even 3rd choice? Was Mike Nichols approached?
I saw the play at the National Theatre in London with the original Broadway cast and the Sydney Theatre Company brought them all out to Sydney this year to perform.
I was a little underwhelmed by the play itself, while not bad, it just seemed like an imitation of any play by Eugene O’Neill. The performances though were a different matter, they were excellent, there are some meaty roles thats for sure. I’ll look forward to the film, just to see Streep act her chops off, it is a tour-de-force part of the highest order. If there ever was a film role that would finally get Streep her long deserved third Oscar, it is Violet Weston.
It is the second time in recent years that Streep has nabbed the lead role in a Tony winning play’s film adaptation.(Deanna Dunnagan won the Tony playing Violet on Broadway). In the film adaptation of “Doubt” she played the part originated by Cherry Jones who also won the Tony. Not surprising to go for Meryl as she has been box office gold of late.
I must also note that another Tony winning hit play that underwhelmed me is being adapted into a movie. “Gods Of Carnage” is to be directed by Roman Polanski with a starry cast comprising of Jodie Foster, Christophe Waltz, Kate Winslet & Matt Dillon. Great cast, usually great director. Something else to look forward to.