2nd Theatre-Trip to London in 2015: The Ruling Class

This is already my second theatre trip to London this year. I have already been to London in February and I have seen City of Angels (twice) and Closer at the Donmar Warehouse, The Ruling Class at the Trafalger Studios, Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera House, Hello/Goodbye and The Wasp at the Hampstead Theatre, The Fever -an Almeida Theatre production played at a Suite of the Mayfair Hotel, My Night with Reg at the Apollo Theatre, The Merchant of Venice at the Almeida Theatre, Memphis at the Shaftsbury Theatre, Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory, The Changeling and Farinelli and the King at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, How to Hold Your Breath at the Royal Court Theatre, and Bull at the Young Vic Theatre. I also travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon for one night to watch Oppenheimer twice – the Understudy  and the usual run – at the Swan Theatre.

My trip in April is much shorter: The Ruling Class at Trafalgar Studios for a 2nd visit, Carmen Disruption at the Almeida Theatre, Sweeney Todd at the English National Opera, The Olivier Awards red carped and piazza. And two day seatings I am not totally sure of what it will be.

Why this trip in the first place: I want to see Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd and James McAvoy for a second time in The Ruling Class.

The Ruling Class- why did I book it: to see James McAvoy – obviously! And it’s part of the Jamie Lloyd Season at Trafalgar Studios – I especially like his work with quirky plays and musicals. So this is a must!

What’s it about:

The Upper Class being mad and getting away with it. Sometimes Monty-Python-Esque, very weird and full of black humour. A lot of short Musical numbers.

1st and 2nd watching:

1st time was full of surprises, couldn’t remember some of the details, where I remembered it was also still funny the second time. James McAvoy has now completely settled into his part – he fell a lot into his Scottish accent when I first watched it – perfect now. You could see it flow. Everyone feeling comfortable on stage. The musical numbers were perfect, and so was the very physical scenes, there were some little mistakes the first time.

JMA reacting spontaneously to the responding audience. 1st time something like: “You’re a great crowd, bless you.” This time a mobile phone went off – him asking: “Is this a mobile phone?! No, we must not take photos of God!”

There was more on both evenings, but my memory leaves me.

My highlights:

  • James McAvoy in underpants on the monocycle
  • James McAvoy dancing and singing
  • Forbes Masson with all his wigs – hilariously funny, especially together in the scenes with James McAvoy

The critic in me says:

A slightly dated play, which doesn’t feel dated in this quirky, creative production. James McAvoy is a fantastic lead who deserved more than just the Olivier Award nomination. The rest of the cast is also excellent. The play is very funny and has a very dark side, the political content partly still works for these days.

..and the fangirl:

James McAvoy – he looks really fit in this – he is taking of his shirt for a while and he is in underpants on the monocyle: you see a lot!

The other castmembers:

As already mentioned, Forbes Masson in all his several roles as men or women, Anthony O’Donnell as butler, he got the most laughs and applause together with JMA, Ron Cook as the uncle – he is always great, Joshua McGuire as the cousin, can’t help it, it’s always a pleasure to see “tiny Mozart” on stage.

The audience:

Mainly a lot of James McAvoy fans, most of them first time theatre goers. But the bad behaviour was fortunately limited. A lot of leaners when it was not necessary and turned on mobiles, some were trying to take photos, comments concerning JMA during the performance – thankfully made calmly.

Stage-door experience:

Not this time, I had my luggage with me and had to rush to my pad after.

Why would I like to see it again:

James McAvoy is a brilliant actor who can make you laugh and cry, all in a second. And he can just send a shiver down your spine. There is never too much watching him.  The direction by Jamie Lloyd and the cast are absolutely excellent and the play is entertaining enough for another go. Shame the run finished last Saturday.


About KirstenSE

German art afficionada, anglophile. I love theatre, opera, films, music and TV.
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1 Response to 2nd Theatre-Trip to London in 2015: The Ruling Class

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the play and James’ performance. It’s nice to hear about some more – and different – reactions to the audience – that was something I also liked about the two performances I saw. I remember that in the matinee there were also lots more “typical fangirls” who on occasion tried to take a photo with their smart phones. But the crowd in the evening was quite varied, including quite a number of older people. I did sit very much in the front, so I actually didn’t have such a good look at the audience during the play.

    Oh well, now it’s all over… I guess the next couple of times we’ll have to see James on screen (as Victor Frankenstein and then (again) as Prof. Charles Xavier), but I’m pretty confident he’ll be back on stage – he seemed to have so much fun! 🙂


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