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Previewed 25 August 2007, Opened 4 September 2007, Closed 24 November 2007 at the Old Vic Theatre in London
The World Premiere of Samuel Adamson's play, based on the film by Pedro Almodovar, All About My Mother in London starring Lesley Manville, Mark Gatiss and Diana Rigg and directed by Tom Cairns.
Following the tragic death of her beloved son, Manuela goes to Barcelona in search of the father he never knew. But before she can exorcise her guilt, she gets caught up in the lives of three women: Agrado, a long-lost transvestite friend, Rosa, a young nun in search of love, and Huma Rojo, the famous actress her son so admired. Just as Manuela's life begins to have meaning again, her son's father returns and her journey of discovery and forgiveness comes full circle... A passionate hymn to the strength and spirit of women; a kaleidoscopic drama embracing motherhood, love and desire; a homage to the great Hollywood movies.
The cast for All About My Mother in London features Lesley Manville as 'Manuela', Mark Gatiss as 'Agrado' and Diana Rigg as 'Huma Rojo' with Joanne Froggatt as 'Sister Rosa', Eleanor Bron as 'Madre de Rosa', Colin Morgan as 'Esteban', Charlotte Randle as 'Nina Cruz', Bradley Freegard, Robert Galas, Lucy-Anne Holmes, Colin Morgan, Eileen Nicholas, Yvonne O'Grady and Michael Shaeffer. It is directed by Tom Cairns with set designs by Hildegard Bechtler, costume designs by Moritz Junge, music by Alberto Iglesias, stage score by Ben and Max Ringham, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Christopher Shutt. The screen version won international acclaim and an Oscar for Pedro Almodovar. In a career spanning 30 years, his other films have included Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her and Volver. After nearly 20 years, Pedro Almodovar has permitted the production of a major play based on one of his films, and for the first time the rights have been granted for an English language presentation.
"Let me say at the outset that this is a play intended for a somewhat specialist audience: those people in London who have seen Pedro Almodovar's classic 1999 foreign language film of the same name. I admit that I haven't, and I admit, too, that as a consequence I found much of Samuel Adamson's take on the film utterly impenetrable. The highly stylised approach that the director Tom Cairns, with his designer Hildegard Bechtler, take to telling the story scarcely helps matters. It says much for Lesley Manville that she still manages to make an impression as Manuela, a grieving mother who travels from Argentina to Barcelona to track down the father of her son Esteban who has been killed in a road accident." The Sunday Telegraph
"More often than not, the transposition of a film to the stage underlines the essential strengths and weaknesses of both genres. Theatre is lousy at what films do best: flipping from one location to another, zooming in on a wordless facial expression. A film clunks embarrassingly when the dialogue dares to be anything but naturalistic. Pedro Almodovar's camp and quirky tragicomedy All About My Mother is a film about mother-love and loss, about the breaking and mending of hearts, about acting out roles, about truth and lies. It is drenched in blood, tears and, more surprisingly, theatre, featuring great chunks of plays, in particular Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire and Lorca's Blood Wedding. Strikingly, in Samuel Adamson's stage adaptation these are the rare moments oftrue drama, when the acting suddenly takes flight. Quite simply, the rest ofthe writing doesn't rise to the necessary dramatic challenge... With everyone sounding so English, it is difficult to believe we are supposed to be in free-wheeling, gender-bending Barcelona, where transvestite whores and pregnant nuns are de rigueur." The Mail on Sunday
"You can admire and enjoy the characters, yet remain, for the most part, unmoved by them. Thank goodness, then, for Lesley Manville, who, being at the centre of the play as a kind of mother bountiful manages to inject realism, a recognisable ordinariness and true warmth into a milieu where there would otherwise be little... Her performance has a quiet naturalism that one would more expect in a television play, yet hers is the face you seek out, even when she is surrounded by the more obviously scene-stealing turns. Chief among those are Diana Rigg's demanding yet world-weary Huma... And, as Manuela's big-hearted transvestite hooker friend, Agrado, Mark Gatiss misses a lot of comic opportunities, mostly because of a weird accent that can make him incomprehensible." The Sunday Times
All About My Mother in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 25 August 2007, opened on 4 September 2007 and closed on 24 November 2007.