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Friday, 24 September 2021

REVIEW: The Last Five Years at the Garrick Theatre

Nothing says ‘relationship’ quite like a five-year emotional rollercoaster, it seems the perfect way to capture and depict the constant highs and lows is to stage it in chronological (Jamie - Oli Higginson) and reverse chronological order (Cathy - Molly Lynch). Here we get to see everything The couple go through, following their successes and failures, waiting on bated breath to see just how ‘The Last Five Years’ have been for them. 

Initially revived as a smaller staged production in its original venue, now comes the challenge of a much bigger theatre and stage Though it must be said the staging wasn’t affected at all. If anything the production itself benefited from a bigger stage, allowing the actors more space to move around and showcase their acting and instrumental abilities throughout. When the pair play the piano around each together it’s intimate and personal, it becomes their story and we’re just spectators. 

Thursday, 23 September 2021

REVIEW: Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

From the talented minds of the two busiest composers in cinematic history, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a staple Disney classic from the seventies. This new stage production still harnesses the brilliance of the film and injects a smouldering cauldron-full of new material, from songs to narrative. 

The story begins at the height of the blitz. Bombs are raining down on London as three children hunker down in their bedroom. The bedroom is a small, warmly lit haven surrounded by a vast void as the show opens. The Luftwaffe (albeit never explicitly named as such) drop another bomb and the bedroom shatters across the stage. The cast storm on, and in a whirlwind of tightly choreographed movement the children are whisked away to the safety of the countryside; And thus begins our adventure filled with magic, anthropomorphism, and a whole lot of heart. 

This stellar, multi-talented cast is led by Dianne Pilkington as Miss Eglantine Price, Charles Brunton as Emelius Browne, and Conor O’Hara as Charlie Rawlins. O’Hara brings a naivety to the 13-year-old character and harnesses the fear and forced adulthood that a child of the time had. A brilliantly embodied performance for his professional debut. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

REVIEW: Blithe Spirit at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Paranormal comedy in the 1940s British drawing room can be a difficult thing to pull off with a modern audience, but Richard Eyre’s production does a marvellous job of bringing Blithe Spirit to life. 

It is a fairly traditional production, but don’t think that that means the laughs are any less genuine. All around me in the stalls the impeccable comic timing of all of the actors was inspiring muffled giggles and outbursts of laughter that the actors had to pause to see out. 

Many of the funnier moments work so well because they are punctuated with movement - characters who catch each other's eyes at the perfect moment, and who covey much of their contained frustration through passive-aggressively finding something to do with their hands. 

REVIEW: Heathers at the Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

For many, your school years are the best years of your life. For others it’s a constant battle with teenage angst and the struggle to achieve popularity, but just how far will you go to be popular?

For Veronica Sawyer (May Tether) only one thing can ease the high school struggle, become friends with the top of the social food chain, the Heathers (Maddison Firth, Lizzy Parker, Merryl Ansah). 

The show itself, though laden with understudies for Ram (Callum Connolly), Martha (Bayley Hart) and Veronica (May Tether) was faultless. A special mention to Rachel Rawlinson and Aimee Hodnett who came up from the West End cast to cover their respective roles in the tour. Not a single actor looked out of place and a huge nod to the unsung heroes within the cast ready to jump in when called upon. 

Sunday, 19 September 2021

REVIEW: Is This a Wasteland? at the Bridgewater at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

An old man with a Buddha statue, the three-man ski team with one ski each, two people with the shades off of old street lights, both compelled to put them on their heads, and me, with my padlock. 

We embark in a single file line to an empty plot in the shadow of East London’s high-rise neighbourhoods, the London Stadium and an M&S. The concrete stage is punctuated with weeds and piles of rubbish if you choose to see them that way, but Charlotte Spencer’s cast will challenge you to see them otherwise. Our headphones tell us the performance has already begun, and so the challenge begins. 

Narrated through headphones and ‘performed’ by the audience, Is This a Wasteland? takes a disused space and asks the audience to make of it what they will. This begins immediately, as you are invited to pick out an object from the ‘object shop’ of abandoned, broken and recycled relics of the tip. I don’t know why I picked up my padlock but I did, and then worried if I’d made the right choice, unsure what I would have to do with it. Many others were in my same predicament, swapping and changing their objects, seeing what they could be used for, sharing an instinct to put them on their heads. Once we had made it to the ‘stage’ the voice in our headphones tells us to abandon them; to just leave them with the other rubbish. That’s when I felt silly for pondering so long over my decision.
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