Thursday, 30 March 2017

REVIEW: Million Dollar Quartet at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Million Dollar Quartet tells the story of the December night in 1956 that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins came together for the first and only time, in the studios of Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. 

Phillips, in the guise of former Blue Peter star, Peter Duncan, is something of a musical Svengali, having shaped the careers of Presley, Cash and Perkins from his two-man company. His next prodigy, the brash, arrogant and uniquely talented Jerry Lee Lewis is in the studio to try to help Perkin's find his next hit record. Phillips gives him two minutes to impress – with his version of Wild Child, Lewis blows everyone away in 30 seconds!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

REVIEW: A Woman Alone at Etcetera Theatre

Maria enters the scene wearing only a succinct and revealing slip dress, the curlers still in her hair and a crimson lipstick to match a smokey eyeshadow. She's wildly dancing and singing on the loud notes of Jefferson Airplane's Do You Want Somebody to Love. Suddenly, she stops, as she notices our presence across the room, or better, the presence of someone new in the opposite building who's looking at her. Behind her, we can see several lines of clothes hung to dry: bedsheets, baby wraps, underwear and some eye-catching cocktail dresses and shimmering garments in clear contrast with the rest. In a corner of the room an ironing board and, across, a large pile of clothes on the floor. 

When she introduces herself to the new neighbour, she directs her speech to us, as if we were the ones looking through the window, and so we learn how fortunate she is, because her husband treats her like porcelain and provides for her every need. She has a fridge, a modern tumble-dryer, radios in each room and even a TV in the bedroom. Shame, though, that he keeps her locked in the house, although this is definitely for her own sake, since the 'misadventure' she had with that boy who fell in love with her . . . Amongst her core duties, she has to take care of her baby and also of her severely injured brother-in-law, who's entirely cast in plaster, except for a wandering hand, with which he groped all his nurses, making them run away. Fortunately, though, he's quite respectful of his brother's wife, and always asks permission before laying his claw on her. 

REVIEW: The Eisteddfod at Etcetera Theatre

In Welsh, the 'eisteddfod' is a festival of literature, music and performance, with a tradition dating back to the 12th century. As a title of Lally Katz's play, this is linked­ to the annual competition that the two characters – Abalone (Heath Ivey-Law) and Gerture (Leila Ruban) – aim to win with their performance of Macbeth. The two siblings – who have been left orphaned after a tree pruning incident – spend their days isolated and absorbed in games of pretend, where they embody their deceased parents or a young couple of lovers. With time, though, Gerture starts losing interest in their shared parallel world and Abalone becomes increasingly jealous of her need for privacy. Their relationship is at best toxic and at worst a disturbing incestuous courtship.

Despite the underlying presence of the highest theatrical tradition – with interwoven references to Chekhov's Three Sisters, Kane's Blasted, Ionesco's The Chairs, Pinter's The Lovers and Shakespeare's tragedies Macbeth and Hamlet - The Eisteddfod appears devoid of meaning and quite hard to frame. During what has been one of the longest hours of my life, I've unsuccessfully tried to find explanations for a number of issues, which affected every value of this production.

REVIEW: Big Guns at The Yard

Terrorism. A word that not many of us like to hear and, yet, we keep hearing far too often – especially lately. Nina Segal's Big Guns is a play about terrorism and about its disruptive effect on the normal course of people's lives. She wrote it with a harsh, insistent and disturbing attention to detail, which made me feel uncomfortable and occasionally nervous. Half-way through the play, there is a spine-chilling scene where the auditorium is completely enveloped in darkness and filled with a daunting soundtrack. The two women on stage (Debra Baker and Jessye Romeo) are agitated and talk into a microphone over each other, 'There is a man and the man has a gun' says one, 'and maybe he's always been here. Maybe he's always been here, watching us'. For a moment, I feel a creeping sense of fear and I have to remind myself that I'm just watching a show in a theatre. When the lights go up, I heave a sigh of relief and I see a couple of audience members leaving the theatre. Perhaps they had to catch a train or, perhaps, they thought this was a bit too much.

The sloped set with a platform in the middle, designed by Rosie Elnile and lit by Katharine Williams, presents some original features. Initially flooded by a red neon glow, is at the same time a nest where the characters can feel protected and a cliff on the edge of the catastrophe, where they struggle to keep the balance.

Friday, 24 March 2017

REVIEW: Dog Ends at the Tabard Theatre

Richard Harris has a prestigious list of writing credits dating back on TV into the sixties with shows like The Avengers, The Saint, Hazel, Shoestring, Darling Buds of May and a Touch of Frost but was best known to me as the writer of the excellent comedy Outside Edge set in a cricket pavilion and the wonderful Stepping Out now enjoying a fresh revival with Amanda Holden at the Vaudeville. It was therefore a surprise to find him sitting at the back of the intimate Tabard Theatre for a world premiere of his latest play Dog End.

The play is an updated version of his 1984 TV script for BBC’s Play for today schedule. Its basic premise of the growing pressures in today's society of social care for an ageing population, at the dog end of their lives ,is of course highly topical and very serious and the play is billed as a dark comedy. In fact it is very much a play of two halves.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

REVIEW: Sister Act at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Craig Revel Horwood is best known as the fab-u-lous judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, but his latest project as Director and Choreographer of the divine musical comedy “Sister Act” should fast become his most notable work as this production is absolutely heavenly.

"This diva's got a secret...and it's nun of your business"

“Sister Act tells the hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a Convent!  Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music.”

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

REVIEW: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the Old Vic

Tom Stoppard’s plays have a reputation for being clever and worthy but under the direction of David Leveaux on the 50th anniversary of its opening this stellar cast shows that when a production gets it right they can be highly entertaining multi layered and create a theatrical tour de force. 

At the simplest level this is a tale of the waiting games that and the excellent Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern and Daniel Radcliffe as simple minded Rosencrantz play around the court of King Of Denmark. Guildenstern gets most of the best lines because as Rosencrantz says at one point "I can't think of anything, I am only here in support ". They banter and play coin toss games in the hope that as they say “someone interesting will come on in a minute”. There is an excellent sequence where they literally play verbal tennis with each other and acknowledge "Words words, they are all we have to go on”. In these sequences which draw from some of the best comedy double acts in their relationship and exchanges, they are very funny and entertaining.

Monday, 20 March 2017

REVIEW: The Full Monty at the Alhambra Bradford

The Alhambra theatre is a 1400 seat 100 year old theatre and in remarkably good condition and is the latest stop for the national tour of The Full Monty, the play based on the feel good movie of1997. It has three more stops before the tour ends in Sunderland, Llandudno and its spiritual home, Sheffield. 

On this occasion the full house was 95% female and I have rarely heard so much noise in the auditorium before and during the show, even for pantomimes. They are clearly fans of the movie and anticipating the show stopping ending with great excitement. 

REVIEW: Threesome at Union Theatre

Despite being normally a traditionalist, I must admit that the Union Theatre has benefitted quite remarkably from last year's relocation across the road. The new reception is less claustrophobic and offers both a bar and a cafe with lovely baked snacks. Also, the sitting area is more spacious, although still tends to be heavily congested towards the beginning of the show. The auditorium feels larger and, with a staircase coming down on stage right, allows for some interesting cast entrances.

Threesome begins with a short video clip where Sam (Chris Willoughby) and Kate (Gemma Rook) are sipping a cocktail by the bar of what seems to be a night club. Soon we learn that they're going through a marriage crisis and – in a desperate attempt to revive their sexual life – have decided to find a girl disposed to join them in a threesome. In the smoking area of the club Sam and Kate hook up with Lucy (April Pearson) who, after an initial reticence, agrees to take them to her flat (which is recreated on stage). 

REViEW: A Judgement in Stone at the Buxton Opera House

On the face of it this tour which runs until July has strong credentials. A Ruth Rendell story (said to be one of her best and to start by announcing the murderer) , a Bill Kenwright production , Roy Marsden directing and an experienced cast including Sophie Ward ,Shirley Anne Field , Anthony Costa and Deborah Grant . Yet somewhere in the adaption from the page to the stage it has lost its way and although they don’t announce the murderer at the start, there is only ever one who done it. 

The whole story is shoe horned into the Coverdale’s family lounge with exits in each corner of the room to the front door and stairs, the kitchen and back door, the room offstage where the murder takes place and the fourth used mainly for the entrance of the police. Having restricted the action, the story then unfolds through a long series of flashback sequences interspersed with police interviews with the only suspects to the mass murder of all four Coverdales. There are recognisable elements that set this in 1978, a cassette player, kiln craft pottery, a grey telephone, tie dye shirt and a quality street tin but this is enough to create a credible or believable story.

REVIEW: Bat Out of Hell at the Manchester Opera House

In the late sixties the first rock musical Hair defined a genre in an innovative and compelling form that has seldom been surpassed. Perhaps only the staging of the Who’s rock opera Tommy has really combined successfully rock music with a strong story line and its influence is hinted at in the criss-cross pattern around the proscenium arch which echoes the Tommy album cover. 

But here in Bat out of hell we have a potentially game changing rock musical that combines strong rock anthems, innovative staging and a large talented cast to produce a genuine modern rock musical for today. Jim Steinman has created a wonderful dynamic show around the music made famous by Meatloaf. There are strong allusions to Peter Pan in the story created to link his songs. We have Peter, here called Strat, leading the lost with his special confidant , Tink and falling in love with Raven (Wendy ) while being pursed and at war with Falco (Hook) .But at its heart are the love stories between Strat and Raven and between Falco and Sloane (his wife and Raven’s mother).

REVIEW: The Bad Seed at the Jack Studio Theatre

Why does one revive a play? I’ve attended quite a few revivals in the past months, with Hedda Gabler or Buried Child. The former is revived every year, it seems, with a new female actress taking on the classic role each time. When it comes to the former, or The Bad Seed currently running at the Brockley Jack Theatre, a few more years go by before we see them again. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that they are more recent American Pulitzer Prize winning plays, or because they are so distinctively from a certain decade in the last century.

In any case, to me, what makes a revival stand out is when a director turns its words into something contemporary, or at least steers clear from a naturalistic stage setting.

Friday, 17 March 2017

FOOTLOOSE announces cast for West End run and new UK tour

Full casting is announced today for Footloose: The Musical, which returns next month following a smash-hit 2016 tour. Opening at New Wimbledon Theatre on Friday 21 April, the tour will include a strictly limited West End season at The Peacock, playing for three weeks from Tuesday 12 September 2017.  Full tour schedule attached. 

Joshua Dowen will play Ren McCormack, the role immortalised on screen by Kevin Bacon. Joshua’s stage credits include Dogfight at Southwark Playhouse, Cool Rider at the Duchess Theatre and All or Nothing at the Vaults Festival. 


Thursday, 16 March 2017

REVIEW: La Cage Aux Folles at the New Wimbledon Theatre

The production value of the show is fantastic, the set is stunning and transforms the theatre into a glamorous palace which makes La Cage Aux Folles the place we all want to be. Gary McCann has done a brilliant job on this show, every design aspect of this musical was one point! 

The acting, through out the majority of the piece, was reminiscent of an amateur production. I did not understand most of the things being said and the choices were just not believable. 

John Partridge leads the show as Albin and he has moments of brilliance but also moments of failure. The 11 O’clock number, I am What I am, was beautiful. In every way. But the pantomime audience interactions were just cringe worthy and devalued the production. 

REVIEW: Shirley Valentine at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

“Shirley is a Liverpool housewife. Her kids have left home and she makes chips and egg for her husband while talking to the wall. Where has her life disappeared to? Out of the blue, her best friend offers her a trip to Greece for 2 weeks and she secretly packs her bags. She heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself very differently.”

“Willy Russell’s heart-warming comedy premiered in 1986 and took the world by storm. It was adapted into an Oscar nominated film. Now, on its 30th anniversary, Jodie Prenger stars in the first major revival of this national treasure.”

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Full casting announced for ON THE TOWN at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre announce casting for the opening production of their 2017 season, On The Town (19 May – 01 July).

Danny MacFred Haig and Jeremy Taylor take the roles of the three sailors, Gabey, Chip and Ozzie, originally played in the film version by Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin. Siena KellyLizzy Connolly and Miriam-Teak Lee take the roles of Ivy, Hildy and Claire, originally played in the film version by Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller.
Also joining the cast are Maggie Steed as Madame Dilly, Naoko Mori as Lucy Schmeeler, Rodney Earl Clarke as The Workman and Mark Heenehan as Judge Pitkin.

Monday, 13 March 2017

FIRST LOOK: Bat Out of Hell the musical at Manchester Opera House & the London Coliseum

The world premiere of the long-awaited Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical will take place in London’s West End at the London Coliseum, opening on Tuesday 20 June 2017, following previews from 5 June, for a limited season until 22 July 2017.  The show began previews at Manchester Opera House on 17 February, running until 8 April 2017.

As with many great works of art, the genesis of the Bat Out Of Hell album occurred across a number of years.  One of the songs was written while Steinman was an undergraduate at Amherst College in the late 1960s.  In the 1970s, Steinman wrote a theatrical musical that was presented in workshop in Washington D.C. in 1974 and featured many of the songs that would ultimately appear on the Bat Out Of Hell album, which was released in 1977.
Bat Out Of Hell became one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 50 million copies worldwide.  16 years later, Steinman scored again with Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which contained the massive hit I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).

REVIEW: The Miser at the Garrick Theatre

The Miser is a glorious laugh out loud mash up and celebration of the very best comedy forms. It takes Blackadder, stand-up, pantomime, farce and Morecambe and Wise and weaves it into a plot freely adapted from a play by French playwright Moliere, first performed in 1668. It retains a strong nod to its roots in Italian commedia dell'arte where there was a tradition of depicting misers as the Pantaleone figure and a host of other stock comedy characters.

Although in period costume, the script by Sean Foley and Phil Porter is fresh and topical and seeks to create of a production in the style of the period but as relevant in its jokes to today's audience as the original jokes would have been to 17th century audience. It is littered with modern references including Sports Direct zero hours contracts, austerity and 30% cuts hitting front line services and water boarding. Sean Foley's directing mark is all over this production.

REVIEW: Pandora at Pleasance Theatre

In conjunction with International Women's Day, the Pleasance Theatre and Etch presented Pandora, a unique blend of acting and live music, performed by Grace Chilton and Paksie Vernon. In this hour-long single act, ancient legend is overlaid with domestic drama, whilst we follow the parallel stories of two women, which, unexpectedly, head in the same direction.

In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first human woman created by the gods, her name meaning 'the all-gifted' or 'the one who gives all the gifts'. According to the myth, the king of the gods Zeus, sent her to Earth with a jar (which in English literature became a box), containing the evil of the world. Moved by curiosity, Pandora opened the jar, releasing all the plagues and diseases that afflict humankind, but managed to replace the lid before the last of them escaped, which was hope. From the tale of Pandora originates the popular belief that, despite often being a torment, hope is always the last to die.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

REVIEW: The Diary of a Hounslow Girl at Bernie Grant Arts Centre

It requires a lot of stamina for an actor to single-handedly carry out a fast-paced 90-minute performance with only three short pauses of a minute, but Nyla Levy nails it. Despite a few slips of the tongue, the young actress honours the role of sixteen-year-old Shaheeda in The Diary of A Hounslow Girl, which she inherited directly from its writer and original performer Ambreen Razia.

First presented in 2016 at London's Ovalhouse, Razia's debut play is the emotional and amusing coming of age of a British-Pakistani girl, who struggles to find a balance between her mother's pressure to become a good Muslim woman and the curiosity to be like any other teenager, go to parties, try some drugs and hang out wth boys.

Friday, 10 March 2017

REVIEW: Frankenstein at Wilton's Music Hall

My way of closing International Women’s Day this week was attending a show inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic gothic tale, written by Tristan Bernays and directed by Eleanor Rhode: Frankenstein. The show lasts a little over an hour and is explosive in its compactness and detail.

Personal anecdote: my family’s nickname for my brother Frank is Frankenstein. I think that when a lot of people picture Frankenstein, they think of the Creature when in fact, it is the Creator who is named that way! As you must have noticed, the words Creator and Creature are very close – something that was used in Rhode’s production. 

This was my first time at Wilton Music Hall, tucked into a small pedestrian street in the old Whitechapel area. The venue is no too big, and lends itself very well to this kind of intimate dark story while still welcoming quite a few audience members. 

INTERVIEW: Lucy O'Byrne, currently starring as Fantine in Les Miserables

What have you learnt from being a contestant on The Voice that has helped you in the world of musical theatre?
The most practical thing I learned was coping with crazy long hours! I learned to be centred, to worry less about competition and bring my focus inward so that I would do the best job possible. Finally, and most importantly; be nice. It didn't matter what time of the day or night it was, how long we'd been waiting to shoot, how long it'd been since the last tea break, the team always had a smile and something positive to say to everyone. This made it one of the happiest experiences of my life and I try, daily, to emanate this in the theatre too... especially double show days!

Going from working with Will.I.Am to starring as Maria in the Sound of Music must have been a slight contrast, how on earth did you keep grounded throughout that?
To be honest, touring keeps you pretty grounded. The Sound of Music was a dream come true but it was hard work and travelling around the country as well as doing that 8 times a week. You've got to have your head together for that.

REVIEW: Faustx2 at the Watermill Newbury

Many will be familiar with Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, the tale of man’s downfall in search of the pleasure of the seven deadly sins but this production is based on another work of the same story. Goethe’s poem of Faust was written in two parts in 1808 and the second published in 1832 and when staged in 2000, all 12,111 lines, it was a 21 hour marathon with a cast of 35. 

This new version was adapted by Ian McDiarmid into a modern setting and runs for 70 minutes with just 3 actors and in focusing tightly on the story of Faust's desire for Gretchen and his deal with Mephisto creates a visually exciting and dramatic exploration of the impact on their lives of the temptations placed before them .

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

REVIEW: RENT at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Fresh from its sold out run at the St James Theatre, London, RENT by Jonathan Larson celebrates its 20th groundbreaking year with this UK tour. The cast who brought this show to life in London have all joined this fabulous tour to spread the life-affirming message of Larson’s greatest work.

“This exhilarating, landmark musical tells the thrilling story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian excess.Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera La bohème, RENT features unforgettable music and including the much-loved songs Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me and La Vie Bohème. Winner of four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the hugely prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it ran on Broadway for an astonishing 12 years.”

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

REVIEW: The Diary of a Teenage Girl at the Southwark Playhouse

Originally a graphic novel, The Diary of a Teenage Girl comes to the Southwark Playhouse after the recent 2015 release of the feature film starring Kristen Wiig and Bel Powley. However this was originally a play before it made it to the big screen, and it works! 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl tells the story of Minnie, a teenager in San Fransico in the 1970s, and her sexual awakening as a 15 year old. This Straight through, 90 minute production achieves intimacy and slickness. In a small space this play is a perfect fit, with a small cast of ensemble actors who, even though the piece consists mainly of monologues from Minnie, they all made an impact and finished with a memorable performance.

REVIEW: In Other Words at The Hope Theatre

When I enter the auditorium of The Hope Theatre, Arthur (Matthew Seager) and Jane (Celeste Dodwell) are sat on two armchairs in front of the public. They seem playful and happy to be together. Occasionally, they exchange a few words and I can't stop thinking of how cute they are. In Other Words is the story of their 50-year long relationship, from their first bumpy encounter in a bar to their last glimpse of sanity. Arthur is affected by Alzheimer disease and he struggles to recognise his wife, except for when a special song is playing loud – the same Frank Sinatra song that brought them together so many years before. 

Actor and playwright Matthew Seager conceived his debut play In Other Words after a 10-week workshop of sensory stimulation in a dementia care home. During this experience, he was stunned to observe how the patients responded positively when exposed to familiar tunes. Following a period of further development at The Arches in Glasgow and at The Lyric Hammersmith – and benefitting from the collaboration with the Alzheimer's Society and Playlist For Life – Seager has successfully produced an accomplished piece, which depicts a realistic plot with intense and vivid colours. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

LAURENCE OLIVIER AWARDS announce 2017 nominees

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Ian Bartholomew for Half A Sixpence at Noël Coward Theatre

Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre

Ben Hunter for The Girls at Phoenix Theatre

Andrew Langtree for Groundhog Day at The Old Vic

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Haydn Gwynne for The Threepenny Opera at National Theatre - Olivier

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for Murder Ballad at Arts Theatre

Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat at New London Theatre

Emma Williams for Half A Sixpence at Noël Coward Theatre


Casting announced for WHISPER HOUSE at the Other Palace

Tony and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Duncan Sheik follows up  the successful UK run of his musical thriller American Psycho with Whisper House a haunting new musical that combines a thrillingly original rock score with a touching and beautiful tale about learning to embrace the unknown. Starring Simon BaileyNicholas GohSimon Lipkin, Niamh PerryDianne Pilkington and a seven piece on-stage band Whisper House opens on 18 April with previews from the 6 April.

It’s 1942, the height of World War II, and Christopher, an imaginative young boy, is sent to live with an aunt he’s never met: Lily, a reclusive woman who serves as the keeper of a remote lighthouse on the East Coast of America, aided by her mysterious Japanese housekeeper, Yashujiro.


REVIEW: Handbagged at Jack Studio Theatre

It is thought that, during her eleven years of service as the UK's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher never had a cheerful relationship with the Queen. This is also confirmed by biographer John Campbell, who described their relations as 'punctiliously correct' but with 'little love lost on either side'. No official statement was ever made in those regards, but a serious constitutional crisis was feared in 1986, when Her Majesty's press secretary leaked anonymous rumours of a rift between the two women, which were promptly denied by the Palace.

For eleven years, Thatcher and Elizabeth II met every week – as per protocol – to discuss government business. What was said during those meetings is absolutely confidential and no written record was ever kept of it. With this in mind, playwright Moira Buffini imagined the two women's possible conversations during some of the most crucial circumstances of the Prime Minister's mandate. The outcome is a brilliant – and fairly enlightening – fictional account of those private encounters, which are set in a drawing room at Buckingham Palace. 

REVIEW: The Lock in at the Vaults Festival

London really is a place where you can travel anywhere in the world without actually leaving the city. I was reminded of that this week at the Vault Festival during the Celtic season, with the musical play The Lock In, written by Joseph Cullen. It attracted a large crowd eager to sing and banter along to its Irish story.

Part of the Over the Limit trilogy, this show taking place in The Pit took us back to the Irish tale of Niall of the Nine Hostages (or were they eight?!), the legendary High King of Ulster who, because he was such a womaniser, could possibly have three million descendants today!

One of the great things about this show for me was the music. The cast was talented and versatile, and switched between the storytelling and their instruments. Emmy Stonelake played the accordion and the flute, Eddy Massarella and Rory Quinn played the guitar, as well as Ian Horgan, and Andy Burse was at the Cajon. The whole cast also sang beautifully.

Friday, 3 March 2017

REVIEW: Cailleach Og Pleasance Theatre, Islington Industry Showcase

Blackshaw Theatre champions new writing and adaptations and its 2016 annual showcase awards winner was Cailleach Og written by Gerry Moynihan from Northern Ireland .This week it showcased a 75 minute version of the story at The Pleasance theatre Stage Space (its small black box space venue which seats 50) and showed it is a tale of real potential. 

Like the highly successful dark comedies “The Cripple of Inishmaan” and “Stones in their pockets”, Cailleach Og explores the impact on a rural Irish community of the arrival of an outsider into the village; In this case rather than the film crews it is a mysterious woman who proclaims she arrived on the back of a pig.

INTERVIEW: Hollie O’Donoghue, currently starring as Eponine in Les Miserables

I must start by saying that the stage show of Les Mis has now been seen by over 70 million people around the world. That’s more than the populations of Canada, Australia and Portugal added together! For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, can you try and summarise it in no more than three sentences?
 Les Miserables tells the story of an ex-convict hero Jean Valjean who serves 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. His whole life is a quest for redemption while trying to escape from the the police inspector Javert who relentlessly pursues him. Throughout the story we meet characters such as Fantine, we see the love triangle between Marius, Cosette and Eponine, daughter of the cruel Thernadiers. We see poverty, social injustice, endurance, hope over struggle, revolution, moral lessons, love and compassion. The show is sung throughout and is arguably the best score of all time. It’s a timeless piece that touches modern day audiences even after 31 years running.

We saw you a while ago when you were covering the role of Eponine and thought you were magnificent. How has your interpretation of the role changed since taking it on full time?
My interpretation of her has stayed somewhat the same but it has developed a lot more. Because I’m playing her every night, I have been able to discover more in depth to her as a character, and put my own mark on her as an actor.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

REVIEW: Roundelay at Southwark Playhouse

In a society where we are continuously exposed to sexual references, and all taboos seem to have been already broken, there is still a certain resistance towards sex involving older bodies. In an attempt to overcome this inhibition, playwright Sonja Linden has written Roundelay, a circus-themed collection of vignettes inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's 19th century play La Ronde. 

Initially banned for its explicit contents, La Ronde was meant to question the morals and ideology of the contemporary Austrian society and show how sexual attraction disregards the differences between classes. With this purpose in mind, Sonja Linden has created a vivid metaphor of the circus of life, where the boundaries that get surpassed no longer relate to the characters' social position but, instead, to their age. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

REVIEW: Speech and Debate at Trafalgar Studios 2

Trafalgar studio 2 is a perfect venue for showcasing young talent and this play provides a fresh platform to put these performers through their paces.

The play by Stephen Karam, who won a Tony award for “The humans”, is structured around the entry categories for the U.S. Middle School debating competition. Each category defines a scene in which the story of three oddball school children unfolds and their relationship develops. 

The early scenes find them each talking directly to the audience showing their individual isolation and ambition but as their relationships and back stories unfold the scenes become more engaging, culminating in their hilarious Group Interpretation dance where their shared ambitions drive them to perform.
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