Big This Week

Recent Posts

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

REVIEW: GHBoy at the Charing Cross Theatre (Online)

GHBoy was originally due to play over the Christmas period at the Charing Cross Theatre in London, but sadly due to another wonderful lockdown (I say that with the greatest sarcasm), it had to close on the 16th of December, cutting this wonderful production short. Filming this on 15th the team for GHBoy did a wonderful job getting it all filmed and released this on 1st March to be streamed. So first off a fantastic job getting this together and finding a way to keep this story being told!

Paul Harvard delicately delves into dark topics by writing GHBoy as a response to a chilling true story of the Grindr Killer, who killed four men and raped many more people whilst they were under the influence. It’s not the easiest of topics to address, but without going too dark this production addresses the aftermath that one of this Killer’s rape victims experiences, battling self-sabotage, addiction and hoping he’ll break the cycle of infidelity. 

Sunday, 21 February 2021

REVIEW: And Breathe… for the Living Record Festival Online

It’s wonderful that so many diverse and exciting new pieces of writing have been created for the Living Record Festival, giving theatre and art the chance to be accessed in such a sparse time for the industry. The creativity that has gone into this is wonderful and should be lauded. Mark Conway and Alex Packer’s ‘And Breathe…’ certainly fits in and stands out, being mainly a radio play with added visual guides and movement pieces.

The tag line says a lot about what the theme is – ‘1 trillion plastic bags used every year. 2 million every minute. The average use… just 12 minutes. He’s drowning under the weight of all this. But who will sink first? Him or the rest of us?’ And in this day and age this truly is a relevant theme for us all! There is the increasing worry about our plastic consumption. But without that tag line I would have struggled to piece it all together.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

REVIEW: The Dog Walker at the Jermyn Street Theatre

Located very centrally – a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus and tucked away is the Jermyn Street Theatre. Going down you’re transported into a very intimate, slightly claustrophobic space which is the home to some exciting new off west-end plays, with The Dog Walker not being an exception. 

The play revolves around Herbert, a professional dog walker, meeting Keri and trying to walk her Pekingese dog. If he can find it. With many twists and turns they bring out a different side in each other.

For me, the play feels long at 90 minutes, although I believe it was closer to 100 minutes tonight. Paul Minx’s dialogue is sharp and witty with many cracking lines (my personal favourite being ‘with what did Jesus pay for my sins? Praypal?’), although a lot of the play feels very much on one level. Whilst covering several subjects such as coping with grief, alcoholism and loneliness (to name a few), it often was covered by the almost consistent conflict between the two characters. The only exception was the very end, where the supernatural ending felt like a completely different play to what I’d just been seeing.

Friday, 7 February 2020

REVIEW: The Jury at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

The Jury is a new musical landing in London having had a successful run at the Brindley Theatre in Runcorn, sharing a story of twelve strangers trying to unanimously decide the verdict for a murder case. Combining different social backgrounds and discussing domestic violence, gender politics, still-births and more, will they come to a conclusion?

Ultimately, this musical for me feels very underwhelming. I hate to say it, but it just was very slow or repetitive. Amy Fletcher’s book and lyrics took time to really start flowing, and a lot of the time there was eggy dialogue. Certain characters felt massively underwritten, especially Harry (played by Kaidyn Hinds) – after his song his character felt minimal. I also would have loved to have more of Louise’s story (played by Charlie Culkin), and more of Tom’s story (played by Ashley Ball). A lot of the characters felt like caricatures rather than rounded characters, and it wasn’t easy to follow them, especially when there wasn’t much of an arc to be had. For me, Ashely M A Walsh’s music was the best bit – especially the tight harmonies and acapella moments in ‘The Verdict’. However, a couple of the songs felt out of place and repeated too long, for me most notably ‘It Doesn’t Matter’, leaving Walsh’s Sondheim like sound for a pop song that made its point early on.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

REVIEW: Four Play at the Above the Stag Theatre

Above the Stag is always a warm and friendly LGBTQIA+ theatre based in Vauxhall, that has newly renovated their studio theatre over Christmas. The revival of Jake Brunger’s ‘Four Play’ marks the first show in this newly improved space, and what a fantastic show to start off with. 

The story revolves around Rafe and Pete, a monogamous couple who’ve been together for 7 (and a half) years, who want to explore sleeping with someone else. Asking their acquaintance Michael (who’s in an open relationship with Andrew) to help them out by sleeping with them both, what could possibly go wrong?

In this day and age, it’s refreshing to watch an LGBTQIA+ show that is not reliant upon nudity to sell it, and the portrayal of all body shapes on stage. It is rare to see such diversity of all kinds on the stage and I am so glad that Above the Stag are putting shows like this on stage. With shows like the Inheritance, Tumulus and now Four Play, they are putting on the map that LGBTQIA+ writing is quality and relevant for everyone! For this I can only commend Above the Stag.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

REVIEW: Coming Clean at the Trafalgar Studios

Coming Clean is a production you know is going to be good. Having won the Samuel Beckett award back when it was first performed in 1982 as a ground-breaking play and Kevin Elyot’s first of many successes, it had a successful revival back in 2017 at the King’s Head Theatre, followed by a successful month 3 week run in January 2019. Therefore, with this 2020 production being the same in the same venue as last time (except for Jonah Rzeskiewicz is playing Robert), you know it’s tried, tested and works well.

The Trafalgar Studios theatre is quite a cushy studio, especially when packed full of people to see Coming Clean. This is quite an intimate and refreshing story about a gay couple (Tony and Greg) who live together in Kentish Town, 1982, whose relationship is far from monogamous. However, when Tony employs a handsome cleaner, Robert, to clean their flat, Tony and Greg’s differing values on love and relationships are challenged.

Friday, 30 August 2019

REVIEW: World’s End at the King’s Head Theatre

November 1998. Nearly twenty-one years ago. Often what I like to think of as the ‘good old days’ playing the Nintendo, and this beautiful show ‘World’s End’ serves as a trip down memory lane set in Chelsea’s ‘World’s End’ estate. James Corley really hits the ground running with his debut play which focuses on gaming nostalgia, sexuality, single parent single child relationships and also brushing up on the Kosovo war too.

The play sees forty-nine-year-old Viv (Patricia Potter) and her nineteen-year-old son Ben (Tom Milligan) move in to a one bedroomed flat on the World’s End estate in Chelsea, and are helped out by neighbours Ylli (Nikolaos Brahimllari) and his son Besnik (Mirlind Bega). Ben and Besnik’s friendship grows stronger with each game of ‘The Legend of Zelda – the Ocarina of Time’, whilst the two families deal with single parenthood and what exactly is freedom.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

REVIEW: Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse

Dogfight an early musical from the powerhouse duo Pasek and Paul, written just before Dear Evan Hansen. Having previously played at the Southwark Playhouse for the Off West-End debut in 2014, five years later it returns to be performed by the British Theatre Academy. With a five piece band accompanying this intimate, no-interval performance, this show certainly takes you on a journey.

The show is set in 1963 on the eve of three young Marines being deployed to Vietnam. However, when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose and enlists her to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she opens his eyes to the power of love and compassion and rewrites the game for him.

Dogfight in itself has a lot going for it as a musical – the score is absolutely gorgeous, and a great story - but for me writing wise there are flaws. Ultimately it feels as a show about twenty minutes too short (there are characters I’d have loved to have got to know more about before the abrupt end), although obviously this is not anything that can be added, but I also think it could have done with an interval – there wasn’t enough constant tension in the script to make me feel like a no-interval decision added anything.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

REVIEW: Motown The Musical at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

The Motown Record label was one of the most influential record labels ever created, with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and many many more being managed by it in its time. It was only natural that a musical to celebrate this fantastic era of music would be created. ‘Motown the Musical’ is based upon Berry Gordy’s 1994 autobiographyTo Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, and gives a historical insight into what truly happened with the Motown era. Having enjoyed three years in the West End, the UK tour is in full swing.

Motown the Musical features all the hit songs from the era. Sixty six to be precise. All these songs are cut together to tell Berry Gordy’s story of creating the Motown label, giving a full history from humble beginnings to the end of the era. It features his involvement with Diana Ross and the Supremes, his friendship and working relationship with Smokey Robinson and many of the bands that made Motown iconic.

Friday, 9 August 2019

REVIEW: Hunchback of Notre Dame at St Paul’s Church Gardens

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is an epic book written in 1831 by Victor Hugo. It has since seen many film, television and musical adaptations including the 1996 Disney version, and now rears its head in St Paul’s Church Gardens as an immersive promenade piece of theatre adapted by Benjamin Polya. Being a timeless story adored by older and younger generations, it is deceptively dark with many themes that ring true in this day and age. In particular themes of sexism, racial discrimination and morality are touched upon, and makes this show very important to watch.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame starts as a band called ‘the Left Bank Players’ in 1831, telling Victor Hugo’s story set in Paris, 1482. In the shadows of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a priest and a hunchback both fall for the mysterious and beautiful Esmerelda, who desires to find her long lost mother. When they start to take matters into their own hands, they set off a chain of events that shakes up Paris. With the backdrop of revolution and injustices, who will come out alive?

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

REVIEW: Brawn at the King's Head Theatre

Male body dysmorphia is an important issue that needs to be addressed in this day and age, with social media playing a huge factor in a rise of male body dysmorphia cases, and the ever increasing pressure to look good. Christopher Wollaton’s play is therefore very fitting and appropriate, although I don’t think it has quite the impact the theme deserves.

Brawn follows Ryan, who used to be the lanky school kid, who is desperate and obsessive about getting the perfect body. He has gone from the smart kid to spending all his time in the gym. He is 80% there, with 20% to go.

Friday, 19 April 2019

REVIEW: Tumulus at the Soho Theatre

Every now and again, there is a piece of theatre that comes about, rekindles that fire inside you as to why you love theatre, giving you tension, humour, raw unforced emotion, and giving you a full workout of all the senses. Christopher Adams’s ‘Tumulus’ is one of those exquisite rare breeds of a play, being one of the strongest three handers I’ve ever seen, with two of the three playing nearly 40 characters between them.

Tumulus is essentially the modern day murder mystery based on a true story, following Anthony as he tries to uncover the truth when a one night stand winds up dead on Hampstead Heath, presumed casualty of the London chem sex scene, whilst battling his own addictions. 

All I can really say is hats off to Christopher Adams - the writing is truly exceptional. The whole piece flows fantastically and whilst it is tackling a dark subject matter, it is still very funny with it. My most notable line was from Jack, stating ‘The sex was like being hit by a bus, a really happy bus’.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

REVIEW: Half Me, Half You at the Tristan Bates Theatre

With our current political climate garnering unease and some backwards steps in regards to racism and homophobia, it seems that ‘Half Me, Half You’ – a play with the tagline What if you were black, gay and a woman in America right now– is ideal for now. The play takes place in two different time zones – with a confrontation between married couple Jess and Meredith in 2017, and a confrontation in 2033 between Meredith and mixed race teenager Maya.

Whilst the idea of the play is bang on the money for our time, the execution however was less so. For me Liane Grant’s writing dragged, often repeating the same argument over and over again each act, leaving a scene repetitive and all on one note. Her exciting and fresh ideas towards a second American Civil War felt underwritten, whereas whilst she has very important and valid points on adoption, IVF and white supremacy through the play, they soon became over exhausted and lost impact. Also, whilst the play is naturalistic in delivery, the exposition felt clunky and the writing left the audience struggling to understand what was going on. Plus when the characters keep crying again and again in the same scene even the most experienced actors would struggle to keep the emotion real and raw.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

REVIEW: Undetectable at the King’s Head Theatre

Undetectable sees tour de force team of Tom Wright with Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE once again, hot off Tom’s successful debut with ‘My Dad’s Gap Year’ at the Park Theatre in February, and with success! Hunky Lex and fem twink Bradley are falling for each other, and after three months, Lex decides tonight’s the night for sex, but unearths intricate emotions, moral dilemmas and personal demons that both he and Bradley take to bed with them. A two hander set in the thrust theatre sees them exploring insecurities and LGBTQ stereotypes in a highly entertaining manner.

Tom Wright’s play thrives when adding wit and naturalistic humour to some fairly taboo topics, ranging from masculinity, race, HIV, body dysmorphia to uses of the word queer. Tom’s writing style is very naturalistic and really reflects conversation in the gay scene, with stand out lines including ‘“Why don’t we play a game” “Said every serial killer ever”’ and ‘When I laugh too much I fart’, bringing real roundedness and likeability to both characters. For me personally however, the play had a couple of stumbling areas. I felt the nudity didn’t add anything extra to the play (although both Freddie Hogan and Lewis Brown are certainly pleasing to the eye), and risked cheapening the play. Also when delving deeply into both characters’ backstories later on, the style of the play completely changed to spoken word storytelling, which was jarring to the world that had been created before. That said Richard Lambert’s lighting and Holly Buhagiar’s sound design truly shone in this moment with its intricacy and technicality highlighting the change in style.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

REVIEW: Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales’ The Ginger Snapped at the Leicester Square Theatre

‘The Ginger Snapped’ is Jinkx Monsoon’s newest tour following the total sell out tour of ‘The Vaudevillians’, and its not hard to see how Jinkx’s tours sell out. This cabaret showcases Jinkx’ and Major Scales’ second album (following the popular 2014 album ‘The Inevitable Album’) and is an absolute treat, from comedic genius, to serious attention to detail, before hitting you with a powerful and moving message that leaves you gasping for more.

Jinkx Monsoon is the alter ego of Portland-born Jericho Hoffer, who is infamous for being a winner of season 5 of Rupaul’s Drag Race (RPDR). A notoriously strong year where you need considerable charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to get noticed, let alone win. And teaming up with Major Scale for ‘The Ginger Snapped’ oh do they prove they still ooze bucket loads of this. They dominate the stage like the true star they are with masterful comedic timing, bringing unpredictability whilst having the audience in the palm of their hand. One of the most memorable sections for me (being a RPDR fan) is their Bianca Del Rio section, leaving little time to recover between one laugh and the next, with the most memorable and deliciously shady quote of the evening with ‘Who’s Tyra?’

Friday, 11 January 2019

REVIEW: Aspects of Love at Southwark Playhouse

‘Aspects of Love’ is a lesser known Andrew Lloyd Webber hit which stormed the West End 30 years ago, opening in 1989, running for 1,325 performances and elevating Michael Ball’s career with the soaring anthem ‘Love Changes Everything’. Since then it had a London revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2010, and then this production stormed in Manchester at the Hope Mill Theatre, so I was excited to watch this production in London.

The story follows three generations of lovers starting with Alex Dillingham and older actress Rose Vibert, who have a steamy, passionate affair at Alex’s uncle’s villa, but when his Uncle George arrives it changes everything forever.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

REVIEW: Chutney at the Bunker Theatre

The Bunker Theatre is quite the charming Fringe theatre tucked away near London Bridge, putting on varied and exciting new plays, and Chutney by Reece Connolly is no exception.

The story revolves around Claire and Gregg, a well-to-do power couple (epitomizing your stereotypical Daily Mail reader) who grow an insatiable bloodlust towards animals that shakes the core of their world.

Before even stepping into the theatre, Set and Costume Designer Jasmine Swan cleverly has multiple missing pets posters set up around the foyer, already creating an interest in the play before it even begins. Certainly made me excited for what I was about to see, and the minimalist set with catchy noughties pop hits playing on the radio set a very millennial tone to the play.

Reece Connolly’s writing is witty, wacky and woefully Waitrose, with a reminiscence to Phil Porter’s Blink. Although the beginning was a bit clunky as we get used to the narrative style of the play, once the disturbing but fascinating plot took shape it was thoroughly compelling. Connolly’s writing is slick and keeps the jokes firing out throughout the play, barely giving you time to breathe before another painfully Middle-Class comment is made – ‘We’re not working class, we have a pasta maker’. However some of Gregg’s singing wasn’t needed and didn’t add anything to the play and felt a little eggy.

Monday, 15 October 2018

REVIEW: othellomacbeth at the Lyric Hammersmith

Based in the heart of Hammersmith is the beautiful Lyric Hammersmith theatre, which is currently home to othellomacbeth, a condensed version of the Shakespeare tragedies Othello and Macbeth, joined one after the other with a transition appropriate to our modern day society. This is a bold production combining with HOME in Manchester, having played there last month before transferring to London.

To do such a bold move of putting these two well loved tragedies together means that director Jude Christian needs to really pack a punch with the staging, but sadly it was rather hit and miss. In particular at the beginning of Othello I believed that the staging was very static, and the actors didn’t seem sure whether they were addressing the audience or each other, making a confused opening. However as the play progressed, the spacing became clearer and dialogue flowed with more conviction, being exciting at points, and the Three Witches as such added a haunting and multi-layered depth to the second half.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

REVIEW: Well-Strung at the Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel

A clever amalgamation of classical and contemporary hit songs played at the Crazy Coqs Live at the Zedel by the virtuosic, campy and not to forget pleasing on the eye Well-Strung, bringing a warmth to this cosy venue.

Well-Strung are a New York string quartet/ boy band who have gained critical acclaim and international attention, performing across the world their unique mash ups. Consisting of Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Trevor Wadleigh (viola) and Daniel Shevlin (cello) this crazy talented group play a varied repertoire, from mixing Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ with Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’, to the Sound of Music’s ‘Do-Re-Mi’.

For me, the most notable thing about this group is that their four part harmonies are off the planet. My particular highlight was ‘Part of Your World’ from the Little Mermaid, where Bagnell’s musical theatre voice shone and the acapella harmonies of the group gave what one can only describe as an eargasm. I particularly enjoyed their mash up of Gonoud’s ‘Ave Maria’ mixed with Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, showcasing Shevlin’s sublime vocals belting the high notes.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

REVIEW: ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Of New York City’ at the Finborough Theatre

The Finborough Theatre is a dainty little theatre off West Brompton known for producing high quality Fringe productions, and ‘A Funny Thing..’ is no exception. Halley Feifer’s follow up after her 2017 sell out ‘I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard’ looks set to be another, having been a success Off-Broadway in 2016. I personally can think of nothing worse than watching my mother on a deathbed, and this play delves into that nightmare scenario.

The basic premise is that Karla, a foul-mouthed twenty-something comedian, and Don, a middle-aged man embroiled in a nasty divorce, are brought together unexpectedly when their cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital.

A typical struggle with any play is how do you start it and make it memorable, especially with a memorably unmemorable name like ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan Lettering Cancer Center Of New York City’, and author Halley Feiffer knows exactly how to do that. Karla’s (played by the sensational Cariad Lloyd) opening line certainly makes the most memorable opening and sets the tone with ‘I’ve been single for so long I have wet dreams about my vibrator’. However anyone thinking this show is pure crudity and vibrator jokes are wrong. This play covers a multitude of realistic and heartbreaking emotions and taboos, from feminism, to what is socially acceptable to make jokes about, to dealing with grief, and to broken relationships. Each element is thoughtfully written about, acted with true raw emotion and skilfully layered due to brilliant oversight from director Bethany Pitts. My only major criticism is that the play felt about 10 minutes too long, and a couple of times the dialogue didn’t sustain enough, but this doesn’t stop a fantastic show.
Blog Design by pipdig