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Wednesday, 24 May 2023

REVIEW: The Ocean at the End of the Lane at The Alexandra Birmingham

Eerie, mystifying and visually spectacular! The acclaimed National Theatre production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane exudes the bizarre and wonderful; a beautiful combination of story-telling, comedy and dark twists.

Based on the 2013 Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, the Ocean at the End of the Lane is a tale of magic, memory, loss and survival. Based on the memory of a 12-year-old boy, the story follows his journey of friendship with a young girl – a magical and courageous being. After the loss of the young boy’s lodger, a flea on the edge of their world tries to creep its way in. From here, the child’s world crashes down upon him; the flea taking over every aspect of his life. The only person he can turn to are his new friend Lettie and her kooky mother and grandmother. Together, they plot to save his family from the manipulation of the flea named Ursula – a heroic attempt with a touch of Gaiman’s renowned book and film ‘Coraline.’

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

REVIEW: Heathers at The Alexandra Birmingham

Dark, camp and completely unstoppable! Heathers seems to be the phoenix of the musical world: a non-stop conveyer belt of endless cast changes and new UK tours; rising from the ashes and getting stronger with each new lease of life. This current touring production is no exception. 

Based on the late ‘80s cult film of the same name, Heathers is a black comedy centring around three popular girls at high school – all named Heather. Like every cliché stereotype of an American, bitchy teenage girl, the Heathers rule the school and go out of their way to ruin the lives of others: think Mean Girls but before the internet era. Our protagonist Veronica, an intelligent misfit with hopes of going to Harvard, gets sucked into the soulless pit of adolescent power and gains a superficial friendship with the Heathers in exchange for her talent for forging handwriting. In the commotion of hiking her way up the high school hierarchy, Veronica stumbles across the new kid at school; a brooding, literary-quoting teenage boy with a mysterious and seductive flare. JD – as he calls himself, entices Veronica into a series of dark actions, resulting in multiple murders, disguised as suicides. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

REVIEW: Girl from the North Country at the Alexandra Birmingham

Sombre, solemn and powerful; Girl from the North Country returns with a UK tour that brings us back to reality and exalts human emotion.

Conor McPherson’s book tells the story of Nick Laine – the proprietor of a shabby guesthouse, and his family. His wife Elizabeth suffers from a form of dementia which impels outbursts from comical and childlike to violent and inhibited. The arrival of two unexpected guests during a stormy night makes a change in the inn and affects every character who inhabit it.

The set felt full and purposeful for a touring production and took the audience back to the melancholy year of 1934. The sepia-toned colour scheme felt drab and true to the era, setting the scene of a cosy, rundown guesthouse in Minnesota. With the Great Depression infiltrating the downbeat mood on stage, an on-edge and pensive receptiveness were abounding. 

Monday, 6 February 2023

REVIEW: The RSC's 2023 Production of The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Comical, engaging and full of vibrancy – The RSC have produced a delight of humour, physical theatre and haunting melodies in this season’s production of The Tempest.

This Shakespearean piece tells the story of the magical Duke, Prospero, who had been usurped from Milan and left stranded on an island with their daughter. Traditionally played by male actors, Alex Kingston takes on the role of the sorcerous character who with the help of slave Caliban and servant Ariel, navigates a storm of opportunity to win back her dukedom. 

Sunday, 27 November 2022

REVIEW: Nativity! The Musical at the Birmingham Rep

Nativity! The Musical is back once more for the festive period and this year is gracing its presence in the second city, at the Birmingham Rep. An utterly joyous, thrilling and camp as Christmas production that excels in every way.

Based on Debbie Isitt’s 2009 hit Christmas film of the same name, the story follows the saga of St Bernadette’s primary school and their attempt to stage a 5-star Christmas show. Historically bad at directing the production, school teacher Mr Maddens – who hates the festive period, is forced to lead the nativity once more. When his foolhardy new teaching assistant Mr Poppy, overhears him fibbing to his friend-turned-professional enemy about Hollywood coming to watch the show, he can’t contain his excitement and soon the school, press, mayor and entire city of Coventry believe St Bernadette’s little Nativity will be made into a Hollywood blockbuster.

Thursday, 10 November 2022

REVIEW: The RSC's A Christmas Carol at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

A time-honoured Dickens novel adapted once more into another classic Christmas show... Is it possible to keep a story fresh and invigorating when it has been done repeatedly in the last century? The answer, of course, is a resounding yes! The Royal Shakespeare Company have once more showcased a masterclass of traditional theatre - displaying the perfect balance of heart-tugging sentiment and pure family comedy.

Based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 sell out Novella, A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean miser and ruthless loan-shark who loans money to poverty-stricken families he knows cannot pay back – a cruel routine to harvest debts at an ample rate. The tale pans out over Christmas Eve right through to Boxing Day. Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his former business partner Jacob Marley, in an attempt to warn him of the heartless existence he is living and that three spirits will be visiting him throughout the night, in an attempt to relieve him of his desolate future. The ghosts of past, present and future force him to relive key events in his life that have made him this way, show him how he is perceived by his peers and what his inevitable fate will be if he continues living his life in selfishness and greed.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

REVIEW: The Color Purple at the Birmingham Hippodrome

After a praised revival by the Leicester Curve in 2019, The Colour Purple has returned post-pandemic, co-produced with the Birmingham Hippodrome. Finally, the UK is being blessed with a production that hits a tidal wave of raw human emotion and celebrates the beauty and strength of female empowerment.

As I enter the theatre, a buzz of excitement fills each level as the audience takes their seat. A diverse variety of theatre-goers assemble as the pre-show chatter commences; an assortment of comments about the show, fans of the novel, film, musical and groups of individuals who have no idea what to expect.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

REVIEW: The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre

It has been three decades since the imaginative adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 Gothic horror story launched itself onto the London stage. Suspense, surprise and sensational storytelling have always been what has drawn people of all ages to The Woman in Black, and 33 years on, it captivates its audience all the same. Serving as one of the longest-running plays in the West End, can a thirty-year-old production with thirty-year-old set design and special effects still fuel a fearful reaction? Absolutely!

Firstly, a comment must be made about the Fortune Theatre itself; small, intimate and gothic in style, it complements the production to perfection with its eerie ambience and brooding interior. The modest size of the auditorium instils a premeditated apprehension of when and where the woman in black will appear – “We’re sat in the middle, good. We’re safe from her here,” I jested. “That was exactly my thought,” chuckled a man in the row behind me. We were both being completely serious.

Friday, 1 July 2022

REVIEW: Singin’ in the Rain at the New Wimbledon Theatre

With the current trend of reviving golden-age musicals, we are being blessed with classic and wholesome shows gracing stages across the UK; and Singin’ in the Rain is no exception. This timeless musical movie to theatre musical ticks all the boxes and encapsulates all the elements of ageless, crowd-pleasing theatre that thrills every time. This production is a feast of gorgeous storytelling and impressive musical numbers.

Based on the 1952 Gene Kelly film of the same title, Singin’ in the Rain tells the story of famous silent movie stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, on-screen lovers who in reality couldn’t be further from romance, despite Lamont’s deluded, starry-eyed fantasies. As Hollywood progresses with technology, the new and innovative ‘talking picture’ takes off, using devices which sync music and dialogue with the motion picture. This causes a slight problem for Monumental Studios as their leading lady Lamont cannot act, sing and has the voice of a whiny strangled cat. To the rescue come Kathy Selden, the bright-eyed leading lady with beautiful vocals and personality to match, as she dubs her voice over Lamont’s. The plot is light-hearted and simple but kept the audience engaged throughout, the spectators rooting for the romantic leads Don and Kathy, played by Sam Lips and Charlotte Gooch.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

REVIEW: My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum

The long-awaited return of Lerner & Loewe’s ageless musical My Fair Lady has finally returned to the UK. For the first time in two decades, this timeless show has graced London with its splendour and with “a little bit of luck” will signify the return of more golden age musicals to the West End. 

First, we must appreciate the theatre itself. The London Coliseum is the perfect venue for such a nostalgic and grand show, the entire theatre dripping in opulence as soon as you enter the auditorium. The Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of My Fair Lady is one of only a few that could fill such a majestic space with its impressiveness. 

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Pygmalion, the story follows Henry Higgins, a brilliant yet unfeeling professor of phonetics, who accepts the challenge of taking working-class flower girl Eliza Doolittle and refining her into an upper-class lady fit for royalty. After a rocky start with tumultuous tempers between the two, Eliza makes a breakthrough in her phonetics training and her relationship with Higgins. The two finally see eye to eye. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

REVIEW: Zorro at The Charing Cross Theatre

Having had to close after just two previews in 2020 due to the pandemic, Aria Entertainment’s Zorro the Musical has finally had its long-awaited opening at The Charing Cross Theatre with director Christian Durham. From its seductive and passionate story to its swash-buckling and heroic coups, Zorro is simply a feast of vocal triumphs, hypnotising dance numbers and thrilling adventure. 

Based on the 1919 fictional character Zorro by American writer Johnston McCulley, Zorro, set in 1805, tells the tale of Diego, a young wealthy caballero, who is sent from his home in California by his father Don Alejandro to school in Spain. His older and incredibly jealous brother Ramon, destined to become captain of the army, is enraged as he believes it is he who should be the academic. As ten years passed, Diego abandoned his studies to join a band of gypsies and perform in the backstreets of Spain. Simultaneously Ramon has taken over from his father who he pronounced dead and is acting a tyrant, destroying his home town with cruel and brutal ways. When Luisa, Diego’s childhood sweetheart locates him in Spain, she convinces him to return to California to save the people from his brother. The gypsies accompany them, including Inez, Diego’s lover, sparking an escapade of fervour and rebellion.

Monday, 21 March 2022

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby at Gatsby’s mansion at Immersive LDN

Once penned as a jazz age classic, a tale of lavish glamour with “gleaming, dazzling parties”, now Immersive Gatsby has taken every inch of storytelling from page to utter spectacle; a captivating theatrical experience you would be a fool to miss. If I could give a production 10 stars, this would be it! So rare is an immersive show where you truly feel part of the story and not just like a spectator looking into a fish tank. 

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s roaring and vivid novel, Alexander Wright’s The Great Gatsby was executed with such commitment, heart and decadently yummy indulgence which every Gatsby themed party should command. As each group arrived to the Gatsby mansion, we were greeted by the devilishly charismatic Rosy Rosenthal played by Greg Fossard, who took us through the house rules. Once inside the main space, it’s a free for all, tables dotted around the room with velvet chairs so you can sit back and enjoy the ambience, relish in the jazz music, mood lighting and the most delicious cocktails from the bar. The characters seemed to integrate into the room and with the audience encouraged to dress for the occasion, it is done so subtly that the experience organically begins.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

REVIEW: The Addams Family at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley

After pining to see one of Andrew Lippa’s most famous musicals for years, I had such excitement and high expectations for Aria Entertainment’s production of The Addams Family.

Based on the fictional family cartoon by Charles Addams and later film franchise by Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson, The Addams Family follows the story of Wednesday Addams, the daughter of a satirical and kooky family who relish in the macabre and odd. After falling in love with a conventional and preppy young man Lucas, the pair arrange a dinner for their parents to meet - leading to an evening of ghoulishly sour events that nearly cause the breakdown of each family. The show combines the dark and eccentric with classic camp comedy, providing a show that will make you want to die with laughter.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

REVIEW: The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre

After 3 and a half decades and a global pandemic, is the Phantom of the Opera still relevant in today’s theatre? The answer I have to confess is an astounding and resonating yes!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s showstopper returns to the stage just in time to celebrate its 35th birthday, making it the second longest-running musical in the world. From its opening night in 1986 Phantom propelled itself onto the world from the West End to Broadway, UK charts and film and has no means of slowing down.

This mega-musical takes its story from the original 1909 gothic novel Le Fantom de l’opera by Gaston Leroux. Set in 1880 Paris, the plot introduces us to a little known Swedish soprano Christine Daae, who is given the chance of understudying the leading soprano Carlotta at the Opera Populaire after a mysterious event took place enraging the Italian opera diva and causing her dramatic and untimely exit. We soon learn that these mysterious and terribly dark events are a common occurrence engineered by the “Opera Ghost”. As the narrative unfolds we find ourselves drawn into a love triangle between the Phantom, Christine and her childhood sweetheart Raoul.
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