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Friday, 19 January 2018

Who to watch out for in 2018

Hello Pocketers!

What a year we have had! 2017 has seen some great theatre over the year. La Strada was beautiful, Toxic Avenger - Hilarious, Evita… received mixed reviews; but there are some people who are so intricate to these performances that without them, we wouldn’t have had the shows we did this year; the rising talent.

So this is a little homage to them and those we should be watching out for in the new year to come from all of the shows we have seen. Teaming up with a couple of the other reviewers we’ve ben able to put together a list of those who have stood out in 2017.

Friday, 10 November 2017

REVIEW: Am I Dead Yet? at the Soho Theatre

’Am I dead yet’ is a small show worth of the fringe venue upstairs (I almost was dead after climbing three flights) in the heart of London’s West End at the Soho Theatre. 

Written and performed by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe this hour long performance really makes you think about death; but not as you’d expect. First of all three stories underpin the performance; one of a suicide in the late 70s/Early 80s the next is a young girl who fell into a frozen over lake set in modern day and the third is a hypothetical story set many, many years in the future where technology has progressed to a point where people don’t die; interspersed with songs about death it sounds like an awfully morbid night - in fact it was the complete opposite. 

They are wonderful storytellers, carrying the audiences attention whilst telling the three stories all intertwined, which involve some heavy themes, is a skill. Before we get into the stories and after both performers have bounced about in their boxers right at the beginning there’s a CPR instructional section from a real paramedic - This followed some very interesting facts of why keeping a body freshly dead is better than leaving a collapsed person to die - very insightful stuff. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

REVIEW: The Secret Keeper at The Ovalhouse

Written by Angela Clerkin The Secret Keeper is a modern fairytale based in a fantasy kingdom set many years away from this one. The tale is of a young girl who keeps secrets, which manifest as Magpies, to the point where she is over burdened by them. 

From the beginning the humour that resides as the basis is apparent. When walking in actors are dressed in hoods, with beaks and white gloves portraying magpies greet you with a pull string talking doll narrating the settings. We’re soon introduced to ‘The Good Daughter’ the centre of this piece. Expertly played by Clerkin, The Good Daughter is an innocent bystander emotionally blackmailed into keeping secrets and this isn’t just the only under current running through this piece. Although neglect and child abuse run through, it’s only lightly touched upon as heavy political satire takes over. This is still 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

REVIEW: Metropolis at Ye Olde Rose and Crown

Here, in my humble opinion are a list of subjects that shouldn’t be made into a musical:

The ‘successful’ reign of Hitler, The Trial of OJ Simpson and Metropolis, sadly the last one has been created. This musical adaptation by Joe Brooks and Dusty Hughes of the 1927 cult classic is the next show that the resident company of Ye Olde Rose and Crown Pub, All Star Productions have decided to tackle - the main question is, why? 

Metropolis’ story is about the massive class divide in the year 2026 where the elitist society live in leisure whilst machines facilitate their way of life and the poor, Workers run the machines. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

REVIEW: Pop-Up Opera's Hansel and Gretel at the V&A Museum of Childhood

‘Do as your Mother tells you or you will be eaten by someone who looks strangely like her’ was the moral of the story at Pop-up opera’s interpretation of Humperdink’s 1894 Hansel and Gretel. Their mission is to stage opera in places where it wouldn’t usually be staged and make it more accessible for any audience member. Whilst this is a noble cause I feel as if they relied on the wrong devices to make it ‘accessible’. 

As I walked into the V&A Museum of Childhood’s gift shop I was greeted with a piano, two projectors and a fridge. The slight modern twist on this contemporary classic is nice to see but is updating a minimalist set what is needed to make it relatable to modern audiences? Apparently it’s not all that’s needed. The projector screens are narrating what is being sung; however I feel slightly cheated by this.

Friday, 6 October 2017

REVIEW: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the The Greenwich Theatre

Nick Lane is the next in line to take the beast that is Jekyll and Hyde. The Stage had named his previous adaptation as ‘one of the best regional theatre productions in the UK’ when it was last performed. Awaiting the audience is a simple set contorted by shadows towering over the four chairs which stood empty on the stage; already an ominous atmosphere settles across the stage like the calm before a storm. 

Balancing between 4th wall breaking narration and living in the moment the interest of the audience doesn’t wane. In fact it’s the opposite; the audience grip on to every word spoken by the small troupe of players skirting the boards. There’s only four of them but the amount of characters played you’d think it was a company of ten. There is a real storyteller feel to this piece and each glance, sentence and movement is multilayered and deep. You can see a real synergy between actors, piece and director. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

REVIEW: Legally Blonde at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley

OMIGOD OMIGOD YOU GUYS! Lucie Jones should win a prize for staring as Elle Woods in the National Tour of Legally Blonde: written by Heather Hatch and music from the man who brought us Batboy and Heathers, Laurence O’Keefe. The energy in the theatre tonight was electric with what was sure to be a high octane journey through Harvard Law School, I was wearing pink and ready to click along with the sorority girls of UCLA’s Delta Nu. 

From the get go the energy bar is set pretty high, girls riding on spin bikes and talking on the phone (Pre-emptively) celebrating Elle Woods and Warner Huntingdon the Thirds’ engagement. Which quickly spirals down hill when he breaks up with her. This set her on a new path, one that will challenge her Disney expectation of the power of love. Through trials (excuse the pun) and tribulations she realises it’s actually a good thing she is doing, practicing law and becomes the serious type of girl Warner laments about at the beginning of the first act. By the end there is cheering, and whooping and a mega mix (why?). Directed and choreographed by Anthony Williams the the use of set is very effective yet minimalistic, just what you need for a tour. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

REVIEW: Adam and Eve at the Jack Studio Theatre

Broken Silence Theatre are bringing a new work to The Jack Studio Theatre a new play written by Award winner Royal Court Young Writer Tim Cook. 

Adam and Eve are a husband and wife torn. We start at the end of the relationship and quickly taken through to how they met, fell in love and then moved to the countryside. Adam is a teacher and is soon accused of abusing a student which leads to a relationship in turmoil. 

This story isn’t the most poignant or impactful and rather domestic for a play that involves such a vital issue. It didn’t feel as if this play took it far enough. It was slightly bland. I wanted to leave hating someone or feeling really upset for one of them but I didn’t. The staging was minimalist and the cast changed the positions of the white boxes to demonstrate setting and passing of time which was effective. This being said I thoroughly enjoyed the performances given. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

REVIEW: Salad Days at the Union Theatre

The atmosphere of The Union Theatre is lovely. Set on the stone wall of the union as the backdrop, welcoming the audience is a piano playing tramp (Tom Self) with a small drum kit being played and Double Bass being plucked, playing light and spirited music. The floor is covered in a fake grassy turf and some audience members are sitting on cushions on the floor for a more immersive experience. How light spirited it all looks with all audience members settle in for Salad Days we’re ready for the light hearted frivolity. 

Written by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds this classic musical is based around the conundrum of what to do after you graduate from school especially when you have parental pressures and societal expectations thrust upon you. 

The tale revolves around Tim and Jane - two upperclass youngsters who finish school and don’t really know what to do with themselves. Tim’s family is nagging at him to get a job with one of his uncles (he has four and one they don’t talk about) and Jane who’s Mother wants her to marry someone rich and be taken care of - Ah the good ol’ days. They come across a tramp who pays them to look after a magical piano which, when plays, enchants people and they can’t stop dancing; until the second act, when they lose it. Then find it with the help of an alien and an uncle (Tim’s uncles make appearances through the show) - Strange premise but I suppose a deus ex machina is a deus ex machina no matter how silly it sounds. 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

REVEIW: 13 at The Ambassadors Theatre

Jason Robert Brown is now a household name but before Parade no one really knew who he was. The Last Five composer first took Songs for a New World off broadway and rose to acclaim with Parade. Now he’s bringing 13 the story of a young boy who’s life is turned around when his parents start going through a divorce. Uprooted from New York Evan Goldman needs to find his place in the ever changing social conundrum which is a new school. 

The show is being brought to the stage by The British Theatre Academy after their triumphant performance of The Secret Garden last year. 

The set is minimalist and simple with a large map of Appleton Indiana to show us where each scene is happening. Colourful and vibrant, it’s a well used device. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

REVIEW: Unfolding Tales at the Stockwell Playhouse

When someone says ‘A musical about the life of J.R.R Tolkien’ you think to yourself ‘Why?’ Yet after reading about his life you’d understand this subject matter is perfect for a musical. Tolkien’s life is littered with drama from the passing of his mother at an early age through to The Battle of the Somme where he contracted trench fever and then to his coup de grace when he published the Lord of the Rings trilogy; and turning this into a musical is the job of young composter Joseph Purdue and book writer Claire Gibson, and what a task it is. 

As the performance starts we’re introduced to the fact this is a semi-staged version and only features the songs. It’s directed by Adam Haigh and he has done an exquisite job of staging at the Stockwell Playhouse. The use of a minimalist set and a constant ensemble presence on stage is very effective. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

REVIEW: Iconic: A Brief History of Drag at The Underbelly Festival

Disclaimer: In this review I use Drag related terminology and will be foot-noting as I go along. 

Drag queens are everywhere now a days. We’re watching them on our TVs, we’re watching them in our theatres and we’re quoting them in our every day lives, well I know I certainly am. For the past 14 weeks a group of friends and I have got together on a Saturday night and watched the latest instalment of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m addicted to it and have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one. Drag has been in our theatrical culture for a long time; the term drag was first coined by Shakespeare meaning ‘Dressed As a Girl' and for it’s varietal season The Underbelly Festival on London’s Southbank, tonight, brings us ‘ICONIC: A brief History of Drag’. School is in and it’s time to educate these chicks* and fangirls in what it’s all about. The ‘Herstory*’ lesson has begun, this is drag 101. ‘Yas Gawd*’ ‘You better werk*’ and ‘Sissy that walk*’ are all compliments that are flying through my mind as the show begins. 

IN REHEARSALS: Unfolding Tales at The Stockwell Playhouse

Currently in rehearsals is a piece of New Musical Theatre called Unfolding Tales based on the life of the author of ‘The Lord of The Rings Trilogy’ and ‘The Silmarillion’ J. R. R.Tolkein. 

We were lucky enough to be given an exclusive first look at the cast of the stages concert version in rehearsals. 

The cast is led by Liam Doyle as Tolkien (Legally Blonde (Warner Huntingdon III, U.K. Tour), Heathers (Kurt Kelly, The Other Palace), Ghost (Sam Wheat, Asian Tour), WICKED (Fiyero, UK tour), Mamma Mia (Eddie, Novello Theatre), West Side story (Tony, Kilworth House Theatre), Jodie Steele as Tolkien’s Mother
Mabel (WICKED (Stand by Elphaba, UK & International Tour), FAME (Carmen Diaz), Legally Blonde (Margot & 1st cover Elle/Brooke, Kilworth House), Jesus Christ Superstar (1st cover Mary, UK Tour), RENT (Mimi, The Tabard Theatre) and Alexa Terry as Edith Bratt, who originated the part (Insane About Broadway (Musical Theatre concert, West-End), Unfolding Tales (Edith Bratt, Arts Theatre), Dick Whittington (Pantomime), Aida Cruises (Lead soloist).

Saturday, 5 August 2017

REVIEW: Evita at the Phoenix Theatre

Many musicals centre around an iconic, strong woman. Dreamgirls has Effie White and Deena Jones, Phantom of the Opera has Christine, Miss Saigon has Kim, but none are as memorable as Eva Duarte in Evita. 

The story of Eva Duarte, a girl from Junin who wishes of a better life in Buenos Aires and through meeting the right man again and again taking on many careers: an actress, a model, a radio star etc; she climbs the career ladder. Eventually she meets an equally driven career politician, Juan Domingo Peron. They meet at a charity concert Peron has organised after an earthquake. It isn’t long until they marry. Eva becomes nationally loved and her husband politically successful when he becomes president of Argentina. 

Eva’s life is the epitome of Peronism as she tours the country on her rainbow tour to be struck with stomach pains and later die of cancer (not a spoiler it’s history). 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

REVIEW: Candide at Cadogan Hall with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra

On Friday the 21st of July, London Musical Theatre Orchestra brought in it’s concert form Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ to Cadogan Hall. The arches of the hall are the backdrop to the talent that awaits it’s expecting audience. 

The choices LMTO have made for this concert are simply perfect from their chorus and musicians to those singing the lead parts, everything jells together so well. 

Candide follows the story of a young man who believes in Optimism and lives his life accordingly. Although through the story more and more unfortunate events happen he stays optimistic. Through wars and inquisitions, balloon rides, El Dorado, Paris, Love, heartbreak. There is so much that happens against Candide, most of which are random occurrences that it’s difficult to pin down a storyline, but it sums up as the pursuit of happiness. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

REVIEW: Brexodus the Musical at The Other Palace

Only a year ago one of the most dividing referendums shook Britain and is now well underwear after the triggering of article 50; this is the source Material for this week’s resident show, in the studio space at The Other Palace. 

Written by David Sherriff and Frederick Appleby, Brexodus gives us a sort of fly on the wall aspect to the last year and a bit in British politics starting with David Cameron negotiating Britain’s deal in the EU and ending after article 50. The writers have so much to be able to write about the I feel as if they have missed several tricks. To start the script could be funnier. We’ve seen politics more and more in the news to the point where politicians are becoming caricatures of themselves and so this script had to be bigger to be true satire, instead of using a pastiche of Shakespeare in the script he should have continued to develop the pacing of the humour and the portrayal of the ‘characters’ instead they are written almost too true to life and creates a harder job for the actors. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

REVIEW: Macbeth at St Paul’s Church

Sitting in the middle of Covent Garden and with miserable weather feels like a Pathetic Fallacy as I’m readying myself for Macbeth in St Paul’s Churchyard AKA The Actor’s Church. This production celebrates Iris Theatre’s 10th anniversary and promises to be a terrifying, immersive journey through the madness of the King of Scotland.

We all know the story, but if you don’t, allow me to recap: It’s the familiar tale of boy goes to war, boy and best friend meet three witches, boy is told of a prophecy that he will become king, boy tells wife, wife becomes fuelled by ambition and convinces boy to kill the king, boy kills king, boy becomes king, boy starts to go mad, boy kills best friend, boy slips even further into madness, wife goes mad with guilt, boy slips further into madness, wife kills herself due to madness, boy blames himself, boy fights friend who was born via a Caesarean, boy is killed, blah blah blah people die. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

REVIEW: The Quentin Dentin Show at the Tristan Bates theatre

Elevator music welcome us into the auditorium at the Tristan Bates theatre for ‘The Quentin Dentin Show’. Everyone is dressed in white, as is the stage, and the actors move in robotic movements welcoming the audience to their seats. A relaxing voiceover is telling us to ‘Relax’ to ‘take your seats’ and ‘Don’t spill your drink’ as well as other instructions. 

The show revolves around Keith, Nat and robotic ‘Friends 1,2 and 3’ one of which is picked to be Quentin Dentin to host ‘The Quentin Dentin Show’; a game show with a maniacal twist. After friend number three is chosen, with the promise of an upgrade if he completes his task of being Quentin by ‘The Programme’ (an ominous being we only hear the voice of). We are then introduced to unhappy couple, Keith and Nat, sitting on the sofa eating the same meal they have been eating for the last few nights. It’s clear their life if boring and their relationship is stale. They are officially stuck in a rut and that is when Quentin appears; out of the radio none the less and offers them everything they could ever have hoped for. The despondent couple are soon whisked into the show and are very shocked to see people in the walls as they are introduced to the studio audience (us) sitting in their living room. The game show resolves into dance numbers and uptempo songs trying to convince the couple to agree to subscribe to ‘The Programme’.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

REVIEW: Holy Crap at the Kings Head Theatre

The Heather brothers are back and this time, in contrast to their coming of age angst in ‘A Slice of Saturday Night’ they bring to you sex, drugs and Christianity in one package with a bow of blasphemy on top. 

The King’s Head Theatre is Islington is the venue of choice for the world premier of ‘Holy Crap’; a new musical that follows GOD TV a subscriptions service which is popular stateside but doesn’t pick up ratings in Godless Britain when the production team bring it over. That’s when Bobby Del Le Ray (John Addison) has the great idea of spicing things up by adding sex into the mix. This is all because the team behind GOD TV, Clarissa and Vinnie (Rachel Marwood and Nuno Queimado, respectively) are using it as a money laundering scheme with mafia connections but this information is kept from the other members of the team, Destiny and Rex (Letitia Hector and Arvid Larsen) and they need to find a way to convince the pair before the whole thing unravels. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

REVIEW: LA STRADA at the Other Palace

There are times when a good show comes along, but ‘La Strada’ featuring on the main stage at The Other Palace races by ‘good’ in gallant strides remaking Fellini's classic into breathtaking theatre. Telephone poles amidst hanging chains welcome the audience to the auditorium with an air of mystery; even without the lights, the stage is poised with wonder as boxes, pieces of cloth and costumes surround the stage. 

‘La Strada’ is centric to a young girl, Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) who is sold to the traveling entertainer Zampano (Stuart Goodwin), who, before buying her from her Mother, had bought her sister Rosa. Their journey is one of abuse, intimidation, and exploitation but they are two halves of the same coin. The characters compliment each other perfectly; Zampano’s short temper and anger are calmed by the naivety and purity of Gelsomina. 

Zampano soon realises that Gelsomina doesn’t have much talent and teaches her to bang a drum and collect money on their travels. 
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