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Friday, 7 September 2018

REVIEW: Sh*t-faced Showtime: Oliver With a Twist at the Leicester Square Theatre

The team behind Sh*t Faced Shakespeare, after their rip roaring Sh*t Faced showtime Wizard of Oz, bring us ‘Sh*t Faced Showtime Oliver with a Twist. 

It’s been two years since I have seen a sh*t faced production and my expectations are high. 

I first saw Sh*t Faced Shakespeare many moons ago when they were playing at the Edinburgh Fringe and the format hasn’t changed at all, it’s easy: One of the cast (they rotate so there is no chance of alcohol poisoning or liver damage) have been drinking for four hours before the show and they then have to go on stage and remember everything they have learned: sounds easy, right? Wrong. 

From the off were told just how much the actor has consumed; half a bottle of gin and another little can of gin. The controller of tonight’s show [insert name] quickly gives the audience some toys to make some sound and encourage more drinking if we thought the actor was becoming sober - perfect. 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

REVIEW: Guy: The Musical at The King's Head Theatre

Musical Theatre is constantly changing and it does so by doing what it has always done; assimilate different art forms and cultures. Right now on the West End we have one of these shows raking it in - Hamilton and adding to the collection of evolved and innovative musicals is Guy: The Musical which utilises an EDM soundtrack infused with musical theatre song writing. 

EDM is a repetitive music style used primarily in club culture so my main wondering is if it has the variation and vulnerability required for a musical. There is a dichotomous clash between the watered down EDM styling and the musical writing which is interesting however seems out of place - I’m sure they said the same about Hip-Hop and Hamilton. 

Guy: A New Musical is here with a topic that is quite dear to me - Body image in the gay community. It’s based in Manchester an revolves around a guy who is a chubby man trying to find love using a famous gay dating app (Grindr) and being rejected over and over again. It explores perception and acceptance, well lack there of towards Guy as a larger gentlemen. Touching upon the issue that on dating apps people feel they can excuse their own bigotry in favour of brevity and relinquish any responsibility of their statements by it not being a face to face communiqué.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

REVIEW: Sounds and Sorcery Celebrating Disney Fantasia at The Vaults

The Vaults are taking you back to your childhood with a special immersive, Disney experience with Sounds and Sorcery. This concert brigs together the classical music which featured in the 1940’s film and contemporary staging. 

First of all your given a headset, all of the music you’re about to hear plays through a device which reacts to sensors in the area. It’s true, it is innovative especially in one of the rooms which has four different areas to it; when crossing a boundary the music changes; however it doesn’t meet up to the expectations it has set out. The technology really lets the concept down. Cutting out at crucial moments to leave you watching performers panting and audience members walking through beautifully lit and designed areas in silence and it really highlighted the fact that if you can’t do something then you probably shouldn’t. 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

REVIEW: Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre

Ladies, Gentlemen and those who have yet to make up their mind running until January 2019 is Kinky Boots. Based on the 2005 film written by Tim Firth and Geoff Dean, Kinky Boots the Musical opened in London in 2015 and three years later it is still going strong; however has recently announced it’s closure; sad times! 

This show has a single, simple message behind it. Be who you are, love yourself and accept others. 

The story revolves around Charlie Price (Oliver Tompsett) the son of a Cobbler and Lola (Simon-Anthony Rhoden) a Drag queen from London who team up to save Price and Son’s, Charlie’s inherited, failing factory. Instead of firing people, Charlie, after a chance encounter with Lola is inspired by his colleague Lauren (Natalie McQueen) to find a niche in the market and he does; Drag boots - more specifically Kinky Boots. 


Monday, 2 July 2018

REVIEW: West Side Story at The Great Hall, Bishopsgate Institute

This week The Bishopgate Institute, in partnership with Musical Theatre International presents Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic West Side Story. This is The Bishopgate’s in house production and is set in The Grand Hall in traverse. 

Written sixty years ago this show, like the original star crossed lovers tale is a classic. This is Bishopsgate’s first solo venture in to the Non-professional Theatre scene after working with Centre Stage London in 2016 when the co-produced Ragtime in Concert. 

I use the term ‘Non-professional’ as AmDram always makes me think of village halls and Tinkly out of tunes pianos: this is far from it. 

First off it’s such a treat to sit in Bishopsgate’s Great Hall listening to a full orchestra playing Bernstein’s masterpiece. It’s no wonder West Side Story is so timeless. Conducted by Ben Ferguson, the orchestra bring every moment and nuance to life. It’s resplendent to say in the least. 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

REVIEW: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Drayton Arms Pub Theatre

There’s something special about Fringe Theatre. It’s exciting and daring one moment and full of dissapointment the next but as an audience it keeps you on your toes. It’s a chance to see smaller shows that wouldn’t last for a long run anywhere else and appeals to a niche market and above the Dratyon Arms pub is no exception. 

Home for the next few weeks of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, this intimate space is perfect for it. 

Taking everyone back to the years of being in primary school with the set of a wooden floor, plastic chairs and a bench you used to be made to walk along in gymnastics. In that small space above a pub in west London it’s very immersive and nostalgic.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

REVIEW: Into the Woods at The Cockpit Theatre

The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone is a black box space set in the round. Walking in the set is busy and beautiful and as you wait for the performance of All Star Productions, Into the Woods. The set engages you to be looking around, walking over bark to your seats as one person starts on stage. It’s a remarkable set; ladders reaching up creating dimension and reach. Working in the round is difficult but this set made it slightly more accessible. 

The space is perfect for this production. The lighting and set engulf the audience and make it more immersive than expected. 

Following the zeitgeist of innovative staging which I first fell in love with in La Strada there is a strong ensemble feel from the off. 

Sondheim’s Into the Woods is a classic. Taking the fairytales we know and love so well and putting an unfamiliar couple (The Baker and his Wife) right in the middle of them on their quest to have a baby. The first act shows us a twist on the tales we love; Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. In the second half it flips everything on it’s head by adding real-life elements to the fantastical and perfect worlds we have grown up with. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

REVIEW: Mr Morgan and Mr West: Time Travelling Magicians at Wilton’s Music Hall

Why do we believe in magic? We know it’s fake. We know that it’s all slight of hand, good guessing and thin, glamorous assistants squeezing themselves into boxes under impressive constructs; guillotines, chainsaws and tigers (Until that unfortunate event with Siegfried and Roy). 

I have always had a fascination with magic. Someone tricking my mind to believe something that doesn’t exist is truly wonderful to me. It really awakens the child inside of me and he is as excited as a 5 year old on Christmas Eve. 

Tonight I am in the audience to be wow by two magicians from a different era, well that’s what they claim. ‘Morgan and West: Time Travelling Magicians’ have landed at Wilton’s Music Hall. I first came across these fine, well mannered gentlemen when they were trying to Fool Penn and Teller on their television show ‘Fool Us’. I was really impressed with the act they had to show and they even managed to fool Penn and Teller but will they impress the audience tonight?

The auditorium of Wilton’s music hall is ideal for these ‘spiffing gentlemen’ taking the audience back to a Victorian vaudeville hotspot. Trunks and stools litter the stage and give it a vintage feel and set he mood for the magic to ensue. 

Friday, 20 April 2018

REVIEW: Bat Out of Hell at the Dominion Theatre

There are two things in the theatre world that terrify the life out of me. Jukebox and Musical - I wasn’t a fan of ‘We Will Rock You’ and I’m certainly not a fan of ’Mamma Mia!’ I hold a lot of trepidation for ’Bat Out of Hell’. 

Going into the theatre on opening night the stars are out in full force. ‘Bat Out of Hell’ returns to The Dominion after a successful run at the London Coliseum and abroad to great anticipation. Reviews have been great and glittering but will it impress an anti-jukebox musical man like myself? 

The music is written by one of the greatest composers this century has seen, Jim Steinman; I was brought up on his music sung by the the vocal powerhouse that is Meat Loaf; him, mixed with Tina Turner and Price were the only thing my Mother needed to keep me at peace. Later finding Steinman through Celine Dion I’m more excited by the music than anything else. The only downside I felt about the music is that some could have been edited. At times they were a little long (and that’s my only critique for the music). 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

REVIEW: Plastic as The Old Red Lion

The Old Red Lion pub has been a place where I have seen some of the best fringe theatre; from plays to musicals the small studio space boasts a hearty CV of successful shows and its current production ‘Plastic’ is no different.

Set in some non specified estate in some non specified city, the lives of four young people are in front of us; half looking to the future whilst the other is stuck in the past. The crossover of their individual tales is like a plait in the continuum. A budding relationship between an older guy and a strained friendship between a lad who should have been popular yet held back by his strange friend are laid out for us.

Kev (Mark Weinman) used to be someone. Head of the football team, set up to move into the beautiful game professionally then let down at the last minute. Now clings on to his past by dating a secondary school girl, Lisa (Madison Clare), the popular girl who he would have been going out with if he was in fact at school. Ben (Thomas Coombes) is frankly weird, bullied to the point where he is at the point of breaking and there is a feeling of unsteadiness in him. His best, Jack (Louis Greatorex) friend has started to feel the pressure of their friendship and being tarnished with the same brush as Ben. Conflict arises, a vicious turn happens and the aftermath is disastrous (not wanting to give too much away).

Sunday, 11 February 2018

REVIEW: Fool for Love at The Courtyard Theatre

A stones throw away from Old Street station is the Courtyard Theatre or as I like to call it ‘The theatre Shoreditch adjacent’. I was told about the premise of this play and had to see it. The courtyard theatre is humble space and with a friendly vibe to it. Like any fringe theatre the performance space is an open black box space. The set was minimal, a chair, table with drink on, a window hung in mid air and a double bed in the middle of the room. 

We’re drawn first to The Old Man (Brian Voakes) who walks around the stage turning lights on. We’re already caught midst a confrontational conversation with two lovers in a motel room. The tense moment resolves into an ongoing conflict with the central characters May and Eddie, played by Lucy Bailie and Joe Windsor respectively. Their relationship is dipped in and out of with the use of flashbacks and storytelling and really stirs something within, bordering on the uncomfortable. 
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