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Sunday, 21 May 2023

REVIEW: Brokeback Mountain at the Soho Place

Whether you’ve read Annie Proulx’s original short story or seen the film, Brokeback Mountain remains iconic. A story of a forbidden love between two cowboys spanning 20 years. In this latest adaption from playwright Ashley Robinson, we’ve got a 90-minute compacted story about cowboys Jack Twist (Mike Faist) and Ennis Del Mar (Lucas Hedges) and their secret relationship. 

The set design from Tom Pye is immediately striking, with the small stage the Soho Place offers, Pye makes excellent use of the stage by combining three sets in one. The kitchen, bed and campfire. A rundown Wyoming room helps us immediately imagine the time frame and the campfire helps to visualise Brokeback in front of us and immerse ourselves in the scene. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

REVIEW: Snowflakes at The Park Theatre

‘Snowflake’ … either a term for a piece of snow with an Intricate design, or an insult to those easily offended. Whatever you associate it with, Robert Boulton’s societal statement ‘Snowflakes’ comes packing a punch, woke and all. 

In a world influenced by social media, contract killers Marcus (Robert Boulton) and Sarah (Louise Hoare) are tasked with the job to eradicate the offensive to appease the offended. An interview that ends with a life-or-death vote determines the outcome. The newest interviewee, disgraced writer Anthony Leaf (Henry Davis) is standing trial for crimes accused. 

With the help of a modernised set, a simple yet effective hotel room from the designer (Alys Whitehead) helps to add to the current time frame and allows us to feel we’re watching a show that could very well be set this very day. Along with modern costumes, it all adds to the current societal age. 

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

REVIEW: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at The New Wimbledon Theatre

On an ocean of possibilities hidden inside a duck pond, a world of possibilities hidden inside the seemingly impossible. A boy (Keir Ogilvy) revisits the very pond where he and his old friend Lettie Hempstock (Millie Hikasa) many years ago discovered the seemingly impossible and the wonders and horrors it possessed. Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, the National Theatre production is brought to life once again. 

Set designer Fly Davis immediately captures the audience's attention with an incredibly detailed garden/forest backdrop. Bedecked with trees and vines the scene is immediately set and we expect to find ourselves transported through a magical and enchanted story. 

Sunday, 19 March 2023

REVIEW: Accidental Death of An Anarchist at the Lyric Hammersmith

Anyone familiar with pitching a theatre show these days will know there is one question you always have to answer to be in with a shot of doing your show; ‘Why now?’ This is a question that this production of Accidental Death of An Anarchist at the Lyric Hammersmith answers with every second of its stage time.

Though Dario Fo’s classic satire was based on the death of a real-life anarchist in police custody following the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, at its heart it is a play about corruption in the police that is not limited to a time or place. 

A maniac walks into a police station impersonating a judge, forensic specialist and bishop… and that’s not even the funniest part! Tom Basden’s adaption of Darren Fo and Franca Rame’s ‘Accidental Death Of An Anarchist’ is from start to finish a comedic masterpiece filled to the brim with jokes, gags and more! 

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

REVIEW: Medea at the Soho Place

‘Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned’. We know the saying, but do we know the extent that these ‘scorned’ women will go to exact their revenge? In the instance of Medea (Sophie Okenedo), she’ll undertake the ultimate path to revenge in Robinson Jeffers’ adaptation of the shocking original tale from Euripides. 

Its premise is simple enough, Medea’s husband Jason (Ben Daniels) has been unfaithful and is to marry another. Unfortunately, it all gets rather complicated for Medea when her rash actions and words leave her no other choice but to be exiled from the city along with her two sons by King Creon. 

Thursday, 2 February 2023

REVIEW: The Cher Show at the New Wimbledon Theatre

There are a few four-letter words that we truly know well and have experienced, to name few they are love, hate and … Cher. With an impressive and illustrious career spanning decades. The Cher Show brings to life that career in glamorous and dazzling fashion. 

The story is told through three versions of Cher, Babe (Millie O’Connell), Lady (Danielle Steers) and Star (Debbie Kurup). The trio each tells various parts spanning from the 50s through to the 90s. 

Immediately, we have to mention the glorious set design by Tom Rogers. The backstage stage setting draped from top to bottom with rows of the iconic Cher wigs on display on mannequin heads for all to gaze upon and admire. Another clever design is the props used within the show to show the progressive timeline whilst also being integrated into the story. 

Monday, 7 November 2022

REVIEW: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the Gillian Lynne theatre

Everyone loves an adventure, an Escape from the mundane everyday life we live. But for the Pevensie children, this adventure to an enchanted world, Narnia, Is an adventure they’ll never forget. C.S Lewis’ critically acclaimed book and the eventual motion picture film The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe finally make its journey to the stage in stunning fashion. 

Set during World War One and the evacuation of the children takes place at the start of the show. Accompanied by Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ we meet the Pevensie children, Peter (Ammar Duffus), Susan (Robyn Sinclair), Edmund (Shaka Kalokoh) and Lucy (Delainey Hayles). The children's journey from a war-struck London to Scotland to stay with Professor Kirk, upon exploring the vast mansion the children are staying in, pungent Lucy stumbles upon a spare room and a wardrobe. Curiosity gets the better of Lucy and as she stumbles towards the back of the wardrobe she stumbles upon Narnia. 

Saturday, 29 October 2022

REVIEW: Daddy Issues at The Seven Dials playhouse

Welcome to Imi’s (Bebe Cave) Halloween Vlog, and it’s all about the wake of Roger, Imi’s beloved dog who has sadly passed. It doesn’t help the wake happens to be on the year anniversary of her dad's suicide., All a bit much really and mourning both her dad and Roger you wonder if Imi is as ok as she’s saying to all those viewers? 

Andrew Exeter’s set immediately gives us the homely feel that would befit a girl in her room about to do a live video, a vibrant coloured backdrop with cupboards, windows, photos of the dog, the lot … and the ashes of Roger taking centre stage. As she begins to ramble through her video the voices of both her dad (James Cardigan) and Grandad (Richard Hope) play over in her head in various scenes, it then quickly becomes a three-way conversation with her, the viewers and the voices in her head. 

Monday, 17 October 2022

REVIEW: The Choir Of Man at The Arts Theatre

Be it a night out with your mates, a celebration or for ‘just one', the pub tends to be the place to go. Stories are shared and memories are made. In this pub, ‘The Jungle’ the boys, or as they’re known ‘The Choir Of Man’ simply share their stories on stage. 

Accompanied by an eclectic array of popular songs from the likes of Adele. Sia, Queen and many more, with the slight difference that we’re not just the audience, but more punters in for a lock-in like none, we’ve ever experienced before. 

As The Poet (Ben Norris) takes centre stage and introduces the other members of the choir, The Maestro (Michael Baxter), The Romantic (Matt Beveridge), The Beast (Owen Bolton), The Joker (Matt Thorpe), The Hard Man (Levi Tyrell Johnson), The Barman (Lemuel Knights), The Pub Bore (Matt Nalton) and finally The Handyman (Jordan Oliver). Everyone is mentioned as The Poet explains that no one is any different, they’re all the same, a hugely close group who are to quote Ben, ‘only as strong as their weakest. 

Sunday, 9 October 2022

REVIEW: The Caucasian Chalk Circle at The Rose Theatre Kingston

During a violent and bloody revolution. Grusha Vashnadze (Carrie Hope Fletcher) finds herself thrust into motherhood unexpectedly. The governor has been killed, his wife fled and she’s left behind the newborn baby. As time goes on and Grusha grows seemingly more attached to the boy providing for him as her own, the eventual return of the governor's wife years later demanding her child be returned to her causes turmoil, it’s up to the unconventional judge Azdak (Jonathon Slinger) to turn the justice system on its head with the help of the Chalk Circle. 

Immediately Oli Townsend’s set takes our attention, a large space with minimal on stage, metal single and bunk beds scattered across the stage allowing the cast to both use the stage during the show for its intended purpose but then use the props around them to help create the scenes and different locations. 

Friday, 16 September 2022

REVIEW: 2:22 A Ghost Story at The Criterion Theatre

Who doesn’t love staying up late? Almost everyone, however when it’s to find out what the mysterious footsteps are in your one-year-old daughters' room and whose voice that belongs to walking around, suddenly it’s not so appealing. 

For Jenny (Laura Whitmore) and her husband Sam (Felix Scott), it’s exactly that. the past few nights at exactly 2:22 those noises and voices happen repeatedly, so midway through an evening of drinking they ask Sam’s good friend Lauren (Tamsin Carroll) and new partner Ben (Matt Willis) to stay and see for themselves to prove Jenny Isn’t as crazy as Sam thinks she is.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

REVIEW: Antigone at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

It seems lately the go-to option, is to reimagine a classic entirely, making it as current and topical as possible. While some have faltered in the past, some have given a new lease of life to the original. Antigone, the Greek tragedy has done exactly that. Bringing the original tale to life in remarkable fashion. 

Set both in 2018 and 2022 the story centres around our protagonist Antigone (Zainab Hasan), sister Ismene - Lydia Bakelmun and their struggle to educate brother Polyneices (Nadeem Islam) on the difficulties of the world. After a massive argument, Polyneices leaves (2018) and goes missing for years until a major incident (2022) brings him back into their lives. 

Thursday, 21 July 2022

REVIEW: Billy Elliot at the CURVE theatre, Leicester

Billy Elliot, based on Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed film from 2000 tells the story of community, acceptance and one boy chasing his dream against all the odds. After its many successful years in the West End, Billy Elliot finally makes a long-awaited return in a new re-imagined production from director Nikolai Foster and choreographer Lucy Hind at the Leicester Curve. 

What has and always works for Billy Elliot is how it’s one of the very few productions that manage to make the transition from screen to stage so well. It takes the memorable moments from the film and adds in an array of musical numbers (music from Elton John and Lyrics from Lee Hall). Combined it becomes a musically catchy and enlarged version of the beloved film. 

Once the curtains come up, an empty and stripped back stage appears, with just a few gates and some scaffold poles. It gives the audience an industrial setting reflecting the minor strike and creating a sense of realism. The focus as a result is spent on the actors and not the surroundings. A clever setting choice from designer Michael Taylor.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

REVIEW: Mad House at the Ambassadors Theatre

A family reunion can either be a wondrous occasion, or a total disaster. When Daniel’s (Bill Pullman) children Nedward (Stephen Wight) and Pam (Sinead Matthews) come to visit, to see how much they’re being left in the will and how much their father’s house is worth. It already has the recipe for a chaotic affair. Except for the other child Michael (David Harbour) whose already been living at his father's home for the past eleven months to care for his dying father. It becomes apparent quickly that this is one family reunion that won’t be forgotten in Theresa Rebeck’s dark comedy. 

For a start, what’s immediately impressive is the set, rural Pennsylvanian home with a great deal of attention to detail, Frankie Bradshaw’s set design immediately transports you to an old man’s home. With the homely but messy feel around the place, the set saves its biggest surprise till the second act for a surprising reveal. 

Monday, 20 June 2022

REVIEW: A Dolls House, Part 2 at The Donmar Warehouse

After walking out on her husband 15 years ago, Nora (Noma Dumezweni) is back to face her Ex-Husband Torvald (BrĂ­an F. O'Byrne). Except there’s one problem, Despite thinking she was no longer married and conducting herself outside the marriage, Torvald never filed for divorce.

The show is very central to Nora’s attempt to persuade Torvald to file for divorce. Nora’s feminist writing has landed her in trouble with a lot of people, one, in particular, threatening to expose the pseudonym she writes under, in turn exposing the fact she’s not acted within the marriage. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

REVIEW: Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) at the Park Theatre

Staging a rock opera about the ups and downs of an individual's life, you’d expect a name that raises eyebrows. Whether you deem Tony Blair that name, it certainly raises an eyebrow or two. Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) tells the story of a man’s journey from band frontman to the prime minister and the subsequent warmongering that followed! 

Let’s start by getting straight to it, the show is bonkers. The over-the-top ridiculousness allows it to not be taken seriously and enables it to get away with the on-the-mark gags it throws around throughout the show. The cast does a good job of over-dramatising their characters and the political figures they all portray, making it comical and never too serious. A few standouts were Cherie Blair (Holly Sumpton), Peter Mandelson (Howard Samuels), John Prescott (Rosie Strobel) and finally of course the titular character, Tony Blair (Charlie Baker). Each life to their roles and always stole the eyesight whenever they took to the stage. Combined with Libby Watson’s set and costume design, topped off with the combination of comedic duo Harry Hill (Book) and Steve Brown (lyrics and composer) you have all the right ingredients to cook up something hilarious. 

Sunday, 29 May 2022

REVIEW: Animal Farm at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley

George Orwell’s novels seem to have this incredible ability to always stay relevant. Animal farm, for instance, Orwell’s satirical novel about power, class and greed continues to stay current despite being published back in 1945. Telling the story of a group of animals who decide to stage a revolution and claim the farm for themselves from the farmer, with the dream of freedom and equality for all animals. 

The subject material could be seen as heavy, almost too much for a younger audience. Particularly the theme of nazism, the vilification of an enemy and the propaganda that follows. 

What’s interesting here is the show, partnered with ‘Children’s Theatre Partnership’, would almost have you expect it to be a childish take on the themes. Yet the show does expertly well in catering to an audience of all ages with the ability to be educational to the youth and still portray the themes and messages that covey within the book.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

REVIEW: Tapped at Theatre 503

Is there anything more motivating in the world than a pep talk, a club bar, and ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet? If you’re thinking yes, then you need to get down to ‘Go Get It’ Gavi’s (Max Hastings) motivational self-help group as he tries to inspire the community of Stapleford. So far his only problem is he’s only got two members, mother and daughter Dawn (Jennifer Daley) and Jen (Olivia Sweeney)

From start to finish Gavi runs the show, though it seems the group almost appears to be a coping mechanism for his mental battle, the deeper the show delves it almost seems the group is the only thing keeping him alive. The irony behind the self-help he offers within the group but not allowing help from others makes the show even more poignant and hard-hitting. 

Hastings delivers a performance worthy of praise. Throughout he’s comedic and filled with both energy and intensity. It makes his moments of despair more compelling. Daley also adds to the comedy as Dawn; She embodies the typical townsfolk character, she’s comical and what makes it so much more clever is how you’re sitting there almost telling yourself you know a Dawn. Finally, Sweeney also adds to the comedy. Though her character Jen appears much more serious throughout, with more blunt humour. However, the conversations between mother and daughter are both comical and moving as the show progresses. The trio all perform remarkably. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

REVIEW: Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the New Wimbledon Theatre

When Jamie first came to the West End in 2017 there seemed to be an element of scepticism and unknown. A TV documentary turned musical seemed a bold move. Fast forward over four years later and the show has grown from strength to strength. With multiple tours, a lengthy West End residence and now even a major motion picture, it seems everybody is talking about Jamie. 

For tonight’s performance, Jamie New was to be played by alternate Jamie, Adam Taylor. It has to be said initially where Taylor seemed to not be giving his all he grew into his role and delivered a standout performance as Jamie, though his predecessors made much more of the role through their mannerisms and subsequently made the role their own, Taylor most definitely stepped up and filled those heels putting his stamp on Jamie.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

REVIEW: Psychodrama at The Battersea Arts Centre

A night at the theatre is normally a time to switch off and enjoy. Rarely are you encouraged to be involved. However, whenever a show focus on the use of senses (in this case sound) it makes for an interesting and unknown premise. UK / Spanish experimental theatre group ‘Sleepwalk Collective’ have created just that, ‘Psychodrama’. A sound sensory 75-minute journey about imagination, and how the stories we hear in childhood shape our imaginings.

It’s effectively a television show we’re watching. The duo performing (Christopher Brett Bailey and Iara Solano Arana) sit behind tv screens and address us through our headphones as they encourage us to close our eyes and imagine the stories they tell which delve between fiction and reality.

In theory, it seems a clever idea but what seems to be the issue with the sensory side of the performance is the fact that the headphones aspect normally works better when you are either in total darkness or isolated and left completely alone to focus your senses. When you’re sat a few rows away from the actors it seems to ironically take away the connection, you’re so close to them yet so far away from what the Intention of the imagination is. It’s incredibly difficult imagining the described scenario whilst they’re walking around also acting parts out.
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