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Thursday, 4 November 2021

REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) at the Criterion Theatre


Settling into the gorgeous Criterion Theatre to see Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) the first thing that strikes you is the stunning set, featuring a winding staircase that almost drips books at its core, which leaves you in no doubt that you have entered Austen territory. This is a show that is coming to the West End in style. 

From the moment the cast first comes onstage as the servants of the house their brilliant comic timing, and ability to build a relationship with the audience shines through. These are characters who aren’t afraid to speak up for themselves, often addressing the audience directly, as they retell the well-known story with sharp wit and boundless energy. 

As they come together into the first song, leaning into the style of a sixties girl group, it becomes clear that they can not only sing beautifully, they know how to have fun with familiar tropes. Throughout the show, their choice of well-known songs slip hilariously into the script and free the characters from the good old fashioned repressed Austen modes of communication. 
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Tuesday, 26 October 2021

REVIEW: Sam Carlyle: My Life and Other Jokes at the Bread and Roses Theatre



Sam Carlyle might just be your new best friend - that’s the feeling you leave the theatre with after an hour with her. She’s funny, relatable, and will have you bopping to your favourite noughties tunes from the word go. 

Tapping into the experiences shared by the majority of women who grew up to the soundtrack of Shakira, the Spice Girls, and Britney, Carlyle’s comedy covers everything from online dating to customer service, to your first cervical exam. 

The latter is a particularly funny moment, as pianist Thomas Duchan breaks his silence to take on the role of ‘nurse’ as Carlyle sings through the experience to Britney’s ‘I’m not a girl, not yet a woman’. 

However, sometimes the show’s leaning towards relatable experiences is what lets it down. Carlyle’s confidence and character shine through best when she is performing her hilarious covers, such as ‘Question: Tell me why you don’t have a boyfriend', and she certainly doesn’t lack comic instincts, but it feels at times like she could take it further. 
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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

REVIEW: Blithe Spirit at the Harold Pinter Theatre


Paranormal comedy in the 1940s British drawing room can be a difficult thing to pull off with a modern audience, but Richard Eyre’s production does a marvellous job of bringing Blithe Spirit to life. 

It is a fairly traditional production, but don’t think that that means the laughs are any less genuine. All around me in the stalls the impeccable comic timing of all of the actors was inspiring muffled giggles and outbursts of laughter that the actors had to pause to see out. 

Many of the funnier moments work so well because they are punctuated with movement - characters who catch each other's eyes at the perfect moment, and who covey much of their contained frustration through passive-aggressively finding something to do with their hands. 
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Wednesday, 21 April 2021

REVIEW: Talking Gods by Arrows and Traps Theatre



'Talking Gods’ is an incredible (and free!) series of productions based on greek myth and set in the modern-day, by Arrows and Traps Theatre. It would be hard to understate what Arrows and Traps have achieved here; all five productions are completely unique and brilliant. 

Ross McGregor’s writing and direction are consistently gripping and moving to watch, as it reframes the context of Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Aphrodite, and Icarus with sympathy and humour. Each production can effortlessly transition between making you laugh out loud and moving you to tears in just minutes. 

His renditions of the characters effectively link their narratives to grounded experiences which we can connect with as an audience. The complexity of their perspectives, expressed beautifully by the writing and the actors, is what makes each of the productions so individually effective. 
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Thursday, 1 April 2021

REVIEW: Hysterical! The Hilarious History of Hysteria at the Theatre Royal Stratford East (Online)



Hysterical! is a wonderfully unusual production; it is equal parts personal, informative, and entertaining. Rebecca Buckle’s comedy lecture brings an important perspective to the long, troubling, and absurd history of hysteria, and sheds light on its modern-day consequences.

Hysteria is a difficult subject to handle well, but Buckle and director, Mina Barber, manage to find a good balance between the ‘hilarious’ aspects of its history and the seriousness of its implications. The history is at times ridiculous, even funny, but its consequences, the suffering the concept of ‘hysteria’ caused and continues to cause, are not. Buckle never loses sight of this and is able to lean into the more comic moments without undermining the gravity of the issue.

The film highlights how a long history of belief in ‘hysteria’, a diagnosis mostly levelled at women, continues to endanger women’s health today. Throughout the film, Buckle’s personal experiences of being patronised, disbelieved, and ignored by doctors for years intercut her lighthearted lecture with black and white flashbacks to GP appointments. Whilst at first these cuts can be a little jarring, due to the dramatic switches in tone, they ultimately give the history the real personal context which makes Buckle’s telling of it so effective. 
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Wednesday, 10 March 2021

REVIEW: Gatsby: A Musical at Cadogan Hall


As a huge fan of ‘The Great Gatsby’ I was excited to see how ‘Gatsby: The Musical’ would adapt the book in this musical revival concert, back by popular demand from the 11th-14th March. 

The grandeur of the venue and incredible live band quickly had me feeling almost like I was in the theatre itself, excitedly waiting for the show to begin. With Gatsby (Ross William Wild) lurking on the balcony above the grand empty hall, his voice booming when he begins to speak, you can easily believe the characters are speaking from Gatsby’s long-abandoned mansion.

This adaption of the story places Daisy (Jodie Steele) at the centre, as she returns to Gatsby’s mansion 7 years later, in 1929, looking for him. In this version, Daisy is a far more sympathetic character than the one in the books, and Jodie Steele’s vulnerable performance places you firmly in her shoes as she relives the disastrous events of 1922.
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