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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.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

REVIEW: Section 2 at The Bunker

A few months ago actress Patti Murin made the headlines by having to bow out of a performance of FROZEN on Broadway due to a sudden anxiety attack. After a slew of support she took to Twitter last week to admit that she suffered from issues with her mental health such as anxiety and depression in order to help #EndTheStigma surrounding the subject of mental illness. Murin’s bravery, like many others recently has started a very important conversation, and theatre company ‘Paper Creatures’ latest play ‘Section 2’ unearths the harsh truths of living with mental illness as a young adult. 

Cam is 24. Cam has been sectioned. He is on a Section 2 which means he is held in a psychiatric hospital for 28days in order to review if he is a danger to himself or others. He is cared for by his Key Manager Rachael, whilst he receives regular visits from his girlfriend Kay. However, when his best friend Pete turns up after 5 years of estrangement at the request of a confused and forgetful Cam, they all have to question how far this illness has spread and who it’s really harming. 

Georgie Staight’s direction is natural and fluid. She uses the space perfectly, creating a small claustrophobic environment which allows us to read every nuance and emotion each character is experiencing. Conversely she also allows the piece to breathe, making fantastic use of the pauses to lengthen the thought and to raise tension. The scene traditions aided by movement director Amy Warren, create a beautifully piercing extension of Cam’s mental insecurity: one minute his friends are helping him, the next they’re pushing past him and dropping things before he has time to catch them.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

REVIEW: Grotty at The Bunker

I would say that any show announced at The Bunker is worth seeing. It’s one of the newest off-west end theatres and is presenting incredible new writing, shaking up the London theatre scene! Until 26 May, it is presenting Grotty, a new play by award-winning writer Izzy Tennyson that takes us right into 2018’s London lesbian scene. It takes its main character Rigby (played by Tennyson herself) to stinky basements and girlfriends’ “lovely” but sometimes dangerous flats. 

Alcoholic drinks are consumed, as well as hard drugs, and Rigby, who is dealing with her first sexual experiences with women, is searching for something. It takes us a while to find out what that is and more specifically why she keeps going back to people and locations that may not be so good for her, especially as she is still discovering so much about herself. 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

REVIEW: Devil with the Blue Dress at The Bunker

It is 20 years since President Bill Clinton was impeached under two articles for his response to the allegations over the "Monica Lewinsky Affair", and this play explores the impact the scandal and his defence had on five women at the heart of the case. Kevin Armento has written a sparkling political thriller about the events which not only tells the story but also neatly implies it had an impact on the Trump : Clinton presidential election battle of 2016 , and of course adds Trump to the long list of US male politicians caught out by their sexual indiscretions. The first Act explores the facts of the case and how these were perjured in his defence and the second Act how the second charge of obstruction of justice was exposed. The format and style works very well, acknowledging regularly and amusingly that this is a play, Hilary Clinton's memory play, with the other female characters taking centre stage from time to time to control or takeover the story .Bill Clinton himself is given voice by three of the actresses in turn adopting his deeper gravelly Arkansas tones.

Hillary is played with a steely charm by Fiona Montgomery so that we easily imagine we are listening to the Lady herself. We see her turning a blind eye at first out of loyalty and trust , grappling with whether to leave or not and finally trying to turn it to her political advantage. As she acknowledges it becomes a question of whether women are perceived as objects of sex or objects of power, or both . Monica, played by Daniella Isaacs, is the besotted intern who becomes Bill's object of sex, and finds herself abandoned by him and becoming the centre of the story rather than him. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

REVIEW: Ken at the Bunker

There is a very special feel as you enter the Bunker, the small underground venue that opened in 2016 in a small former car park and are greeted with an eclectic mix of furniture, a deep red pile carpet, walls draped with oriental rugs and house lights provided by a varied mix of household lampshades. It feels one of the most relaxing spaces you can imagine to watch a performance with plenty of legroom to stretch out in.

It turns out to be a perfect setting for this highly personal account of the author's long term friendship with the theatrical maverick Ken Campbell, a director I was not aware of before but now wish I had seen his work. The writer of the piece, for it does not have the feel of a play, Terry Johnson stands centre stage behind a lectern and reads his account of their work together. He perfectly captures the frustration, bemusement but ultimately deep affection he developed for his friend in their work together and over the course of ninety minutes draws us in to share his sadness at his passing. 
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