Review – Into the Woods, the film

Wednesday 17 December 2014

ITW_1-Sht_v18_LgWho ever thought they’d see a film where Annette Crosbie is eaten alive by Johnny Depp?

Then again who ever thought we’d write about a film? Yes, a bit out of our comfort zone this, reviewing a trip to the flicks. Though the comfort of most picture houses is far greater than almost any theatre seat.

But since this cinematic entertainment is based on the Stephen Sondheim stage musical that Phil has seen about half a dozen times in various forms, including the original Broadway and London productions he just wanted to show off. He saw a preview of Into the Woods a week ago and frustratingly has been sitting on a most uncomfortable embargo ever since. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Cinderella, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 10 December 2014

22614_fullOf course we were there for Sue Ellen.

Even Andrew was there for Sue Ellen. Actually that should probably just read “even Andrew was there”. You see, we’re of an age.

But if Linda Grey had not found her panto legs (she does – expect her in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester or wherever next Christmas) as a stetson-toting, hip flask-swigging Fairy Godmother there was a very strong pit crew to see her through to the finishing line. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Treasure Island, National Theatre

Wednesday 10 December 2014

treasureisland_200x300There’s a wonderful moment – a maritime take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window – in Treasure Island where a cross section of the Hispaniola rises up through the stage revealing various rooms and cabins of the ship. It’s a wonder the audience didn’t applaud.

Money has been splurged on this year’s Christmas show at the National. Lizzie Clachan’s deliciously complicated designs require full use of the Olivier’s drum revolve and there’s an clever take on Long John Silver’s leg, plus an impressive animatronic parrot. But that’s pretty much all the good news from Phil. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 1 December 2014

4917-1411552965-assassinssquareGoodness. It seems only yesterday that Phil first encountered Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s (book) Assassins at the Donmar.

That yesterday turns out to be 22 years ago. In between he saw it at the Union Theatre and had somehow forgotten that he’d also seen it at the Landor (Well, he thinks he saw it at the Union, it all sounded very familiar when he reread Andrew’s review, but apparently he wasn’t with Andrew).

But it’s not just Phil that forgets things. His younger companion (no, not Andrew) for the afternoon at the Menier thought she was seeing it for the first time, until she reached the “I am going to the Lordy” song which appears quite late in this 1 hour 45 minute piece.

This being the Menier’s Christmas show expectations are really rather high, especially with Jamie Lloyd directing, Soutra Gilmour designing, a cast that includes Catherine Tate, Andy Nyman, Phil’s favourite History Boy (Jamie Parker), Mike McShane, Whinger-approved Carly (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) Bawden, Aaron Tveit (a leading man from yer actual Broadway) and above all Richard Mawbey on the curling tongs. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Behind the Beautiful Forevers / John, National Theatre

Saturday 22 November 2014

GE DIGITAL CAMERAMisery time at the National.

Just think, you could go and see a matinee of Behind the Beautiful Forevers and John in the evening and come out feeling thoroughly depressed. For that would be the better way round; the latter is shorter than the former’s Act 1. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre

Tuesday 4 November 2014

made-in-dagenham-poster-largeThe signs were so enormously encouraging.

A new (very) British musical with a crack team behind it. Music by James Bond film composer David Arnold, lyrics by Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: the Opera), a book by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Governors) and helmed by Rupert Goold, AD at the Almeida who also delivered in spades (and axes) with the musical version of American Psycho.

On the downside Made in Dagenham is yet another film-to-stage adaptation. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Here Lies Love, National Theatre

Thursday 9 October 2014

here+lies+love+posterSo, to the new Dorfman Theatre (née Cottesloe) for its opening show.

We oft whinged about its previous incarnation, but we are happy to report that the foyer is more spacious and though there’s a sense of déjà vu in the auditorium – which seems only slightly different – the seating is more comfortable, but there are still some fairly crap sightlines.

Too be fair, our seats were sold and marked as “Semi Restricted View”. We’re cheap and weren’t prepared to pay a load more money to stand and be herded around the unseated area below, or as the website off-puttingly states, “Dress comfortably, and come ready to dance!” Oh no, not us. You wouldn’t want to see us busting our grooves.

For this was The Public Theater’s Here Lies Love, a hit rock musical from New York; the glittering love child of David Byrne*, Fatboy Slim and Evita which tells “the astonishing journey of Imelda Marcos, First Lady of the Philippines, from her meteoric rise to power to descent into infamy and disgrace” in an auditorium reconfigured as a “pulsating club”. Why? Byrne’s inspiration came when he found out that Imelda loved the night life, she got to boogie on the disco ’round, oh yeah. Apparently. A regular at Studio 54, she installed a disco ball in her New York apartment and built a dance floor on the roof of her palace in Manila. Who knew? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – James III: The True Mirror, National Theatre

Monday 6 October 2014

Extra James playsIt was too big a commitment to book for all 3 of Rona Munro‘s James Plays despite Phil having a bit of Scottish blood in him and James as a middle name. So he opted for the third one, The True Mirror solely for the reason that it featured The Killing‘s sweater girl Sofie Gråbøl. He’s shallow like that.

Then he saw the reviews, with some critics finding this the least successful of the trilogy. Oh dear. Apparently a very different tone to the other bloodier ones, but it was a tone that suited Phil from the moment he saw the pre-performance Highland(ish) jigging (arranged by Alasdair MacRae) to Pharrell Williams’ hugely infectious “Happy”. Even though the nifty dancing was performed against a live set of bagpipes (an instrument he usually finds deeply irritating) and a hammered dulcimer (a hammered dulcimer!!!) he knew he’d have the tune stuck in his head for the next few days. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Lindsay Lohan in Speed – the – Plow, Playhouse Theatre

Tuesday 30 September 2014

lin-682x1024Oh, Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay…

No, not because she screwed up, far from it, but this must be the most Lindsay-heavy production ever. Two out of the cast of three in David Mamet‘s satirical poke at Hollywood, Speed-the-Plow are Lindsays, Lindsay Lohan and Nigel Lindsay and it’s also directed by a Lindsay (Posner). Poor Richard Schiff must feel the odd one out.

And to complete the Lindsay List, Mamet was once married to the actress Lindsay Crouse. Phew! Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Kate Bush, Before the Dawn, Hammersmith Thingy

Monday 29 September 2014

KatebushBit late in the day really, and not the sort of thing Phil would normally write about, but Kate Bush‘s return to the stage after three and a half decades in Before the Dawn has been described as theatre as much as a concert. Plus it’s directed by Adrian Noble and includes contributions from other theatre people like lighting designer Mark Henderson, illusionist Paul Kieve and video and projection design from Jon Driscoll. Sounds like theatre to us. And we just wanted to brag remind ourselves we were there. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Ballyturk, National Theatre

Tuesday 16 September 2014

488363953_640It was only yesterday that Phil was reminiscing about theatrical mishaps and already he has another to add to his list.

In Enda Walsh‘s strange and possibly existential (if Phil really understood the word) Ballyturk (also directed by Walsh) Cillian Murphy* has a scene where he energetically smashes vinyl singles by hurling them against the back wall of the set (brilliantly choreographed to the tune of each record). One hit at such a perfect angle that instead of shattering it ricocheted and flew like a sharp-edged Frisbee the depth of the Lyttelton stage and out into the auditorium over the ducking heads of patrons in about six rows of the stalls. Since Health and Safety no longer allow sweets to be thrown to kiddies at a panto these days we feel they must be informed immediately.

As they took their seats in the stalls, Phil’s companion for the evening muttered “I have no idea what this play is about”. Ninety minutes later neither he nor Phil were much wiser.

Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre

Monday 15 September 2014

Theplaythatgoeswrong460x346-1

Phil once had the thrill of witnessing a sofa collapsing during Shaw’s yeast infection play Candida.

He can’t remember which of the cast members proved too heavy a burden for said furniture, it could have been Deborah Kerr, Denis Quilley or Patrick Ryecart. Unlikely that it was Maureen Lipman as she played the maid and hired help generally do not get to enjoy the furnishings. It must have been a gloriously accident prone run as apparently her skirt fell off on another occasion.

But at Phil’s performance the sounds of urgent carpentry emanated through the interval curtain which rose to reveal a hastily found piece of wood replacing the missing sofa leg and a cast gingerly lowering their derrières every time they needed to perch upon it. How we giggled. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – My Night With Reg, Donmar

Tuesday 5 August 2014

My-Night-with-RegPhil feared that – like himself – My Night With Reg might not have worn too well.

He saw it at the Royal Court Upstairs when it opened twenty years ago and was something of a success, moving to the West End, winning both the Standard and Olivier best comedy awards and was subsequently turned into a TV film.

You can’t help but wonder if Kevin Elyot wanted to write a gay Abigail’s Party of sorts. It’s a tragi-comedy of manners and morals set partially at an intimate party complete with bowls of nibbles, copious drinking and smoking, an awkwardly uncomfortable character, sexual frustration, a chokingly funny fumbled seduction and all wrapped up in a (now) distinctly period setting (mid to late eighties) with glimpses of vinyl LPs and their sounds, plus like Abigail, we never get to see its titular character. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Great Britain National Theatre

Monday 4 August 2014

image+(36)“OZZY’S SNAKE ATE MY PUSSY” screams a tabloid headline on stage as you take your seat in the Lyttleton Theatre, pretty much setting the tone for the almost three hours of Richard Bean‘s new comedy Great Britain, about hacking scandals, the press and how it links to politics and police.

The production was unveiled at the eleventh hour once the phone hacking trials were concluded and opened to the critics without previews. You could say the press verdicts had to wait for the verdicts on the press. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre

Thursday 10 July 2014

-31148What’s Shakespeare in Love about then?

Well, it’s about 3 hours.

We’ve probably used that ‘gag’ before, but since the West End is hooked on recycling movies and musical back catalogues we feel moved to join in with some gentle regurgitation too.

SIL, should you not know, was a popular and reasonably entertaining film that inexplicably went on to win 7 Academy Awards (you remember, Dame Judi won the Best Supporting Actress statuette for her 8 minutes of screen time as Queen E 1) and is delivered extravagantly to the Noel Coward in both production values and running time. The only brevity here comes in the form of a ceruse-faced Anna Carteret who drifts around oozing regality in the Dame J role in similarly and frustratingly brief appearances. Read the rest of this entry »


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