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 »


Review – Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 8 July 2014

220x300The Whingers have something of a history with Forbidden Broadway.

They first saw it on the Broadway itself – or rather off the Broadway – in 2007 (it was already 25 years old then) as they were running out of things too see on yer actual Broadway due to a strike by Local One.

And we saw a revised version at the Menier 5 years ago when those clever people behind the show had us eating out of their hands by name-checking the Whingers in one of the songs. How we swooned.

Of course we would not get a mention now. That moment has passed, the joke has been done and our stock is depleted. But this show has sufficient allure that even Andrew brushed off his mothballs and dragged himself along for this one.

The biggest problem for Gerard Alessandrini’s send up of Broadway and West End shows – which is constantly updated according to which shows are currently running – was could it possibly live up to its previous incarnations? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – 20th Century Boy, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 25 June 2014

800x800.fitdownThere was really only one suitable person to accompany Phil to the Marc Bolan musical 20th Century Boy at the New Wimbledon Theatre (actually, Andrew was offered first dibs, but keep that to yourself) and that was one time glamster Paul. Paul’s Bolan fan credentials include a visit to the Barnes tree where the popster met an untimely end and dressing up as him for a fancy dress party to celebrate his own wedding (for the record Phil attended as Mr Spock). Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Mr Burns, Almeida Theatre

Thursday 12 June 2014

Mr_Burns_image_260x356_MAINWell, you can’t win them all, although it looked at one stage as if the Almedia just might.

Churning out possibly the best 3 theatrical productions of the last 12 months: Chimerica, American Psycho and King Charles III the Almeida has earned an almost unlimited number of theatrical “Get out of jail free” cards. This latest offering, Mr Burns, creates a host of reasons why it may be time to return them all to the pack.

Mild irritation begins with in its billing as “a post-electric play by Anne Washburn” which should have served as a warning to how potentially annoying this play might prove. An unspecified apocalypse in the near future has led to nuclear power stations leaking (It probably helps to know that Mr Burns is the evil owner of the nuclear power plant in The Simpsons.) and leaving those who survive without electricity. The whole of Act 1 is performed in a gloom so crepuscular you can barely see the actors’ faces. Perhaps the cast wished to remain anonymous? Who would blame them? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Sunny Afternoon, Hampstead Theatre

Saturday 26 April 2014

Sunny_Afternoon-342x800” It’s not about the words. It’s about the atmosphere” says Ray Davies (John Dagleish) towards the end of the new Kinks’ musical. How apt.

By the finale, that atmosphere was something akin to a party. A party of people jiggling around (but not like their dads at discos – for this audience was largely too elderly to have parents still alive), in the form of a stage-managed standing dancing ovation. Sunny Afternoon is looking to the West End. Not very rock and roll. It ends up wanting to be Mamma Mia. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Handbagged, Vaudeville Theatre

Tuesday 22 April 2014

handbagged-compStrange how things come in pairs.

Phil recently saw two Nunns back to back and now this is his second play in a row portraying living royals.

Of course the Queen is missing from Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III but in Moira Buffini‘s offering, Handbagged, she’s very much alive. There’s two Queens; an older version, Q (Marion Bailey) and one younger, Liz (Lucy Robinson). But some may feel it should come with a warning, “this play contains two Margaret Thatchers”. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – King Charles III, Almeida Theatre

Tuesday 15 April 2014

_Charles_image_260_x_356_pxNaughty Mike Bartlett.

This of course the same Mike Bartlett who once presented us with his Cock. Naturally we had a lot of fun with that title at the time and like childish schoolboys will always whip it out to play around with when the opportunity arises.

But it seems Bartlett is having even more fun with his “future history play”, King Charles III.

His playwriting credits are going to have to be very carefully organised in the future to avoid them being listed as Love, Love Love, King Charles III, Cock. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Finian’s Rainbow, Charing Cross Theatre

Tuesday 8 April 2014

iconsquareFinian'sRainbowmainimage-2“Merciful heaven it’s a crock!”

It’s a brave show that risks a line that. And yes, of course, we tittered inappropriately. But Finian’s Rainbow is in some ways brave. It’s certainly utterly bonkers.

Not seen in the West End since its 1947 UK debut at the Palace where it ran for only 55 performances. What audiences made of it 67 years ago is anyone’s guess. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Let the Right One In, Apollo Theatre

Friday 4 April 2014

gI_120388_Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.49.01A few things you may not know about Let the Right One In.

Let the Right One In is not a UKIP immigration policy.

Nor is Let the Right One Nigel Farage’s new campaign slogan. Well, not yet anyway.

Phil can’t think of the title, Let the Right One without humming “The Hokey Cokey”. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Savoy Theatre

Tuesday 1 April 2014

posterIf you feel the need to say “We had great seats” or “the sets were very good” when you come out of the theatre then there’s a big possibly that something is very wrong with the show itself.

Phil burbled enthusiastically on both these matters when he left Dirty Rotten Scoundrels last night.

Peter McKintosh’s uncluttered, crisp designs slip into the glorious Art Deco interior of the Savoy Theatre like a glove (that would be a glove coated in, ahem, K-Y Jelly. See later). They seem almost an extension of the auditorium itself and with swift, relatively simple, adjustments conjure up all the requisite locations whilst never delaying or distracting from the show.

Now for the bad news. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Relative Values, Harold Pinter Theatre

Monday 31 March 2014

relativevaluesJust like buses. Two Trevor Nunns in a row.

Not intentional. Just the way it happened. But if Fatal Attraction is his (probably) doomed bendy bus of directorial offerings, Relative Values (which has been knocking around since kicking off the Theatre Royal Bath’s summer season last year) is his Routemaster; vintage and offering a far more agreeable ride.

Hard to say too much about Noël Coward‘s 1951 whimsy without giving too much of the endearingly implausible plot away. Phil isn’t sure if he’s seen it on stage before though he saw the 2000 film starring Julie Andrews, yet can remember little of it except that it concerns – particularly in this production – the unlikeliest pair of siblings since De Vito and Schwarzenegger in Twins.

Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Fatal Attraction, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Tuesday 25 March 2014

FA_015_M2S-PROMO-WEB-IMAGES_246pxw_x_379pxhIt’s all about the bunny, bunny, bunny…

Hard to believe it’s 27 years since the film Fatal Attraction left its indelible stamp in life’s lexicon with the term ‘bunny boiler’. And, unlike this story which dispatches the rabbit in Act 2, we shall dispense with it straight away.

Yes, we do see a live one. Cue cooing “Ahhhs” from the audience. A change from the occasional gasps as audience members who presumably hadn’t seen (or couldn’t remember) the film reacted to plot points. Then there was the rather inappropriate wolf-whistle when Mark Bazeley‘s errant husband Dan Gallagher appeared in his Calvins. Tsk. Couldn’t he/she get a seat for The Full Monty?

Read the rest of this entry »


Review – I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical in 3 Acts, London Palladium

Friday 21 March 2014

icantsingPreamble

Something of surprise that the well-received The Full Monty (you know the one; men lose their jobs and take their clothes off as a result. Critic Mark Shenton’s life back to front if you think about it) has posted closing notices so soon. We may not have been especially impressed with Monty yet it still looked like a sure-fire hen party hit to us. Clothes were shed but more than than shirts have been lost.

So, even if it does match Hello, Dolly! for the amount of punctuation employed in a musical’s title, what hope then for the Harry Hill/Steve Brown show I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical ? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Blithe Spirit starring Dame Angela Lansbury, Gielgud Theatre

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Perhaps that should be Dame-elect.poster

As far as we know Angela Lansbury‘s still waiting to pick up her gong. But it’s well-timed. Charity gigs aside (Phil once saw her perform ‘Bosom Buddies’ with Bea Arthur), she’s not appeared on the London stage for almost 40 years. How canny of Palace officials to catch her while they can.

And gosh, we hadn’t seen post-show crowds outside a stage door like these for years. Presumably most are familiar with her from constant reruns of Murder, She Wrote rather than Gaslight, The Manchurian Candidate or her record number of Tony Award acting wins.

We watched it in mild amazement from the safety of The White Horse upstairs bar as a Mark Shenton look-alike tried to corral the throng seeping out from behind the crash barriers, to allow access for her car. Which, when it came, she entered, wound down the window and threw cheery waves on departing.

Let’s hope when she goes to the Palace she gets HMQ and not one of the second-stringers. They can have a wave-off.

Now, unless you’re connected to someone in the show or Biggins and get invited to the opening, there’s two ways for ordinary members of the public to get tickets for Blithe Spirit. You can either forgo a few luxuries and fork out up to £92.25, or you can do as we did and enjoy a morning sojourn playing Scrabble on the pavement outside the Gielgud Theatre and get one of the day seats for £10*. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Full Monty, Noel Coward Theatre

Saturday 1 March 2014

There’s a branch of Blockbusters that’s still open and it’s called the West End.

We’ve already got (or recently had), to name but a few, Dirty Dancing, The Lion King, Strangers on a Train, The Bodyguard, Billy Elliot, Once, From Here to Eternity, and The Commitments and with Fatal Attraction, Back to the Future, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Let the Right One In, yet to come. Adaptations of popular films seem to be the only way to secure an audience.

We were at the opening night of The Full Monty so you’d expect the audience to be wildly enthusiastic, the cast and people behind the show have their chums in after all. But one woman in a stage side box got up and danced along, not just at the obligatory standing ovation curtain call, but during the show. Perhaps she was trying to attract the eye of one of the many celebrities present. But which one? Richard Wilson? Sir Derek Jacobi? Mark Almond? Biggins? Read the rest of this entry »


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