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 »


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 »


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