Archive for the 'theatre' Category

Review – Oedipus, Pleasance Courtyard Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

Monday 15 August 2011

“Sh*t” moaned the woman heading the queue at the Pleasance Courtyard.

“He’s the reason we booked,” the He being Steven Berkoff, who would not be offering his Creon at Saturday afternoon’s performance.

But she needn’t have worried. Mr Matthew Cullum covered the indisposition splendidly and since this is Oedipus by Steven Berkoff (after Sophocles) the auteur’s presence could be felt throughout it like the letters running through a stick of (Sisyphean?) rock.

We need not concern you overly with the plot. Oedipus married his mother Jocasta (“Where he exits he enters”) which of course leads to..well that would need a spoiler alert.

Simon Merrells who so impressed the Whingers in Berkoff’s On the Waterfront does so again in the title role. Anita Dobson as his mother/wife is strangely mesmerising as she wafts through the proceedings done up like a sixties cocktail party hostess wiggling her fingers constantly as though she’s having trouble getting her nails to dry.

It’s all stunningly staged and lit (Mike Robertson) with the excellent Greek chorus forming typically Berkoffian Last Supper style tableaux against a Dali-esque background (Design by Michael Vale). If it goes on just a little longer than necessary there’s a bit of traditional Greek dancing to help you through. Less Greek chorus, more chorus boys.

Note to the producers: Get Miss Dobson some quick-drying nail varnish so she can stop waving her hands about for the hour and 40 minutes.

Rating

Review – Complicit with Richard Dreyfuss and an earpiece, Old Vic

Wednesday 21 January 2009

complicit at the Old VicWhat a shambles. What a complete and utter shambles. And how entertaining.

Hang on, scrub that last sentence. Complicit wasn’t in the least bit entertaining.

The only entertaining aspect to the evening was the discreet yet mesmerising, scandalous earpiece which Richard Dreyfuss was sporting because – so rumour has it – he does not know all of his lines.

Hard to believe? You can read about it here, here and here and a million other places.

Indeed, according to one source (who, of course, can not be named) a highlight of at least one early preview was the sound of David Suchet loudly calling “prompt” on Dreyfuss’ behalf which – as our Deep Throat conjectured – surely can’t have done much for dressing room bonhomie.

But the West End Whingers are proud to report that they can now reveal that there is in fact a wholly legitimate reason for Dreyfuss’ inability to remember his lines. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, National Theatre

Sunday 18 January 2009

every-good-boy_149_224chke7c

A Accurately Advertised running time for once. 65 minutes long.

B Brevity. The Whingers approve.

C Coughing. Had the National imported the audience from Oliver! wholesale?

D Don’t people bother with cough sweets theses days?

E Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is a play for actors and orchestra (Southbank Sinfonia) by Tom Stoppard and André Previn. It’s a rarely performed curiosity. An extravagance. But is it worth the effort? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Well, Apollo Theatre

Wednesday 7 January 2009

well

With everyone in New Year mode, many thinking about their health and their body (not that anyone is thinking about Andrew’s body) it seemed appropriate that the Whingers’ first outing of 09 should be to Lisa Kron‘s play Well at the Apollo Theatre.

Well, actually Andrew had no idea why the Whingers went to see this. He had a vague recollection that they had concluded quite some time ago – possibly before it had even been written – that it was going to be awful* and that the Whingers were definitely going to give it a wider berth.

Their presence at the Apollo on Monday evening can only be put down to Phil’s determination to see “international screen icon” Sarah Miles on stage. Anyway… Read the rest of this entry »

In Which The Whingers Reveal Doctor Who’s New Look…

Monday 5 January 2009

pa457413_175x175After months of speculation, this weekend saw the unexpected announcement that Matt Smith is to take over from the David (back injury) Tennant* as the new Doctor Who.

Andrew (who famously doesn’t do telly) cares about such matters. But, despite being sure that Mr Smith will no doubt prove an excellent choice, the Whingers’ own casting department had been barking up all the wrong trees. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sunset Boulevard, Comedy Theatre

Tuesday 9 December 2008

sunsetboulevard“You can’t write a musical about Sunset Boulevard,” Billy Wilder is said to have told Stephen Sondheim. “It has to be an opera. After all, it’s about a dethroned queen” (We’re not going to insult your intelligence with links to SB, BW or SS – you know what/who they are).

Sondheim got the message but if Andrew Lloyd Webber had any qualms he overcame them and – unhappily – another hit was born, Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Betty Buckley, Petula Clark and Rita Moreno (ditto) being among the luminaries who have given their close-up, Mr De Mille.

Now, cards on the table. The Whingers have never been struck by Mr Lloyd Webber’s work and they tend to steer well-clear of sung-through musicals. They also believe that Sunset Boulevard is a classic film that no-one has any right to mess with (for heaven’s sake; at this rate they’ll be staging All About Eve next!) but they gallantly overcame all these prejudices and more in order to take a trip down Sunset Boulevard at the Comedy Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: August: Osage County, National Theatre

Saturday 6 December 2008

august-osage-countyfz6mif1Phew! What a lot of relief for the Whingers. On three counts.

After watching some actors being not entirely convincingly American in Neil LaBute’s In A Dark Dark House last week, it came as a real treat to see 13 genuine Americans (one of them genuinely genuine -a Native American) shipped across the pond for the National’s import of Mr Tracy Letts‘ Broadway hit August: Osage County, to play, well, Americans.

But more importantly what a relief to see a title punctuated with care and attention. The Whingers are always delighted to see a rather lovely and robust colon. Mr Letts clearly knows something Mr LaBute doesn’t: punctuation. We are now hoping that a play be written which incorporates the subjunctive in its title.

Thirdly, the Whingers can confidently now make mention of the play at a dinner party or while in witty conversation with an off-licence manager without mumbling or shortening it to “August” as they know it’s pronounced owe-sidge; previously they had been rhyming it with “sausage”. Read the rest of this entry »

In which the Whingers are bewildered by the economics of theatre

Monday 1 December 2008

So VAT on theatre tickets goes down today and in some cases the reduction is being passed on to the public. Mark Shenton reports that shows such as Mamma Mia!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Sound of Music will be dropping their prices. To give you an example of the scale of this, here’s what it means for Grease:

Box office prices, previously scaled from £20 to £55, will now be re-priced from £19.50 to £53.50, representing savings of between 50p and £1.50 per ticket. The middle range of prices from £30-£45 will each see the prices reduced by £1.

So that should pack them in. Far better to take one’s chances on TKTS or LastMinute.com or any of the myriad offers available. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: A Little Night Music, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 1 December 2008

8ebff51a6e8e3f904c2c4e6e4667b3e4_poster-alnmThis was the show the Whingers had been waiting for.

Not because the Whingers love Sondheim (they do). Not because they wanted to see if Trevor Nunn could atone for the terrible sins he committed with Gone With the Wind – The Musical! (he has). Or to see if, at 34, Hannah Waddingham would convince as the youngest ever Desirée Armfeldt (she did).

No, rising like a shining beacon of common sense and democracy above all of this was the news that A Little Night Music was to be the first production at the Menier Chocolate Factory where they dropped their absurd and unpopular unreserved seating policy*. Yeah! Good old Menier, the Whingers hoops had never been so cocked (or should that be the other way round?). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Calendar Girls, Richmond Theatre

Sunday 30 November 2008

p4701_m1

Sometimes the Whingers leave the theatre inspired.

Braving the rugby fans heading for Twickenham yesterday they trailed out to the Richmond Theatre through the Simon Callow and Bonnie Langford themed ticket barriers at the station to see the stage adaptation of Calendar Girls.

Yes, with New Year just around the corner they’re left themselves with a matter of weeks to bring out their own charity calendar. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: In a Dark Dark House, Almeida Theatre

Thursday 27 November 2008

The Whingers have very few secrets left. Oh, it’s true that they know the locations of some dark, dark bars which they will never share with their clamouring, clamouring public; places where they can enjoy a bottle of red, red wine uninterrupted by the constant, constant throng of fans and celebrity hangers-on.

And Phil knows secret, secret things about Andrew that he wouldn’t dream of sharing with the world: he has after all seen him swilling his undie(sirables) in a Frankfurt hotel bathtub; he knows what Andrew looked like before his operation; and that Andrew’s middle name is Margaret. But he would never, never tell.

But the secrets unravelled in Neil La Bute’s In a Dark Dark House at the Almeida are altogether more controversial. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Family Reunion at the Donmar Warehouse

Tuesday 25 November 2008

the-family-reunionOne of the many differences between the Whingers is that Andrew doesn’t really “do” parties whereas Phil will seize on any event as an excuse to hold a party – a general election, the Eurovision Song Contest, the arrival of his water bill and so on.

But with one voice they can agree that the birthday party around which T.S. Eliot pegs The Family Reunion is one they would find any excuse to miss. Read the rest of this entry »

(Re)Review – La Cage aux Folles – Playhouse Theatre

Wednesday 19 November 2008

wew-la-cageThe Whingers are not known for generosity, fairness or giving things second chances.

But having been rather disappointed by La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier (it was the first preview and Douglas Hodge was indisposed) it was with a quite uncharacteristic dollop of largesse that they decided to take in the show’s West End transfer. Taking a lesson from the show’s lyrics the Whingers trotted off to its new home at the Playhouse Theatre hoping to see things from a different angle.

They had been encouraged by terrific reviews* (particularly for Hodge) such as:

“HODGE REVELS WITH SEDUCTIVE ELAN”
Evening Standard

“AS AN ANTIDOTE TO THE CREDIT-CRUNCH BLUES, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES IS UNBEATABLE”
Daily Telegraph

“SEW ON A SEQUIN, SLIP INTO SOME HEELS AND GO”
The Times

“THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO CHASE AWAY RECESSION BLUES”
Time Out

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Imagine This The Musical! New London Theatre

Thursday 13 November 2008

Imagine This

Whatever next? Abu Ghraib the Musical!? Guantánamo the Musical!?

Any new musical is a tremendous risk but to stage one set in 1942 about the occupants of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw staging a show about Masada (where a siege by troops of the Roman Empire in AD 73 led to the mass suicide of Jewish rebels who preferred death to surrender) seems like, well, suicide.

Choose the same venue that housed the mega-flop Gone With the Wind – The Musical! and you might as well be go round backstage shouting “Macbeth” at every Tom, Dick and Manny.

Then there is the misfortune of staging it at a time when “the R word” is tightening belts.

And finally you have to take into account that this is, after all, Whingertown and the Whingers are curiously resistant to new musicals (all the good musicals having already been written in our humble opinion). Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Gethsemane by David Hare, National Theatre

Tuesday 11 November 2008

One of the many questions that Whingers get asked is: why do you go to see things that you’re so clearly not going to enjoy?

That and: “What do you think you’re doing with my wine?”

The answer to the former is that the Whingers are constantly hoping to better themselves. While this may seem to you to display a distinct paucity of ambition, the Whingers are committed to exposing themselves to as wide a range of cultural input as possible. It is their hope that theatre can expand their horizons, challenge their thinking and create new dreams for them to live. Very like Mr Barack Obama in this respect, the Whingers dare to hope for change we need.

Playwright David Hare is a case in point. Not known for his musicals, whodunnits nor lately for amusingly written parts for Dames of the British Empire (Amy’s View being the most recent we can think of) he seems, on the surface of it, to have little on his stall that might attract the attention of a passing Whinger.

Yet Gethsemane could so easily have gone either way; Andrew had been much moved by The Permanent Way, Hare’s verbatim theatrical piece on the privatisation of the railways; Phil had some good words to say about Stuff Happens (although Andrew fell asleep 15 minutes in and bailed out at the interval). Read the rest of this entry »

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