Posts Tagged ‘Almeida Theatre’

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 – 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 »

The 2013 Whingie Awards – the very worst and the not so bad

Monday 6 January 2014

whingieawardA bit late getting around to this. But since it’s probably your first day back at work, let’s face it you’re not really intending to do any real work are you? Isn’t that why you’re here?

Anyhoo, a year ago we speculated that 2013 might be an unlucky year for some.

The unfortunate roof collapse at the Apollo Theatre proved this both true and untrue. Unlucky for anyone involved, but lucky in the sense that it could easily have been so much worse.

When Phil discussed the incident with his sister they realised they’d been to the Apollo together only once, ironically to the musical Up On the Roof.

But, as Phil watched events unfold on BBC News that night, there was a rather flattering moment for London Theatre audiences. Returning to the studio, after watching people describe what they’d seen inside the Apollo, the news anchor remarked that he’d never heard such articulate eyewitness reports before.

Unlucky for theatre critics too as they were picked off one by one. Who wasn’t reminded of the Vincent Price film Theatre of Blood? It seemed newspapers either didn’t want arts critics any more, or didn’t want the one they already had. And in one case, apparently found the spurious excuse of pants-dropping for dropping their scribe.

But it seems the critics are finding other outlets. The Telegraph’s Tim Walker is expanding on his appearance in Top Hat to play God in Spamalot. How long before we get to see Libby Purves’ Grizabella the glamour theatreCat, Mark Shenton disrobing in Hair or theatregoers saying “Hello” to Tim Walker’s Dolly! ?

It was also the year Andrew decided he didn’t want to write for the Whingers anymore. For the record, he went of his own accord, quashing the scurrilous rumours that Phil staged a coup after finding a rather inappropriate image of Andrew in his jim jams on the internet.

So without further ado, here are Phil’s choices for the year, just so he can use the word ‘actress’ again and not group everyone together as ‘actors’… Read the rest of this entry »

Review – American Psycho : A new musical thriller, Almeida Theatre

Thursday 12 December 2013

MainProductionImage_260x356Accident or design?

The words “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE” are projected across the three sides of Es Devlin’s stylish box set for American Psycho with the words “ABANDON WHO” appearing alone together on one of the sections.

Phil assumed it was a subtle joke referencing Matt Smith leaving behind his Doctor Who persona and returning to theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Chimerica, AlmeidaTheatre

Tuesday 2 July 2013

NEW_Chimerica_MainPhil once stood in Tiananmen Square, not facing a tank obvs, but facing the body of Chairman Mao (or what’s said to be his body) in the Mao Mausoleum. He also played frisbee there (in the square that is, not the mausoleum, although it was certainly vast enough in to have flicked a bit of plastic around in front of the waxy-looking ‘body’).

7 years later the tanks that rolled in were stopped by an unknown man standing in front of them. He was captured on film in what was to become one of the most iconic images of the last century.

The gushing raves for Lucy Kirkwood‘s Chimerica (a co-production with Headlong) have ensured a sell-out at the Almeida (where it’s now in its last week), hardly surprising canny Sonia Friedman snapped it up for the West End where it’ll be at the Harold Pinter Theatre from August 6th.

Could this be the same Kirkwood who delivered the Whinger-unapproved Tinderbox 5 years ago when apparently she was already a year into writing this play? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Before the Party, Almeida Theatre

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Before_the_party_mainHere’s a puzzler to confound, should you happen to find yourself at a party surrounded by theatrically persuaded people: What is the connection between Before the Party and the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Give up? Well, the latter wouldn’t be quite the same without the formers’s writer. Academy Award nominee, Hitchcock collaborator and BTP playwright Rodney Ackland is also credited with discovering Chitty star Sally Anne Howes. That’s if you believe the Gospel according to St Wiki. We do. Who would think to make that up?

But his 1949 play (based on a short story by W. Somerset Maugham) is a bit of a puzzler itself. Part family drama, part melodrama,  part satire, part comedy and – in this production – bearing absurdist overtones and (rather redundantly)  animation. It’s as if Ackland were delving into the darker recesses of Terrance Rattigan’s psyche and percolating it through a wafer thin filter of Joe Orton. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Filumena, Almeida theatre

Thursday 22 March 2012

“Tell me why we’re seeing this?” Andrew had grilled Phil with such alarming regularity that if he’d been looking into a mirror The Candyman would probably have appeared.

“Because Samantha Spiro is in it and I saw it years ago and really enjoyed it” Phil repeated with increasing impatience.

Of course Phil’s ‘years ago’ wasn’t Judi Dench’s Filumena, which was a mere 14 years ago, but the Franco Zeffirelli production from so long ago that Patricia Hayes was playing the maid and Joan Plowright’s youthful sons included Trevor Eve and Larry Lamb.

Those were the days when Phil would sit in the gallery of the Theatre Royal Brighton and see everything and – more peculiarly – enjoy almost everything. How times have changed. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The House of Bernarda Alba, Almeida Theatre

Tuesday 24 January 2012

“I wanted to rewind the first couple of minutes and see them again,” Andrew whined at the end of The House of Bernarda Alba. Not for the first time Phil wished Andrew would pay more attention to things.

But on this occasion, to be fair, THOBA does open with something of an unexpected coup de théâtre – a promising start indeed. Not only did it introduce the clever conceit that Bijan Sheibani‘s production has adopted but it grabbed the Whingers’ limited attentions instantly making them wonder if this brilliantly timed stunt was the work of theatrical illusionist Paul Kieve.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Reasons To Be Pretty, Almeida Theatre

Saturday 19 November 2011

Neil LaBute is never far from controversy but the Whingers have less issue with his subject matter than his titles. Andrew got himself in a right old tizzy about a missing comma In a Dark Dark House (also at the Almeida Theatre) and earlier this year he was quite punctilious about the punctuation again when that AWOL comma turned up quite superfluously in In a Forest, Dark and Deep before being being told to stand on the stupid step as it was a quote from Walt Whitman.

It was Phil’s turn this time. Shouldn’t Reasons To Be Pretty be Reasons to be Pretty, arguing that Ian Drury’s song “Reasons to be Cheerful” opts for lower case on the copula verb? When the play first appeared in New York in 2008 LaBute seemed To Be taking no chances, dropping the upper case completely by opting for reasons to be pretty. Gosh, everyone seems confused. Some think it’s Reasons to Be Pretty.

But are we arguing about physical appearance rather than content? This is what Lord Harold Fritz-Liberty (Mr LaBute’s Royal Wedding name) is tackling again in the third of his trilogy of plays on the subject. Phil had previously enjoyed the twisted The Shape of Things (also Almeida when it decamped to King’s Cross) and both Whingers were very taken by his Fat Pig. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – My City, Almeida Theatre

Friday 9 September 2011

Yeah, yeah, first previews and all that.

But such is the pulling power of Tracey Ullman‘s return to the stage in Stephen Poliakoff‘s first play for 12 years that, due to an administrative oversight in the Whingers’ theatrical diary “planning”, this was the only night we could make in the foreseeable. So there.

Ullman plays a former primary headmistress Miss Lambert who is prone to wandering the streets and underbelly of London by night. One night she is discovered laying on a park bench by one of her former pupils Richard (Tom Riley). This chance meeting leads to a peculiar night on the town with another ex-pupil Julie (Siân Brooke) and the other two members of Miss Lambert’s strange coven of teachers (David Troughton and Sorcha Cusack). Read the rest of this entry »

Review – A Delicate Balance, Almeida Theatre

Thursday 12 May 2011

Dear Mr Albee,

Dr Andrew and Dr Phil dropped in at the Almeida surgery recently. They administered detailed examinations to the troubled men and womenfolk of your 1966 play without even taking recourse to insert the Whingers’ Patented Rectal Thermometer. We’re afraid we have bad news for you, the prognoses are not at all promising. Here are our findings: Read the rest of this entry »

Review – House of Games, Almeida Theatre (Phil’s review)

Thursday 23 September 2010

Golly gosh. Can it really be a full year since the Whingers’ minds were not as one. Last September two consecutive shows (Talent and Ben Hur Live!) created a gulf wider than the one a freshly-banged-up popster created in Hampstead’s Snappy Snaps.

Andrew was adamant, “I’d sooner sit through Passion again.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Mrs Klein, Almeida Theatre

Sunday 1 November 2009

MrsKleinWebDear Andrew,

Where are you? You don’t call, you don’t write, you don’t Twitter, have you turned into Stephen Fry? And you keep sending me off to see things on my own, it’s all rather disquieting.

I heard rumours you were spotted in Coventry earlier this week. I can quite categorically state it wasn’t me who sent you there.

By the time you receive this letter the run of Mrs Klein will probably have ended long ago and we’ll be DBEs.

It’s all beginning to look rather peculiar. The last time you sent me off to the Almeida Theatre it was Duet for One, a play set around a series of therapy sessions.

Are you trying to tell me something? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Duet for One, Almeida Theatre

Sunday 15 February 2009

duet-for-one-almeida-theatreDear Andrew

Mea culpa. Apologies for taking so long to reply to your letter of Jan 25th.

I’m sure that today being Valentine’s day you had other plans anyway. What is it this year? Skywriting interlocking Whingers’ masks in the sky? Leaving a trail of rose petals down Shaftesbury Avenue?

As an incurable romantic and I’m sure as loved up as ever, you’ll probably be in a right old lather, running hither and thither, making romantic gestures all over town. I do hope that some people make gestures back at you.

I know I turned down the chance to be near you at Be Near Me, I hadn’t realised the significance of it’s title. How perverse that I should de duetting as one at Duet for One on this, the most romantic day of the year. 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 »

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