Posts Tagged ‘off-West End’

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 – 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 – Aladdin with Jo Brand, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Aladdin-New-WimbledonWhat ain’t we got? We ain’t got dames apparently.

If you’ve been perturbed by recent news reports that the panto dame is on the endangered species list then head off to the New Wimbledon Theatre for a dose of Aladdin.

Even if the principal boy is no longer played by a woman, we never see a slosh scene, health and safety prevents sweets being thrown into the auditorium and the song sheet seems to be generally lost to the past there is no danger of dame-flatlining here. Tradition is kept gloriously intact with an array of outrageous costumes and wigs inhabited by the wonderful Matthew Kelly, proving that there is nothing quite like a panto dame. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Candide, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 2 December 2013

0da9365bfeecf4a1a9c714ecaf59227cPhil’s 4th Candide, and if he had a better memory he would make comparisons. So a swift read up of the Whingers’ last one (at the ENO) reminded him that, in that case, it was long (3¼ hours), gimmicky and sometimes inaudible.

But that’s what can happen if you let opera companies have their wicked way with it. Thankfully this one is shorter (2 hours 40 mins), the often brilliant lyrics entirely audible and the staging traditional.

Well, one might say traditional if one were not a Whinger. The Menier’s production is off-puttingly staged in the round. But, and swallowing hard, Phil was forced reluctantly to admit that it works. Yes, occasionally there is the discomfort of a little Linda Blair-ish head swivelling to see the performers as they cavort around the auditorium (choreography Adam Cooper), but on the plus side you’re close enough to get a hooped skirt in your face and if seated in the front row may even find yourself becoming part of the show wearing a natty red titfer. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Scottsboro Boys, Young Vic

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Phil is constantly surprised by life.

After experiencing his first earthquake and returning to his hotel room, he ran a forensic check on his bathroom’s grouting. How, when the whole building was quivering around him, did it survive intact without even the hint of a hairline crack? It wasn’t even flexible grouting. How do they do that?

And he shouldn’t really be surprised by the musicalisation of grim real-life events anymore but he is. After all he suffered Jean Seberg (which, if he remembers correctly  – when he saw it – opened with the actress’s body discovered in the boot of a car after her suicide and also contained the jaw-dropping moment of a chorus line of tap dancing psychiatrists) then there was the equally memorable Too Close to the Sun (the last 24 hours in the life of Earnest Hemingway before he blew his brain out). The surprise in The Scottsboro Boys, concerning nine black teenage boys, falsely accused of rape in the Alabama of 1931, isn’t so much that the event was turned into a musical, but that – unlike those others – it actually works. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Storm in a Flower Vase, Arts Theatre

Monday 23 September 2013

photo-1Q What does it take to get Andrew back inside a theatre?

A Flower arranging.

Andrew knows a thing or two about arranging dainty blooms and, like Phil, is old enough to have heard of Constance Spry. Well, we knew she was to flowers what Mary Berry is to cookery but we knew little else. Phil also thought she wrote short sentimental poems, but after an interval discussion and much rummaging around in the recesses of their memory banks (like a Much Ado About Nothing lead) decided he was confusing her with Patience Strong.

She also invented ‘Coronation Chicken’, which sadly, is only briefly alluded to in Storm in a Flower Vase, probably because there was so many other things going on in her life there just wasn’t time. Or perhaps she was embarrassed about concocting such a hideous assault on the taste buds? She should be. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Sound of Music, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Friday 6 September 2013

1802597838One of Phil’s earliest memories is of being taken to Manchester’s Gaumont Cinema to see the film of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II‘s The Sound of Music (book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse) after it had just opened.

This family outing came with the added thrill of knowing that it would probably take up to a year to reach his local, The Vista, Westbury*. He’d never been to such a grand cinema before, tickets had been booked in advance and he recalls being fascinated by a fountain on the staircase up to the circle. As you never needed to book in advance at The Vista and its “circle” was only 2 steps higher than the stalls, it’s hardly surprising he was beside himself with excitement.

But above all he remembers becoming moist around the eyes as Maria got hitched to Captain Von Trapp. The scene came after the intermission (hands up if you’re old enough to remember films with intermissions) but Phil’s tears were of joy for Maria, despite her annexing a Captain with seven children. Now he’d be weeping for other reasons and looking forward to their appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show. 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 – The Drowned Man, National Theatre at Temple Studios

Friday 28 June 2013

the-drowned-man-punchdrunk-posterIt’s been three years since the Whingers tramped out to God-knows-where to see the site-specific, promenady Punchdrunk production The Duchess of Malfi where Andrew sighed,“It’s more of the same, really”. You would think we would learn. But it seems Andrew did learn something; he was having none of it this time round. And, of course, The Drowned Man is more of the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – London Wall, St James Theatre

Tuesday 21 May 2013

5229You can rely on the teensy Finborough Theatre (from whence this transferred) to find obscure works worth reviving. London Wall has been described as long-forgotten. Not by us. We’d have have had to have some memory of it in the first place to have forgotten it now.

We also knew little about its playwright. We didn’t know John Van Druten directed the original production of The King and I. All we knew him for was his 1951 play based on the Christopher Isherwood stories that formed the basis for the musical Cabaret. That was called I am a Camera; it’s small wonder they named a Broadway theatre after the critic Walter Kerr who famously came up with the succinctly brilliant review for it, “Me no Leica”. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Desperately Seeking The Exit, Leicester Square Theatre

Friday 3 May 2013

2DEB571D0-91CF-31F3-D6FD5E46F5DF1292We have observed before how carefully one must choose the title of one’s show lest critics, sub-editors or even pesky bloggers get their hands on it and turn it on its head and here is Peter Michael Marino doing it to himself, sort of, with a bit of help from Charlie Spencer.

Having eventually recovered from a year long bout of depression and a severe case of haemorrhoids the writer of the 2007 West End flop musical Desperately Seeking Susan has nicked a quote from Charles Spencer’s review and used it for his one man piece Desperately Seeking the Exit (director John Clancy) which explains what went wrong.

The Whingers never saw DSS and we’re not even sure why. We’re both very partial to The Blondie, whose songs were purloined to musicalise the plot from the 1985 film (memorable because (a) it featured Madonna and (b) she wasn’t terrible in it).

How bad could the musical version have been? As bad as Paradise Found? Viva Forever! (which has just announced it is not quite forever)? Or the so-bad-it-was-(almost)-good Too Close to the Sun? Surely not. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Trelawny of the Wells, Donmar

Monday 8 April 2013

Trelawny_Of_The_Wells-1-200-200-100-cropBit late in the day with this one and frankly we weren’t going to bother writing it up as it closes on Saturday. But we’ll forget that we saw it otherwise. That’s not to say it’s forgettable. It’s just us.

Andrew was a Trelawny of the Wells virgin. Phil saw the starry Helena Bonham Carter version at the then Comedy Theatre 20-odd years ago; rather unfortunately the National also staged it around the same time. Oops. Phil remembered that it featured Michael Hordern, Jason Connery and Margaret Courtenay but had completely forgotten that cosmonaut-in-waiting Sarah Brightman also starred. How could he forget that? It seemed necessary to record our visit, if only for ourselves. You should feel no obligation to read any further. 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 – Leslie Jordan – Fruit Fly, Leicester Square Theatre

Wednesday 13 March 2013

27075A01F-D8C0-4509-A18997EE476444BC

Walking through Leicester Square last night en route to a post-show tincture the Whingers were discussing the square’s new look. Phil related a story about how he was criticising the square’s new metal railings to a friend, not realising he was talking to the person behind its redesign. Oops.

Phil then rambled on about the new(ish) look of Kensington High Street and how it has a very clean feel. “Your mother would like it” replied Andrew sagely.

Andrew is often telling Phil, “You sound like your mother” despite never having met her. Both Whingers spent the Mothering Sunday weekends with their respective mothers and Phil can confirm that he becomes more like her with each passing day. Andrew is probably making the transformation as well (hopefully into his own mother, not Phil’s), but has yet to admit it.

Anyway, in Fruit Fly, Leslie Jordan (Will and Grace‘s Beverley Leslie) asks if it is the fate of all gay men to turn into their mothers and by illustrating his show with some fabulous family photographs he makes a pretty good case. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Longing, Hampstead Theatre

Wednesday 6 March 2013

2499-fitandcrop-495x330Choosing a title for your play must be a bit like negotiating a minefield. It’s a wonder Princess Diana never got involved.

Unless you’re Ernie Wise or Alan Ayckbourn you’ve probably spent months, possibly years, crafting, polishing and honing it. And surely then dithering over a name by which it will be known for perpetuity.

A very good play with an iffy title may, possibly, not matter too much. But a bad play with the wrong moniker can give critics a field day. Read the rest of this entry »

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