Review – Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s Theatre

Friday 10 May 2019

Cor. A rarely performed piece of Ibsen gloom which has been dumped straight into the West End without the usual slew of raves from a previous incarnation at an Almeida or a Royal Court to ignite a buzz. And, come to that, no really big name draws like a Dench or a Smith (that’s Maggie not Sheridan) let alone a Waller-Bridge to get those box office tills overheating.

But then this comes from that spunkiest of producers, Sonia Friedman, who rarely seems to put a foot wrong. Just as well really with this tightrope she’s strung herself across St Martin’s Lane. Thank goodness for her Harry Potter safety net.

This production of Rosmerholm claims to be a new adaptation by Duncan Macmillan but we think it’s actually been given a light fingering by Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review – All My Sons, Old Vic

Friday 19 April 2019

Whisper it. This is really rather good but let’s not make a big song and dance about it, say it ever so quietly so no one can hear you.

For this is the 1947 All My Sons by Marilyn Monroe’s ex husband starring former Flying Nun and double Academy Award-winner Sally (you like me, right now, you like me!) Field, and the go-to for cinematic and television POTUSes Bill Pullman. How Hollywood is that? Come see them bucking that hoary old stereotype of the loud American. They’re oh so quiet. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Sweet Charity, Donmar Warehouse

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Hurrah. At last. A proper musical.

Some of us are old enough to remember that 1966 was not only the year of a particular World Cup but also when Sweet Charity emerged. Those were the days, when people really knew what a hummable tune was.

Can you imagine Come From Away or especially Fun Home winning Olivier Awards and Tony Awards five decades ago? No, we can’t either. And Dear Evan Hansen may be fabulously tune-filled but at the prices it’s charging we will probably never know. Don’t be fooled that the “Dear” of the title is just a form of address. We’d welcome a little less ambiguity and suggest they call it Expensive Evan Hansen.

But we digress. This is a show which positively aches with catchy numbers in Cy Coleman‘s music (enhanced by and Dorothy Fields‘ lyrics) – “Big Spender”, “If My Friends Could See Me Now”, “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This”, “I’m A Brass Band” and “I Love To Cry At Weddings”. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Downstate, National Theatre

Monday 25 March 2019

When a play is described as provocative, thought-provoking, challenging, shocking and in the Dorfman auditorium you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve gone completely doolally taken to self-harming and revisited that steaming pile of When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other.

But no. We can now (almost) completely forgive the National for that egregious horror as it has given way to Downstate which comes from the provoking pen of Bruce Norris who previously stepped onto the Whinger podium of greatness when he delivered his brilliant Clybourne Park. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre

Tuesday 19 March 2019

When Phil mentioned – to those without a soupçon of musical theatre knowledge – that he was going to this Broadway import, Come From Away most asked “what’s that?” (marketing department take note). His reply, “It’s the 9/11 musical” drew comments of “seriously?” or “you’re kidding” or the kind of incredulous expression that at best implied “too soon”.

Of course it’s not really about 9/11. That event just facilitated the story. It’s about niceness. The niceness of a Canadian town Gander (population 10,000) that for six days accommodated, fed, entertained and medicated (in both senses) over 6,600 passengers plus a cargo of animals – which included a pregnant ape – from the 38 passenger aircraft that were diverted there after the attacks. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre

Friday 8 March 2019

There’s a cheeky story about the making of the 195O film classic All About Eve. Phil’s tried to find it on t’internet but all he could come up with was this 14 bumpy facts about All About Eve page. Worth-reading though.

Anyhoo he’ll deliver the story from his rather shaky memory as best he can. George Sanders (Addison deWitt in the film) was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor at the time and his newish wife was constantly turning up on the San Francisco film set to check up on him (well he was filming with Marilyn Monroe) and wanting Sanders to take her out shopping, to which the film’s writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz allegedly snapped “Fuck off Zsa Zsa we’re trying to make a movie here”. We’d love to believe it’s true. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Cate Blanchett in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, Dorfman Theatre

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Oh my word. You’d think by now we would know better. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Mary Poppins Returns

Monday 17 December 2018

Rather unusually for the day – back in 1964 – Phil had two American friends who lived here, had seen Mary Poppins in the States and used to wang on and on about it endlessly. They were incredulous when Phil asked them. “But what’s Mary Poppins ?”

These were the days when films would take months to cross the Atlantic and years to reach Phil’s local cinema, the Westbury Vista which came with an asbestos roof, an Orientally designed interior and a climb of just three steps up to what would now be called Premium Seating but they liked to call The Balcony.

Phil recalls the excitement when he eventually saw the Disney film with his family in, what was to him, a very large cinema in Bournemouth.

If for some peculiar reason you’ve never seen the original, you really should. It will certainly work both for and against your Mary Poppins Returns experience. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Snow White, The London Palladium

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Snow White? Not a proper panto is it really? Well not in our dusty old panto inventory.

But then this is the Palladium panto, now in its third year since being reinvented for this venue, and it is (of course) bigger than ever, and has expanded its repertory company of Julian ClaryGary WilmotNigel HaversPaul ZerdinCharlie Stemp with the USP of Dawn French in her first ever panto and for those interested in such things dance duo Vincent & Flavia. Plus – quite rightly – seven people of restricted euphemism. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Hadestown, National Theatre

Friday 9 November 2018

The last time Phil remembers a subsidised Royal theatre company being used as a laboratory for a musical on its way to Broadway was when the RSC road tested Carrie. Look how that turned out

Phil trailed up to Stratford for that one and picked up a distinct tang of major stinker early in the opening number. If Hadestown (music, lyrics and book Anaïs Mitchell, developed and directed by Rachel Chavkin) turned out to be more musical theatre hell producing sulphurous pongs at least he only had to travel as far as the National Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – A Very Very Very Dark Matter, The Bridge Theatre

Friday 19 October 2018

A Very Very Very Dark Matter certainly is what it says on the tin. But in opening that grubby little tin be warned, we might spoil the contents for you. Continue at your peril. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Company, Gielgud Theatre

Friday 12 October 2018

Gender-swapped roles? Aren’t we not just a teensey-weensy bit over them by now?

This is the week that saw our first female Doctor Who. The National Theatre drops the willies willy-nilly, just because it can. Now Stephanie Sondheim has been thrown the ball, dropped it (or them) and has been persuaded to sanction a change for the central character of Bobby to Bobbie in his 1970 musical Company. If it’s to give actresses (at Whingers’ Towers we still like to call them actresses) more work it’s counter-productive, as three of the lady roles in the show are now played by men. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Antony & Cleopatra, National Theatre

Friday 21 September 2018

We will assume you know enough about the story of Mr Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (or Antony ampersand Cleopatra as the National is naming it) that you will not be offended by the spoliers that appear here. After all it’s hardly Bodyguard don’t you know.

So what’s it about?

It’s about 3 hours 30 minutes. Yes, we’ve used this gag before but we’re assuming that our demographic are of an age (or drink so much) that they won’t remember such things. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The King and I, London Palladium

Tuesday 18 September 2018

In a relatively theatre-free summer Phil’s last two and a half theatre outings have been to revivals of popular musicals which were turned into successful films starring the original stage star. Rather scarily Phil saw both these stage productions with the aforementioned stars. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Home, I’m Darling, National Theatre

Friday 27 July 2018

Tricky.

How do you discuss Home, I’m Darling without giving away a key reveal? Well those who reviewed Tamara Harvey’s production when it was at Theatre Clwyd gave it away willy-nilly, but then it is mightily hard to talk of it without doing so. Fortunately we saved reading those reviews until after we’d seen it.

Statistically, of course, most readers won’t ever get to see it anyway so why should one care so much? Despite this, however, we will still endeavour to give away as little away as possible. Which means this will be a faster read for you and you can move on to better things. Read the rest of this entry »