Review – Calamity Jane, New Wimbledon Theatre

Thursday 19 March 2015

nm-2BgRsWell, of course Andrew came to this one. Why wouldn’t he? It’s based on one of his favourite film musicals, which, as it happens, he muddles up with another of his favourite musicals (unless it’s at the Young Vic with Jane Horrocks), Annie Get Your Gun. But then they both feature rootin’-tootin’ cowgirls as a central character. Phil’s been know to confuse his suede-clad, fringe accessorised heroines too. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Buyer & Cellar, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 16 March 2015

buyer-and-cellar-at-the-menier-chocolate-factory-fa81fd7fbd0f45714127953e51189d31If, like us, you’re of a certain age and/or have a cultural consciousness that includes the likes of David Geffen, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Mildred Pierce, Irene Sharaff and a working knowledge of Barbra Streisand this may be the show for you.

Buyer & Cellar (incidentally yesterday’s Sunday Times crossword used the same play on the word ‘cellar’ in one of its answers. Heard publican’s role in basement bar (4, 6)* ) stars Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie as a struggling actor, Alex More, who is sacked from Disneyland for threatening to do something unspeakable with a churro to a rude child and finds employment working in Ms Streisand’s basement shopping mall. In fact he’s the only employee there, serving frozen yoghurt and selling her own extensive collection of collectables back to her as she haggles with him over the price.

Will he form a bond with her when she comes down to ‘play’ and will he ever be invited upstairs to her Malibu mansion? Sounds bizarre and crazy? It is. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Nether, Duke of York’s Theatre

Friday 6 March 2015

4962-1417514145-netherdecsq-1There are some terrible things out there on the internet. Well, you’ve come to this site so you presumably already knew that.

American playwright Jennifer Haley‘s The Nether is dystopian, but we will not hold that against her, as it is also a disturbing thriller with a grim warning about the technological future.  Set between two worlds, a dreary room where suspected paedophiles are being interviewed and The Hideaway, a murky virtual realm where visitors can interact with and touch, hurt, rape and repeatedly murder children with an axe. So no tap dancing then. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Man and Superman, National Theatre

Friday 20 February 2015

Man-and-superman-web

Long, long ago, way back in 1977, before Andrew and Phil met, and “fiery philosophical debates” asking “fundamental questions about how we live” (oh dear) could still occupy the glittering West End rather than film-to-play adaptations or jukebox musicals, Phil saw the RSC production of  Man and Superman at the Savoy Theatre starring Richard Pasco, Susan Hampshire, Nigel Havers and a vintage car.

Coincidentally, Andrew (who must have been struggling through puberty at the time) saw the same production in Malvern. Ain’t life strange? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Gods and Monsters, Southwark Playhouse

Wednesday 11 February 2015

poster-250px_posterImgYears back, before the 1998 film starring Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser, Andrew, for some reason, was given the task of reading a pile of film scripts. Among the dross only one stood out, it turned out to be Gods and Monsters. Unsurprisingly Andrew accompanied Phil to the Southwark Playhouse for this one.

That Oscar-winning script by Bill Condon was based on Christopher Bram‘s Father of Frankenstein, a novel which is now the basis for Russell Labey’s play concerning the partly fictionalised life and lusts of James Whale, director of the iconic 1931 Frankenstein, not to mention Bride of Frankenstein and the 1936 Showboat.

Set in the 1950s, Whale (Ian Gelder) is now retired and has suffered a series of strokes, spending his days at the easel, convincing attractive young men to drop their pants and pose for his more artistic strokes. Dodgy. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, The Musical

Saturday 17 January 2015

women-on-the-vergeLast week Phil was due to see Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown but it seemed the show itself was having a breakdown of its own.

He’s already reported about turning up at the Playhouse theatre a week last Monday to find it cancelled as three, yes, three of the leads were off sick. A friend who had been the Saturday before reported that apparently the director had come on stage before the performance to apologise for the cast feeling ‘tired and under the weather’. Surely not a wise move. If you’ve forked out for a ticket you don’t really want to know this. What were they hoping for a sympathy vote?

All were present on Tuesday, though they’d had the official opening and an after-show party the night before yet no one appeared tired. With the frenetic goings on in this musical adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar‘s farcical 1988 film tiredness would not sit too happily with the madness they have to contend with. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Grand Tour, Finborough Theatre

Friday 9 January 2015

GTThings were not shaping up too well in 2015.

First Phil was going to hand out the much coveted Whingie Awards for 2014, then on reflection realised his short list was very short indeed (or he was just feeling too lazy). So apologies to Imelda Staunton, Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III, My Night With Reg, Forbidden Broadway and Assassins. You’d all have featured somewhere, but just think how much more coveted our gongs will be if it isn’t an annual event.

Then on Monday Phil turned up for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown-The Musical only to be told it was cancelled due to the indisposition of 3 of the leads. Phil adopted on a glass half-full air saying “At least we can go home and watch Broadchurch” at which point two other glass half-full patrons turned round interjecting “That’s exactly what we said too”. Anyhoo, the Playhouse staff were so nice and apologetic about it Phil didn’t have the heart to tell them it wasn’t like the days of Ethel Merman (who never missed a show) as they were all far to young to know who the hell he was talking about it.

The next day, Phil was due to interview Rob Marshall and Marc Platt, director and producer respectively of Into the Woods, but this was cancelled too. Phil had previously puffed himself up at this inexplicable invitation and prepared, with due diligence, his list of probing questions, “Did they know that James Corden was probably only in the film due to the Whingers, since we were the first to rave about him in One Man, Two Guvnors, leading to its West End and Broadway transfers, Corden’s Tony Award and his international recognition?” and “Why wasn’t Meryl Streep given a big prosthetic hooter for her witch?” and “How much wine was downed at the film’s wrap party?” Sadly we will never know.

So what chance for Jerry Herman’s The Grand Tour? Andrew (who dragged himself up out of the house for this one) was anticipating a third cancellation. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Into the Woods, the film

Wednesday 17 December 2014

ITW_1-Sht_v18_LgWho ever thought they’d see a film where Annette Crosbie is eaten alive by Johnny Depp?

Then again who ever thought we’d write about a film? Yes, a bit out of our comfort zone this, reviewing a trip to the flicks. Though the comfort of most picture houses is far greater than almost any theatre seat.

But since this cinematic entertainment is based on the Stephen Sondheim stage musical that Phil has seen about half a dozen times in various forms, including the original Broadway and London productions he just wanted to show off. He saw a preview of Into the Woods a week ago and frustratingly has been sitting on a most uncomfortable embargo ever since. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Cinderella, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 10 December 2014

22614_fullOf course we were there for Sue Ellen.

Even Andrew was there for Sue Ellen. Actually that should probably just read “even Andrew was there”. You see, we’re of an age.

But if Linda Grey had not found her panto legs (she does – expect her in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester or wherever next Christmas) as a stetson-toting, hip flask-swigging Fairy Godmother there was a very strong pit crew to see her through to the finishing line. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Treasure Island, National Theatre

Wednesday 10 December 2014

treasureisland_200x300There’s a wonderful moment – a maritime take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window – in Treasure Island where a cross section of the Hispaniola rises up through the stage revealing various rooms and cabins of the ship. It’s a wonder the audience didn’t applaud.

Money has been splurged on this year’s Christmas show at the National. Lizzie Clachan’s deliciously complicated designs require full use of the Olivier’s drum revolve and there’s an clever take on Long John Silver’s leg, plus an impressive animatronic parrot. But that’s pretty much all the good news from Phil. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 1 December 2014

4917-1411552965-assassinssquareGoodness. It seems only yesterday that Phil first encountered Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s (book) Assassins at the Donmar.

That yesterday turns out to be 22 years ago. In between he saw it at the Union Theatre and had somehow forgotten that he’d also seen it at the Landor (Well, he thinks he saw it at the Union, it all sounded very familiar when he reread Andrew’s review, but apparently he wasn’t with Andrew).

But it’s not just Phil that forgets things. His younger companion (no, not Andrew) for the afternoon at the Menier thought she was seeing it for the first time, until she reached the “I am going to the Lordy” song which appears quite late in this 1 hour 45 minute piece.

This being the Menier’s Christmas show expectations are really rather high, especially with Jamie Lloyd directing, Soutra Gilmour designing, a cast that includes Catherine Tate, Andy Nyman, Phil’s favourite History Boy (Jamie Parker), Mike McShane, Whinger-approved Carly (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) Bawden, Aaron Tveit (a leading man from yer actual Broadway) and above all Richard Mawbey on the curling tongs. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


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