Review – The Illusionists, Shaftesbury Theatre

Tuesday 17 November 2015

11169299-largeHot on the heels of Impossible during the summer (and with the Palace currently filled by Derren Brown before that Harry Potter thingy occupies the same venue for the foreseeable) it seems the West End can’t really get enough magic.

And usually nor can we. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Xanadu, Southwark Playhouse

Tuesday 17 November 2015

17993_show_portrait_largeOh how we’ve waited.

Yes, we’ve waited and waited for the Godot that we feared might never arrive. It’s taken a full eight years for Xanadu to come to London; the the highlight of our 2007 sojourn to New York and not just because there was a strike on Broadway and it was one of the few shows still running. We praise the gods it still was.

Andrew even spent a not inconsiderable amount of time bending the ear of a well-known producer trying to convince her (a clue?) that this was the show she absolutely had to bring to London. He even put on his casting director’s hat by suggesting Sheridan Smith in the lead. Sadly bigger fish were in both their frying pans. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Waste, National Theatre

Saturday 14 November 2015

5477-1445525837-wastesqHarley Granville Barker‘s banned-in-its-day (1907, revised 1926) “controversial masterpiece” Waste took us rather by surprise when we visited it seven years ago at the Almeida. It took us a while, but we eventually warmed to it rather unexpectedly.

The brevity of the title is not reflected in the running time of the play which comes in at nearly 3 hours and is somewhat talky and unlike our previous viewing doesn’t have much of a set to look at. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Mr Footes’s Other Leg – Theatre Royal Haymarket

Tuesday 10 November 2015

5467-1446458639-mrfooteslegsqGroundhog Day for Phil and Andrew.

Back to reality after travelling in Indochina with the humdrum repetition of daily routines. So what could be more appropriate to add to our Groundhoggishness than revisiting a show that we’d already been thoroughly entertained by at Hampstead? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Apollo Theatre

Thursday 1 October 2015

STIM-500x500-Encore-300x300The Whingers once created a musical.

Needless to say it ran for one solitary but (we thought) rather fabulous performance. To put that in a context, that’s 4 less than Broadway’s infamous flop musical Carrie’s official performance run and on a par with DJ Mike Read‘s Oscar Wilde musical, Oscar. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Hangmen, Royal Court

Friday 25 September 2015

photo-7Phil had an uncle whose job as a prison governor meant he was called on to witness some of the last hangings in this country. He also kept the autobiography of Britain’s most ‘celebrated’ hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, on his bookcase and Phil is led to believe, visited the pub that Pierrepoint ran after retiring from execution.

As a child, Phil looked on most of this with a mix of macabre fascination and horror, which was much the same reaction that he had to the first scene in Martin McDonagh‘s, Hangmen. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Mr Foote’s Other Leg, Hampstead Theatre

Friday 18 September 2015

FOOTE_APR15_A3_AW_WEB-1330x590We must declare an interest of sorts.

Ian Kelly, who wrote this play, Mr Foote’s Other Leg, once generously donated two of the drawings that he created live on stage in The Pitman Painters as a charity raffle prize for a The West End Whingers’ party. Remember those days? We do. But only just.

Based on Kelly’s own award-winning biography (which goes by the same name – and why wouldn’t it? It’s a nifty title) of Samuel Foote, 18th century actor, impressionist, comedian, satirist, warm up man, pamphleteer, female impersonator, playwright, theatre manager of The Haymarket and writer of the first true-crime bestseller. He also, rather carelessly lost a leg, but that wasn’t to lead to his downfall. Other events led to that. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Jane Eyre, National Theatre

Wednesday 16 September 2015

GB-LON-Jane-Eyre-240x240So many reasons why Phil might not have liked Jane Eyre.

It’s “devised by the Company” (under the direction of Sally Cookson), which means adults actors indulge themselves playing horses, windows, flickering fires, dogs and, oh my word, scamper around pretending to be children.

Performed in what appears to be an adventure playground, or, more likely, the rehearsal set (Michael Vale), there are wooden platforms to cross, bars to swing from and ladders to climb (ad nauseam); no doubt it will look lovely when it’s finished.

Oh, and there’s an on stage band, so the cast break into song willy-nilly, thus adding to the running time, which is advertised as 3 and a half hours but actually comes in at a still hardly nippy 3 hours and 15 minutes. Originally a two-part, four-and-a-half-hour production at the Bristol Old Vic (who co-produce). Goodness.

Too add to this torment we are gifted a Rochester who sports a hipster beard.

But then again… Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Casa Valentina, Southwark Playhouse

Tuesday 15 September 2015

CMxQTjgW8AAlHAxIt’s Harvey Fierstein week at Whinger’s Towers. Hot on the, err, heels of Kinky Boots comes his new play Casa Valentina.

It didn’t get much of a run on Broadway, which is a shame, because his familiar themes of overcoming prejudice and being true to yourself are explored with much more subtlety and wit (and just as much drag) than his musical, even if the wigs do leave a little to be desired. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre

Monday 14 September 2015

hqdefaultIt’s not just us that’s reminded of Kellogg’s Special K cereal every time we see the Kinky Boots logo is it?

This is the show that caused the big upset at the 2013 Tony Awards, beating Matilda for Best Musical and winning 5 others including Best Score for Cyndi Lauper. So no expectations then.

The Adelphi Theatre seems to be the home of British film-to-stage musical adaptations concerning problems in manufacturing industries. It may be damning with faint praise to say it’s streets ahead of Made in Dagenham but it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman, Noel Coward Theatre

Wednesday 9 September 2015

5248-1440598883-photo51encore600x900aug15The first and last time Nicole Kidman appeared on a West End stage one critic got himself into a right old tizzy, probably tenting in his stalls seat before breathlessly describing her as “Pure theatrical Viagra“.

Phil saw that play, The Blue Room, in preview and was met by a US TV crew from Entertainment Tonight as he exited the Donmar wanting to know how she’d acquitted herself. Of course, what they really wanted to know was intimate details of her nude scene, Phil was so discreet in his utterances they no doubt left the footage on the cutting room floor.

17 years on, would Kidman’s appearance in Photograph 51 prove to be theatrical Viagra or theatrical bromide? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Our House, Union Theatre

Monday 7 September 2015

4622614348Back in 2002, a few years before they started Whingeing, Andrew and Phil had the unfamiliar experience of actually enjoying a new musical, Our House at the Cambridge Theatre.

Of course it was doomed. Despite our enthusiasm and the show going on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical it ran for less than 10 months and was consigned to the overstuffed dustbin of flops while lesser shows went on to run forever. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Our Country’s Good, National Theatre

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Our_Countrys_Good_notitleCan it be really be 26 years since Phil saw the original Royal Court production of Our Country’s Good after it transferred to the Garrick Theatre? Sadly it is. How time flies.

But time must have stood still for convicts exported to Australia in the 18th century. It took 8 and a half months in those days. Mind you it probably won’t stop Phil whingeing about the food, the lack of space or his fellow passengers next time he takes off on a long haul flight. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Impossible, Noel Coward Theatre

Tuesday 25 August 2015

What’s impossible?impossible-launch275a

Andrew saying. “There’s a new play by Caryl Churchill play we must go!” or “If only Pinter had written just one more play before he died” or maybe Phil saying “I really liked that new show, the one with the park benches, balloons and shopping trolleys”.

Getting Andrew and Phil to watch a magic show is much more likely. Magic is the new rock and roll apparently, but we’ve known that for some time. Impossible fills a gap at the Noel Coward theatre until ex Mrs Mission Impossible star (see what we did there?) arrives in Photograph 51. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Three Days in the Country, National Theatre

Friday 24 July 2015

three-days-in-the-country-national-theatre-with-john-simm-300h The play formerly known as a A Month in the Country by Turgenev now arrives dragged up as Three Days in the Country by Patrick Albert Crispin Marber which teasingly suggests it might be about a tenth the length of the original version.

Sadly it’s not of course. Though this pared down version does come in at a mere 2 hours 15 minutes which is one of the more positive things Phil has to say about it. But that’s slightly more than he can say about Mr Turgid-enough’s original which he saw over 20 years ago and suffered substantial ennui even though it featured the rather starry line up of Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Joseph Fiennes. Read the rest of this entry »


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