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 »


Review – The Trial, Young Vic

Wednesday 24 June 2015

photo-1Oh for a fondue set and a cuddly toy…

And on the conveyor belt tonight; a television set, a gramophone, a lifetime’s supply of yellow stationery, an animal print duvet, 3 ceramic Alsatian dog ornaments with matching standard lamp, a John Pasche/Rolling Stones lampshade, a set of photographs of celebrity criminals, 3 toilets, and a generously busy cast of 17 actors including Rory Kinnear, Siân Thomas, Sarah Crowden, Kate O’Flynn and the lovely Will from W1A.

For this is Franz Kafka‘s The Trial reinvented by Nick Gill (adapting) and Richard Jones (directing) as The Generation Game with a little bit of Through the Keyhole thrown in for good measure. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Motherf**ker with the Hat, National Theatre

Tuesday 16 June 2015

B9od3chIAAAe9gq“Why are you going to see that?” asked a nonplussed Andrew when Phil mentioned he was off to see The Motherf**ker with the Hat.

“I’d heard of it. They did it on the Broadway with somebody famous” was Phil’s rather lame response.

Anyhoo, Phil did a little research, found out the star name he couldn’t remember was Chris Rock and then discovered that the National’s version featured Ricardo Chavira who was Carlos Solis in Desperate Housewives (Mr Eva Longoria in the show, for the uninitiated) and someone from Broadway recreating their Tony-nominated performance.

With Phil’s interest sufficiently piqued he then found himself on the horns of a dilemma. Would he throw caution to the wind and do The Full Shenton, putting the title in without the asterisks or go down the TFL advertising route and blank out the offending word entirely. Rather cowardly he opted for he National’s poster/programme/cast list version. He has Andrew to consider don’t ya know. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Bend It Like Beckham, Phoenix Theatre

Thursday 11 June 2015

imagesTwo football-themed shows in two days, this despite Phil’s relationship to football being not unlike Andrew’s to Pinter (he’s dabbled with it now and again but generally eschews it).

Phil can raise a modicum of interest, once every four years, though he’ll be boycotting watching the next two World Cups if the host nations aren’t changed.

And if you’re wondering where the review of the other one – Patrick Marber’s The Red Lion – is, forget it. Phil and Andrew took a dive at the interval. It was so slow and uneventful he can only be bothered to mention that it begins with a rather protracted scene of a man ironing football shirts when he really should have been pressing the tablecloth from The Beaux Stratagem in the Olivier theatre next door. So you’ll have to make do with Andrew’s summary, “I can’t believe this was from the man who wrote Dealer’s Choice. Was it something he had lying around in the back of a drawer?”.

With football dominating the headlines for the last few weeks both shows have rather timely openings.

Anyhoo, if like Phil, you’re not overly familiar with footie here’s a glossary of terms to help you along. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Thursday 28 May 2015

246x380-TEM

One of the world’s most desirable film stars playing an undesirable? No wonder the seats prices range up to an undesirably eye-watering £108.

Still, fame is relative. When Phil told his sister he was seeing Bradley Cooper as The Elephant Man she said she’d never heard of him.

Mr Cooper is called upon to impersonate the hugely deformed “half man”, “half elephant” John Merrick (which should be Joseph Merrick apparently) with the added hurdle of making us forget John Hurt’s memorable performance in the 1980 David Lynch film. This he manages rather successfully by instead reminding Phil of David Walliams. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Beaux’ Stratagem, National Theatre

Tuesday 26 May 2015

BeauxStratagem-400x255

When the Whingers went to see  Dion Boucicault‘s London Assurance Andrew had done a little swatting up on how to pronounce Boucicault and had great fun intoning the playwright’s name ‘Boo-see-co’ ad nauseam. Similarly Phil discovered endless pleasure in rolling ‘Farquhar’ around his tongue.

For this was George Farquhar‘s “fabulous carnal comedy” The Beaux’ Stratagem with not inconsiderable help (we suspect) from dramaturgs Simon Godwin (who also directs) and Patrick Marber. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Communicating Doors, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 12 May 2015

2970C3D50-0BFD-4B3C-3F5D1318A483AFB8In which Sir Alan Ayckbourn finds a Tardis in a hotel room where the tea-making facilities should be.

Strange one this. Communicating Doors is a “comic thriller” set in a hotel suite with a cutaway to the bathroom. It’s not often you see what the back of a bidet looks like, let alone find a broom cupboard that revolves and also turns out to be a time portal. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Carrie The Musical , Southwark Playhouse

Friday 8 May 2015

CarrieHow could we resist?

One of the most famous musical flops of all time is getting its London premiere 27 years after it first aired at the RSC’s Stratford home. Yes, Carrie The Musical. The one that moved on to Broadway, was swiftly felled and and also went down in another way; in theatrical history.

Phil saw it, so he won’t write about that experience in detail as he’s already recorded it here. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Everyman, National Theatre

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Everyman_title-333x500Phil conducted an experiment last night.

He was wired up to a blood pressure monitor for 12 hours yesterday. It’s something they do when you get old. This meant he was wearing it throughout the full 1 hour and 40 minutes of Everyman last night.

He hadn’t realised the machine would make a slight noise. So he piled up coats over the cumbersome device to muffle the sound, which made a low whirring sound every half hour as it kicked into action. Phil’s companion for the evening said he didn’t hear it at all. Of course, despite a lot of noise on stage, it only seemed to go off during the quietest moments.

Not really recommended. Worrying about it probably raised Phil’s BP even higher.

But does going to the theatre raise or lower your blood pressure? The results aren’t in yet but Phil has speculated on how the play may have affected his results:
Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Vote, Donmar Warehouse

Saturday 25 April 2015

Goodness. We were there.Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 09.18.21

No, we hadn’t expected to be either.

Phil won tickets for an “unprecedented experiment and a major innovation in theatre and television”, The Vote in (appropriately enough) a ballot.

We say “won”, he was aware he had to pay for them of course. Yet it still felt like one of those “competitions” where you think you’ve won a free holiday then find you have to pay for your flights and accommodation at absurdly inflated rates after making a long premium rate phone call. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, National Theatre

Thursday 23 April 2015

Light_Shining_in_Buckinghamshire_poster_notitle_1We should have known better.

Andrew was keen to see Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, not for its obvious significance – that it heralds Rufus Norris’ takeover at the National Theatre – but because a) it’s about the English Civil War, b) features one of his favourite actresses, Amanda Lawrence and c) he thought it only fair to give playwright Caryl Churchill a second chance.

The thing is, he had completely forgotten he’d already given Ms Churchill a second chance. He could only remember “the one with the floating sofas” as he succinctly encapsulated Drunk Enough To Say I Love You?  Andrew had clearly expunged The Union’s Cloud Nine from his memory bank with no inconsiderable success. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – UNWRAPPED: May Contain Strallens & Musical Nuts, Leicester Square Theatre

Wednesday 22 April 2015

359544941We must declare an interest.

UNWRAPPED: May Contain Strallens & Musical Nuts came to us not just with Strallens and nuts but contained the Whingers’ patented “Strallometer” (see below) which we created to grade any show containing one of the ubiquitous Strallen clan. It was used with our full permission and cleverly animated using technology way beyond our technical wherewithal.

For this was a one-off Sunday evening cabaret produced by Strallen père, Sandy Strallen* to show off the not inconsiderable talents of 2 of his seed (Summer and Zizi), with the “Musical Nuts” coming in the form of the Casey sisters (Natalie and Anna-Jane). One might be tempted to call them “nut Caseys”. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Gypsy, Savoy Theatre

Saturday 18 April 2015
  • gypsyimeldaWe’ve been waiting so long for this production, indeed any production of Gypsy (The title: a bit old school, a bit UKIP. We of course call it Traveller), we feared it couldn’t possibly live up to our expectations. Would it light our lights and hit our heights?
  • We needn’t have worried. We’re still giddy and breathless and talking with random thoughts in bullet points, plus it saves time as we’re prone to indolence.
  • Although there have been 4 Broadway revivals, it was first and last seen in London in 1973 with Dame Angela. Now we have it practically on our doorstep (unless you live in the Savoy Hotel where it is on your doorstep) with Dame (it can only be a matter of time) Imelda Staunton. Read the rest of this entry »

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