Review – Once in a Lifetime, Young Vic

Friday 2 December 2016

oial_326If you’re waiting for a review of Nice Fish you’ll have a jolly long wait. Phil was away and sold his tickets to Andrew (What? Did you expect Phil to give them away?) who went with Katy. Both were underwhelmed. The best he could say about it was it was 90 minutes with no interval though even that was too much for people behind him who departed before the end. Bullet dodged.

But, with a busy theatre period ahead (5 shows in 9 days, and Andrew coming along to all but one) what were the chances of being entertained for the second of them, Once in a Lifetime, after the charms of She Loves Me ? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – She Loves Me, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 29 November 2016

slm-220x300You wait for ever for a seductively old-fashioned and tuneful period musical about a shop assistant falling in love, staged handsomely on four turntables and you get two in a row. What are the chances?

Following on the heels of the winning Half A Sixpence comes the Menier’s seasonal offering She Loves Me (book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock).

Essence It’s based on a play by Hungarian playwright Miklós László that inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and You’ve Got Mail. Tinder is yet to be invented and Amalia (Scarlett Strallen) and Georg (Mark Umbers), correspond gushingly in old-style ink (hurrah!) despite never having met, until that is, Amalia wheedles her way into a job at Maraczek’s Parfumerie in Budapest where Georg happens to work. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre

Tuesday 15 November 2016

half-a-sixpence-noel-coward-theatre-posterNot a glass-half-full version of The Threepenny OperaHalf a Sixpence brings good old-fashioned pleasures, two dazzlingly show-stopping numbers, gorgeous designs, nifty millinery, a musical first for us: a number set in a woodworking class and a gravity-defying new musical star to town. And we haven’t even got to the banjos and spoon-playing. Yet.

The original production was way back in 1963 and it’s not been seen in the West End since. Clearly there was a reason. Now its been revised restructured and tickled into shape at Chichester. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Apollo Theatre

Thursday 10 November 2016

cdnIt’s very rare that people ever take Phil’s advice. But after visiting Peter Pan Goes Wrong last year he declared grandly, “If Mischief Theatre don’t revive this every Christmas then something really has gone wrong.”

Rather unusually someone must have been awake, for here it is, inflicting itself on the same theatre for the seasonal period. Same show, new cast and still as energetically mad as a President-elect hairdo. Phew. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Amadeus, National Theatre

Wednesday 9 November 2016

798954Well, we went in humming Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” and we were still humming it on the way out.

This despite the 20 pieces of the Southbank Sinfonia who bang out Mozart’s music throughout the three long hours of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, interact with the actors, occasionally having a stab at acting themselves, ripple like waves on the stairs of what constitutes a set and donning party hats to become part of the action.

If you don’t have a ticket you’re unlikely to get one for its current booking period now. It was practically sold out before the fairly spectacular reviews were delivered. But don’t despair, you need some good news this morning, it didn’t quite work its magic on us. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Side Show, Southwark Playhouse

Tuesday 25 October 2016

side-show-artwork-image-700x455It’s a rum old world sometimes.

Two consecutive off-West End shows featuring poisonous homosexualists (Kenny Morgan, The Boys In The Band), then two in a row featuring a hostess trolley (The Red BarnThe Grinning Man). The latter a musical about a carnival attraction “freak show”. This one is too. What are the chances?

This is the 1997 Broadway flop Side Show (31 previews and 91 regular performances) which was revived and revised in 2014 only to flop again after a seven week run. Is someone trying to tell them something? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Grinning Man, Bristol Old Vic

Friday 21 October 2016

bov_grinning_man_carouselYes, Bristol Old Vic. So far off-West End, making Phil so off the West End in more than one way. Does this make Phil a South West Whinger?*

Embarrassingly, a few years since Phil saw a show there. Sometime in the seventies to be precise. Two school trips to see Henry IV parts 1 & 2. A bit of research revealed they featured younger versions of John Nettles, Charlotte Cornwell and Ian Gelder, plus Timothy West and Constance Chapman delivering their Falstaff and Quicklys. Who knew? Phil certainly didn’t as he wasn’t prone to splashing out on programmes in those days. He doesn’t any more. How things come full circle.

But a musical of a Victor Hugo novel? Nah, that couldn’t possibly work could it? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Red Barn, National Theatre

Tuesday 18 October 2016

xtheredbarnw300h200-jpgqitokypwyklne-pagespeed-ic-nxppd-1b7fThree characters stranded in a county house while a blizzard rages. One of the group is lost in the storm outside. Might he have done himself in or been murdered? The phone lines are down and a clock ticks ominously…

Has the National seen sense and finally put on an Agatha Christie? Might that same clock tick for another 64 years and counting? Sadly not.

A pre-show discussion heard Andrew suggesting it might be based on the notorious red barn murder in Suffolk where Maria Marten was shot dead by her lover. Phil was blissfully unaware of that case, “Well if it’s a whodunnit that’s ruined it for me” grumped Phil.

Phew, Andrew was off the hook. Not that red barn thankfully. This is David Hare‘s The Red Barn based on George (Maigret) Simenon‘s La Main. Though there is still an element of whodunnit and whydunnit and more than an touch of whydoitlikethis? Read the rest of this entry »


Review – The Boys In The Band, Park Theatre

Tuesday 18 October 2016

thumbnail_boys-in-the-band_a5-e1464015375465Second in a row of our series of plays featuring a splendid central performance by an actor as a blisteringly vile gay in a period drama at a north London fringe theatre.

Amazingly first time at the Park Theatre for Phil. And first time for The Boys In The Band too. No, Phil had never seen William (director of The French Connection and The Exorcist and once married to Lesley-Anne Down) Friedkin‘s 1970 film either. Andrew had. So when Phil suggested a trip to Mart Crowley‘s 1968 play Andrew replied, “I’m up for an evening of self-loathing”. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Kenny Morgan, Arcola Theatre

Wednesday 5 October 2016

kenny-morgan-arcola-george-irvingWe’re very slow off the starting blocks with Kenny Morgan, a timely companion to The Deep Blue Sea recently at the National, as it concerns events in Terrence Rattigan‘s life that inspired that play. So, if we’re a tad late to the table we would have to say it’s a separate table.

Like TDBS, Mike Poulton (Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies)’s version begins with a body slumped in front of a gas fire; a failed suicide because someone’s forgotten to put a shilling in the meter. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Nina Conti – In Your Face, Criterion Theatre

Sunday 11 September 2016

x5404-1467299365-ninacontisq-jpg-pagespeed-ic-vt2purf-cdWhen we saw Nina Conti in Edinburgh 5 years ago we worried that an hour of ventriloquism might be just a little too much. Now with her show, Nina Conti – In Your Face filling in at The Criterion Theatre while The Comedy About A Bank Robbery takes a holiday* she’s giving us 90 minutes of her time. Plenty to fret about then. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, National Theatre

Friday 26 August 2016

ntgds_ho_ourladies_herospot_290716_2578x1128When Phil told his mother he was going to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour she asked, in all innocence, “What are they sucking?”

Quite a lot as it turned out. Perhaps that’s the gag. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Guys and Dolls with Rebel Wilson, Phoenix Theatre

Friday 19 August 2016

CknMotoVEAAA1lPA Shentonesque week for Phil: a couple of return visits to musicals. Phil had his second coming at Regent’s Park with  Jesus Christ Superstar followed the next night with Guys and Dolls: not that he was over-enthused with the latter, he was just shamelessly seduced by the star casting. Obvs.

The JCS run is sold out, so the only option was to go for day ‘seats’ which entails sitting on one of the grassy knolls either side of the stage. They are weather dependent. The show might go ahead in inclement weather but those ‘seats’ may not be on sale. The kindly people at Regent’s Park (and we must mention how especially nice all the theatre staff are at RPOAT) don’t want to risk us getting soggy bottoms. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Tuesday 9 August 2016

18842_show_portrait_largeSome things you may not know about Jesus Christ Superstar:

It was the first show Phil saw in the West End. He came up from Wiltshire with friends to see the original London cast at the Palace Theatre. A theatre he is now unlikely to ever see the interior of again.

He recorded the original JCS album on his reel-to-reel tape recorder. A microphone placed between the speakers of his friend’s stereo. A household forced into silence for an hour and a half.

He typed out the entire lyrics using his sister’s Brother typewriter, bound the sheets with Sellotape and created a cover reproducing the album artwork using felt tip pens. Quite an achievement for a 25 year-old.

He went to see this revival at Regent’s Park on the night the show was cancelled. Read the rest of this entry »


Review – Groundhog Day, Old Vic

Friday 5 August 2016

4180No, we’re not going to do it. Post the review and repeat it over and over again. The poster’s done it. Everyone will be do it. Heck, we exhausted the gag in the pub before we even got to the Old Vic. Far too obvious. Tempting though.

Tim Minchin‘s long-awaited (by us at least) musical version of the hugely entertaining 1993 film. The one that Mr Sondheim considered and turned down, declaring “to make a musical of Groundhog Day would be to gild the lily. It cannot be improved.” Quite. Read the rest of this entry »