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 »

Review – The Bodyguard, Dominion Theatre

Friday 29 July 2016

BEVERLEY KNIGHT IN THE BODYGUARD”1338304834_Image1_bodyguard

Well, that’s what our only souvenir from the show, a flyer, claims (programmes are a whopping £8, which is more than a mug at a mere £7). But, long-sighted buyers beware, in ant-sized type on the back it states she’s “currently scheduled to appear at Tuesday to Friday evening performances and both performances on Saturday, subject to illness and holidays”.

We’ve been caught that way before. When we saw The Bodyguard in its first run at the Adelphi Theatre, headliner Heather Headley had better things to do and we saw her (albeit very good) stand in.

So second time lucky. Fortunately for us it wasn’t a Monday night or Wednesday matinee and Ms Knight wasn’t suffering croup or lying on a sun lounger with a pina colada somewhere but giving considerable wellie (welly?) on the Dominion stage. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Wild, Hampstead Theatre

Wednesday 13 July 2016

x5648-1465806377-solt500x500.jpg.pagespeed.ic.LN4plEMJNjMike Bartlett‘s King Charles III and his telly thingy Doctor Foster amused us so much we’d almost forgotten just how much we also loved his Cock.

Now, in Wild, he concentrates on whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked information of US mass surveillance programmes. He’s portrayed here as Andrew (Jack Farthing doing not unreasonable doppelgänger work) who we encounter awaiting an uncertain future holed up in a characterless Moscow hotel room (design Miriam Buether) where he’s visited by two enigmatic people, a man and a woman both claiming to be called “George”. Can he trust them? Are they here to help him, kill him, or just tease the hell out of him? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Truth, Wyndham’s Theatre

Tuesday 12 July 2016

the-truth-10People in the UK may have had enough of ghastly people who lie, deceive, betray, plot and do awful things behind so-called friend’s backs. This might make The Truth the worst possible time to pop up in the West End or it may possibly be entirely the opposite. Apposite and timely.

Michel (Alexander Hanson) is married to Samantha Bond the enigmatic Laurence (Tanya Franks) but he’s having a regular bit on the side with Alice (Frances O’Connor) when he’s not losing a sock or telling porkies to his wife. Trouble is Alice also happens to be the wife of Michel’s best friend Paul (Robert Portal). And that’s about all you really need to know as what follows is a slew of revelations about who knows what, who is lying and who thinks they are in full possession of the facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Doctor Faustus, Duke of York’s Theatre

Friday 17 June 2016

Dr-Faustus-PosterPhil wasn’t going to bother with Doctor Faustus. He will probably suffer eternal damnation from fans as he only made it through one series of Game of Thrones. So seeing Kit Harington fannying around in his underpants was of no consequence to him and the reviews were what can only kindly be described as “mixed”. But then the offer of a trip to see it came up and, like Faustus, gave in to temptation.

And as Jamie Lloyd‘s throw-in-the-kitchen-sink (then some) drama comes to the end of its run next week he wasn’t going to bother writing about it either. But after witnessing it, that was another temptation he couldn’t quite resist either. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Aladdin, Prince Edward Theatre

Thursday 16 June 2016

photo (18)Ok, so we did emerge talking about the Cave of Wonders, the Genie and the how-did-they-do-that flying carpet. Of course we did. How could we not? At least it made a welcome change from banging on about Brexit.

It was almost enough to convince us we’d been entertained in the two and a half hours of razzle-dazzle spectacle that nearly beat us into submission, choking in a cloud of glitter yet wanting to dig out the harem pants and turbans from the backs of our wardrobes and spend the rest of our lives sewing on sequins. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Titanic, Charing Cross Theatre

Friday 10 June 2016

titanic1Phil saw this the day after The Deep Blue Sea. What are the chances?

Launched on Broadway in 1997 (the same year as that film) the musical Titanic sounded like one of those shows that if it had ended in disaster it would have been morbidly appropriate. Despite huge technical problems during previews – and, if you believe Wikipedia, a model ship onstage that wouldn’t sink – and largely negative reviews it went on to play 804 performances (that’s longer than West Side Story‘s original Broadway run for goodness sake!) and win 5 Tony awards including Best Musical. Read the rest of this entry »