What’s hot in the West End?

Saturday 12 July 2008

For some reason misguided souls often solicit the Whingers’ opinions and ask, “what’s really worth seeing?”

That’s sweet. But “friends” (and not in the Donmar sense of the word) actually ask us that. They say, “have you seen anything good lately?”. The Whingers smile indulgently before snapping back not to be so lazy and to go and look at our blog. We don’t write it all up for a hobby, you know. Well, actually we do. But we regret we are unable to enter into individual correspondence.

But really, as if we have any idea of whether anything’s good or not.

Now had they asked us where to get the cheapest wine, which theatres to avoid because of unreserved seating policies, which have (or used to have) the creakiest seats or which auditorium will elicit the most comfortable snooze for Andrew, we should probably be their first port of call.

But as to theatrical quality, does anyone really trust our over-inflated, prejudiced and vainglorious opinions?

Yet despite this, over the years friends, acquaintances, royalty, Dames of the British Empire, “men and women who seek refuge in the UK” and ambassadors (believe it or not that one is actually true) have all sought the Whingers’ seal of approval before they hand over their hard-earned (in some cases) boodle. And the answer is usually quite simple…

…not very much.

And if it as good as The Chalk Garden then it’s probably sold out anyway (day seats available). But at least Enid Bagnold gave the Whingers an opportunity to stop repeating Hairspray like a mantra when asked to recommend something. Indeed, The Chalk Garden is the new Hairspary.

For the rest:

The Pitman Painters was the Whingers’ second most successful theatre outing this year and amazingly this was at the National’s Cottesloe theatre.

We were more than thrilled when actor Ian “I don’t usually read reviews but…” Kelly was moved to answer our questions about his artistry.

It’s story of a group of miners doing an art class in the 1930s and it’s very good. Thankfully it is returning to the National Theatre in 2009. Booking opens 23 July.

For anyone whose appetite for theatre-going has been poisoned by Gone With The Wind – The Musical! there is a very effective antidote to hand in the form of the screwball comedy about the writing of the Gone With the Wind screenplay.

Moonlight and Magnolias has returned (albeit briefly and with 50% new cast) to the Tricycle. Yes, we know it’s in Kilburn and that certain tickets result in a very confusing unreserved seating scrum but it’s actually worth it. It ends 2nd August.

The Whingers have been pretty much pilloried for saying that the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch at the Barbican is very, very good indeed when apparently what we should have said is “it’s the best thing ever to be staged in the history of the world”. It isn’t, but we acknowledge that it is very, very good indeed. Closes 20 July.

Thanks to the recent announcement by Usher 75 that the objectionably loud music problem has been solved, we can finally recommend Fat Pig at the Trafalgar Studios until 6 September.

The Whingers surprised themselves last year by actually enjoying a play (Saint Joan) by that avuncular old windbag George Bernard Shaw and continue their Shavian love-in with the enjoyable Pygmalion currently at the Old Vic.

This passionate affair showed no sign of abating with the excellent Major Barbara (which has unfortunately finished) at the National Theatre.

But there’s still plenty of time to see the lively production of Thomas Middleton’s (or was it Cyril Tourneur? – the Whingers aren’t that bothered) The Revenger’s Tragedy (until 28 August) which stars one of the Whingers’ favourite actors Rory Kinnear.

He’ll be huge one day (remember you heard it here first) if the Whingers’ recommendation doesn’t finish him off first.

Finally, if you think Nazi parties are confined to to the basements of Chelsea there are plenty goose-stepping on the London stage, with many on display at the enjoyable (when it opened we couldn’t possibly vouch for it now) The Sound of Music at The Palladium.

And Marguerite not only features them in another (better than expected) musical but gives the audience an eyeful of Ruthie Henshall’s kazongas to (Nazi) boot.

And speaking of Nazis: just as that Ohr des Schweins Cabaret reaches its long overdue final performance, up pops Michael Frayn’s truly appalling new play Afterlife, which, like The Sound of Music, charts the Anschluss but sadly with less insight and more tiresome verse replacing the songs.

But if you can’t get anough of Nazi atrocities, hang on until November when the Warsaw Ghetto will be set to music in a new musical – Imagine This -at the recently vacated (by audiences) New London Theatre. The Whingers can only imagine.

4 Responses to “What’s hot in the West End?”

  1. bobzyeruncle Says:

    This is great. Any thoughts on what to see next month in Edinburgh?

  2. Statler Says:

    Edinburgh? It’s kind of like being in Scotland – but not quite. Except in August when it’s kind of like being in London – but not quite…


  3. Time has moved on from the above summary and comments.

    I have just seen despite some misgivings after the musical nghtmare that was Gone With The Wind ,Zorro the Musical.
    This has restored my faith in the new musical.

    In my view the most fantastically enjoyable musical in a very long while with some of the most lively and life enhancing
    dance sequences with genuine balls and guts ,verve and style that one could possibly wish for.I think you will have to travel fair to see such exciting Flamenco woven ino the general fabric
    of a west end show shooting out all the excitement of that
    dance art form.

    The music is jaunty and tuneful and sourced from the Gypsy King’s catalogue,but hey it works as does the ensemble chorus numbers coupled with a camp barnstorming worth price of seat ticket from a newcomer to the West End from
    America Lesli Margherita. Just see her to believe her as goes for the rest of this joyful and life affirming show which I guarantee should please the hardest of stone hearts that just wishes to be entertained on a warm summer night…go and enjoy.[Andrew,Whetstone,29/7/08]


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