Archive for the 'London' Category

Review – Reasons To Be Pretty, Almeida Theatre

Saturday 19 November 2011

Neil LaBute is never far from controversy but the Whingers have less issue with his subject matter than his titles. Andrew got himself in a right old tizzy about a missing comma In a Dark Dark House (also at the Almeida Theatre) and earlier this year he was quite punctilious about the punctuation again when that AWOL comma turned up quite superfluously in In a Forest, Dark and Deep before being being told to stand on the stupid step as it was a quote from Walt Whitman.

It was Phil’s turn this time. Shouldn’t Reasons To Be Pretty be Reasons to be Pretty, arguing that Ian Drury’s song “Reasons to be Cheerful” opts for lower case on the copula verb? When the play first appeared in New York in 2008 LaBute seemed To Be taking no chances, dropping the upper case completely by opting for reasons to be pretty. Gosh, everyone seems confused. Some think it’s Reasons to Be Pretty.

But are we arguing about physical appearance rather than content? This is what Lord Harold Fritz-Liberty (Mr LaBute’s Royal Wedding name) is tackling again in the third of his trilogy of plays on the subject. Phil had previously enjoyed the twisted The Shape of Things (also Almeida when it decamped to King’s Cross) and both Whingers were very taken by his Fat Pig. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Party, Two Whingers: The 5th Annual West End Whingers Party 2011

Monday 7 November 2011

Ooops. This had fallen down the back of the Whingers’ metaphorical sofa and now seems – strikingly like the Whingers themselves – almost ancient history.

But we were brought up in the distant days when writing thank-you letters was basic manners and although in our defence there has been much thanks given privately, the wonderful people who supported us must be publicly recognised. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Terrible Advice, Menier Chocolate Factory

Friday 30 September 2011

Dear Whingers,

I’ve never written to agony aunts before.

I’m a middle-aged woman who recently became single when I found out my best friend had slept with my boyfriend. I want to go and see something funny at the theatre to cheer myself up. I’m very broad-minded. Indeed, I’ve been around the block a few times but alas not in my car which currently has a flat tyre.

I’m coming to London (by coach) soon, are there any plays running that might make me laugh and also teach me how to change a wheel?

Yours

Aunt Edna Welthorpe-Trellis, North Wales
(name and address supplied) Read the rest of this entry »

Review of the Year 2008 – the worst and the less so

Thursday 1 January 2009

Well, it’s turning out to be a rotten transition from 2008 to 2009: Earth Kitt dies; no invitation to Harold Pinter’s funeral is received* and the Whingers are overlooked yet again in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

But the Whingers aren’t bitter (no more so than usual, anyway) and have made good use of their bonus “leap second” (yes the world is slowing on its axis even as the Whingers are on their own respective axes) to reflect on their theatrical highlights and lowlights of 2008.

So throw away your Nytol for the Whingers are about to save you significant sums on expensive sleeping aids by revealing yet another tedious, somnolent round up of the best and worst of the year or – as the Whingers are accustomed to thinking of things – the worst and the least worst. Yes, it’s time to hand out some more Whingies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Twelfth Night, Donmar West End

Thursday 11 December 2008

twelfth_nightOk, sit down. Take a deep breath, take a Valium and take the day off. The Whingers are about to start chucking a few superlatives around.

You may well think you’ve come to the wrong place (indeed you almost certainly have) as it’s well documented that the Whingers don’t really do Shakespeare, especially the comedies as they’re usually even less comic than My Family.

But director Michael Grandage (named Best Director at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Othello / The Chalk Garden / Ivanov) can do little wrong at the moment in the Whingers’ eyes.

And last night he caused the Whingers actually to laugh. Not once, but over and over again. Out loud. At a Shakespeare play. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sunset Boulevard, Comedy Theatre

Tuesday 9 December 2008

sunsetboulevard“You can’t write a musical about Sunset Boulevard,” Billy Wilder is said to have told Stephen Sondheim. “It has to be an opera. After all, it’s about a dethroned queen” (We’re not going to insult your intelligence with links to SB, BW or SS – you know what/who they are).

Sondheim got the message but if Andrew Lloyd Webber had any qualms he overcame them and – unhappily – another hit was born, Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Betty Buckley, Petula Clark and Rita Moreno (ditto) being among the luminaries who have given their close-up, Mr De Mille.

Now, cards on the table. The Whingers have never been struck by Mr Lloyd Webber’s work and they tend to steer well-clear of sung-through musicals. They also believe that Sunset Boulevard is a classic film that no-one has any right to mess with (for heaven’s sake; at this rate they’ll be staging All About Eve next!) but they gallantly overcame all these prejudices and more in order to take a trip down Sunset Boulevard at the Comedy Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

In which the Whingers plan their legacy to the arts world

Saturday 6 December 2008

andre-tchaikowsky

The story so far: pianist Andre Tchaikowsky bequeathed his skull to the RSC with the wish that it be used in a future production of Hamlet. It was eventually used by David Tennant at Stratford although it probably won’t be when the show transfers to London.

Mr Tchaikowsky died at the tender age of 46 in 1982 but until Tennant picked it up this year it has only been used in rehearsals although it did get an airing – literally on the roof of the RSC for the first two years.

This extraordinary story has, of course, got the Whingers thinking about their own mortality and – always thinking of others – they are anxiously fretting over to whom they should leave their own body parts. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: August: Osage County, National Theatre

Saturday 6 December 2008

august-osage-countyfz6mif1Phew! What a lot of relief for the Whingers. On three counts.

After watching some actors being not entirely convincingly American in Neil LaBute’s In A Dark Dark House last week, it came as a real treat to see 13 genuine Americans (one of them genuinely genuine -a Native American) shipped across the pond for the National’s import of Mr Tracy Letts‘ Broadway hit August: Osage County, to play, well, Americans.

But more importantly what a relief to see a title punctuated with care and attention. The Whingers are always delighted to see a rather lovely and robust colon. Mr Letts clearly knows something Mr LaBute doesn’t: punctuation. We are now hoping that a play be written which incorporates the subjunctive in its title.

Thirdly, the Whingers can confidently now make mention of the play at a dinner party or while in witty conversation with an off-licence manager without mumbling or shortening it to “August” as they know it’s pronounced owe-sidge; previously they had been rhyming it with “sausage”. Read the rest of this entry »

In which the Whingers are bewildered by the economics of theatre

Monday 1 December 2008

So VAT on theatre tickets goes down today and in some cases the reduction is being passed on to the public. Mark Shenton reports that shows such as Mamma Mia!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Sound of Music will be dropping their prices. To give you an example of the scale of this, here’s what it means for Grease:

Box office prices, previously scaled from £20 to £55, will now be re-priced from £19.50 to £53.50, representing savings of between 50p and £1.50 per ticket. The middle range of prices from £30-£45 will each see the prices reduced by £1.

So that should pack them in. Far better to take one’s chances on TKTS or LastMinute.com or any of the myriad offers available. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: A Little Night Music, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 1 December 2008

8ebff51a6e8e3f904c2c4e6e4667b3e4_poster-alnmThis was the show the Whingers had been waiting for.

Not because the Whingers love Sondheim (they do). Not because they wanted to see if Trevor Nunn could atone for the terrible sins he committed with Gone With the Wind – The Musical! (he has). Or to see if, at 34, Hannah Waddingham would convince as the youngest ever Desirée Armfeldt (she did).

No, rising like a shining beacon of common sense and democracy above all of this was the news that A Little Night Music was to be the first production at the Menier Chocolate Factory where they dropped their absurd and unpopular unreserved seating policy*. Yeah! Good old Menier, the Whingers hoops had never been so cocked (or should that be the other way round?). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Calendar Girls, Richmond Theatre

Sunday 30 November 2008

p4701_m1

Sometimes the Whingers leave the theatre inspired.

Braving the rugby fans heading for Twickenham yesterday they trailed out to the Richmond Theatre through the Simon Callow and Bonnie Langford themed ticket barriers at the station to see the stage adaptation of Calendar Girls.

Yes, with New Year just around the corner they’re left themselves with a matter of weeks to bring out their own charity calendar. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: In a Dark Dark House, Almeida Theatre

Thursday 27 November 2008

The Whingers have very few secrets left. Oh, it’s true that they know the locations of some dark, dark bars which they will never share with their clamouring, clamouring public; places where they can enjoy a bottle of red, red wine uninterrupted by the constant, constant throng of fans and celebrity hangers-on.

And Phil knows secret, secret things about Andrew that he wouldn’t dream of sharing with the world: he has after all seen him swilling his undie(sirables) in a Frankfurt hotel bathtub; he knows what Andrew looked like before his operation; and that Andrew’s middle name is Margaret. But he would never, never tell.

But the secrets unravelled in Neil La Bute’s In a Dark Dark House at the Almeida are altogether more controversial. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Family Reunion at the Donmar Warehouse

Tuesday 25 November 2008

the-family-reunionOne of the many differences between the Whingers is that Andrew doesn’t really “do” parties whereas Phil will seize on any event as an excuse to hold a party – a general election, the Eurovision Song Contest, the arrival of his water bill and so on.

But with one voice they can agree that the birthday party around which T.S. Eliot pegs The Family Reunion is one they would find any excuse to miss. Read the rest of this entry »

(Re)Review – La Cage aux Folles – Playhouse Theatre

Wednesday 19 November 2008

wew-la-cageThe Whingers are not known for generosity, fairness or giving things second chances.

But having been rather disappointed by La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier (it was the first preview and Douglas Hodge was indisposed) it was with a quite uncharacteristic dollop of largesse that they decided to take in the show’s West End transfer. Taking a lesson from the show’s lyrics the Whingers trotted off to its new home at the Playhouse Theatre hoping to see things from a different angle.

They had been encouraged by terrific reviews* (particularly for Hodge) such as:

“HODGE REVELS WITH SEDUCTIVE ELAN”
Evening Standard

“AS AN ANTIDOTE TO THE CREDIT-CRUNCH BLUES, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES IS UNBEATABLE”
Daily Telegraph

“SEW ON A SEQUIN, SLIP INTO SOME HEELS AND GO”
The Times

“THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO CHASE AWAY RECESSION BLUES”
Time Out

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Imagine This The Musical! New London Theatre

Thursday 13 November 2008

Imagine This

Whatever next? Abu Ghraib the Musical!? Guantánamo the Musical!?

Any new musical is a tremendous risk but to stage one set in 1942 about the occupants of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw staging a show about Masada (where a siege by troops of the Roman Empire in AD 73 led to the mass suicide of Jewish rebels who preferred death to surrender) seems like, well, suicide.

Choose the same venue that housed the mega-flop Gone With the Wind – The Musical! and you might as well be go round backstage shouting “Macbeth” at every Tom, Dick and Manny.

Then there is the misfortune of staging it at a time when “the R word” is tightening belts.

And finally you have to take into account that this is, after all, Whingertown and the Whingers are curiously resistant to new musicals (all the good musicals having already been written in our humble opinion). Read the rest of this entry »