Archive for the 'off-West End' Category

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 »

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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 – An Ideal Husband, Richmond Theatre

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Such was the allure of the cast of Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband that the Whingers went to the trouble of trailing all the way out to the Richmond Theatre (Zone 4, since you ask) to see Sir Peter Hall‘s production.

It took Phil back to his days when he’d make a weekly visit to the Theatre Royal Brighton to see whatever stars were gracing its stage that particular week. Ah yes, the stars he saw then….

[Note from Andrew: Dear reader: with your best interests at heart I have here expunged eight paragraphs of Phil’s reminiscences]

Yes, this cast would have done Brighton proud: Kate O’Mara (Triangle), Michael Praed (Dynasty) Carol Royle (Life Without George), Robert Duncan (Drop The Dead Donkey), Tony Britton (Robin’s Nest) and their raison d’être en banlieue Fenella Fielding (Carry On Screaming). Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Now Or Later, Royal Court

Sunday 5 October 2008

Quick! Wheel out the Bagnold Barometer!

To be honest it’s in need of a bit of attention. We didn’t dream that we would be needing it again so soon hence it has been sitting neglected in Andrew’s attic between the exercise bike and the vegetable steamer and just in front of his last five (still wrapped) Christmas presents from Phil.

But now it’s needed. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Waste by Granville Barker at the Almeida

Wednesday 1 October 2008

The credit must be thoroughly crunching.

After rattling around in in the less-than-full Donmar auditorium at Monday night’s Creditors the Whingers witnessed another rare event last night: the Almeida auditorium less-than-packed to the rafters.

Perhaps the theatre-going public just couldn’t get excited about Harley Granville Barker’s Waste. Perhaps, like Phil, they assumed it to be a piece of agitprop about the sin of not recycling.

If they did believe that, many of those who turned up were clearly disappointed as the auditorium displayed even more empty seats after the interval. Perhaps it was due to Phil’s new fragrance.

The Whingers had some sympathy (how often do you hear that?) with them; they were themselves slightly ambivalent about returning for the remainder of the marathon (4 act 3 hour) show.

Return they did. But did they make the right decision? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Living Together (The Norman Conquests) at the Old Vic

Saturday 20 September 2008

Well, let’s look on the bright side (see what a holiday can do for one?).

This was the Whingers’ first theatrical sortie since their expedition to the bush. That’s the African bush if you’re not up to speed (and if not, why not?) not the lauded fringe theatre over a pub half-way to Swindon.

The Old Vic’s new production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Living Together – part of his 70s trilogy of The Norman Conquests – has been directed by the charming and über-prolific Matthew Warchus (who, you may recall, inadvertently gave the Whingers their very first interview).

But the big news is that The Old Vic’s auditorium has been reconfigured and named “The CQS Space”. Apparently that has nothing to do with a TV shopping channel but is connected with something entirely beyond the Whingers’ comprehension: hedge funds and the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation.

So at least the Old Vic’s notorious creaking seats have gone and more bar space has been made available by chucking out some of those useless seats at the back of the stalls. Other theatre owners please take note.

Sounds promising doesn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – They’re Playing Our Song, Menier Chocolate Factory

Sunday 27 July 2008

Phil got very excited about when They’re Playing Our Song at the Menier Chocolate Factory was announced but got extremely frustrated when no-one else was quite so enthused about the revival of a musical whose main claim to fame is that it has the most annoying title song in the history of musicals (“They’re playing our song oh yes they’re playing our song and when they’re playing our song…” etc).

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Unstated: Stories of Refuge, Southwark Playhouse

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Oh dear. How did we come to get so utterly out of our depth?

It seems that only yesterday the Whingers were paddling about on the comforting, crumbling shores of London’s famous West End Theatreland, waving happily at the occasional Dame of the British Empire through a proscenium arch and squealing with delight.

But on Monday night they found themselves sucked by the fierce undertow of the blogosphere into altogether choppier waters – the fringe. More fearsomely, into a storm of political fringe theatre: Unstated: Stories of Refuge at the Southwark Playhouse.

The security of their fourth-wall water-wings were torn violently from their scrawny arms even before it started… Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Ugly One, Royal Court

Wednesday 18 June 2008

In spite of many unsolicited entreaties, the Whingers have never considered having facial surgery.

Andrew and Phil have convinced themselves that their copious lines attractively describe lives fully-lived and display character. The many grooves and crannies have been etched into their faces over many years of impatiently sitting in darkened auditoriums (though not this particular evening – see below) watching bad theatre, learning of National Theatre running times and, just occasionally, from laughter. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Afterlife by Michael Frayn, National Theatre

Thursday 12 June 2008

To stage one verse play may be regarded as a misfortune; to stage two looks like carelessness. Or malice.

Yes, after the unpleasantness of Fram, the National has contrived to prescribe for the general public’s indigestion yet another unpalatable dose of doggerel in the form of Michael Frayn’s Afterlife. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Pygmalion, The Old Vic

Thursday 15 May 2008

“There must be something radically wrong about the play if it pleases everybody, but at the moment I cannot find what it is.”

Shaw’s comment on his own Pygmalion is one of the few kinds of challenge to which the West End Whingers feel they can confidently rise so they were eagerly anticipating their evening at Peter Hall‘s revival at the Old Vic and – to save precious drinking time later – had already scrawled “too long!!!!” and “squeaking seats” in their notebooks. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Good Soul of Szechuan with Jane Horrocks, Young Vic

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Picture it. A school in some forgotten corner of rural England many, many years ago.

A fresh-faced, young boy takes his first tentative steps into the spotlight. A green one, as it happens.

He is thrilled. He is wearing a dress. He is a god.

To be specific, he is Third God (there is no fourth) in Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Soul of Szechuan.

That young boy – hard as it is to picture looking at him now – was Phil. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Lunch With Marlene, New End Theatre, Hampstead

Thursday 3 April 2008

It’s a rare event when Andrew is the youngest member of an audience (it never happens to Phil, of course).

But that’s what happened last night at Lunch With Marlene – a one act play followed by a cabaret. The genteel New End Theatre, Hampstead seemed to be attracting a disproportionate quantity of unmarried gentlemen of a certain age (the Whingers have no idea why – it’s just a play about Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich featuring Kate O’Mara) plus the customary sprinkling of NW3 senior stalwarts.

The lobby of the New End Theatre was proudly displaying publicity from journals such as the Ham and High and a photocopy of the Sam Marlowe’s kind review in The Times. The Whingers stopped to admire the display but Andrew was having one of his Miss Marple moments and stood staring fixedly at the reviews: something was wrong, terribly wrong. But what? Read the rest of this entry »

In which The Whingers put their money where their big mouths are..

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Quilting beeThe Whingers have oft complained that there’s not enough theatre out there that really amuses them.

Andrew’s sartorial choices often elicit huge guffaws from Phil, but he doesn’t need to sit through a couple of hours of dross to derive such pleasure. It’s often the high point of an otherwise turgid theatre evening.

So, a few years back, the Whingers (over a bottle or two of oh-be-joyful of course) threw down the gauntlet (Hello Kitty glove in Andrew’s case) to each other and decided that they could write something better. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Man Who Had All The Luck, Donmar Warehouse

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Do the Whingers believe in “luck”?

Well after some of their recent theatrical sorties, not much: Phil felt blessed by his inability to attend Marilyn and Ella with Andrew last week, then kicked himself when he realised what a stinker he’d missed.

On the other hand, letting Andrew persuade him to see Legal Fictions was a very bad decision on Phil’s part.

Certainly people do have some control over their fortunes: chess master Garry Kasparov certainly believes Dimitry Medvedev created his own good fortune in the Russian Election.

But to get back to the more crucial top of the Whingers – do they create their own misfortunes simply by making poor choices? Are they creators of their own destinies? Or are they just plain “unlucky”? Must their few pieces of good fortune ultimately be paid for?

These questions and more prompted much chin stroking after seeing Arthur Miller’s The Man Who Had All the Luck at the Donmar last night. Read the rest of this entry »