Archive for the 'off-West End' Category

Review – Chita Rivera, Shaw Theatre, London

Sunday 10 February 2008

“Universally regarded as an American national treasure, Chita Rivera is Broadway’s most accomplished and versatile dancer/actress/singer,” begins the blurb on the Shaw Theatre‘s website which is an astonishing coincidence as this would be exactly the tone the Whingers would use in their own biographical notes. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Speed-the-Plow with Jeff Goldblum and Kevin Spacey, Old Vic, London

Wednesday 6 February 2008

To mark Shrove Tuesday Andrew turned up at the Old Vic wearing his pancake concealer; Phil, as always, was the tosser.

There was a real buzz in the packed auditorium last night and for once not because Andrew’s hearing-aid was on the blink. In fact the buzz was so loud that the Whingers couldn’t hear the Old Vic seats creaking and for a moment they thought that Mr Spacey had finally made time to go round with the can of 2-in-1 oil that the Whingers sent him for Christmas (or meant to send him; we’re not sure now).

Anyway, yes, buzz. Or in the Whingers’ case, mild fretting. The director of Speed-the-Plow is none other than Mr Matthew Warchus and – this being a preview – the Whingers were slightly worried that they might again get told off for writing.

Buzz and fretting gave way to “mild peril” (as the movie posters have it these days) when the house manager appeared onto the stage to announce that the already tardy curtain would be even tardier. Had one of the Hollywood stars – Jeff Goldblum or Kevin Spacey – thrown a hissy fit backstage? Read the rest of this entry »

Guest review – Much Ado About Nothing, National Theatre

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Due to our general aversion to Shakespeare, we delegated this one to Channel 4 News presenter Samira Ahmed. Thanks, Sam. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Jack and the Beanstalk, Barbican

Saturday 15 December 2007

If the West End Whingers were to write a panto, it would probably be something like this. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Somehow Phil had managed to get out of seeing Jack and the Beanstalk at The Barbican.

You might think that rather strange, as its writer – Jonathan Harvey – is actually one of Phil’s Facebook “friends”.

Indeed you might have supposed that that this “friendship” might have placed upon Phil a clear obligation to go along and cheer/boo as appropriate.

But if you had supposed that, you clearly have no understanding of what it means to be a friend of Phil. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Cinderella by Stephen Fry at the Old Vic

Wednesday 12 December 2007

If Stephen Fry wrote a pantomime it would be just like this.

Yes, it’s everything you would expect from the man: clever, knowledgeable, confident, amusingly pedantic, self-referential, gender-bending and very, very funny.

Oh and as it’s that terrible season again, turns out to be rather appropriately, as camp as Christmas.

And not at all aimed at children. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Othello, Donmar Warehouse. With Ewan McGregor

Tuesday 4 December 2007

WEW - OthelloWell, it’s all go at the Donmar. Signs outside the door saying that bags will be searched (they weren’t) and people with headsets busying around the auditorium telling you to switch off your mobile phones (not everyone did).

Yesterday saw the last preview of Othello at the Donmar Warehouse and the Whingers – being “friends” of the Donmar Warehouse – were rewarded for their friendship by being seated once again in the side rows while luminaries such as former Home Secretary Kenneth Baker (Baron Baker of Dorking), Michael Billington, Mark Lawson and the Whingers’ über stalker Baz Bamigboye were in the seats which faced the action, so presumably they got to see Othello’s big speech and death (sorry – should have said earlier: plot spoilers in here). Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Women of Troy, National Theatre

Monday 26 November 2007

Graham Norton interviewed Zandra Rhodes (right) on one of his many television shows and asked her something along the lines of: “When you’re getting dressed in the morning, is there no point at which you think ‘Right, I’ve put enough things on now. I’ll stop’?”

For some reason, Katie Mitchell’s production of Euripides’ Women of Troy at the National Theatre put Andrew in mind of this question. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Giant by Antony Sher, Hampstead Theatre

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Christmas arrived early for the Whingers this year.

The last preview of Sir Antony Sher’s play The Giant at the Hampstead Theatre presented them with such an early feast of overdone turkey that they felt so sated on seasonal fare that they’re thinking of cancelling the real thing.

For once Phil, a fully fledged meat-eater, felt sorry for his fellow Whinger’s plight. Andrew is vegetarian and Phil pitied his vicissitudes.

And it had all looked promising… Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Present Laughter, National Theatre

Saturday 20 October 2007

[Note from Andrew: Apologies. There are quite a few blah-blah-blah-type golden oldie reminiscences coming up courtesy of Phil. Thought I should warn you.]

Phil had seen Present Laughter in Bournemouth in the days when Andrew was still playing with his conkers. Peter Wyngarde had taken the lead (see bottom of post if this name means nothing to you).

This turned out to be a most happy serendipity as Helen Smith had brought along a new Would-Be-Whinger called Richard who is a real live actor.

At the mention of the name “Peter Wyngarde” Richard turned grey. It emerged that Richard once played opposite Mr Wyngarde in a disastrous theatrical production at Liverpool Playhouse and he regaled the ultra-attentive Whingers with a marvellously amusing and deliciously scandalous theatrical anecdote…. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest review – A Disappearing Number by Complicite at the Barbican

Sunday 16 September 2007

Well, there was a certain amount of disagreement in the West End Whingers office over this one – so much so that the bar staff asked us to “keep it down” as people couldn’t hear the karaoke.

Andrew – who has a secret maths geek inside him bursting to get out – was desperate to see A Disappearing Number at The Barbican, it being about “one of the most mysterious and romantic mathematical collaborations of all time”.

Phil, however, responded tartly that he was “so over Complicite” (he’s getting very American these days due to the amount of American telly programmes he watches. He says “OMG!” a lot too).

There followed some rather disagreeable to-ing and fro-ing on the matter and a debate as to (a) whether “Complicite” is the same thing as ” Théâtre de Complicité” (it is) and (b) why they might have dropped the French accents (too pretentious? no, that can’t have been it) and (c) whether “Complicite” is pronounced “compli-site” and (d) if not, why not? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Member of the Wedding, Young Vic

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Phil wasn’t keen on seeing this one at all. Andrew wanted desperately to see it, but was on a very sticky wicket thanks to the narrow escape which was We, The People.

Then, of course, there is the hoary old problem of the Young Vic’s unreserved seating policy which always raises Phil’s hackles. And what with the last outing to the Young Vic being the ultra-disappointing Vernon God Little, what could possibly persuade Phil to visit the very limits of the off-West End to patronise a theatre that resembles a cheese grater? Read the rest of this entry »

Reviews – We, The People, The Globe (and our work here is done…)

Monday 10 September 2007

… and the West End Whingers can return to their own planets.

For the lost art of theatre reviewing seems to be once more in the ascendant and The Globe’s latest play We, The People by Eric Schlosser should be celebrated for single-handedly persuading the critics to tell it like it is: Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Bacchae, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith

Saturday 8 September 2007

Picture it. Macedonia, 407 BC. The house clearance people are rummaging through the late Mr Euripides‘ attic (they probably didn’t call them attics though as that would be the equivalent of calling your loft an “of, relating to, or characteristic of ancient London or Londoners”).

It’s slim pickings, as his wives (Choerile and Melito) and children have already swept through the house and made off with any whatever the ancient Greek equivalent of Clarice Cliff was. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Awake and Sing! with Stockard Channing at The Almeida

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Was it wonderfully prescient and daring of Clifford Odets to work the word “awake” into the title of his 1932-35 drama Awake and Sing!? Possibly not. Possibly even that man of big ideas could not conceive that his play would be resuscitated more than 70 years later in front of London’s most narcoleptic reviewer.

Andrew (for it is he) was beside himself with excitement all day. He felt the Almeida had either laid down a a gauntlet or delivered him a personal invitation to nod off during the play. Add to this a cast that includes one of his favourite actresses Stockard Channing and another of his obsessions – the use of punctuation in the title, he cajoled Phil out of semi-retirement to accompany him to Islington senior citizens’ favourite, the über-trendy Almeida Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Holding Fire at The Globe

Monday 3 September 2007

Holding Fire trousers

What is The Globe Theatre for? It’s a strange idea. Yes, it was in sooth an ambitious and fascinating project and gives a good (if sanitised, which appeals to Phil of course) idea of what the building and the staging might have been like in Shakespeare’s day apart from the flight path overhead. But, really, what’s it for? Or what is it good for (air conditioning aside)? And who is it for?

The easiest question is the last. It’s principally for tourists. American tourists principally, one imagines. And, of course, anyone remotely interested in theatre history should visit it once to see what it’s like.

Andrew discovered this rule by going twice. Read the rest of this entry »