Archive for the 'review' Category

Review – Oedipus, Pleasance Courtyard Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

Monday 15 August 2011

“Sh*t” moaned the woman heading the queue at the Pleasance Courtyard.

“He’s the reason we booked,” the He being Steven Berkoff, who would not be offering his Creon at Saturday afternoon’s performance.

But she needn’t have worried. Mr Matthew Cullum covered the indisposition splendidly and since this is Oedipus by Steven Berkoff (after Sophocles) the auteur’s presence could be felt throughout it like the letters running through a stick of (Sisyphean?) rock.

We need not concern you overly with the plot. Oedipus married his mother Jocasta (“Where he exits he enters”) which of course leads to..well that would need a spoiler alert.

Simon Merrells who so impressed the Whingers in Berkoff’s On the Waterfront does so again in the title role. Anita Dobson as his mother/wife is strangely mesmerising as she wafts through the proceedings done up like a sixties cocktail party hostess wiggling her fingers constantly as though she’s having trouble getting her nails to dry.

It’s all stunningly staged and lit (Mike Robertson) with the excellent Greek chorus forming typically Berkoffian Last Supper style tableaux against a Dali-esque background (Design by Michael Vale). If it goes on just a little longer than necessary there’s a bit of traditional Greek dancing to help you through. Less Greek chorus, more chorus boys.

Note to the producers: Get Miss Dobson some quick-drying nail varnish so she can stop waving her hands about for the hour and 40 minutes.

Rating

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Review – Spring Awakening, Lyric Hammersmith

Tuesday 3 February 2009

spring_awakeningWhen was the last time you fondled the pearl of your distant dreams? Thought so.

Anyway….

How typically perverse of the Whingers to go to see Spring Awakening on the very day that the rest of London was having a Winter Awakening.

Andrew spent Monday eagerly tracking the West End theatre cancellations and praying for the Lyric Hammersmith to make the announcement which would get him off the hook.

The Stage tantalisingly reported cancellations of Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables, Oliver!, Avenue Q, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Complicit, Grease, Carousel, Be Near Me, Hairspray, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wicked, Sunset Boulevard, The Sound of Music, Billy Elliot – The Musical, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, Gethsemane, On The Waterfront, The Phantom Of The Opera, Private Lives, Twelfth Night, Stomp, The Mousetrap and We Will Rock You.*

The Guardian clarified that Gethsemane would be cancelled “because a cast member is stuck in Brighton and there are no understudies for Cottesloe productions”.

But it was very all exciting: by early afternoon the Lyric was telling phone callers that the cast and crew were “struggling to get in” but they didn’t know if enough would get in for the performance to go ahead. Andrew asked the theatre to assure the cast and crew not to go to any trouble on his account. After all, this was another one of Phil’s bright ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Entertaining Mr Sloane, Trafalgar Studios

Wednesday 28 January 2009

entertaining-mr-sloaneAn awful lot was riding on this. Too much. It really wasn’t fair.

There was the disappointing (but now legendary) trip to see Joe Orton‘s Loot at the Tricycle Theatre in December which led the Whingers to wonder whether Orton’s work might have passed its perform-by date.

And then since the last strains of Auld Lang Syne died away the Whingers have endured a miserable January with too much talk of recession and a slew of largely quite terrible trips to the theatre .

So, yes. it was not only the rehabilitation of Orton’s reputation that was at stake: it was nothing less than the Whingers faith in West End theatre that was riding on the new production of Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Trafalgar Studios: their very raison d’être. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Mrs Affleck, National Theatre

Tuesday 27 January 2009

“I was wondering today,” said Andrew as the Whingers sat disconsolately at one of the two draughty tables which sit forlornly outside the soulless entrance to the Cottesloe foyer, “why we go to the theatre.”

A pause. Another sip of wine. Another pause.

“Simon Shepherd was on Loose Women today,” replied Phil brightly.

Andrew mused on the idea that theatre could serve the function of a mirror or perhaps a prism through which one might see aspects of one’s own life afresh.

For example, had Phil and he – like Mr and Mrs Affleck – inadvertently created a crippled child in the form of the so-called “West End Whingers”; a child for which neither much cares, much less loves and for whose death each sub-consciously wishes. But that child that is nonetheless theirs; it demands to be fed; it determines the pattern of their lives; it confronts them daily with guilt at their own revulsion with themselves.

The Cottesloe knell rang, calling the Whingers back to Act 2.

“Do you think that’s how it is?” asked Andrew.

“Apparently Lorna Luft has replaced Stefanie Powers in Pack of Lies,” said Phil, excitedly.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Be Near Me, Donmar Warehouse

Sunday 25 January 2009

be-near-meDear Phil

I hope you are having a nice time at your mother’s.

Strange that you should have to go and see her on the very weekend that I had tickets for  Be Near Me at the Donmar Warehouse. Sometimes I think  you don’t really like the theatre at all.

Or had someone perhaps tipped you off as to the fact that nothing happens in the entire first act (almost) of this two and a half hour play adapted by Ian McDiarmid from the novel by Andrew O’Hagan. Read the rest of this entry »

Re-Re-Review – La Cage Aux Folles with Graham Norton, Playhouse Theatre

Friday 23 January 2009

Apparently, Jonathan Ross is taking over the role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray.

Sounds potty doesn’t it? And you were shocked when you read it. And it’s not true. Well, we suppose it could be true; and if it is, just remember you read it here first.

Anyway, the point is that numb disbelief was pretty much the Whingers’ sole reaction when they heard that Graham Norton was taking over the role of Albin in La Cage Aux Folles from the sublime Douglas Hodge.

Despite having hated its first incarnation at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the production became an instant all-time favourite when the Whingers saw it with Hodge and now they feel strangely protective of it. Can Norton really carry it off or will his dragging up drag the show back down again? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Complicit with Richard Dreyfuss and an earpiece, Old Vic

Wednesday 21 January 2009

complicit at the Old VicWhat a shambles. What a complete and utter shambles. And how entertaining.

Hang on, scrub that last sentence. Complicit wasn’t in the least bit entertaining.

The only entertaining aspect to the evening was the discreet yet mesmerising, scandalous earpiece which Richard Dreyfuss was sporting because – so rumour has it – he does not know all of his lines.

Hard to believe? You can read about it here, here and here and a million other places.

Indeed, according to one source (who, of course, can not be named) a highlight of at least one early preview was the sound of David Suchet loudly calling “prompt” on Dreyfuss’ behalf which – as our Deep Throat conjectured – surely can’t have done much for dressing room bonhomie.

But the West End Whingers are proud to report that they can now reveal that there is in fact a wholly legitimate reason for Dreyfuss’ inability to remember his lines. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, National Theatre

Sunday 18 January 2009

every-good-boy_149_224chke7c

A Accurately Advertised running time for once. 65 minutes long.

B Brevity. The Whingers approve.

C Coughing. Had the National imported the audience from Oliver! wholesale?

D Don’t people bother with cough sweets theses days?

E Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is a play for actors and orchestra (Southbank Sinfonia) by Tom Stoppard and André Previn. It’s a rarely performed curiosity. An extravagance. But is it worth the effort? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Carousel without Lesley Garrett, Savoy Theatre

Wednesday 14 January 2009

carousel at the Savoy TheatreThe Whingers love collective nouns.

A peep of chickens. A pitying of doves. A musty of beavers. A flagellation of ferrets. A scolding of seamstresses. A sneer of butlers. An inebriation of whingers. A shrivel of critics. Particularly the last one.

The Whingers have coined one or two of their own: it cans only a matter of time before “a Fram of theatrical disasters” passes into everyday usage.

But what is the collective noun for understudies? (Put your thinking cap on Ian Shuttleworth) An indisposition of understudies? A disappointment of understudies? A groan of understudies? A Tennant of understudies? A McCutcheon of understudies?* Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Well, Apollo Theatre

Wednesday 7 January 2009

well

With everyone in New Year mode, many thinking about their health and their body (not that anyone is thinking about Andrew’s body) it seemed appropriate that the Whingers’ first outing of 09 should be to Lisa Kron‘s play Well at the Apollo Theatre.

Well, actually Andrew had no idea why the Whingers went to see this. He had a vague recollection that they had concluded quite some time ago – possibly before it had even been written – that it was going to be awful* and that the Whingers were definitely going to give it a wider berth.

Their presence at the Apollo on Monday evening can only be put down to Phil’s determination to see “international screen icon” Sarah Miles on stage. Anyway… 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 »

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 »

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 »