Posts Tagged ‘Menier Chocolate Factory’

Theatrical Catch Up: From On the Town to The Mentor

Tuesday 27 June 2017

It’s been a while.

Phil’s been busy having a bit of work done. At home. Not on his face. Yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – She Loves Me, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 29 November 2016

slm-220x300You wait for ever for a seductively old-fashioned and tuneful period musical about a shop assistant falling in love, staged handsomely on four turntables and you get two in a row. What are the chances?

Following on the heels of the winning Half A Sixpence comes the Menier’s seasonal offering She Loves Me (book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock).

Essence It’s based on a play by Hungarian playwright Miklós László that inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and You’ve Got Mail. Tinder is yet to be invented and Amalia (Scarlett Strallen) and Georg (Mark Umbers), correspond gushingly in old-style ink (hurrah!) despite never having met, until that is, Amalia wheedles her way into a job at Maraczek’s Parfumerie in Budapest where Georg happens to work. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Truth, Wyndham’s Theatre

Tuesday 12 July 2016

the-truth-10People in the UK may have had enough of ghastly people who lie, deceive, betray, plot and do awful things behind so-called friend’s backs. This might make The Truth the worst possible time to pop up in the West End or it may possibly be entirely the opposite. Apposite and timely.

Michel (Alexander Hanson) is married to Samantha Bond the enigmatic Laurence (Tanya Franks) but he’s having a regular bit on the side with Alice (Frances O’Connor) when he’s not losing a sock or telling porkies to his wife. Trouble is Alice also happens to be the wife of Michel’s best friend Paul (Robert Portal). And that’s about all you really need to know as what follows is a slew of revelations about who knows what, who is lying and who thinks they are in full possession of the facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – David Baddiel – My Family: Not the Sitcom, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 16 May 2016

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Good title. You really would want to make the distinction that you really were nothing to do with that sitcom.

But you might ask what first attracted Phil to David Baddiel My Family: Not the Sitcom which is basically a stand up show?

Phil read David Baddiel‘s funny and moving account of his father’s dementia in the Sunday Times Magazine. And Phil saw parallels; both his parents have dementia, Dad in a nursing home (when he’s not effecting an escape), Mum still in her own home but needs attention.

As upsetting as dementia is, it’s certainly released an otherwise untapped and unrestrained sense of humour in Phil’s dad. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Funny Girl, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 8 December 2015

funny-girl200aYes, we were the luckiest people in the world. We got tickets!

This was the Menier‘s fastest-selling production (entire run sold out in a few hours) and an announcement of a transfer to the West End well before Funny Girl – the story of Broadway star Fanny Brice – had even started previews. People who need tickets needn’t panic.

Andrew was fastest finger first and nabbed some for the last preview (yes, we are a bit behind). So expectations were absurdly high. Would we be drooling over Sheridan Smith‘s Fanny? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Communicating Doors, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 12 May 2015

2970C3D50-0BFD-4B3C-3F5D1318A483AFB8In which Sir Alan Ayckbourn finds a Tardis in a hotel room where the tea-making facilities should be.

Strange one this. Communicating Doors is a “comic thriller” set in a hotel suite with a cutaway to the bathroom. It’s not often you see what the back of a bidet looks like, let alone find a broom cupboard that revolves and also turns out to be a time portal. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Buyer & Cellar, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 16 March 2015

buyer-and-cellar-at-the-menier-chocolate-factory-fa81fd7fbd0f45714127953e51189d31If, like us, you’re of a certain age and/or have a cultural consciousness that includes the likes of David Geffen, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Mildred Pierce, Irene Sharaff and a working knowledge of Barbra Streisand this may be the show for you.

Buyer & Cellar (incidentally yesterday’s Sunday Times crossword used the same play on the word ‘cellar’ in one of its answers. Heard publican’s role in basement bar (4, 6)* ) stars Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie as a struggling actor, Alex More, who is sacked from Disneyland for threatening to do something unspeakable with a churro to a rude child and finds employment working in Ms Streisand’s basement shopping mall. In fact he’s the only employee there, serving frozen yoghurt and selling her own extensive collection of collectables back to her as she haggles with him over the price.

Will he form a bond with her when she comes down to ‘play’ and will he ever be invited upstairs to her Malibu mansion? Sounds bizarre and crazy? It is. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 1 December 2014

4917-1411552965-assassinssquareGoodness. It seems only yesterday that Phil first encountered Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s (book) Assassins at the Donmar.

That yesterday turns out to be 22 years ago. In between he saw it at the Union Theatre and had somehow forgotten that he’d also seen it at the Landor (Well, he thinks he saw it at the Union, it all sounded very familiar when he reread Andrew’s review, but apparently he wasn’t with Andrew).

But it’s not just Phil that forgets things. His younger companion (no, not Andrew) for the afternoon at the Menier thought she was seeing it for the first time, until she reached the “I am going to the Lordy” song which appears quite late in this 1 hour 45 minute piece.

This being the Menier’s Christmas show expectations are really rather high, especially with Jamie Lloyd directing, Soutra Gilmour designing, a cast that includes Catherine Tate, Andy Nyman, Phil’s favourite History Boy (Jamie Parker), Mike McShane, Whinger-approved Carly (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) Bawden, Aaron Tveit (a leading man from yer actual Broadway) and above all Richard Mawbey on the curling tongs. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 8 July 2014

220x300The Whingers have something of a history with Forbidden Broadway.

They first saw it on the Broadway itself – or rather off the Broadway – in 2007 (it was already 25 years old then) as they were running out of things too see on yer actual Broadway due to a strike by Local One.

And we saw a revised version at the Menier 5 years ago when those clever people behind the show had us eating out of their hands by name-checking the Whingers in one of the songs. How we swooned.

Of course we would not get a mention now. That moment has passed, the joke has been done and our stock is depleted. But this show has sufficient allure that even Andrew brushed off his mothballs and dragged himself along for this one.

The biggest problem for Gerard Alessandrini’s send up of Broadway and West End shows – which is constantly updated according to which shows are currently running – was could it possibly live up to its previous incarnations? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Candide, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 2 December 2013

0da9365bfeecf4a1a9c714ecaf59227cPhil’s 4th Candide, and if he had a better memory he would make comparisons. So a swift read up of the Whingers’ last one (at the ENO) reminded him that, in that case, it was long (3¼ hours), gimmicky and sometimes inaudible.

But that’s what can happen if you let opera companies have their wicked way with it. Thankfully this one is shorter (2 hours 40 mins), the often brilliant lyrics entirely audible and the staging traditional.

Well, one might say traditional if one were not a Whinger. The Menier’s production is off-puttingly staged in the round. But, and swallowing hard, Phil was forced reluctantly to admit that it works. Yes, occasionally there is the discomfort of a little Linda Blair-ish head swivelling to see the performers as they cavort around the auditorium (choreography Adam Cooper), but on the plus side you’re close enough to get a hooped skirt in your face and if seated in the front row may even find yourself becoming part of the show wearing a natty red titfer. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Merrily We Roll Along, Menier Chocolate Factory

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Rating

Confused?

Not if you’re familiar with Merrily We Roll Along which starts in 1976 and moves back through the years to 1957 and inspired Phil to write the review in reverse.

But unlike Stephen Sondheim, his book writer George Furth or Pinter or George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart who wrote the original play on which it’s based he’s not sharp enough for that. So he’ll leave it there. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Charley’s Aunt, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 25 September 2012

It used to be said that Roddy Llewellyn once had a small part in Charley’s Aunt.

Tee hee. That silly old chestnut of a gag that naturally appeals to the Whingers’ puerile sense of humour. But then Brandon Thomas‘ Charley’s Aunt is a silly old (1892) chestnut of a comedy and strangely one they Whingers had never seen despite its fame and its illustrious roll call of famous ‘Aunts’ (listed in the Menier programme) which includes Noël Coward, Rex Harrison, Arthur Askey, John Gielgud, Frankie Howard, Danny La Rue, John Inman, John Mills, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith.*

It is indeed the comic cross-dresser’s Hamlet. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Educating Rita, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 30 April 2012

Saturday evening.

Philly-no-mates had nothing booked in the diary. What to do? Take up an impromptu offer (presumably no one else being available) to revisit the Menier Chocolate Factory‘s Educating Rita now starring Claire Sweeney as the titular heroine or stay in on his tod and flick restlessly between TV ‘talent’ shows.

Sweeney or tod?

Phil dithered. He doesn’t normally like visiting the theatre on a Saturday evening* and whilst the decision was not exactly on a par with Sophie’s Choice he weighed up the options fastidiously. The Whingers had enjoyed it enormously two years ago; surely only disappointment would ensue. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Abigail’s Party, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Andrew loves olives. Phil can’t stand them.

So 50% of the Whingers like olives then.

Which of course will mean squiddly dit if you’ve never seen Abigail’s Party. Extraordinarily one of the Whingers’ party at this preview at the Menier Chocolate Factory had never seen it before. Well, we say party, there were five of us and not strictly speaking there together, but by chance. But five people and a party? Friends of Abigail will understand where we’re going with this…

Tricky one. The 1977 TV recording of Mike Leigh‘s comedy of social manners is so well-remembered by many of us that anyone putting on a new production must also feel they’re putting on a straight-jacket and taking a leap into the known. In Whinger circles it is probably the most frequently quoted modern play (well, any play then; we are not know for intentionally lapsing into swathes of Shakespeare). It is so ingrained in the Whingers’ psyches that Andrew still insists on offering Phil olives just so he can lapse into Bevspeak.

Tamper with it and you’ll incur the wrath of its fans, remain too faithful and it might pale by comparison. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Pippin, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 5 December 2011

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