Posts Tagged ‘Neil Austin’

Review – Company, Gielgud Theatre

Friday 12 October 2018

Gender-swapped roles? Aren’t we not just a teensey-weensy bit over them by now?

This is the week that saw our first female Doctor Who. The National Theatre drops the willies willy-nilly, just because it can. Now Stephanie Sondheim has been thrown the ball, dropped it (or them) and has been persuaded to sanction a change for the central character of Bobby to Bobbie in his 1970 musical Company. If it’s to give actresses (at Whingers’ Towers we still like to call them actresses) more work it’s counter-productive, as three of the lady roles in the show are now played by men. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review – The Veil, National Theatre

Saturday 1 October 2011

Welcome to a world where cash flow problems are paramount. A world where danger and violence lurk outside the home. Where people are consumed by grief and spirits are caught between this world and the next. One woman seems able to make contact with them, especially through the power of music.

No it’s not Ghost the Musical, this is Conor (The Weir) McPhersons latest ghost-laden offering The Veil. Sadly though, there’s nary a potter’s wheel in sight. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Cherry Orchard, National Theatre

Friday 20 May 2011

“You’ll get in a right mess listening to words” says the all-knowing elderly butler Firs in Andrew Upton‘s version of The Cherry Orchard. And he’s quite right, Chekhov produced an awful lot of them and then adaptor Andrew Upton threw in a few of his own.

But unlike the critics who have gotten themselves into a real old tizzy about it the Whingers were in an unusually forgiving disposition.

It is true that “bozo” and a few other anachronisms occasionally jarred, as did “crap” and “bollocks”. But Andrew was quite happy when Upton pushed the anachronisms as far as taking a swipe at Phil’s favourite TV show with the line, “There’s nothing more repulsive than Loose Women.”

But it was when landowner Ranyevskaya drawled “Don’t waste your time watching plays – I bet it wasn’t funny at all,” that the Whingers realised that Upton was inviting them into bed with him. Let’s hope his wife Cate Blanchett rolls over and is happy to spoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The White Guard, National Theatre

Wednesday 17 March 2010

To be perfectly honest the Whingers really weren’t looking forward to Mikhail Bulgakov‘s The White Guard which doesn’t really support our claim to approach every theatrical sortie with an open mind. Actually, “blank” mind is probably closer to the truth.

So why did we book tickets for it then, you might ask? To which our response would be: “mind your beeswax” or, if  we were in a better mood, “because if we only went to see things we knew we’d like we’d hardly go at all”.

We go to the theatre because we want to be surprised and the bigger the surprise the better. We want to enter a 3 hours plus (with two intervals) play with heavy hearts and come out raving about Jerusalem. And we want to drag our feet into the Lyttelton for yet another adaptation of an old Russian play and come out saying, “The National Theatre has come up trumps again! Hoorah for the National Theatre!”

Of course, these things don’t usually happen. Such occasions are rarer than hen’s teeth. But sometimes… Read the rest of this entry »

Review – London Assurance, National Theatre

Tuesday 9 March 2010

As Phil arrived at the National Theatre for the preview of London Assurance on Monday night Andrew appeared to be intoning a new mantra. “Boo-see-co, boo-see-co, boo-see-co,” he muttered smugly, trying each permutation on for size to see which would sound most impressive.

It transpired that Andrew had for once been swatting up: delving into the programme notes to gen up on Irish actor, playwright, adaptor, stage director, manager, producer and innovator Dion Boucicault and – in particularly – learning how that intimidating looking surname should be pronounced. Suddenly Phil was at it too, pursing his lips contorting his facial muscles and rolling it round his tongue. All that was missing was a mouth full of marbles. Anyone passing would have rightly supposed the Whingers had lost theirs.

If they got nothing else out of the evening at least these wannabe Liza Doolittles might, at last, be able to impress someone at a party (if Sonia Friedman ever invites them to aonther) with their ability to pronounce Boucicault.

They need not have worried about reclaiming something from the evening. It gives us great pleasure to announce that the National Theatre has climbed out of the very deep pit it dug for itself with all the Really Old, Like Forty Fives, the Nations and (dare we bring it up again) the Frams and is back on form, doing what it does best. And how. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Red, Donmar Theatre

Tuesday 8 December 2009

“Can you tell what it is yet?”

That iconic phrase always flashes through Phil’s mind when he stares at a painting by Mark Rothko. But never more so than last night as the Whingers watched Rothko and his studio assistant Ken attack a blank canvas with a pot of red paint. It’s a bit of a coup de théâtre, brilliantly choreographed as you would expect from director Michael Grandage – but the Whingers couldn’t help thinking of Rolf Harris. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Mrs Klein, Almeida Theatre

Sunday 1 November 2009

MrsKleinWebDear Andrew,

Where are you? You don’t call, you don’t write, you don’t Twitter, have you turned into Stephen Fry? And you keep sending me off to see things on my own, it’s all rather disquieting.

I heard rumours you were spotted in Coventry earlier this week. I can quite categorically state it wasn’t me who sent you there.

By the time you receive this letter the run of Mrs Klein will probably have ended long ago and we’ll be DBEs.

It’s all beginning to look rather peculiar. The last time you sent me off to the Almeida Theatre it was Duet for One, a play set around a series of therapy sessions.

Are you trying to tell me something? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – A Streetcar Named Desire, Donmar Warehouse

Tuesday 28 July 2009

SCNDThe happiness of the Whingers depends on a lot of things when they visit a theatre: good sightlines, brevity, amusement and a competitively priced bar. But unlike Blanche Dubois they do not seek or expect kindness from strangers (or friends for that matter). Indeed, it is a word that rarely features in their limited vocabularies.

Brevity may also have been in somewhat short supply at the Donmar Warehouse on Monday when we dropped in to see Rob Ashford‘s production of Tennessee Williams‘s Pulitzer Prize winning classic A Streetcar Named Desire: it lumbers in at at a massive three hours. But for once the Whingers had struck lucky in the advance booking ticket lottery that the Donmar organises for its “friends” and for the first time in yonks we weren’t sitting to the side of the thrust stage but at the front, where the critics get to sit (in fact Mark Lawson or his Doppelgänger was in front of us). And boy what a difference it made! Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Hamlet with Jude Law, Donmar at the Wyndham’s Theatre

Thursday 4 June 2009

jude law hamletWho could have envisaged that Phil would get to direct Mr Jude Law in Mr Shakespeare‘s Hamlet in the auspicious Donmar West End season?

For in an implausible and rather Shakespearean case of mistaken identity that’s how it seemed on Tuesday night.* During the interval Phil bumped into someone he’d met on a work trip a couple of years ago who turned to her companion and introduced Phil with the words “This is Michael Grandage, the director”.

How Phil wished he had carried on the conceit but Andrew was laughing at the idea too much. The woman was quite insistent “But you look just like him.”

Ah well, put it down to it being the hottest night of the year or perhaps the fact that Phil had walked head first into a plate glass window in Spain a few days earlier and radically altered his facial features (considerably for the better, clearly). Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Madame de Sade, Donmar at the Wyndham’s Theatre

Wednesday 18 March 2009

madame-de-sade-donmar-west-endOh dear. 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 – Piaf with Elena Roger at the Donmar Warehouse

Sunday 10 August 2008

The Whingers waited for what seemed like eons for a mesmerising diva from the Americas to come along only to find themselves treated to two in the same week. And, no, we didn’t make Elaine Stritch this time round.

Who would have thought the Whingers would be swept up by a second stunning star performance within just a few days and – on this occasion – moved to ovate? Read the rest of this entry »