Posts Tagged ‘off-West End’

Review – Once in a Lifetime, Young Vic

Friday 2 December 2016

oial_326If you’re waiting for a review of Nice Fish you’ll have a jolly long wait. Phil was away and sold his tickets to Andrew (What? Did you expect Phil to give them away?) who went with Katy. Both were underwhelmed. The best he could say about it was it was 90 minutes with no interval though even that was too much for people behind him who departed before the end. Bullet dodged.

But, with a busy theatre period ahead (5 shows in 9 days, and Andrew coming along to all but one) what were the chances of being entertained for the second of them, Once in a Lifetime, after the charms of She Loves Me ? 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 – Side Show, Southwark Playhouse

Tuesday 25 October 2016

side-show-artwork-image-700x455It’s a rum old world sometimes.

Two consecutive off-West End shows featuring poisonous homosexualists (Kenny Morgan, The Boys In The Band), then two in a row featuring a hostess trolley (The Red BarnThe Grinning Man). The latter a musical about a carnival attraction “freak show”. This one is too. What are the chances?

This is the 1997 Broadway flop Side Show (31 previews and 91 regular performances) which was revived and revised in 2014 only to flop again after a seven week run. Is someone trying to tell them something? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Boys In The Band, Park Theatre

Tuesday 18 October 2016

thumbnail_boys-in-the-band_a5-e1464015375465Second in a row of our series of plays featuring a splendid central performance by an actor as a blisteringly vile gay in a period drama at a north London fringe theatre.

Amazingly first time at the Park Theatre for Phil. And first time for The Boys In The Band too. No, Phil had never seen William (director of The French Connection and The Exorcist and once married to Lesley-Anne Down) Friedkin‘s 1970 film either. Andrew had. So when Phil suggested a trip to Mart Crowley‘s 1968 play Andrew replied, “I’m up for an evening of self-loathing”. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Kenny Morgan, Arcola Theatre

Wednesday 5 October 2016

kenny-morgan-arcola-george-irvingWe’re very slow off the starting blocks with Kenny Morgan, a timely companion to The Deep Blue Sea recently at the National, as it concerns events in Terrence Rattigan‘s life that inspired that play. So, if we’re a tad late to the table we would have to say it’s a separate table.

Like TDBS, Mike Poulton (Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies)’s version begins with a body slumped in front of a gas fire; a failed suicide because someone’s forgotten to put a shilling in the meter. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Tuesday 9 August 2016

18842_show_portrait_largeSome things you may not know about Jesus Christ Superstar:

It was the first show Phil saw in the West End. He came up from Wiltshire with friends to see the original London cast at the Palace Theatre. A theatre he is now unlikely to ever see the interior of again.

He recorded the original JCS album on his reel-to-reel tape recorder. A microphone placed between the speakers of his friend’s stereo. A household forced into silence for an hour and a half.

He typed out the entire lyrics using his sister’s Brother typewriter, bound the sheets with Sellotape and created a cover reproducing the album artwork using felt tip pens. Quite an achievement for a 25 year-old.

He went to see this revival at Regent’s Park on the night the show was cancelled. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Wild, Hampstead Theatre

Wednesday 13 July 2016

x5648-1465806377-solt500x500.jpg.pagespeed.ic.LN4plEMJNjMike Bartlett‘s King Charles III and his telly thingy Doctor Foster amused us so much we’d almost forgotten just how much we also loved his Cock.

Now, in Wild, he concentrates on whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked information of US mass surveillance programmes. He’s portrayed here as Andrew (Jack Farthing doing not unreasonable doppelgänger work) who we encounter awaiting an uncertain future holed up in a characterless Moscow hotel room (design Miriam Buether) where he’s visited by two enigmatic people, a man and a woman both claiming to be called “George”. Can he trust them? Are they here to help him, kill him, or just tease the hell out of him? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Titanic, Charing Cross Theatre

Friday 10 June 2016

titanic1Phil saw this the day after The Deep Blue Sea. What are the chances?

Launched on Broadway in 1997 (the same year as that film) the musical Titanic sounded like one of those shows that if it had ended in disaster it would have been morbidly appropriate. Despite huge technical problems during previews – and, if you believe Wikipedia, a model ship onstage that wouldn’t sink – and largely negative reviews it went on to play 804 performances (that’s longer than West Side Story‘s original Broadway run for goodness sake!) and win 5 Tony awards including Best Musical. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Monday 16 May 2016

21334_show_portrait_large

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 – Peter Pan, New Wimbledon Theatre

Friday 11 December 2015

28837_fullIt’s not just us is it?

We think the usher who stopped a man humming along at Sunny Afternoon the other day should be given a promotion.

The man in question stropped out of the Harold Pinter Theatre in a huff. Who was he? Did he attend the Bianca Jagger School of Theatre Etiqutte?

Didn’t they teach him he should have gone to a pantomime. It’s the only time of the year we steel ourselves to be tolerant in the theatre, find our forbearing genes and accept the place will be full of kids and parents, talking, screaming, turning on phones and waving things around that light up. We just have to go with it, even indulge in some of it ourselves. Including the singing. Next year Phil promises to buy Andrew a flashing tiara.

But Peter Pan? Well, in our book it’s not a proper panto. It really should carry the warning that Peter Pan Goes Wrong‘s poster does, “This is not a panto”.  There’s no dame and a story that doesn’t sit well within the panto format. Which was a shame as Phil and Andrew brought along Brent, who is older than both of them (!) and experiencing pantomime for the very first time. 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 – Mr Foote’s Other Leg, Hampstead Theatre

Friday 18 September 2015

FOOTE_APR15_A3_AW_WEB-1330x590We must declare an interest of sorts.

Ian Kelly, who wrote this play, Mr Foote’s Other Leg, once generously donated two of the drawings that he created live on stage in The Pitman Painters as a charity raffle prize for a The West End Whingers’ party. Remember those days? We do. But only just.

Based on Kelly’s own award-winning biography (which goes by the same name – and why wouldn’t it? It’s a nifty title) of Samuel Foote, 18th century actor, impressionist, comedian, satirist, warm up man, pamphleteer, female impersonator, playwright, theatre manager of The Haymarket and writer of the first true-crime bestseller. He also, rather carelessly lost a leg, but that wasn’t to lead to his downfall. Other events led to that. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Casa Valentina, Southwark Playhouse

Tuesday 15 September 2015

CMxQTjgW8AAlHAxIt’s Harvey Fierstein week at Whinger’s Towers. Hot on the, err, heels of Kinky Boots comes his new play Casa Valentina.

It didn’t get much of a run on Broadway, which is a shame, because his familiar themes of overcoming prejudice and being true to yourself are explored with much more subtlety and wit (and just as much drag) than his musical, even if the wigs do leave a little to be desired. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Our House, Union Theatre

Monday 7 September 2015

4622614348Back in 2002, a few years before they started Whingeing, Andrew and Phil had the unfamiliar experience of actually enjoying a new musical, Our House at the Cambridge Theatre.

Of course it was doomed. Despite our enthusiasm and the show going on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical it ran for less than 10 months and was consigned to the overstuffed dustbin of flops while lesser shows went on to run forever. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Trial, Young Vic

Wednesday 24 June 2015

photo-1Oh for a fondue set and a cuddly toy…

And on the conveyor belt tonight; a television set, a gramophone, a lifetime’s supply of yellow stationery, an animal print duvet, 3 ceramic Alsatian dog ornaments with matching standard lamp, a John Pasche/Rolling Stones lampshade, a set of photographs of celebrity criminals, 3 toilets, and a generously busy cast of 17 actors including Rory Kinnear, Siân Thomas, Sarah Crowden, Kate O’Flynn and the lovely Will from W1A.

For this is Franz Kafka‘s The Trial reinvented by Nick Gill (adapting) and Richard Jones (directing) as The Generation Game with a little bit of Through the Keyhole thrown in for good measure. Read the rest of this entry »