Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

Review – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, National Theatre

Tuesday 9 February 2016

nt2015-004There was a very big divide in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

No, not between Phil and Andrew, they were in accord. It was the show itself which came in two very separate parts. Act 2 is rather riveting but at the interval Phil thought it was desperately in search of a plot, or as Andrew more grandly declared “a narrative”. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Derren Brown: Miracle, Palace Theatre

Tuesday 19 January 2016

51868aOk, very late to the table with Derren Brown: Miracle (it finished on Saturday at The Palace but tours the country until July), but should we even talk about it anyway?

Mr Brown asks us not to reveal anything about the show. So what shall we talk about instead? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Grey Gardens, Southwark Playhouse

Thursday 7 January 2016

aLhIrSaYTwo interdependent, dysfunctional, eccentric old bats who spend their days musing on their lost looks, past talents and opportunities missed. Now residing in whiffy squalor, feeding a menagerie of cats and prone to talking to themselves or passing their peculiar limbo squabbling with each other. One thinks they possess a finely judged sartorial taste, when in reality it could only be described as eclectic.

Remind you of anyone? No, not Andrew and Phil. They were never glamorous in the first place. These are the former socialites and East Hampton residents, mother and daughter Edith Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale.

If you’ve seen the cult 1975 documentary film Grey Gardens you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. If you haven’t seen it then you’ll definitely want to see it after this musical version (book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie) that was something of a success (10 Tony nominations, 3 wins) on Broadway in 2006. Expect other film documentaries, Super Size Me, Man On Wire and Bowling For Columbine with songs before long. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Apollo Theatre

Tuesday 29 December 2015

If you saw Olivier Award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong (now at the Duchess Theatre for the foreseeable) you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect from Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

Goes Wrong veterans will know to occupy their seats well before curtain up to experience the pre-show madness. Goes Wrong virgins should heed this tip.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are at it again putting the corn in Cornley and the Polly in Polytechnic (there is a parrot) in a seasonal offering with a much bigger budget and with more spectacularly disastrous results. 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 – wonder.land, National Theatre

Friday 4 December 2015

Wonder.landIf you’re having turkey for Christmas this year remember not to over-stuff it.

This offering at the National may serve as a timely reminder.

wonder.land is Lewis Carroll‘s Alice for the internet age but it overdoes things by cramming too much in and desperately trying to tick too many PC boxes. What comes across is overcrowded and by attempting to be au courant ends up feeling slightly dated.

Aly (Lois Chimimba) is a mixed-race teenager from a broken home, bullied at school and on social media and insecure about her physical appearance until she discovers an online world where she can create a new life for herself as an avatar, Alice (Carly Bawden). Imagine The Matrix with a touch of The Nether burdened with a dressing of unremarkable music and songs.

As a member of the audience you may find yourself wishing to create your own avatar and disappear into another world entirely. We certainly did. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Illusionists, Shaftesbury Theatre

Tuesday 17 November 2015

11169299-largeHot on the heels of Impossible during the summer (and with the Palace currently filled by Derren Brown before that Harry Potter thingy occupies the same venue for the foreseeable) it seems the West End can’t really get enough magic.

And usually nor can we. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Xanadu, Southwark Playhouse

Tuesday 17 November 2015

17993_show_portrait_largeOh how we’ve waited.

Yes, we’ve waited and waited for the Godot that we feared might never arrive. It’s taken a full eight years for Xanadu to come to London; the the highlight of our 2007 sojourn to New York and not just because there was a strike on Broadway and it was one of the few shows still running. We praise the gods it still was.

Andrew even spent a not inconsiderable amount of time bending the ear of a well-known producer trying to convince her (a clue?) that this was the show she absolutely had to bring to London. He even put on his casting director’s hat by suggesting Sheridan Smith in the lead. Sadly bigger fish were in both their frying pans. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Waste, National Theatre

Saturday 14 November 2015

5477-1445525837-wastesqHarley Granville Barker‘s banned-in-its-day (1907, revised 1926) “controversial masterpiece” Waste took us rather by surprise when we visited it seven years ago at the Almeida. It took us a while, but we eventually warmed to it rather unexpectedly.

The brevity of the title is not reflected in the running time of the play which comes in at nearly 3 hours and is somewhat talky and unlike our previous viewing doesn’t have much of a set to look at. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Mr Footes’s Other Leg – Theatre Royal Haymarket

Tuesday 10 November 2015

5467-1446458639-mrfooteslegsqGroundhog Day for Phil and Andrew.

Back to reality after travelling in Indochina with the humdrum repetition of daily routines. So what could be more appropriate to add to our Groundhoggishness than revisiting a show that we’d already been thoroughly entertained by at Hampstead? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Apollo Theatre

Thursday 1 October 2015

STIM-500x500-Encore-300x300The Whingers once created a musical.

Needless to say it ran for one solitary but (we thought) rather fabulous performance. To put that in a context, that’s 4 less than Broadway’s infamous flop musical Carrie’s official performance run and on a par with DJ Mike Read‘s Oscar Wilde musical, Oscar. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Hangmen, Royal Court

Friday 25 September 2015

photo-7Phil had an uncle whose job as a prison governor meant he was called on to witness some of the last hangings in this country. He also kept the autobiography of Britain’s most ‘celebrated’ hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, on his bookcase and Phil is led to believe, visited the pub that Pierrepoint ran after retiring from execution.

As a child, Phil looked on most of this with a mix of macabre fascination and horror, which was much the same reaction that he had to the first scene in Martin McDonagh‘s, Hangmen. 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 – Jane Eyre, National Theatre

Wednesday 16 September 2015

GB-LON-Jane-Eyre-240x240So many reasons why Phil might not have liked Jane Eyre.

It’s “devised by the Company” (under the direction of Sally Cookson), which means adults actors indulge themselves playing horses, windows, flickering fires, dogs and, oh my word, scamper around pretending to be children.

Performed in what appears to be an adventure playground, or, more likely, the rehearsal set (Michael Vale), there are wooden platforms to cross, bars to swing from and ladders to climb (ad nauseam); no doubt it will look lovely when it’s finished.

Oh, and there’s an on stage band, so the cast break into song willy-nilly, thus adding to the running time, which is advertised as 3 and a half hours but actually comes in at a still hardly nippy 3 hours and 15 minutes. Originally a two-part, four-and-a-half-hour production at the Bristol Old Vic (who co-produce). Goodness.

Too add to this torment we are gifted a Rochester who sports a hipster beard.

But then again… Read the rest of this entry »

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