Review: The Frida Kahlo of Penge West, Golden Goose Theatre

The Frida Kahlo of Penge West proves a comic surprise at the Golden Goose Theatre

“My nemesis, my saviour”

What is it about words that end in -nge that make so many of them so satisfying to say. The highlight of The Great British Sewing Bee was undoubtedly the number of times people said flange and so I was delighted with the focus on saying Penge that started off this play.

Chris Larner’s The Frida Kahlo of Penge West has previously pootled around the fringe of both Edinburgh and London and now re-emerges at one of the newest (and friendliest) theatres in the English capital, Camberwell’s Golden Goose Theatre. And it proves a rather rowdily, raucous bit of good fun. Continue reading “Review: The Frida Kahlo of Penge West, Golden Goose Theatre”

Review: Doctor Who – Time Fracture

It’s the end of the universe – so of course Doctor Who – Time Fracture is utterly chaotic. It is also rather good fun.

“The gateway is active”

Time Fracture isn’t the first time Doctor Who has ventured into the world of immersive theatre. Punchdrunk’s The Crash of the Elysium was a triumph a decade ago so it’s about time (and relative dimension in space) that we got another and fresh from the success of their Gatsby experience, Immersive Everywhere have launched this huge new immersive endeavour. A time bomb has been dropped in 1940s London but its cataclysmic explosion is only due in the near future. Only us – a team of volunteers recruited by the Doctor – can save the day – sonic screwdrivers at the ready.

The need for #spoilers means that I can’t give too much away but the show takes full advantage of the cracks in time caused by the bomb falling to offer up vignettes that involve major historical figures, explore far-future technological innovation and nod to the rich and varied legacy of Doctor Who and its iconic characters. I can safely say I had two properly wish-I-could-hide-behind-the-sofa moments – one of which is ingeniously staged late on – and two hairs-on-end moments, one of which reconfirming just how brilliant Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who – Time Fracture”

Review: Under the Mask, Theatre Peckham

Playing at Theatre Peckham before a UK tour, Tamasha Theatre’s Under the Mask – written by a junior doctor – is a haunting revisit of the early days of the pandemic

“I’m telling you now I don’t feel safe”

Given that you can’t help but expect that there’s going to be a whole lotta COVID plays coming along soon, there’s a balancing act to be made about the approach to a global pandemic that is still very much a clear and present danger. Under the Mask takes the route of almost documentary realism as junior doctor and new writer Shaan Sahota very much writes what she knows.

A Tamasha and Oxford Playhouse co-production, opening its UK tour at Theatre Peckham, Under the Mask invites audiences to an audio experience, taking us back to the beginning of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK. Viewed through the scarcely believing eyes of newly qualified doctor Jaskaran who is fast-tracked onto the Intensive Care Unit, it’s a haunting tale of lived experience. Continue reading “Review: Under the Mask, Theatre Peckham”

Review: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Garrick Theatre

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical kick off their new West End residency at the Garrick Theatre in their own inimitable style

“You need a show in 75 minutes…?!”

Sitting down to watch Showstopper! The Improvised Musical start their latest West End residency at the Garrick Theatre, I couldn’t help but think back to the days when they used to play the King’s Head Theatre regularly (sadly more than 10 years ago now and most of my visits sadly unrecorded but here’s one of them at least). Their expert comic stylings definitely benefit from the bigger stages available to them now but there was also a greater likelihood that one of your suggestions might actually get used!

For the uninitiated, the show works on the conceit that a brand new musical needs to be written right then and there and the host for the evening, Dylan Emery for this show, collects ideas about musical styles, plot twists and titles from the audience via texts and tweets. The company then improvise an original show from the hodge-podge of suggestions, with Emery intervening at crucial moments to make things as entertainingly difficult as possible. Continue reading “Review: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Garrick Theatre”

Review: Lee Mead at the London Palladium

Celebrating his 40th birthday in quite some style and with quite the guest list, Lee Mead at the London Palladium made for a great night

“I’ll make you so sure about it”

I spent my 40th birthday eating as many Michelin-starred meals as I could hoodwink people into treating me to but being a much more genial sort, Lee Mead celebrated his by making a long-awaited return to live performance. Lee Mead at the London Palladium was his first concert in 18 months and in some ways, it was almost worth the wait.

With time on his hands, he has been able to come up with a beautifully balanced setlist with MD Adam Dennis. One which pays tribute to the shows that have made his career thus far, one reflects songs that have inspired him but above all, one which demonstrates love. Love for music, love for his friends and family, love for the act of performing to which he is so clearly accustomed. Continue reading “Review: Lee Mead at the London Palladium”

Review: West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre

Ben Forster, Alice Fearn, Sophie Evans, Layton Williams, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Shanay Holmes join forces for a West End Musical Celebration at the Palace Theatre

“There’s a party to start in a new part of town”

Brought to you by the producers of West End Musical Drive In and West End Musical Brunch, West End Musical Celebration sees the collaborative, communal, concert spirit finally brought into a bona fide West End space in Palace Theatre.

It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but nor does it pretend or need to. Pulling together a top tier company including Alice Fearn, Layton Williams, Rachel John and Trevor Dion Nicholas and giving them some of the best showstoppers around, you can hardly go wrong. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre”

Film Review: The Father (2020)

Florian Zeller’s cinematic adaptation of his own play The Father is hauntingly effective, boasting two stunning performances from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman

“Is there anybody there?”

You can usually expect to see most if not all of the nominated film in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards. But even though Anthony Hopkins took the Oscar for Best Actor, The Father has taken its time to arrive on these shores, rather fortuitously as it turns out as it means that you can actually go to an actual cinema to see it should you desire!

Directed by Florian Zeller and co-written with Christopher Hampton from Zeller’s extraordinarily successful play, The Father is a brutally challenging watch although it might not seem so from the start. Hopkins plays Anthony, an 80-something man who has dementia whose daughter Anne (Colman) is moving to Paris and is getting a carer for him. Continue reading “Film Review: The Father (2020)”

Review: The Show Must Go On, Palace Theatre/online

Featuring 18 West End musicals, The Show Must Go On is a concert to remember, featuring a whole host of theatrical talent both on and off the stage

“Just like Dolly Levi, we are back where we belong”

Showcasing 18 West End musicals that are reopening soon or in some cases, have already reopened, The Show Must Go On is a celebratory concert, gathering together so much on- and off-stage theatrical talent in aid of Acting for Others and Fleabag Support Fund.

With Bonnie Langford and Trevor Dion Nicholas hosting and gamely working their way through a multitude of rapid-fire show descriptions, the real MVPs of the night were the orchestra, under Stuart Morley’s direction, and the choir, made up of recent graduates, who enthusiastically put their voices to any number of harmonised accompaniments. Continue reading “Review: The Show Must Go On, Palace Theatre/online”

Review: Amélie the Musical, Criterion Theatre

Amélie the Musical slots into the West End just perfectly at the Criterion Theatre

“A treasure waiting to be found”

Just a quickie for this as I’ve seen Amélie the Musical a good few times now, loving it whether at the Watermill Theatre, its UK tour or The Other Palace. It now makes a West End transfer, slotting into the bijou surroundings of the Criterion Theatre just perfectly.  

The hugely talented actor-musician cast remain pretty much intact, Caolan McCarthy and Kate Robson-Stuart particular stand-outs, and Olivier-nominee Audrey Brisson leads the company with aplomb with this tale of an introvert, maybe, possibly learning to break out of her shell.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Pamela Raith Photography
Amélie the Musical is booking at the Criterion Theatre until 25th September