August theatre round-up

I might have taken a break from reviewing for the last couple of months, but I didn’t stop going to the theatre. Here’s some brief thoughts on most of what I saw in August.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, aka the Sheridan Smith show
Queen of the Mist, aka the surprisingly affecting one
Appropriate, aka all hail Monica Dolan
Waitress, aka ZZZZZZZOMGGGGG STUNT CASTING oh wait, Joe Suggs hasn’t started yet
The Doctor, aka all hail Juliet Stevenson
A Very Expensive Poison, aka it was a preview so I shouldn’t say anything
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
The Night of the Iguana, aka justice for Skyler

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Palladium

Photo © Tristram Kenton

It was red, and yellow…and really good fun. This revival takes Joseph back to its beginnings as a children’s show to great effect, giving the kids in the ensemble a real chance to shine and bumping the narrator – an effusive Sheridan Smith – into even more of a lead storytelling role, with all sorts of additional cameos. Newcomer Jac Yarrow is good in the title role but it is a reminder that it isn’t actually that great a part…

Queen of the Mist, Charing Cross Theatre

Photo © Stephen J Russell

A quirky little piece to be sure, but one I found intermittently rather engaging. Trudi Camilleri excels as unapologetically antagonistic lead Anna Edson Taylor, desperate for 15 minutes of fame and unable to deal with it being that short, as the cachet of surviving a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel proves short-lived. Musically it is interesting and dramatically it is fascinating, if a touch overlong.

Appropriate, Donmar Warehouse

Photo © Johan Persson

Ferociously intelligent and fearsomely executed, Ola Ince’s production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play is a storming success. Just book now.

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre

Photo © Johan Persson

I wanted to catch Lucie Jones as Jenna but as luck would have it, covers for Dawn (Olivia Moore) and Becky (Charlotte Riby) were on too, giving an especially fresh feel for me. I enjoyed the show first time around and if anything, it feels lighter and more fun with Jones at the helm ( I love a good corpse) and by god can she sing. It has always been spectacular but ‘She Used To Be Mine’ is a proper showstopping moment in her hands.

The Doctor, Almeida Theatre

Photo © Manuel Harlan

Not many people think like Robert Icke, for better or for worse and in The Doctor, his final production as the Almeida’s outgoing Associate Director, it is very much for the better. With frequent collaborator Juliet Stevenson, there’s such mind-bending, prejudice-shattering, thought-provoking work that it is hard not to be entirely won over by this complex and layered drama.

A Very Expensive Poison, Old Vic

A very fascinating play, and production, in the making but as it was an early £10 preview I saw, I’m reserving judgement until I hopefully see it again later in the run.

Blues in the Night, Kiln Theatre

Photo © Matt Humphrey

Rather like Ain’t Misbehavin’, the quality of the music and the calibre of the performances are more than plenty to cover for the flimsiness of the construct. A collection of iconic blues songs gathered under the loosest of contexts but superbly interpreted by the likes of Sharon D Clarke, Debbie Kurup and Clive Rowe. Gemma Sutton also shines, as she maintains an exceptional run of recent form.

The Night of the Iguana, Noël Coward Theatre

Photo © Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Some bloke named Clive Owen might be nabbing the attention but for me, I was much more excited to see Lia Williams (who all right-thinking folk know is a star) and Anna Gunn (making her London debut) in this Tennessee Williams play. Did I love the show? Hmm, I’m not too sure, but Williams, L and Gunn are both excellent in essaying two very different evocations of WIlliams, T’s inimitable roster of striking women.

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