News: Mike Bartlett’s C O C K re-emerges in the West End

Taron Egerton, Jonathan BaileyJade Anouka and Phil Daniels have been announced as the cast of C O C K, the first West End production of Mike Bartlett’s Olivier award winning play about love and identity which opened at the Royal Court upstairs in 2009 with Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott and has also played Chichester and Washington DC.

Directed by Tony and Olivier award winning Marianne Elliott, it will have a limited run at the intimate-for-the-West-End Ambassadors Theatre. Given the intensity and intimacy of the play itself, it will fascinating to see how it fares in a bigger space. Audiences will be able to find out for themselves from Saturday 5 March 2022 to Saturday 4 June 2022,

Tickets are on sale now here. Continue reading “News: Mike Bartlett’s C O C K re-emerges in the West End”

Review: Closer Than Ever, BroadwayHD

Starring Lee Mead, Kerry Ellis and more, this streaming production of revue Closer Than Ever makes a good impression on BroadwayHD

“I know something that people don’t know”

A revue is always tricky to review. As a random collection of songs by the same composer, unconnected by a book as in a conventional musical, they can be a bit scattershot, relying on directorial vision to provide some kind of thematic consistency that provides a satisfying cohesiveness. This new production of Maltby and Shire’s Closer Than Ever just about gets there, though it occasionally struggles to break through the digital form.

The promotional blurb promises to “delve into the trials and tribulations of modern love”, a rather bold claim given some of these songs date as far back as 1983. But to their credit, musically they freshen up well under Nick Barstow’s assured musical direction. And many matters of the heart are timeless, so there isn’t too much staleness around subject or lyrical content, sexy secretaries aside. Continue reading “Review: Closer Than Ever, BroadwayHD”

Review: Ay Up Hitler!, Bridge House Theatre

Gamma Ray Theatre offer up an early pantomime of sorts in Ay Up Hitler! at the newly reopened Bridge House Theatre in Penge

“Maybe we are just a bunch of evil f*ckers”

Gamma Ray Theatre’s Ay Up Hitler! plays at a newly reopened Bridge House Theatre under new artistic directorship and with its broad, pantomimish humour, fits neatly with the enduring cultural fascination with all things Third Reich in this country. As they fully admit at the beginning of the show, it might be best enjoyed after a few pints.

It imagines a post-WWII scenario where Goebbels, Göring, Himmler and Hitler escaped Berlin and lived in hiding in the only possible place…Yorkshire (as opposed to, you know, South America…). And we follow their shenanigans as they adjust to isolated life on t’moors, British drinking habits, and the surprise return of a certain Eva. Continue reading “Review: Ay Up Hitler!, Bridge House Theatre”

News: National Theatre plans November 2021 – February 2022

The National Theatre today announces the on-sale dates of upcoming productions Trouble in Mind, Wuthering Heights and Small Islandas well as the return of daytime opening for visitors. Tickets go on sale to the public on 7 October.

For the first time since March 2020, the public spaces at the National Theatre will be open during the day for visitors and audiences alike. The National Theatre has partnered with independent street food pioneers KERB on a completely refreshed food and drink experience. With a focus on locally-sourced produce, KERB will curate an outstanding food offering throughout the 11 spaces and restaurants with their renowned network of street food start-ups and independent restaurateurs. The first phase of this transformation will begin from today with KERB at The Understudy and the opening of the Atrium Café on the ground floor. Further restaurant and bar redevelopments will follow this year and next. Continue reading “News: National Theatre plans November 2021 – February 2022”

Review: Small Change, Omnibus Theatre

A boldly artistic take on Peter Gill’s Small Change makes for a challenging but rewarding watch at Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre

“Things happened that couldn’t be changed”

Perhaps appropriately for the fractured narrative of this memory play, I don’t remember that much about the 2008 Donmar Warehouse production of Peter Gill’s Small Change, other than it starring a pre-Hollywood Avenue Q-era Luke Evans. So Both Barrels Theatre’s new revival at the Omnibus Theatre offers the ideal opportunity to let life reflect art as we all try and piece together memories of the past.

With its fragmented style, Small Change is undoubtedly a challenging play to watch as Cardiff man Gerard looks to resolve the pain of the present by delving into the mysteries of his past. Its not an easy route though, as we dig into his relationship with his mother, the boy next door and his mother in turn too. Altogether, a portrait of mid-20th century working-class masculinity in crisis fitfully comes into view, like a constantly twisting kaleidoscope.
Continue reading “Review: Small Change, Omnibus Theatre”

Review: Is God Is, Royal Court

Aleshea Harris’ vengeance-soaked Is God Is is a ferocious breath of fresh air at the Royal Court, with yet another memorable performance from Cecilia Noble

“She made us

Even as you count off the cultural reference points from Greek tragedy through McDonagh and Tarantino, Aleshea Harris’ Is God Is is a ferocious breath of fresh air at the Royal Court. As it falls in the honourable tradition of many a vengeance thriller, its unique take and razor-sharp perspective makes for a real theatrical surprise. 

Twins Racine and Anaia were both disfigured in a fire that they believe killed their mother 20 years ago but when a letter from She arrives, naming her husband, their father, as the culprit, a quest for revenge is initiated. And as they travel from Arkansas to California, their road movie becomes increasingly bloodsoaked. Continue reading “Review: Is God Is, Royal Court”

Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)

This cinematic adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is fabulously enjoyable, led by a fine performance by Max Harwood

“Sometimes, you gotta grab life by the balls, and you take those balls and you tuck ‘em between your legs”

The movie musical seems to be having a bit of a moment again. We’ve been treated to In The Heights and Cinderella, tick, tick…BOOM!, Dear Evan Hansen and a new West Side Story are soon on their way and who could forget Diana: A New Musical… Joining that illustrious company is Sheffield’s own Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, making the leap from the Crucible to the West End to the big* screen. (*It’s available on Amazon Prime so screen size may vary ;-))

And as it has maintained a large proportion of its original key creative team, it carries over so much of its proudly fabulous heart and soul. Based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, we follow Jamie’s last few months at high school as he dreams of becoming a drag queen. And in true Britflick fashion, there are heartwarming ups and heartbreaking downs, plus an expanded range of toe-tapping tunes from Dan Gillespie- Sells. What is fascinating as someone who has seen the stage show a fair few times now, is how well Tom MacRae’s adaptation of his own book works. Continue reading “Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)”

Re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

A cheeky return visit to the Victoria Palace Theatre sees Hamilton in rude health, with the 2021 cast in fine form 

“You’ll be back, soon you’ll see”

You know how it is, when a ticket to Hamilton falls into your lap, you can’t really say no to this… So a return to the Victoria Palace Theatre, my first since this behemoth of a show actually opened up and one which was surprisingly rewarding, over and above the pleasures of the show itself.

Karl Queensborough and Simon-Anthony Rhoden now occupy the key roles of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr and what I found really interesting was that my sympathies actually altered between them. I’ve always been team Burr (it must have been the Terera of it all) but Rhoden has introduced a brusquer, harsher characterisation, which combined with Queensborough’s hugely open charisma, had me swapping sides quicker than James Madison. Continue reading “Re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre”

News: Donmar Warehouse to stream all 4 versions of Constellations

The Donmar Warehouse will stream its West End revival of Constellations online next month, marking the first time the London theatre has hosted one of its productions on a dedicated on-demand platform. Nick Payne’s play, which was performed with four different casts over the run, has been recorded in each configuration and stream online in October for a month. The play will also be made available free to schools this autumn.

The production recently completed its highly acclaimed run at the Vaudeville Theatre where its four groupings all impressed. For my money, Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, and Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker were both excellent but the chance to see Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd in close succession really highlights the showcases this enterprise at its best.  All four casting configurations will be available separately online so you’ll be able to mix and match to see the power and possibilities of different interpretations of the same text. Continue reading “News: Donmar Warehouse to stream all 4 versions of Constellations”

News: Casting and extension announced for The Ocean at the End of the Lane

As rehearsals begin today, the cast is announced for the West End transfer of the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed production (not least by me) of The Ocean at the End of the Lanebased on the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman, which will extend its run at the Duke of York’s Theatre to 23 April 2022.

The 16-strong cast is: Ruby AblettJames Bamford (Boy), Emma BownCharlie CameronJeff D’SangalangKieran GarlandSiubhan Harrison (Ginnie Hempstock), Miranda HeathPenny Layden (Old Mrs Hempstock), Tom MackleyCharleen QwayeGrace Hogg-Robinson (Sis), Laura Rogers (Ursula), Nicolas Tennant (Dad), Nia Towle (Lettie Hempstock) and Peter Twose.

Adapted by Joel Horwood and directed by Katy Rudd, The Ocean at the End of the Lane begins previews at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 23 October. Due to popular demand the limited run will extend for a final 10 weeks until 23 April 2022. Continue reading “News: Casting and extension announced for The Ocean at the End of the Lane”