Nearly 10 years since its Julie Atherton-starring debut, London musical LIFT is vibrantly revived at Southwark Playhouse
“We’re all hiding from something”
Craig Adams and Ian Watson’s musical LIFT was first seen at the Soho Theatre in 2013, in a production that featured Cynthia Erivo but more significantly, an epically good Julie Atherton. This beautifully-designed (Andrew Exeter) revival at Southwark Playhouse has been refreshed by the writers and in director Dean Johnson’s hands here, feels like a cracking showcase for its talented cast.
The show is almost as much a song cycle as a fully-fledged musical, using the concept of the 54 seconds that a group of people spend in a lift at Covent Garden tube station to riff on the nature of contemporary city living. Although, led as we are by the figure of Luke Friend’s busker who imagines life stories for them all, we soon see that even if we’re not making eye contact with other, there’s often more than connects us than not. Continue reading “Review: LIFT, Southwark Playhouse”
Strong work from leads Harry Hadden-Paton and Amara Okereke can’t quite make this production of My Fair Lady work in the London Coliseum
“I’ll never know what made it so exciting”
For a musical considered such a classic, you don’t get many productions of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady to the pound. The National’s revival with Martine McCutcheon dates back more than 20 years now (before my theatre-blogging time) and outside of London, Sheffield Theatre’s soaring production was nearly a decade ago (I did get to see that one). Even further afield, it did reappear in New York in 2018 and it is that Lincoln Center production that has now set up home at the London Coliseum.
In some ways, it is a happy (spiritual) homecoming. In its two leading roles, director Bartlett Sher has garnered two strong performances. Harry Hadden-Paton reprises his turn as a younger-than-usual and wryly funny Henry Higgins and Amara Okereke shimmers as Eliza Doolittle, a legit soprano getting a rare chance to sing a big legit soprano role. And Catherine Zuber’s costumes and hats are magnificently outré , to the point where you’re worrying about neck support for several of the cast. Continue reading “Review: My Fair Lady, London Coliseum”
Brief Palava bring their surreal comedy Flightpath to Brockley’s Jack Studio Theatre
“What the f*ck is this Timmy?”
Glasgow-based Brief Palava describe their play Flightpath as a surreal comedy and I’m glad they were able to come up with something as the show really does defy easy categorisation. The general theme is the world of aviation but the format is a kaleidoscope of sketches through which we’re constantly flipping, approaching stories of the skies from any number of angles.
From Orville and Wilbur Wright to primary school teachers, WWII vets to investigative journalists, a company of three cycle through these varying vignettes with a great fluidity and a charming confidence that carries the audience along with it. And on a stripped-back stage with just a handful of props, Tomaz Krajnc’s direction is admirably assured at keeping that flow going. Continue reading “Review: Flightpath, Jack Studio Theatre”
Outstanding New Broadway Musical
MJ the Musical
Mr. Saturday Night
WINNER – Six
Outstanding New Broadway Play
WINNER – The Lehman Trilogy
The Minutes Continue reading “Winners of 2021-2022 Outer Critics Circle Awards”
Cullud Wattah, by Erika Dickerson-Despenza, The Public Theater
English, by Sanaz Toossi, Atlantic Theater Company
Prayer for the French Republic, by Joshua Harmon, Manhattan Theatre Club
Sanctuary City, by Martyna Majok, New York Theatre Workshop
Selling Kabul, by Sylvia Khoury, Playwrights Horizons
The Chinese Lady, by Lloyd Suh, The Public Theater
Harmony, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater
Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company
SIX: The Musical
The Hang, HERE Arts Center Continue reading “Nominations for the 2022 Drama Desk Awards”
Nicola Walker returns to the London stage in fine form, in this intriguing revival of Emlyn Williams’ The Corn is Green at the National Theatre
“I have never spoken to any man without wanting to box his ears”
aka Dominic Cooke’s interpretation of Emlyn Williams’ The Corn is Green. It is 35 years since this 1938 play was last seen in London and in many ways it isn’t hard to see why. Which is why it is rather inspired that this National Theatre production is very much Cooke’s vision of the play, which inserts a framing device of Williams himself as a character, realigning the show into a highly effective and touching memory play.
Williams’ original play takes inspiration from his own life but enough dramatic license has been employed to turn into a semi-autobiographical work, detailing the power of education to change lives. Miss Moffat’s arrival in a rural North Wales village and her establishment of a school has a major impact on all the villagers but especially young Morgan Evans, who she identifies as having much potential and thus resolves to make him her star pupil. Continue reading “Review: The Corn is Green, National Theatre”
The cops and robbers genre is perhaps one of the oldest in digital media.
The idea of daring thieves and the police who chase them goes back to classic literature, with Sherlock Holmes and Arsene Lupin. There’s often chivalry between the two, and in the case of the classic Robin Hood tales, the viewer or reader is encouraged to side with the daring thief. That’s often the case in digital media too.
The recent television series Money Heist, known as La Casa de Papel in Spain, is evidence of the genre going strong. Oddly, Republic World confirmed it was a flop in its home country and was only resurrected when Netflix bought it and beamed it to the US and UK. It is one of several heist shows that have gone down well when translated to another language; Lupin is another fine example. Continue reading “The Best Cops and Robbers Films Ever”
Stars including Elliot Cowan, Thalissa Teixera, Jack Holden and Adrian Schiller announced for The Marlowe Sessions, Re-imagining The Pioneer of Elizabethan Theatre
This June, the Malthouse Theatre in Canterbury will bring together a cast of leading expert Elizabethan actors and some of the biggest names in British theatre for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the works of Christopher Marlowe. The Marlowe Sessions is a true reimagining of Elizabethan Theatre’s enfant terrible.
Eleanor Wyld (Misfits, Thirteen, Hamlet) and Adrian Schiller (The Last Kingdom, Dr Who, Victoria), will rise to the challenge of the lead roles of Abigail and Barabbas in Marlowe’s classic The Jew of Malta. The on-stage pairing, who respectively played Jessica and Shylock in the Sam Wanamaker Globe Theatre’s acclaimed 2021 production of The Merchant of Venice, this time taking on the parts widely accepted to have provided Shakespeare with the blueprint for the original courtroom drama. Continue reading “News: Stars Announced For The Marlowe Sessions”
Rehearsals have started for Jack Absolute Flies Again, a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Emma) that will play in the Olivier theatre from 2 July.
July 1940. After an aerial dog fight, Pilot Officer Jack Absolute flies home to win the heart of his old flame, Lydia Languish. Back on British soil, Jack’s advances soon turn to anarchy when the young heiress demands to be loved on her own, very particular, terms. Continue reading “News: Peter Forbes joins the cast of National Theatre’s Jack Absolute Flies Again”
Against all expectations, a return visit to 2:22 A Ghost Story, now at the Criterion Theatre, is hugely effective, and not just because Sam Swainsbury is in the cast
“Are you going to piss on my chips, mate?”
Sometimes, there’s real value in going back to something. I wasn’t much of a fan of 2:22 A Ghost Story the first time I saw it. But an invitation to see its new cast (including the marvellous Sam Swainsbury) at the Criterion Theatre – the show’s third West End iteration – offered an intriguing to chance to look at the show anew, fore-armed with the knowledge of what was going to happen.
And second time proved the charm, as it becomes a different kind of viewing experience, one which I found to be much more satisfying. I’m generally not a fan of horror in theatre and I think I allowed that to colour my mind too much in advance of seeing the show first time around. But mentally reconceiving it as a mystery puzzle, it holds up extremely well on repeat viewing. Continue reading “Review: 2:22 A Ghost Story, Criterion Theatre”