Review: “Daddy” A Melodrama, Almeida Theatre

Jeremy O Harris’ “Daddy” A Melodrama receives a fantastic production at Almeida Theatre, better than the play itself for the most part

“You have money, but the taste is like, booty”

One of the more anticipated casualties of lockdown, Jeremy O Harris’ “Daddy” A Melodrama arrives in some style at the Almeida. Matt Saunders’ Bel Air mansion design dominated by its swimming pool is jaw-droppingly good and Danya Taymor’s production reflects that largesse in many aspects, saturating its audience right from the off (and soaking them too, if you’re in the front couple of rows!).

But when you take away the glitz and the glamour, the gospel choirs, the full-frontal nudity, the repeated use of the N-word, even Harris’ reputation, we’re left with a fairly good play about sex and art, about gay relationships with age gaps and the fallout of becoming the next hot thing. It is clumsily structured though, the playwright still learning how to do complex without veering into unnecessarily convoluted. Continue reading “Review: “Daddy” A Melodrama, Almeida Theatre”

2022 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Not a lot to complain about for once (The Drifters Girl aside), this set of Olivier Award nominations read pretty much OK, though you do wish they’d open the categories to five nominees given how much talent there is to recognise. Anyone you would have added?

Best revival
A Number at the Old Vic
Constellations – Donmar Warehouse at Vaudeville Theatre
The Normal Heart at National Theatre – Olivier
The Tragedy Of Macbeth at Almeida Theatre

Best entertainment or comedy play
The Choir Of Man at Arts Theatre
Pantoland at the Palladium at the London Palladium
Pride And Prejudice* (*Sort Of) at Criterion Theatre
The Shark is Broken at Ambassadors Theatre Continue reading “2022 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

February casting updates

Full casting has been announced for the highly anticipated return of critically acclaimed musical The Wicker Husband. Following the show’s premature closure on its original press night on 16 March 2020, Artistic Director Paul Hart, Executive Director Claire Murray and the team at Newbury’s Watermill Theatre are thrilled to welcome the creative team and cast to The Watermill for a new run of the show this March.

Joseph Alessi will play ‘Cobbler’, Gemma Sutton will play ‘Ugly Girl’, Olivier Award winner George Maguire as ‘Wicker Husband’, Angela Caesar as ‘Cobbler’s Wife’, Jonathan Charles as ‘Innkeep’, Claire-Marie Hall as ‘Innkeep’s Wife’, Jack Quarton as ‘Tailor’ and Davina Moon as ‘Tailor’s Wife’,  Julian Forsyth as ‘Old Basket Maker’ with Jon Whitten as on-stage band playing the Hammered Dulcimer, Rachel Barnes also as on-stage band, and Pat Moran as onstage Musical Director.

Nisha Anil and Sebastian Charles will be the puppeteers of The Wicker Husband, with Tom Norman as Swing. Continue reading “February casting updates”

#AdventwithClowns Day 16 – Hymn (Almeida, via Sky Arts)

Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani scorch in Lolita Chakrabarti’s sharp two-hander Hymn, first seen at the Almeida

“He had a kind face”

Sky Arts has proved a real boon in helping me catch up with plays I missed this year. The Almeida’s Hymn debuted online at the beginning of the year, its socially distanced production (by the excellent Blanche McIntyre) first being livestreamed and then managing an IRL run in the summer. Lolita Chakrabarti has spoken of her inspiration being the lack of stories about emotional relationships between (straight) men and here, she has certainly rectified that.

We follow Gil (Lester) and Benny (Sapani) after the half-brothers discover their hitherto unknown relationship at their father’s funeral. And as they peel back the detritus from their vastly different upbringings, a connection is able to flourish between them, as friendship grows through the many things they share – the experience of Black British men, fatherhood, emotional reticence and best of all, a love of music. A lovely production that bursts through the screen with its quiet strength. 

Artwork photography by Zeinab Batchelor
Hymn
is available to watch on Sky Arts and NowTV, with a subscription

Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre

At more than three hours, The Tragedy of Macbeth stretches the patience at the Almeida Theatre, despite strong work from Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle

Let not light see my black and deep desires”

The tragedy of Macbeth is that it is a notoriously difficult play to stage well and given its ubiquity on school curricula, it is staged hella often. At least it is one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays but the further tragedy of this Macbeth is that it breaks the three hour mark with its running time. And as I left Yaël Farber’s production at the Almeida Theatre, I can’t say I felt it had made the case for such indulgence.

The Tragedy of Macbeth initially grabbed headlines for marking the UK stage debut of Saoirse Ronan (she has previously been on Broadway in The Crucible) and so to get your hands on a ticket in this intimate theatre is a job in itself (streaming could be your friend, details below). And much of Farber’s innovation in recalibrating this show has been to seriously beef up Lady Macbeth’s presence in the play, physically as well as verbally, something which is intermittently very effective. Continue reading “Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre”

Nominations for the 2021 Black British Theatre Awards

The Black British Theatre Awards (BBTAs) is the UK’s first award show to celebrate the excellence and influence of Black performers and creatives within the UK theatre industry.

CREATIVES GROUP

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Anthony Simpson-Pike, Lava, Bush Theatre
Miranda Cromwell, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
Tinuke Craig, The Color Purple – at Home, Curve, in association with Birmingham Hippodrome

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Femi Temowo, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
Ian Oakley, From Here, Chiswick Playhouse
Nadine Lee, Bagdad Cafe, The Old Vic

BEST PRODUCER AWARD
Almeida Theatre, and breathe
Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes, West End Musical Celebration at Palace Theatre
Tanisha Spring, A Killer Party

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER AWARD
Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe, The Sun, The Moon and The Stars, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Ingrid Mackinnon, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Sarah Golding, Cruise, Duchess Theatre Continue reading “Nominations for the 2021 Black British Theatre Awards”

News: the Mono Box presents Reset the Stage

The Mono Box is delighted to announce RESET THE STAGEa collection of 7 filmed monologues written by 7 emerging, ethnically diverse writers performed by established actors on the empty stages of 7 London theatres in lockdown will stream live online on Thursday 17th June at 7.30pm.

This series of short films featuring actors Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Star Wars: Rogue One, Sex Education), Ken Nwosu (Killing Eve, Sticks & Stones) and Danny Kirrane (Don’t Forget the Driver, Peterloo) The evening will be introduced by Patrons of The Mono Box, Sir Derek Jacobi, Youssef Kerkour, Susan Wokoma and James Norton. All ticket sales will raise money for the continual work of the company nurturing and providing opportunities to emerging theatre talent.  Continue reading “News: the Mono Box presents Reset the Stage”

News: Almeida 2021 season announcement

First up in June is the World Premiere of and breathe… by Yomi ode, a theatrical adaptation of poems from his forthcoming collection Manorism. Directed by Olivier Award-winning director Miranda Cromwell, featuring David Jonsson.

From July Lolita Chakrabarti’s Hymn will be performed to live in-person audiences for the first time following a string of sold-out live stream performances earlier this year. Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani reprise their roles, and Blanche McIntyre directs. Continue reading “News: Almeida 2021 season announcement”

The 30th Ian Charleson Awards

Winner

Heledd Gwynn for Hedda in Hedda Gabler at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff and Hastings and Ratcliffe in Richard III for Headlong

Second Place

Hammed Animashaun for Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre

Third Place

Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo for Abosede in Three Sisters at the National Theatre

Commendations

Kitty Archer for Mariane in Tartuffe at the National Theatre
Eben Figueiredo for Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac at Jamie Lloyd Company at the Playhouse
Isis Hainsworth for Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre
Ebony Jonelle for Rosalind in As You Like It for the National Theatre Public Acts/Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
Ioanna Kimbook for Cariola in The Duchess of Malfi at the Almeida
Racheal Ofori for Udo in Three Sisters at the National Theatre
Billy Postlethwaite for Macbeth in Macbeth at the Watermill Theatre
Ekow Quartey for Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe
Kit Young for Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre

Review: Nine Lessons and Carols, Almeida Theatre

It’s a joy to back in the Almeida Theatre even if Nine Lessons and Carols did little to change my mind about devised work

“Loneliness is the terror of not being able to dilute your own terrible personality”

Typical. You wait months for lockdown to be lifted and to be able to go to the theatre again and the first show you pick is one which really doesn’t float your boat at all. Critics are still navigating the boundaries of reviewing ethics in this immediate post-lockdown world so I’m going to keep it short if not particularly sweet.

Nine Lessons and Carols: Stories for a Long Winter feels like the kind of show that would have been a dream to create and rehease, devised as it was by the company with writer Chris Bush and director Rebecca Frecknall. But like many a devised show in my experience, that rehearsal room magic doesn’t always transfer onto the stage. Continue reading “Review: Nine Lessons and Carols, Almeida Theatre”