Review: La Ronde, Bunker Theatre

“If we’re going to do it, let’s fucking do it”

Sex sells. And so Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play of 10 interlinked intimate encounters has proven enduringly popular over the years – adapted for the gays, for fans of musicals, for Charlie Spencer’s libido… – and now Max Gill has taken a decidedly 21st century gender-neutral approach to La Ronde for the opening salvo in the Bunker’s second season. A giant roulette wheel dominates Frankie Bradshaw’s set and as it spins, it is thus left to chance to dictate who of the company – 2 women, 2 men – will tag in to play the next two-hander (or not as the case may be, the wheel refusing to land on one of the actors on press night). 

So from Premier Inns in Hillingdon to doctors’ surgeries, bland apartments to hot and sweaty lifts, all sorts of shenanigans play out. Tinder dates gone awry, ex-lovers unable to resist each other, sex workers going about their business, marriages gone stale, the unpredictable nature of the casting means that everything is up for grabs here and between them, Alexander Vlahos, Amanda Wilkin, Lauren Samuels and Leemore Marrett Jr do a fine job, whether it is Vlahos slipping into black PVC hotpants or Wilkins nailing each and every one of her vivid characterisations. Continue reading “Review: La Ronde, Bunker Theatre”

2017 Offie Award Finalists

Offies Awards - Off West End Theatre Awards

Best Female 
Louise Jameson in The Diva Drag at The Hope 
Lydia Larson in Skin A Cat at The Bunker
Sarah Ridgeway in Fury at Soho Theatre 
Jenna Russell in Grey Gardens at Southwark Playhouse

Best Supporting Female 
Lynette Clarke in Karagula at The Styx
Joanna Hickman in Ragtime at Charing Cross Theatre
Sasha Waddell in After October at The Finborough

Best Male 
Fiston Barek in The Rolling Stone at The Orange Tree 
Phil Dunster in Pink Mist at The Bush 
Paul Keating in Kenny Morgan at The Arcola
John Ramm in Sheppey at The Orange Tree Continue reading “2017 Offie Award Finalists”

Review: Abigail, Bunker Theatre

“What would you do to take control?”

Fractured timelines can be an interesting way to tell a story – fragmented shards of drama shuffled in a non-linear narrative, forcing audiences to piece together a throughline to the truth, such as it may exist. But in these cases, we are very much at the mercy of playwrights actually providing enough information to reconstruct enough of a plot. And sad to say, I’m not too sure that Fiona Doyle’s Abigail actually does that. 

That’s not to say that we need to be given all of the answers, to have everything spelled out for us completely, but Abigail remains inscrutably vague to the end. It would be a fascinating exercise to reorder the script here, reconstruct Doyle’s writing to see if that really is the case but in its current state, directed by Joshua McTaggart over the course of an initially intriguing hour, the play still proves frustratingly ephemeral. Continue reading “Review: Abigail, Bunker Theatre”

Review: Muted, Bunker Theatre

“When I’m with you, normal rules don’t 

I have to admit that seeing pop-rock on the description of a show always gives me a little pause, my preference always tending towards a genteel piano and strings arrangement when it comes to my musical theatre. So it was a pleasure to discover that I really enjoyed Tim Prottey-Jones and Tori Allen-Martin’s score for Muted, a musical previously known as After The Turn while in development by Interval Productions.

And it is a fascinating show too, with a book by Sarah Henley which unfolds around the story of Michael, a young musician on the verge of a big break whose life is shattered when his mother is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Rendered mute by the loss and under the care of his uncle, his life only begins to show signs of restarting when an ex-girlfriend comes to visit and we see just how much the death reverberated around this group of people. Continue reading “Review: Muted, Bunker Theatre”

Review: Tonight with Donny Stixx, Bunker Theatre

“The boy with tricks…”

New venue The Bunker has been rather canny with the programming for its opening season – opting for a couple of Edinburgh hits to ease their way into the public consciousness before giving new British musical Muted its debut. Skin A Cat opened eyes as they opened their doors last month and now it is the turn of Philip Ridley’s similarly arresting Tonight with Donny Stixx

The inimitable characteristics of Ridley’s writing are as complex as Sondheim’s magisterial musical theatre and equally, they respond to creatives who are well-versed in his ways. So regular Ridley director David Mercatali is at the helm of this monologue, (a kind of sibling to Dark Vanilla Jungle) with Sean Michael Verey performing, following on from their collaboration on Radiant Vermin, which also starred DVJ’s Gemma Whelan. Continue reading “Review: Tonight with Donny Stixx, Bunker Theatre”

Review: Skin A Cat, Bunker Theatre

 “Have I got chickens?”

Where else would a new theatre open but underneath an existing one?! The Bunker has taken up root in a converted car park under the Menier Chocolate Factory and for its first show, has co-opted Edinburgh hit Skin A Cat. Written by Isley Lynn, it tackles the subject of sexual embarrassment with an admirable frankness that you don’t often see.

Lynn particularly looks at vaginismus, something she freely admits comes from personal experience, through the character of Alana’s journey of sexual maturity. Vaginismus is a psychosomatic condition that makes sexual intercourse painful or even almost impossible due to muscle spasm during penetrative sex and through an uncompromising performance from Lydia Larson, we discover what impact such a thing can have for a young woman navigating her way through contemporary society. Continue reading “Review: Skin A Cat, Bunker Theatre”