Review: Anything Goes, Barbican

Sutton Foster soars in this superlative revival of Anything Goes which almost justifies the ticket prices at the Barbican

If love affairs you like
With young bears you like,
Why nobody will oppose”

There are several things that can take your breath away in this simply fantastic production of Anything Goes, whether the jaw-dropping rendition of the title track that closes the first act or ticket prices that top out at £175 (the Barbican’s seats may be comfortable but that is pushing it…). Fortunately, the rest of the house isn’t quite as eye-wincingly steep (though full disclosure, I was treated by the kindest aunt 😉) and the joyous swells of Kathleen Marshall’s production mean you’ll find it hard to feel short-changed.

Like many a show of its time, the plot is an entire trifle – Timothy Crouse & John Weidman fashioning a new book from PG Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse’s original – suffice to say it covers any manner of madcap antics on an ocean liner. Those antics are mainly there as a framework on which to hang some of the best songs ever written as we delve deep into the Cole Porter songbook for some musical heaven. Throw in a Broadway production that has already won multiple Tonys and also snag its leading lady who won of those, and job’s a good’un. Continue reading “Review: Anything Goes, Barbican”

TV Review: Trying Series 2 (Apple TV)

Rafe Spall and Esther Smith continue to be charm personified in the second series of Apple TV’s Trying

“No-one’s laminated my life story yet”

As Apple TV continues to try and meaningfully break through, its commitment to its original series is commendable. Ted Lasso is riding the slowburn train to award success and also getting a second series if somewhat more under the radar, sweet comedy Trying has also returned.

The show centres on thirty-something Camdenites Nikki and Jason and their efforts to grow their family. The first series tackled their (lack of) fertility and the start of their journey through the adoption process and this second sees them continuing to navigate this bureaucratic and emotional minefield. Continue reading “TV Review: Trying Series 2 (Apple TV)”

Rehearsal images for The Normal Heart released

The National Theatre has released rehearsal images by Helen Maybanks for Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart a co-production with Fictionhouse, being performed in the Olivier Theatre in September 2021. Directed by Dominic Cooke, Kramer’s largely autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in 1980 New York has not been performed professionally in London since its European premiere in 1986.

Ben Daniels will perform the role of Ned Weeks, the co-founder of an AIDS advocacy group fighting to change the world around him, with Robert Bowman, Richard Cant, Liz Carr, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Dino Fetscher, Daniel Krikler, Daniel Monks, Elander Moore, Luke Norris, Henry Nott, Lucas Rush, Freddie Stabb, Samuel Thomas and Danny Lee Wynter completing the company.

Set design by Vicki Mortimer, costume design by Lisa Duncan, lighting design by Paule Constable, sound design by Carolyn Downing and fight direction by Bret Yount. The Normal Heart will be in the Olivier theatre from 23rd September until 6th November 2021. Continue reading “Rehearsal images for The Normal Heart released”

Early September theatre news

Full casting has been announced for the brand new stage adaptation of British comedy The Good Life which tours the UK this Autumn. The acclaimed cast will include actress and presenter Preeya Kalidas as ‘Margo Leadbetter’, Dominic Rowan as ‘Jerry Leadbetter’, and Sally Tatum as ‘Barbara Good’, joining the previously announced actor and comedian Rufus Hound as ‘Tom Good’. Also featured will be Nigel Betts and Tessa Churchard.

The new comedy by Jeremy Sams, is based on the classic television series by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey which entertained countless millions in the 1970s and which I have never seen an episode of. Directed by Jeremy Sams, this world premiere production will be the first time that the iconic characters of suburban neighbours the Goods and the Leadbetters will be seen on stage. The Good Life will open at Theatre Royal Bath on 7 October 2021, before dates at Cheltenham Everyman, Salford Lowry, Oxford Playhouse, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Malvern Theatres, Richmond Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre. Continue reading “Early September theatre news”

Review: Singin’ in the Rain, Sadler’s Wells

Singin’ in the Rain retains all of its charm from Chichester in this lovely revival at Sadler’s Wells

“You can charm the critics and have nothin’ to eat”

It’s a good 10 years since I was soaked to the skin at Chichester Festival Theatre at their delightful revival of this classic musical. It later transferred into London though I resisted revisiting (I had willpower then!), but Singin’ in the Rain‘s reappearance with a short run at Sadler’s Wells ahead of a mooted UK tour next year was an ideal summer indulgence.

And so it came to pass on a rainy British summer evening. Sat a little further back in the stalls, we avoided the splash zone inside, having also managed to dodge most of the showers outside. And spirits were easily lifted by Jonathan Church’s entirely cheerful production of this light and breezy show which captures so much of the charm of the original MGM film.
Continue reading “Review: Singin’ in the Rain, Sadler’s Wells”

Camden Fringe Reviews: kiss her & Pool Noodles

A pair of new Camden Fringe reviews from Jack the Lass Theatre’s kiss her and Chuck Salmon’s Pool Noodles, both at the Camden People’s Theatre

“Who wants to hear about some muthafucking lesbians?”

Elizabeth Auld’s kiss her is the debut show from Jack the Lass Theatre and is the kind of bold theatremaking that makes you grateful that fringe theatre festivals have persisted through the pandemic. Seeking no small feat as to rewrite history and reset the ways in gay women have been portrayed (and still are portrayed), the show’s episodic structure presents its uncompromising evidence about how utterly pervasive long-held attitudes have been and eloquently suggests how they might change.

From lampooning the stereotypes of lesbian fiction to listening to an author be told what the effect of coming out would do to her book sales, from straight-washing historical figures to focus-grouping a lesbian car advert into being, the show’s scope is necessarily huge. It also takes the breath away, as in informing us that female homosexuality was only first discussed in Parliament in 1921, compared to the sixteenth century when they apparently had something to say about gay men.  Continue reading “Camden Fringe Reviews: kiss her & Pool Noodles”

Review: Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre

Gay Generations showcases a double bill of Michael McManus’ A Certain Term and Charlie Ross MacKenzie’s I F****n Love You at the White Bear Theatre

“Fuck the hedgehog”

Originally scheduled to be staged in March 2020,  Gay Generations – a double bill of new gay writing – has finally made it to the White Bear Theatre. Loosely connected through their inclusion of older gay characters, both one-act plays neatly widen dramatic representation for a sector of the LGBT+ community that aren’t necessarily that well reflected in societal narratives, particularly from within the community itself.

First up is A Certain Term by Michael McManus, directed by Bryan Hodgson, and full disclosure, this one made me cry. Haunted by the past, Dickon Farmar’s Graham hosts an annual dinner party with his closest friends, a testament to those who survived the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a tribute to those that didn’t. But this year, the early arrival of fresh-faced work colleague Joe (Daniel Cornish) provokes a startlingly fresh perspective on the past. Continue reading “Review: Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre”

News: debbie tucker green’s ear for eye gets release date

ear for eye will world premiere at BFI Southbank on 16 October and exclusively the same evening on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer

The 65th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express has announced a groundbreaking joint launch with the BBC for the much anticipated second feature from filmmaker and playwright debbie tucker green. Her latest film, ear for eye, will world premiere at the BFI Southbank on Saturday 16 October and exclusively the same evening on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. 

tucker green has adapted her highly acclaimed 2018 Royal Court stage production for the screen, with backing from BBC Film, BBC Two and the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery. It’s the second feature film from the BAFTA and Olivier Award-winning writer and director.

Continue reading “News: debbie tucker green’s ear for eye gets release date”

Round-up of August theatre news

Hampstead Theatre has announced its remaining Main Stage productions for 2021. Stockard Channing and Rebecca Night will perform in the Pulitzer Prize-winning â€˜night, Mother by Marsha Norman.This astonishing play, which had its UK premiere at Hampstead Theatre in 1985, will be directed by the theatre’s Artistic Director, Roxana Silbert.  â€˜night, Mother will run from 22 October until 4 December 2021.

Tamsin Greig will perform in Alan Plater’s raucously funny Peggy For You.  Richard Wilson will direct this Olivier-nominated play, which had its world premiere at Hampstead Theatre in 1999.  Peggy For You will run from 10 December until 29 January 2022. Continue reading “Round-up of August theatre news”

Camden Fringe Reviews: Horsepower & Bacchae

A new pair of Camden Fringe reviews for Horsepower and Bacchae, both at the Hen and Chickens Theatre

“Go Bacchae go”

One certainly expects to be challenged when wading through the programme of a fringe festival, boldly experimental work is par for the course. But whilst pushing boundaries is all well and good, the show needs to work as well, which leads me to Packet of Crisps Theatre’s Horsepower, a one-person show performed and written by Harriet Gandy. 

We open by meeting the acerbic Desmond, a cabaret artist apparently teetering on the edge of sanity and sobriety. But Desmond soon becomes Willie, a young boy who loves his mum and wishes he was a girl, or maybe a dog and as layers build on layers, a portrait of dealing with trauma comes hazily into view. Continue reading “Camden Fringe Reviews: Horsepower & Bacchae”