Review: Ride, VAULT Festival

With Ride at the VAULT Festival, I remain convinced that Bottle Cap Theatre are the future of new musical theatre

“I take a breath to keep me calm
And then it’s on to Vietnam”

At a moment where the inspiration for big new West End musicals can’t seem to look past the cinema screen, Bottle Cap Theatre are here to remind us of the power and potential of fresh new voices in musical theatre writing. They blew me away at last year’s VAULT Festival with The Limit and returning this year with their new piece Ride, moved me more in 10 minutes than anything on Fifth Avenue or by the banks of the Nile.

This, writers Freya Smith and Jack Williams achieve, by once again finding inspiration from unsung sources. The Limit focused on neglected mathematician Sophie Germain and Ride looks to the first woman to cycle around the world – Annie Londonderry – to muse on the cult of celebrity and self-promotion, and ask what might give someone the drive and determination to get in the saddle and smash the patriarchy so. Continue reading “Review: Ride, VAULT Festival”

Review: Hello Again, Union Theatre

Round and round and round we go. La Ronde surfaces again as Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again at the Union Theatre

“I’ve been searching high and low
For you but then
What does it matter?
Hello again”

It is a universal truth that you’re never too far away from some adaptation or another of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde. It’s been gay, it’s been musical, it’s been gender-neutral, it’s been Hollywood, and now it is back to being musical again, with the Union Theatre’s revival of Michal John LaChiusa’s Hello Again

LaChiusa’s adaptation sets each of its ten scenes in a different decade of the twentieth century, aiming for a broad investigation of how, if at all, love and sex have changed over the years. This also allows him to cherrypick from a much wider range of musical styles than if he’d stuck with the original’s 1890 Vienna. Continue reading “Review: Hello Again, Union Theatre”

Review: Blue Stockings, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Yard Theatre

“A woman who expends her energy exercising her brain does so at the expense of her vital organs, leaving her unfit for motherhood”

I’d forgotten how enjoyable Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings was though more fool me, as we’ve long been big fans of hers chez Clowns. The play – her first – premiered at the Globe back in 2013 and since, has become deservedly beloved of GCSE syllabuses and drama groups up and down the land. So it is not an unsurprising pick for part of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain’s East End residency at the Yard Theatre but what may surprise is just how damn good this production is.

Blue Stockings is set at the turn of the last century in the hallowed grounds of the University of Cambridge, Girton College to be precise, the first to admit women. But they’re only allowed to study, not actually graduate like their male compatriots who they are matching grade for grade, academic achievement for extracurricular exuberance, and under the tutelage of Principal Elizabeth Welsh, a quartet of students are determined to use that foot in the door to blow it right off its hinges.  Continue reading “Review: Blue Stockings, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Yard Theatre”