News: National Theatre reveals full cast for Dick Whittington

National Theatre reveals full cast for Dick Whittington including faves Melanie La Barrie and Amy Booth-Steel

As previously announced, pantomime comes to the National Theatre with Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s hilarious and heartfelt version of Dick Whittington. First staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018 and freshly updated for 2020, Ned Bennett’s production will open in the socially distanced Olivier theatre on 11th December, lockdowns permitting, and tickets are now on sale. 

The full cast includes Melanie La Barrie as Bow Belles, Dickie Beau as Sarah, Amy Booth-Steel as Queen Rat, Laura Checkley as Mayor Pigeon, Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings as Dick Whittington, Georgina Onuorah as Alice and Cleve September as Tom Cat. Beth Hinton-Lever, Travis Kerry, Jaye Marshall, Ken Nguyen, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda and Christopher Tendai also join the company. Continue reading “News: National Theatre reveals full cast for Dick Whittington”

News: Friday theatre update from the National Theatre, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Roles We’ll Never Play

Friday theatre news from the National Theatre, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Roles We’ll Never Play

In a canny move, the National Theatre is bringing panto to its main stage as Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s hilarious and heartfelt version of Dick Whittington, first staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018 and freshly updated for 2020, will open in the socially distanced Olivier theatre on 11th December.  

Directed by Ned Bennett, this wild and inventive production explores what it is like to come from a small town and arrive in a big city today, exploring the ideas of community and togetherness. Initial casting includes Dickie Beau, Amy Booth-Steel, Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings​, Georgina Onuorah, and Cleve September 

They have also announced the next show to open as part of the Olivier in-the-round season in February 2021 is Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, in a co-production with Fictionhouse. Directed by Dominic CookeKramer’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 Danny Lee Wynter as Tommy Boatwright, Daniel Monks as Mickey Marcus and Stanley Townsend as Ben Weeks. Vicki Mortimer is Set Designer and Paule Constable is Lighting Designer.  

Tickets for The Normal Heart will go on sale from the end of November.  Continue reading “News: Friday theatre update from the National Theatre, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Roles We’ll Never Play”

Review: Austentatious, Fortune Theatre

The ever-hilarious Austentatious return to the West End with a Monday night residency at the Fortune Theatre

“Forgive me, I did not know a mouth baby should be addressed so”

It’s been a moment since I’ve seen Austentatious. Their rise has been sure and steady over the last few years, graduating from monthly residencies at the Leicester Square Theatre to the Savoy Theatre and then on to a weekly booking at the Fortune Theatre, whilst also finding time for highly successful national tours and seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe. And that’s also not to mention that this is a side hustle for this company of very-much-in-demand comedians.

I’ve seen them just a few times over the years but weekly visits at West End prices are beyond even my devotion (that said, there is a loyalty card scheme…). But I couldn’t resist a visit to welcome them back to the bijou surroundings of the Fortune where we were treated to the surreal delights of Northanger Crabby. For the uninitiated, Austentatious is a show entirely improvised in Jane Austen-style and costume from a title suggested by the audience. Continue reading “Review: Austentatious, Fortune Theatre”

News: Austentatious and Murder She Didn’t Write announce extensions

Great news as both Austentatious and Murder She Didn’t Write announce extensions although #ImprovSundays look to be over 🙁

Following a season of smash-hit performances during 2018 (a fair few of which I managed to see), Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel have announced that they will begin a Monday night residency at the Fortune Theatre, London from 18 February 2019.  And in particularly good news for fans of the troupe, a new loyalty card is also being introduced offering a fifth performance for free once you’ve attended four performances at the Fortune Theatre. 

And similarly coming off a successful year, Degrees of Error’s hilarious Murder, She Didn’t Write will continue their monthly shows at the Leicester Square Theatre as their residency has been extended with shows now booked until May 2019. In addition to this, they are due to embark on a national tour where they will bring their Agatha Christie-inspired improv to audiences across England come the New Year.

Continue reading “News: Austentatious and Murder She Didn’t Write announce extensions”

Review: Austentatious, Savoy Theatre

No prizes for guessing where I was this Sunday evening…my second visit of the month to Austentatious at the Savoy Theatre

“You don’t deserve the name crumpet…”

The ghosts of female golf players, pirate nuns, an alarming number of people willing to dig graves, feminist shaming, Irish cultural appropriation, neglected bakers, the most malevolent Mrs Beeton you ever did meet and a breakout musical number from Mr Crumpet that ought to be the Christmas number one. My umpteenth visit to Austentatious, now firmly ensconced in the Savoy Theatre for the Sundays in December, saw us catch Mist and Mistresses.

You don’t get many people called Cecil these days do you. And how I would have loved to have see Wickham getting high in High Wycombe – I think Professor Sam Patton dropped the ball there! But this was a classic of unhappy marriages, unfortunately dead wives, and infidelity on the pier, all set in the swirling mist which allowed for all sorts of shenanigans (Jorge!) and hilarity. Honestly, if you’ve not been to see these guys yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Robert Viglasky
Booking: one more show at the Savoy in 2018, on 16th December 

Review: Austentatious, Savoy Theatre

The first of three opportunities to see Austentatious at the Savoy Theatre in December in a hilariously scandalous affair indeed

“We’ll buff them in the vestry”

Spreading festive cheer all month long at the Savoy, Austentatious’s Christmas season got off with a bang (ooh vicar) with the saucily inclined Carry On Follow That Carriage. As ever, trying to describe the experience of watching a lost Jane Austen come to life in front of you is to be on a hiding to nothing but among the joys here were erotic flipbooks, bible polishing, dogging in Stevenage, the joys of a reverse flicking and – don’t tell PETA – all kinds of avian murder.  

And even when you think that there’s no way this surreally random collection of story threads could ever come together, the skills of this improv troupe becomes apparent as a resolution hoves into view as if never in doubt. Cariad Lloyd’s bawdy card-playing sister was a hoot, I loved Amy Cooke-Hodgson’s Mrs Bryce and Graham Dickson’s reactions to Andrew Hunter Murray’s late-blooming physicality were inspired. Honestly, there’s few better ways to spend a Sunday evening.  

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Photo: Robert Viglasky
Austentatious is next playing at the Savoy Theatre on 9th and 16th December

Review: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Finborough

New at the Finborough Theatre, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City proves gently compelling

I can make cancer jokes. Because I have cancer”

Deep breath – Halley Feiffer’s play is entitled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, an entry into titles that are amusingly long when you start to read them but soon end up trying the patience (qv We Are Proud To Present… and I’d Rather Goya). Overall though, the play is better than that.

A wee slip of a thing at barely 80 minutes, it’s a admirably bold take on ‘the cancer play’. That much is clear from the ribald humour of its opening sequence and an initial sense that the focus isn’t going to be on the two women in the hospital beds, but rather their adult children – Cariad Lloyd’s Karla and Rob Crouch’s Don – who are putting in the hours at their bedsides. Continue reading “Review: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Finborough”

Not-really-a-Review: Austentatious, Savoy

“It’s coming home”

It’s hard to kick a habit but when Austentatious provide as much fun as they do at their monthly residence at the Savoy, why should I even try to resist? Last night’s entertainment was Ocean’s 5: Bennett Sisters – Marine Heist and offered up a pleasingly different twist on this improvised show, relegating romantic plot to the sidelines for once as gambling dens, cockney Bennetts, competitive musical chairs and chess, and the power of Peter Stringfellow’s hair took the limelight instead. And as is only right on Pride weekend, when a wedding did occur, it was a lesbian one. I couldn’t recommend these  guys any more, check out their website for upcoming dates.

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Photo: Robert Viglasky
Austentatious is next playing at the Savoy Theatre on 30th September. You can also catch it in Edinburgh in August, and on tour

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play Emilia already looked like one of the top tips of Michelle Terry’s inaugural season at the Globe and with this cast announcement, Nicole Charles’ production fast becomes an absolute must-see!

Nadia Albina will play Lady Katherine 
Anna Andresen will play Mary Sidney 
Shiloh Coke will play Lady Anne Clifford
Leah Harvey will play Emilia 1
Jenni Maitland will play Countess of Kent 
Clare Perkins will play Emilia 3 
Carolyn Pickles will play Lord Henry Carey 
Vinette Robinson will play Emilia 2 
Sophie Russell will play Lord Thomas Howard
Sarah Seggari will play Lady Cordelia 
Sophie Stone will play Lady Margaret Clifford 
Charity Wakefield will play William Shakespeare 
Amanda Wilkin will play Alphonso Lanier

In 1611 Emilia Bassano penned a volume of radical, feminist and subversive poetry. It was also the first published collection of poetry written by a woman in England. Lloyd Malcolm promises to reveal the life of Emilia: poet, mother and feminist from the 10th August. See you there? Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

Review: Austentatious, Savoy

A belated return to one of the funniest improv groups out there – catch Austentatious at the Savoy, at Edinburgh or on tour across the UK

“I would be from Brighton if I could”

It’s been a little while since I’ve been to see the Austentatious guys, absence makes the heart fonder and all that, but a Sunday night at the Savoy proved harder to resist. And once there, I did being to wonder how I could have left it six months to indulge once again in some of the funniest shenanigans you could hope to see on a West End stage.

For the uninitiated, Austentatious is an improvised show, whereby a lost Jane Austen classic is performed for our pleasure, based on a title suggested by the audience. Tonight’s play was entitled Queer Eye for the Regency Guy, an appropriate choice for Pride month and a searing tale of forbidden love, funny walks, and avocados. Continue reading “Review: Austentatious, Savoy”