I mean, just look at this absolute treasure trove of theatrical talent!
I’m off to listen to Patsy Ferran read Tom Wells, and Gabby Wong read Alexi Kaye Campbell, and Sarah Niles read Winsome Pinnock and…and…
A quick round-up of the rest of September’s shows
Mary Said What She Said, aka how far I will go for Isabelle Huppert
The Provoked Wife, aka how far I will go for Alexandra Gilbreath
A Doll’s House, aka if we must have more Ibsen, at least it is like this
Falsettos, aka finding the right way, for me, to respond
The Comedy Grotto, aka a sneaky peak at Joseph Morpurgo
The Life I Lead, aka something really rather sweet
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, aka well why not go again Continue reading “September theatre round-up”
“Hold your decaying
Hear what we’re saying”
Sad to say, what I’m saying is that I was not a fan of The Addams Family at all. After a cracking opening number which promises oh so much, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s book grinds to a juddering halt in a first half which does nothing but interminably set the scene. And Andrew Lippa’s score offers little respite as it fails to really nail any definitive sense of identity and ends up really rather forgettable. Things do pick up a tad post-interval but it’s too little too late by then.
It all could have been so much better. The Addams Family are an iconic set of characters, previously immortalised on cartoon strip, on television and on film, a legacy which goes some way to explaining the commercial success of the show on Broadway in the face of a scathing critical reception. But classic characters need classic storytelling and here, they’re marooned in a schmaltzy neverland which captures nothing of the golden age, nor has anything to say to audiences today. Continue reading “Review: The Addams Family, New Wimbledon”
“It’s high time, time that I awoke”
The Menier’s festive musical is always to look forward to and this year’s is no exception – a revival of the classic She Loves Me, based on Miklós László’s play Parfumerie which has been remade more than once as films The Shop Around The Corner, In The Good Old Summertime, and You’ve Got Mail. Recently seen on Broadway in a superlative rendition that was the first ever show to be live-streamed there, Joe Masterhoff’s book pits warring Budapest shop employees Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash against each other, little knowing that they are corresponding anonymously through a lonely hearts column – will they get together in the end? What do you think?
Matthew White’s production is as pretty as a picture, as a music box in fact, Paul Farnsworth’s luxe design emerging as an exceptional piece of work, using four mini revolves to great effect – the shop’s interior looks particularly stunning. And blessed with such cachet, and the strong possibility of a West End transfer, the venue once again attracts a top-notch cast. Mark Umbers and Scarlet Strallen alternately spar and swoon as the main lovers, real life couple Dominic Tighe and Katherine Kingsley play fellow amorous employees Ilona and Kodaly, even relatively minor roles like Ladislav get the likes of Alastair Brookshaw playing them. Continue reading “Review: She Loves Me, Menier Chocolate Factory”
“Do you know what would thrill me?”
People often assume that I’ve been to every theatre in London, more than once, and though it may seem like it, there are just so many and new ones opening all the time that not even I can make this boast, yet. The Tristan Bates Theatre, tucked away in a Covent Garden back street near Fopp, is one place I haven’t been before and so my trip to see American musical Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story meant I could knock more off the list. It is based on the 1920s true story of wealthy Chicago teenagers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb and the twisted relationship that existed between them as they searched for the ultimate thrill. Their raft of misdemeanours took a darker turn though as the crimes got more serious in order to make the thrills bigger, culminating in the ‘perfect crime’ – the murder of a young boy in 1924. The story is told in a series of flashbacks as we start in 1958 at the parole board hearing of Leopold.
A two-hander, it relies totally on the quality of its performers and director Guy Retellack has hit gold with his perfectly cast pair here: George Maguire and Jye Frasca who both bring highly nuanced performances to try and throw some light onto this complex and psychologically messy relationship. Maguire’s Loeb is the fan of Nietzsche, utterly convinced he’s above the law and seemingly the one driving the pair’s actions whereas Frasca’s Leopold is more the willing accomplice, desperate and willing to do anything to win the attention and affection of his friend and lover. Both sound outstandingly good in the intimate space and convinced as a couple, albeit one with serious issues, and as the beginnings of an explanation of the psychology that could lead to such crimes being committed. Frasca also did extremely well at playing the older Leopold, using subtle inflections in his voice to suggest the effect of more than 30 years in prison. Continue reading “Review: Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, Tristan Bates”
“He’s not a novelist, painter or artist…he’s a personality”
Drowning on Dry Land is the third Alan Ayckbourn currently playing in London (Season’s Greetings and Snake in the Grass being the other two) just opening at the Jermyn Street Theatre. Written in 2004, it is a look at the curious nature of Z-list celebrity, of people who are famous just for being famous, following professional celebrity Charlie Conrad, universally adored as a grand underachiever, whose security is revealed to be paper-thin as his wife is terminally unsatisfied, his jaded agent is looking for a way out and as it turns out, he is all too aware of the precariousness of his position. Things come to a head at the birthday party of one of his children in the grounds of their country mansion when he is caught in the most compromising of positions with one of his adoring fans who has her own agenda.
Part of the problem that I had with this show was ironically acknowledged in the show itself – one of the characters even says “six years is a long time in showbusiness” – and the way in which celebrity coverage through various forms of media has saturated the market means that there’s countless ‘real-life’ dramas in our day-to-day lives, should we wish to engage with them. Ayckbourn’s subject matter for this play has been overtaken by reality and resultantly presents little that is acutely observed or revelatory to us here, especially as we are all complicit in the understanding that so much of what is considered ‘celebrity’ these days is purely vacuous and talent-free.
Continue reading “Review: Drowning on Dry Land, Jermyn Street”