Review: Live at Wilton’s Gala Launch, Wilton’s Music Hall

“Fate beckoned her…into a rather queer, unfamiliar atmosphere”

Entering the atmospheric entrance space of Wilton’s Music Hall for the gala launch of their Live at Wilton’s cabaret shows, my heart sank upon seeing the sign that said “due to unforeseen circumstance Hannah Waddingham is unable to perform tonight”. I’d booked mainly to see her again and having seen her at the Open Air Theatre on Tuesday watching The Comedy of Errors, I was rather disappointed but when the rest of the line-up includes Gwyneth Herbert, David McAlmont and Siân Phillips and you can call on Marc Almond for back up, you know you’re in for a good night anyway.

Live at Wilton’s is an attempt to secure the future of cabaret in London, somewhat timely with Pizza on the Park closing and Wilton’s Music Hall is laying claim to actually being the birthplace of cabaret in 1858, some 23 years before Le Chat Noir. It was an eclectic bill for sure, mixing the traditional with the ultra-modern, musical theatre with jazz, proper old-school music hall singalongs with the downright quirky. But it’s a programme that fits with Wilton’s Music Hall’s vision for its future, bringing together a vast array of talent to perform within its history-filled walls and covering all sorts of musical bases with a strong vein of storytelling running through them. And this evening displayed how it can suit so many styles of music perfectly; McAlmont’s vocal improvisations and Herbert’s ukulele-driven final number both making the most of the venue’s acoustics without microphones and being all-the-more effective for it. Continue reading “Review: Live at Wilton’s Gala Launch, Wilton’s Music Hall”

(Not a) Review: Ten Plagues – a work-in-progress, Royal Court

“In London
Came the plague in sixteen sixty five
One hundred thousand dead
But I alive.”

I’m a big fan of Marc Almond so when the opportunity to see him performing in a workshop of a new musical at the Royal Court came up, I was eager to snap up a ticket. Presented as an early part of the Rough Cuts season of works-in-progress and experimental readings, Ten Plagues is a new musical with libretto by Mark Ravenhill and  music by Conor Mitchell.

Taking inspiration from both Samuel Pepys’ and Daniel Defoe’s accounts of living through the Great Plague of London, but also using Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor and Aids and Its Metaphor to also help define the ideas, Ravenhill tells the story of a man’s journey through a city going through a profound crisis as one in five people die. Continue reading “(Not a) Review: Ten Plagues – a work-in-progress, Royal Court”