News: Donmar Warehouse to stream all 4 versions of Constellations

The Donmar Warehouse will stream its West End revival of Constellations online next month, marking the first time the London theatre has hosted one of its productions on a dedicated on-demand platform. Nick Payne’s play, which was performed with four different casts over the run, has been recorded in each configuration and stream online in October for a month. The play will also be made available free to schools this autumn.

The production recently completed its highly acclaimed run at the Vaudeville Theatre where its four groupings all impressed. For my money, Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, and Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker were both excellent but the chance to see Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd in close succession really highlights the showcases this enterprise at its best.  All four casting configurations will be available separately online so you’ll be able to mix and match to see the power and possibilities of different interpretations of the same text. Continue reading “News: Donmar Warehouse to stream all 4 versions of Constellations”

Some September casting news

Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, and West End star Nadim Naaman today announce that their second major stage musical, Rumi: The Musical will get its world premiere as a semi-staged concert at the London Coliseum on November 23rd & 24th 2021.

Rumi, based on a story about the 13th century philosopher and poet Rumi by Evren Sharma, follows Al Fardan and Naaman’s 2018 debut Broken Wings, which premiered in the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket before touring the Middle East.

Led by Ramin Karimloo (as Shams Tabrizi) and Nadim Naaman (Rumi), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Kimya), Soophia Foroughi (Kara), the London Coliseum cast will comprise entirely of performers of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian heritage, and will also feature a 25+ piece orchestra, conducted by Joe Davison.

Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 14 September via the London Coliseum website Continue reading “Some September casting news”

Review: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre

Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd really raise the game in this multi-cast Constellations at the Vaudeville Theatre

“In the quantum multiverse, every choice, every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes”

Naturally, having declared that the multiple casts of this West End revival of Constellations was perhaps a bit of an extravagance and not worth the return visits, both Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd proved me wrong with a brilliant pair of interpretations of Nick Payne’s play, which offer up a powerful compare and contrast exercise right there in the moment.

You can read my reviews from upstairs at the Royal Court to its West End transfer to its bow on Broadway to the UK tour which also popped into the West End to find out more about the play itself. Here, Tovey and Douglas make it sharply witty and as downright sexy as it has ever been and O’Dowd and Maxwell Martin push it to a different funnier place, toying with the fourth wall in several places. So I’m busting out a highly recommended for these, both of them!

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Constellations is booking at the Vaudeville Theatre until 12th September
Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey play until 11th September
Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd play until 12th September

 

Reviews: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre

The Donmar West End production of Constellations launches its first two casts in Sheila Atim & Ivanno Jeremiah and Peter Capaldi & Zoë Wanamaker at the Vaudeville Theatre

One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.”

With the Donmar currently getting a lick of paint, Michael Longhurst has decided to revive his production of Nick Payne’s Constellations with a pandemic-friendly attention-grabbing model that fits neatly with Payne’s exploration of the multiverse. Four different casts take on the two-hander over the run, pushing it variously in terms of age, sexuality and race.

As if there was any doubting this is a show I like, you can read my reviews from upstairs at the Royal Court to its West End transfer to its bow on Broadway to the UK tour which also popped into the West End. And it is a real pleasure to be able to delve back into its playful structure which tracks the infinite possibilities of the relationship between quantum physicist Marianne and beekeeper Roland. Continue reading “Reviews: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre”

News: Constellations returns to the West End and how!

Constellations returns to the West End and how! One of my favourite plays, with four different casts?!  Amazing stuff.

“One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.”

This summer Nick Payne’s beautiful and heartbreaking romance Constellations is revived in the West End with a twist: four different casts take turns to journey through the multiverse exploring the infinite possibilities of a relationship; each refracting the play afresh. Starring Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah (18th June – 1st August), Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker (23rd June – 24th July), Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey (30th July – 11th September), and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd (6th August – 12th September).

It’s a play I’ve followed as much as I can since it premiered upstairs at the Royal Court. From its West End transfer to its bow on Broadway, from the UK tour which also popped into the West End to the Southwark Playhouse production which never happened (very in keeping with the play!), plus there’s the new radio production which I’ve got lined up to listen to very soon. Safe to say I am handling my expectations very well and am in no way over-excited and chomping at the bit to book in to see the same show at least 4 times in less than 3 months…! See you there?

Radio review: Constellations / Elegy / The Meaning of Zong

Less reviews, more notifications that a wonderful radio version of Nick Payne’s Constellations is now available to listen to on Radio 3, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and George Mackay. It’s well worth your time but be warned, it could well lead to expensive splurges to see the four forthcoming West End casts of Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker, Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd.

Sasha Yevtushenko also directs a production of Elegy as part of this double bill, a play which I don’t remember half as fondly, despite a strong cast at the Donmar Warehouse. Here again, Juliet Stevenson, Deborah Findlay and Marilyn Nnadebe elevate the production to must-listen levels but it just isn’t as gut-wrenchingly affecting a piece of writing in the end.

Last up is Giles Terera’s The Meaning of Zong, the debut play for this talented performer which is now receiving its premiere on radio. It’s an extraordinary dramatisation of a shocking piece of British history that very few of us will know about, one which is vital to add to the discourse that has emerged since last summer and a play that must be put on major stages as soon as we can.

TV Review: It’s A Sin

La. It’s A Sin is a triumphant piece of television written by Russell T Davies, a crucial if challenging watch about how HIV/AIDS cut through the gay community in 1980s London

“We’ve got this great big killer disease and it’s happening in silence”

On the face of it, a five-parter on the AIDS crisis in 1980s London isn’t what you’d necessarily pick to schedule in the depths of a Covid-blighted January. But Russell T Davies and Channel 4 have absolutely hit the mark with It’s A Sin, Dipping every couple of years into the lives of a group of friends who find each other in London’s queer corners, this journey from 1981 to 1991 takes place under the ever-growing and ever-threatening shadow of HIV/AIDS.

It’s the kind of script where you can feel that every word has been intimately felt, with characters based on Davies’ own life, At the heart of it lies Olly Alexander’s Ritchie, an 18 year old would-be law student just waiting to explode out of the closet from his Isle of Wight homelife. It being the 80s, he soon finds himself in a chaotic but fab houseshare in which a new queer family develops – Roscoe (Omari Douglas) escaping his Nigerian family’s plan to straighten him out, the dreamy Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) with his douching advice, quiet Welsh boy Colin (a superb Callum Scott Howells) and Jill (an equally excellent Lydia West) who tempts him over onto the drama course and establishes one of the key relationships of the show (reflecting one of Davies’ own and in a neat touch, the real Jill appears as the fictional Jill’s mum). Continue reading “TV Review: It’s A Sin”

Review: The Life, Southwark Playhouse

“I’ve done everything that a body can do.
But how goddamn much can a body go through?”

There’s a moment early on in The Life where Sharon D Clarke’s been-around-the-block-and-then-some Sonja has a moment akin to Jenna Russell’s ‘The Revolutionary Costume for Today’ in Grey Gardens where she utterly and completely steals the show with an outstanding musical number, the likes of which will scarcely be bettered all year. Here it is ‘The Oldest Profession’, a world-weary but witty run through life working on the streets which is just bloody fantastic. But lest you worry that this is a musical to glamourise prostitution, all that good feeling is instantly shattered by a scene of brutal cruelty from her pimp which leaves you in no doubt as to how (melodramatically) serious The Life is.

Set on the seedier side of 42nd Street in 1980s New York, David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman’s book remembers Times Square before it became tourist-friendly and follows a group of people just trying to get by in this callous world. Queen is turning tricks and saving money to move on out of this world but when her lover Fleetwood, a troubled Vietnam vet with a habit, blows half her stash on his stash, it’s clear that something drastic needs to happen. Angered by new arrival from the sticks Mary, aided by longtime friend and co-worker Sonja, and abetted by the malicious Memphis, Queen is spurred onto a course of ambitious but tragic action. Continue reading “Review: The Life, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre

“Could you ask as much from any other man?”

Andrew Lloyd Webber sure doesn’t make it easy – for his support of new musical theatre in taking over the St James Theatre to making a transatlantic dash to the House of Lords to vote in support of tax credit cuts for the working poor, it’s hard to know where to stand. His status in the British theatrical establishment remains largely unchallenged though and it is to the 46-year-old Jesus Christ Superstar that the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park have turned for their big summer musical, directed this year by Timothy Sheader. 

And how do you play a 70s rock opera for today? You bring onboard shit-hot creatives like Tom Scutt and Drew McOnie to reinvent it for 2016. Scutt’s design choices make a virtue of the timeless iron structure that edges the stage. The company arrive in luxury sportswear, its loose silhouettes and muted earth tones akin to a Kanye West fashion show with which McOnie’s contemporary choreography meshes perfectly. Later scenes feature the glitter-covered muscularity of something like a late night Brighton Pride, a smattering of Xerxes from the film 300 and all out Sink the Pink excess during the whipping sequence. Continue reading “Review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre”