Review: The Greater Game, Waterloo East

At Waterloo East Theatre, The Greater Game is a sobering reminder of the individual stories behind the statistics of our war dead, and a fitting tribute too 

“Play together, sign up together…die together “

John, Jumbo, Peggy, Mac, Spider…the names above the dressing room hooks are a simple but effective reminder that behind wartime statistics are countless lives that have been ended. Whether the hundreds of thousands of total British casualties of World War One, or the forty-two men of the Clapton Orient football team who volunteered en masse for the effort, it can be hard – overwhelming even – to remember that each one was an individual.

It is a thought that is threaded throughout the entirety of Michael Head’s play The Greater Game based on Stephen Jenkins’ book They Took The Lead. It drills down to seven key members of that football squad (now known as Leyton Orient) and deeper yet to the intense friendship between of the lads whose playing field moves from boyhood kickarounds in the North-East, to professional success in East London, to brutal conflict at the Somme. Continue reading “Review: The Greater Game, Waterloo East”

Album Reviews: Peter Pan A Musical Adventure / The Confession Room / Marie Christine

This trio of album reviews covers Peter Pan A Musical Adventure, The Confession Room and Marie Christine

“Would I oblige?
I obliged”

Michael John LaChiusa is one of those composers of the new American musical theatre mould, or maybe even beyond, in adopting a dense and complex compositional style that means his work hasn’t always had the credit it deserves. This original Broadway cast recording of his 1999 show Marie Christine feels like a case in point – a Tony-nominated book and score that has rarely been revived, never mind made it to the UK. An adaptation of the Medea story that relocates it to 1890s New Orleans, it is blessed by a stunning central performance from Audra McDonald as a remarkably vicious leading lady. The score is made up of fragmented pieces of music rather than conventional notions of what we would consider a song but its operatic drama hits the mark for me. And I’d love to see it the UK some time soon please… Continue reading “Album Reviews: Peter Pan A Musical Adventure / The Confession Room / Marie Christine”

Review: The Confession Room, St James Theatre

“Welcome to the room where your problems are heard”

In this cut-throat theatre world, one takes the opportunity to celebrate new musical theatre writing where one can so there was little hesitation in booking for this one-off concert performance of Dan Looney’s The Confession Room at the St James Theatre’s downstairs studio space. I actually came across Looney as part of an evening celebrating another writer John Kristian last month so it was nice to be able join the dots a little here and see some of his work given theatrical life.

This show received a concept recording from SimG Productions which was released on CD last year when a production also played the Landor for a night and tonight’s show, directed by Paul Foster with musical direction from Tim Evans, used the music from the recording along with excerpts of Patrick Wilde’s book to entertain an audience who’d opted to miss (the first half at least) the theatre of the World Cup final for some genuine musical theatre.  Continue reading “Review: The Confession Room, St James Theatre”