Review: Fanatical, Playground Theatre

If the music doesn’t quite grab you like it should, Fanatical is still an enthusiastically warm-hearted show at the Playground Theatre

“It took too long
It cost the earth
It drove me nuts
And it was worth it.”

Matt Board and Reina Hardy’s new musical Fanatical taps into the apparently unstoppable rise of comic-book culture, but takes a refreshingly uncynical slant on the subject, particularly where its fan-base are concerned. The notion of comic cons full of cosplaying superfans might leave you cold but as we discover here, they’re places full of potential and meaningful interaction for kindred souls – is it really so different from a pub full of grown men all dressing up in the same football or rugby shirt…?

This particular comic con(ference) is for the fans of comic book-turned-TV show Angel 8, but the organisation of it has been far from smooth sailing for uber-fan Trix. She’s worried that the show’s creator might not make it to the venue, and is ill-prepared to deal with his idiosyncratic ways once he does. There’s also rumours of an undercover reporter in the crowds, penning a hit piece on the easy target of geeks. And along the way, there’s many a life lesson to be learned, by us as well as them. Continue reading “Review: Fanatical, Playground Theatre”

Review: Carousel, Arcola Theatre

“Fresh and alive and gay and young”

It’s kind of hard to avoid the many rave reviews that this Morphic Graffiti revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel has received so it won’t surprise those who know me that I wasn’t quite as blown away by it as were others. I have somehow managed to avoid ever seeing it before and I wonder if that made the difference – a recurring theme seems to be ‘one of the best versions I’ve ever seen’ indicating a deep seated affection for the show (much like Miss Saigon) whereas to fresh ears and eyes, the splendour of the score can’t always paper over the more questionable aspects of the book. 

There’s certainly much to appreciate in Luke Frederick’s production – the reconceptualising of a ‘big’ musical into the boutique space of the Arcola has been excellently done. Lee Proud’s choreography has a great feel for the expressive and exhilarating potential in such intimacy and Andrew Corcoran’s tight band of five create a great musical sound, especially blessed by the unmiked singing which lends a rawness and immediacy that feels entirely appropriate for the venue. I can well imagine it not having sounded quite like this before and therefore exciting those who loved it already. Continue reading “Review: Carousel, Arcola Theatre”