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Top 10 of 2017

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Since July 2014, I've seen and reviewed 588 shows altogether.  2017 was a fairly quiet year with a total of 132 shows visited by yours truly.

So, in the best traditions of end of the year ideas, here is my list of the top 10 shows that I've seen this year.  Please remember, this is my list not anybody else's and if you don't agree with the pick, well, what can I say?


1.Priscilla Queen of the Desert,  Bridewell Theatre This story of friendship and hope took two drag queens and a trans woman from Sydney to Alice Springs, in a big pink bus. Along the way, the met new friends and face rampant homophobia. SEDOS brought every element of the show together beautifully, and to a standard that you would expect to see in the West End. Sold out virtually as soon as it was announced, this was the ‘must see production of the year. 2.La Cage aux Folles, New Wimbledon Theatre This is was a touring production of a show that demonstrates the importance of family and how much a parent will s…

Thark at the Drayton Arms Theatre – Review

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/191652/thark-drayton-arms-theatre-review/

Thark I’m a great fan of the 1920s. OK, I’m not old enough to remember them but thanks to books like the Jeeves and Wooster series, I do feel that I know the era pretty well. I’m also a fan of farce as a theatrical genre and a combination of both seemed too good to miss. So off I toottled to the Drayton Arms to see a performance of Ben Travers’ quintessentially English farce Thark. At the home of Sir Hector Benbow (Mathijs Swarte) his butler Hook (Daniel Casper) has just received some news. He has become a father – admittedly of a girl but he can cope with that. As he tries to head off to go and see his wife and child, he gives instructions to Warner (Sophia Lorenti) the maid as to what to do when a female visitor arrives. Sir Hector is out at the races with his nephew Ronny (Robin Blell) while his wife Lady Benbow (Charlotte Vassell) is away, so it is up to the servants to ensure that Sir Hector’s guest gets…

Slava’s Snowshow at The Royal Festival Hall – Review

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/191539/slavas-snowshow-at-the-royal-festival-hall-review/

Yellow clown in snowstorm – Photo credit V Mishukov I’m really not keen on clowns. Let’s be honest, I’m pretty terrified of them and have been for quite a few years now. I know it’s irrational, but there it is. So when I was asked to go and review a clown show at the Royal Festival Hall, I decided to face my fears and go for it. Apart from clowns, I had no real idea what I was in store for and Slava’s Snowshow was a complete surprise on every level. I sort of got the idea something was different when I walked into the auditorium and saw just how messy it was. Normally the RFH is a beautiful wood panelled performance space overlooked by pods that could have come from the set of Star Wars. Today, however, the sides were covered with a black curtain and there were small pieces of paper on every surface. I took my seat among the hundreds of children that had been brought to the show by their dotin…

Review of Fat Rascal Theatre’s Beauty & The Beast – Kings Head Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/191300/review-fat-rascal-theatres-beauty-the-beast-kings-head-theatre/

Beauty and the Beast It has often been thought that in a play, boys will be boys and girls will be girls. There are male roles and female roles. The truth is of course that the theatre is full of gender-swapping roles and often to great effect – Tamzin Greig (Malvolio) in Twelfth Night? But, what happens when you take a much-loved show and swap every role, so the men are now women and the women are now men? Well, if you want to find out, then nippety-pop to the King’s Head Theatre where Fat Rascal Theatre are presenting Beauty and the Beast. In a castle out in the woods, a beautiful but imperious princess (Robyn Grant) spurns an old beggar man seeking assistance. Upset by this, the beggar reveals himself to be an enchanter and curses the princess and all within her palace. The castle inhabitants (Aaron Dart, Allie Munro and Katie Wells) become furniture and crockery, while the pri…

Jack and the Beanstalk at New Wimbledon Theatre – 5 Star Review

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/191176/jack-and-the-beanstalk-new-wimbledon-theatre-review/

Liam Tamne and Charlotte Gooch – Photo credit Craig Sugden It’s December and for most theatres, that means one thing. For the next six weeks or so, they will be opening their doors twice a day, six days a week to let hordes of happy children – along with some adults – come and experience the magic of live theatre. Yes, its pantomime season and I was lucky enough to get a trip to the New Wimbledon Theatre for the opening of their festive offering Jack and the Beanstalk. The basic story is that Giant Blunderbore is causing havoc by raising the rent in a small village and driving the villagers into poverty. Life is so bad that Dame Trott (Clive Rowe) is going to have to sell her cow to try and make ends meet and support her two sons, Jack (Liam Tamne) and Barman Al (Al Murray). Jack is upset about selling the cow but he is also distracted as he has met and fallen in love with the beautiful Prin…

Review of Expat Underground at Tristan Bates Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/191040/review-expat-underground-tristan-bates-theatre/

Political plays are all the rage at the moment and taking centre stage in the narrative is the effects of Brexit – even the Archers talk about it every so often. A lot of these plays irritate me as they are based on supposition as to what will happen once the hard/soft/slightly flabby at the edges Brexit goes through – something that nobody knows right now. However, for a really good one-act play about the life – past, present & possibly future – of a European migrant, then I can heartily recommend Cecilia Gragnani & Jvan Sica’s Expat Underground which I saw at the Tristan Bates Theatre. This charming one-person (well sort of, as I will explain in a moment) production is the story of Cecilia, a young girl who decides to leave her Italian village and, after a sojourn in Paris, decides to move to London to seek her proverbial fortune. We follow her adventures from the moment she arrives and…

The Woman In White – Charing Cross Theatre Until 10th February

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https://www.carnstheatrepassion.com/review-woman-white/
♦♦♦♦ Review By Terry Eastham Are you a fan of Victorian melodrama? Are you a fan of Musicals? And finally, are you a fan of the work of ’The Lord’ – you know who I mean? If you can answer yes to at least two of these, then get yourself down to the Charing Cross Theatre where they are staging a revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White. The story begins in as drawing teacher, Walter Hartright (Ashley Stilburn) arrives at the rail station that serves Limmeridge House. Through the fog, Walter sees a woman (Sophie Reeves) running as if from someone. Startled by this apparition, Walter makes his way to Limmeridge House where he is taking up a post teaching drawing to half sisters Marian Halcombe (Carolyn Maitland) and Laura Fairlie (Anna O’Byrne). The reason for this is to find the girls something to do, because the elderly Mr Fairlie (Anthony Cable) wants peace and quiet in his last days. As the days go on a strange menage a…

Review of Christmas Farce at Waterloo East Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/190333/review-christmas-farce-waterloo-east-theatre/



A theatre show is often like a swan. Out on stage, all is serene and beautiful whilst backstage there is a hive of activity going on. There have been various shows written about life backstage at a theatre – Noises Off springs to mind, though I’ve still not got around to seeing it. However, if you would like to see life backstage during a Christmas show, then you can do no better than toodle off to the Waterloo East Theatre to see Shaun Kitchener’s play Christmas Farce. Thirty minutes – or in theatrical parlance, The Half – before curtain up and Alice (Natalie Lester) is the only person in the Green Room of a regional theatre. The fact it is Christmas is demonstrated not only by Alice’s OTT festive jumper but also with the gaudy decorations festooning the place. These are the handiwork of back-stage worker Makenzie (Marc-Gee Finch) and, while they are a tad tacky, they do add a sort of desperate fe…

King Tut: A Pyramid Panto at The King’s Head Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/190167/king-tut-a-pyramid-panto-kings-head-theatre/

Walk like Egyptian. Photo William Knight Have you ever tried to explain to someone that isn’t from the UK what a pantomime is and why it is such a part of the Christmas celebration? Obviously, if you are talking to an American, it’s fairly easy. Point at the White House and they will get the concept of pantomime very quickly. Given a conversation I had recently, it’s not that easy to get the concept over. So, my advice is to forget trying to explain and take your interlocutor to the King’s Head where Charles Court opera are putting on their Christmas pantomime King Tut. Egypt 1922 and explorer Howard Carter (Matt R J Ward) is looking for the tomb of Tutankhamun. His party consists of Lord Conniving (John Savournin/Matthew Kellett) who is financing the expedition, and is attending along with his ward Evelyn (Francesca Fenech). There are also a couple of locals in the shape a Porter (Philip Lee) and h…