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Showing posts from May, 2017

Review of Border Men at the King’s Head Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172994/review-border-men-kings-head-theatre/

On the 26th May 1952, East Germany implemented a “special regime on the demarcation line” between itself and West Germany. The demarcation line or border was one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers, defined by a continuous line of high metal fences and walls, barbed wire, alarms, anti-vehicle ditches, watchtowers, automatic booby traps and minefields. It was patrolled by 50,000 armed East Germans all tasked with the job of ensuring that the happy workers of the DDR weren’t corrupted by going over to the decadent West. The guards were, of course, humans and humans have emotions and dreams. Jack Westerman has used this backdrop at this time for his new play Border Men at the King’s Head Theatre. Out in the hinterland of the border, a lone soldier comes into the guard hut. His name is Sgt Dieter Hertwig (Chris Barritt) and, tonight he is early for his inspection of the fence. After checking in wit…

Review of Whitechapel: Suspects, Lunatics and a Leather Apron

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172953/review-whitechapel-suspects-lunatics-and-a-leather-apron/

The year is 1888 and the place is East London. As summer comes to an end the area is rocked by the horrific murders of two ‘working’ girls. The murders are bizarre and violent and the locals are running scared. Welcome then to Whitechapel: Suspects, Lunatics and a Leather Apron an immersive trip into this world. The experience starts before your actual trip back in time. After booking, the audience members receive various emails giving them information about the murders and the experience they will be going through. Interestingly, among the emails is a disclaimer – something I’ve never had to complete for an immersive production before – which needs to be signed before the adventure begins. At the appointed time, you arrive in a nondescript road in London’s East End standing by a blue door and waiting for kick-off. A friendly local confirms your name – and that you have signed the discl…

Snapshot - A Personal Review

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So, I wrote a review for this play for http://www.carnstheatrepassion.com/review-snapshot/ but I also wanted to write another. to see if I could effectively write two reviews for the same play but make each review distinct in its style. So, if you fancy another read of my thoughts then read on................

As I charge headlong into the twilight years of life I do start to wonder if human beings really should be in relationships at all.  I know as we go through our teens, twenties, etc we all look for that one person to settle down with but as a species, are we really that monogamous? This question has sprung to mind after seeing George Johnston’s new play Snapshot at The Hope Theatre in Islington.
Foreign Currency trader Daniel (Joey Akubeze) is doing OK. Let’s be honest he is doing better than OK. Well educated - private school then Magdalene College, Cambridge - He now earns a significant salary - the likes of which we mere mortals can only dream - and has a lovely apartment in le…

4 Star Review of Lottery at The Pleasance Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172829/review-lottery-pleasance-theatre/

There is a problem with democracy in this country. The problem is the great British public. First, you can’t rely on them to vote the right way – for instance Brexit. Second, even when the vote is over, nobody is happy. So, in the case of Brexit, the Remainers are feeling left out and ignored and the Leavers are split between those that think Brexit will be too hard and those that think it will be too soft – see, nobody is happy. There has to be a better way. Whilst I agree, I’m not entirely sure that the answer lies in Sam Paris’ one-act play Lottery at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington. In the future, the state is pretty all powerful. For example, couples get matched by a computer and have to go to a state-run facility – using the purple bus – and do their bit to bring on the next generation, if you get my drift. On the bus, going to the centre, two people (Ava Pickett and Elliott Bornemann) are standing up, …

Review of My World Has Exploded a Little Bit by Bella Heesom

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172655/review-my-world-has-exploded-a-little-bit-bella-heesom/

I’m going to start this review with two facts. You may not like them and may resent me saying them but remember, they are facts. First, everyone you know is going to die and second, everyone you have ever met is going to die. Unless there are some huge leaps forward in medical skill, death is inevitable. And yet, somehow, people are often caught unawares when death occurs. Well, not any more thanks to Bella Heesom’s semi-auto autobiographical play My World Has Exploded a Little Bit which is having a run at the Ovalhouse. As well as writing the show, Bella, along with the totally mad Eva Alexander, also performs the play. Bella is a really lovely and affable person who warmly greets each member of her audience as they arrive to take their seats. In a real effort to avoid spoilers, My World Has Exploded a Little Bit is part performance and part lecture on Bella’s 17 step guide to coping wit…

5 Guys Chillin’ at the King’s Head Theatre – 4 Star Review

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172465/5-guys-chillin-kings-head-theatre-review-2/

5 Guys Chillin’ (c) Laura Marie Linck Chemsex is apparently prevalent in the gay community, and every week, there are lots of gay men attending chillin’ sessions where drugs and sex are the order of the day and hang the consequences. Unfortunately, the consequences can be quite dramatic and there has been a large rise in STDs and a lot of broken dreams as the pursuit of hedonism at any price takes its toll. There have been various books and plays written about chemsex parties and one of the most powerful is Peter Darney’s award-winning verbatim play 5 Guys Chillin’ which is back at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. There isn’t really a story to speak of in reality as there is no clear narrative, just five men (David Palmstrom, Gareth Watkins, George Bull, George Fletcher and Tom Ratcliffe) meeting in an apartment with the intention of taking drugs and having sex with each other. Over the course o…

4 Star Review of Footloose: The Musical at Richmond Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172163/review-footloose-the-musical-richmond-theatre/

Gareth Gates as Willard in Footloose. Photo Credit Matt Martin Pub quiz time. Which film, made in 1983 enjoyed the ‘largest February opening weekend in film history’? And which soundtrack album sold more than nine million copies in the USA and knocked Michael Jackson’s album ‘Thriller’ off the No 1 spot? The answer to both questions is, of course, Footloose and I caught up with the current UK touring production when it touched down at the Richmond Theatre. In Chicago Illinois, Ren McCormack (Joshua Down) and his mother Ethel (Lindsay Goodhand) are preparing to up sticks and leave. Their destination is Bomont, a small town eight hours drive away from the Windy City. The next day, Ren and his mother, along with the rest of the town, attend church and listen to the preachings of Reverend Shaw Moore (Reuven Gershon). Also in the congregation are Rev Moore’s wife, Vi (Maureen Nolan) and daughter Ariel …

5 Star Review of Half Moon Theatre’s Happily Ever After

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172052/review-half-moon-theatres-happily-ever-after/

Happily Ever After My fondness for children is well known so when the call came out for a volunteer to review ‘a delightful fairytale tail with a twist’ you can imagine mine was not the first hand raised. However, being free at the time it was on, I took myself out to Tower Hamlets and the Half Moon Theatre to see Happily Ever After. The play starts as the audience gets settled – youngest kids on the cushions at the front, adults on the seats – with two Paiges gently cleaning the checkerboard floor of the palace, moving gently, nicely co-ordinated with Patrick Dineen’s music. Once the performance proper starts, the Paiges begin filling the walls of the palace with portraits of previous kings and queens who had ruled the country. Then, with a fanfare, we get to meet The Queen (Bruno Mendes) herself. She does all the Queenly things, waving, smiling and pretending to take an interest in the people tha…

Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer at the Camden People’s Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/172060/guide-me-o-thou-great-redeemer-camden-peoples-theatre/

One of the most frustrating things about being a reviewer is when you see something and have to write about it but can say virtually nothing as the show itself is one of those site-specific shows where to say too much would really give everything away. A case in point is Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer which is getting its premiere at the Camden People’s Theatre. So let’s see how far I can go with telling you something of my experience. When I arrived, I was sent down into the basement to a door with a notice on the outside “Queen Mother Remembrance Society, please knock and wait”. A few seconds after knocking, the door was opened by our host David (David G. Lees) who welcomed each of us in turn with a personal remark. David himself is a tall Glaswegian who is currently living in London but is moving – albeit reluctantly – back to his hometown soon. And that’s the reason for tonight’s gathe…

4 Star Review of Room at Theatre Royal Stratford East

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/171908/review-room-theatre-royal-stratford-east/

Fela Lufadeju, Harrison Wilding and Witney White – Room (c) Scott Rylander One of the strongest bonds on the planet is that between a mother and her child. Very little can break that under normal circumstances but what if that mother has brought her son into the world under conditions of extreme and continual duress? Welcome to Emma Donoghue’s Room which is receiving its world premiere at the Theatre Royal Stratford East this month. Little Jack (Harrison Wilding) is five years old today. To him, this is a momentous day as he is now grown up and his inner voice, Big Jack (Fela Lufadeju) can’t wait to celebrate his birthday with Ma (Witney White). However, unlike other children, Jack and Ma will be celebrating in Room, the single space in which they live and Jack’s entire world. Seven years previously, Ma – then a 19-year-old girl – was abducted by Old Nick (Liam McKenna) who has imprisoned her in a sing…

4 Star Review of Yaël Farber’s Salomé – Olivier Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/171838/review-yael-farbers-salome-olivier-theatre/

Isabella Nefar in Salomé a new play by Yaël Farber. Photo by Johan Persson Most people who have been brought up in some form of Christian society know certain stories from the bible. However, supposing those stories were not just wrong but in fact virtually the opposite of everything you thought you knew. If it was Adam that tempted Eve with the apple, or Samson tricking Delilah into cutting his hair, or Lot deliberately turning his wife around so she turned into a pillar of salt. Why these biblical musings you may wonder? Well last night, at the National Theatre, I saw Yaël Farber’s version of Salomé and, believe me, that really turned my knowledge of the story on its head. The story opens with Nameless (Olwen Fouéré) on the day of her death being questioned by Pontius Pilate (Lloyd Hutchinson), prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, who has been summoned back to Rome to explain his methods in put…

4 Star Review of Romeo & Juliet at the Union Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/171657/review-romeo-juliet-union-theatre/

Karl Marx famously said ‘religion is the opium of the people’ however, he was wrong. For many people, there is one thing more important that religion and that is football. The beautiful game can divide families, communities and even countries. In extreme cases, supporters of one team in a town may never speak to or even acknowledge supporters of the local rival team. This sporting tension is the backdrop used for Victor Harvey Productions new version of Romeo & Juliet at the Union Theatre. In fair Verona, there are two football teams, Montague and Capulet and in each, there is a young player working his way into the world of football. In Montague, there is Romeo Abram Rooney), while in Capulet, young Juliet (Sam Perry) is the rising star. The two of them meet when Benvolio (Celeste De Veazey), Mercutio (Jack J Fairley) and Romeo sneak into a pub where the Montagues are watching a match. As the game goes o…

5 Star Review of When Harry Met Barry at the Above the Stag Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/171584/review-when-harry-met-barry-above-the-stag-theatre/

There are many things that theatre can do for its audience. Sometimes, it will educate, sometimes raise awareness or start a conversation and sometimes it will simply provide a very entertaining distraction from the world outside. The latest example of the latter type of show is When Harry Met Barry which has just opened at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall. TV celebrity chef Harry (Brandon Gale) is fed up with ‘love’. Although he is tall, handsome and runs a successful Soho restaurant, he basically only meets men who seem to think a relationship means they stay overnight and nothing needs go deeper than that. And then, one day, while sitting in a coffee shop minding his own business, Harry meets flamboyant design student and scene queen Spencer (Austin Garrett). The two of them seem to hit it off immediately and after a couple of coffees, Harry is not alone anymore. Over in a launderett…

4 Star Review of Becoming Mohammed at the Pleasance Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/171444/becoming-mohammed-pleasance-theatre/


Becoming Mohammed (Jack Hammett) – courtesy of And Many Others It’s surprising how, even with all the social media and communication devices available, families can drift apart. Mine live up in Lancashire and I get to see them once or twice a year. Imagine though if I had been away for a couple of years and then went home to find my brother had fundamentally changed everything about his life. How would I react? A conundrum that is at the heart of Claudia Marinaro’s new play Becoming Mohammed at the Pleasance Theatre. In a very sparse living room, a young man is about to start his prayers. Dressed in a simple white robe and kufi, he carefully places his prayer rug to face Ka’ba and begins to perform Salah. Unfortunately, a loud knocking at the door interrupts his prayers and, he hurries his way through to the end. Removing his Muslim clothes the man is revealed as Thomas (Jack Hammett) a tall bearded chap. H…

4 star Review of Miss Nightingale The Musical at The Vaults

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/171373/review-miss-nightingale-the-musical-the-vaults/

Nurse Brown – Tamar Broadbent ‘Miss Nightingale’, Miss Nightingale the musical 2017 Before 1933, Berlin was the place to be. There were bars, clubs and parties to satisfy every taste. Unlike most of Europe at the time, it was possible in this pre-WW2 city to be openly homosexual and enjoy a relatively normal – whatever that is – life. However, things changed in 1933 when the Nazi party under Adolph Hitler, took control. Bars, clubs, cabarets were shut down in droves and hedonism was discouraged by extreme measures. If you happened to be a poor Jewish homosexual man, then your options were very limited and the best move was to get out of Germany and seek more friendly skies. Welcome to the world of Miss Nightingale which is currently enjoying a successful run at The Vaults, Waterloo. London 1942 and the war is at its height. The Americans have finally turned up to join in and London is awash with …