Thursday, July 31, 2014

Changes: Drag King Richard III @RiversideLondon

Drag King Richard III, playing this week at Riverside Studios, tackles Shakespeare and transgender issues with mixed effects. But you can't fault the performances and the style of the piece.

There are some clever moments that use music and dance to bring out the issues of the story. Even more remarkable is that the two performers - Anne Zander and Bonnie Adair - had only a few days to work with the material following some last minute cast changes.

Pieces from Shakespeare's Richard III are woven into this exploration of transgender identity, giving new meaning to the text, but perhaps greater attention on characterisation and less on the Shakespeare text might have made for a more rewarding evening.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bloody previews: Grand Guignol

The Theatre Royal Plymouth's production of Carl Grose's Grand Guignol is to play in Plymouth and the Southwark Playhouse this October.


A Grand Guignol play (which takes the name from the theatre in Montmartre that produced them), are designed to give you thrills and chills.


Madness, murder and a healthy dose of gruesomeness prevail throughout. And no doubt it all looks delightful when offset against some white tiles or a red curtain.

The piece plays with these conventions and centres on the original Parisian theatre company and its members, combining black comedy and blood spattering and psychological thriller. One to watch out for... Perhaps literally...

Photo credit: 2009 Production by Manuel Harlan

Monday, July 28, 2014

Freaks and previews: London Wonderground

Some lovely photos have been released highlighting some of the strange and unusual people you are likely to encounter on the South Bank this summer as part of the London Wonderground


As part of a boardwalk freak show, presenting some of the world’s strangest acts and unusual entertainers, an international cast is being assembled to recreate the sideshow with a modern twist.

Hosted by The Space Cowboy, and The Lizard Man voted by Ripley’s Believe it or Not as The Strangest Man Alive (which must be a pretty competitive award nowadays), it will be running through the summer until 31 August.


Photo credits: The Space Cowboy, The Lizard Man, Zoe L'Amore, Missy Macabre, Heather Holliday and Danik Abishev at London Wonderground. Photos by David Jensen


Friday, July 18, 2014

Previews and drag: Drag King Richard

Following a run at the Bristol Shakespeare Festival, Stance Theatre presents a powerful Richard III ahead of other summer blockbuster productions.

Drag King Richard III explores switching gender as lead character Laurie embarks on the challenging journey of transitioning from female to male. Life in the wrong body is explored through Shakespeare’s deformed villain and the long term friendship Laurie has with La Femme - a butch lesbian who enjoys the trappings of femininity when opportunities arise.

The play weaves classical dialogue through contemporary text, and seduction lines are quipped over a sexually charged Tango sequence...

It's on for a week at Riverside Studios from 28 July... Tickets are available from Riverside Studios.

Monday, July 14, 2014

This filthy world: Bakersfield Mist

Bakersfield Mist and its tale about forgeries in the art world might not be the most original piece of theatre, but the opportunity to see Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid work together makes it a memorable night at the theatre.

A fan of her performance in Serial Mom, I have a soft spot for any opportunity for Kathleen Turner to  say filthy words. After a few minutes, when she said fuck about ten times I knew this was going to be a show I was going to enjoy.

But others may not be so indiscriminating.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

In rehearsal: Porgy and Bess

Rehearsal images have been released for The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess which runs at Regents Park Open Air Theatre from 17 July to 23 August.

In this production dialogue will replace the sung recitatives, but the loss of some of the original material might be offset by the glorious surrounds of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. While it is unlikely to feel as warm as South Carolina in the summer, it will no doubt feel a lot more atmospheric than a traditional theatre space.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

More new legs (and wigs and breasts): Manon Lescaut @RoyalOpera

Puccini's opera about true love somewhat prevailing over material possessions is given a stylish and slightly filthy update in Jonathan Kent's production at the Royal Opera.

But what makes this production memorable is the pairing of Jonas Kaufmann as Chevalier Des Grieux and Krist─źne Opolais as Manon. The steamy scenes and vulgarity are balanced against the soaring vocals from this pairing.

Perhaps if it were any other duo it might have been a pedestrian evening, but together with the orchestra of the Opera House conducted by Antonio Pappano, the elements seemed to come together to give this work a fresh perspective.

New legs to an old ride: Carousel @Arcolatheatre

Carousel, the second musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein is given a new lease of life in this energetic and sexy production currently playing at the Arcola Theatre.

Updating to 1930s against the backdrop of the Great Depression gives this production a chance to be a bit rougher, a bit more dangerous and a lot sexier.

But the decision to sing without amplification and paring the production back to its bare essentials gives a chance for the characters to be understood better. It also helps minimise some of the sentimentality now attached to many of the songs from the piece.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Previewing wandering around Holland Park at night: The Dwindling House

For some, catching Britten's The Turn of the Screw would be enough tense entertainment for an evening.

But this week in Holland Park there is also the opportunity to see the opera and then embark on an eerie theatrical promenade piece, The Dwindling House of Holland.

The piece will explore the tangled history of the Holland family. After catching the opera you then proceed (possibly with a sensible drink to calm the nerves) under the cover of darkness through Holland Park with the cast, who evoke visions and sinister tales of the dwindling families of Holland Park.