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Big Rhythms: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives @arcolatheatre

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There’s no subject matter taboo in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. This is a play where the title character’s penis is described as “so big that two men could share it and still be well-endowed.” The characters talk to the audience, throw props at them and emerge from the audience. Detailed and frank depictions of sex and gender dynamics play out before you at the Arcola Theatre.Yet behind the funny and frank depictions of sex, there’s clever storytelling in this adaptation for stage by Rotimi Babatunde, from Lola Shoneyin’s novel. It deftly moves between comedy and drama, past and present without skipping a beat. Baba Segi (Patrice Naiambana) looms large over the piece. He’s a rich business man. But he’s also a buffoon who has three wives. The combination makes him likable even if he cannot believe women can fend for themselves or if he uses his organ on them like a hammer.His first wife had money and was the daughter of his mother’s friend. His second wife was to pay a debt. H…

Bend and snap: Circa’s Peep Show @UnderbellyFest #CircaPeepshow

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Watching from the sidelines of Cira’s Peep Show feels a little dangerous at times. Other acts might splash you or have their props fly in your face. But this act feels at times like the acrobats will land in your lap. Bodies assemble. Muscles tense. Veins start to throb. Then they fall, the bounce, they appear from out of the shadows. It’s fascinating and a little bit unnerving. Particularly if you’re sitting up close to the action as a body falls toward you. Although when they do they break into a roll. It’s currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank. In a physical and breathtaking 70 minutes bodies are thrown about, bounce off each other and contort into positions that you don’t think could be possible. Or at least without hearing something go pop or snap.  Keeping in theme with Circa’s other minimalistic productions, here the focus is on the body as a performance machine with few props. The premise behind the show is less on sexual gratification and more on the a…

Urban renewal: Flesh & Bone @Sohotheatre

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From the beginning of Flesh & Bone, it’s a noisy in your face portrait of life on an East London council estate. It’s almost as if you expect them to punch any member of the audience checking their phone. Or leaving to go to the bathroom. They shout at the audience, they even pick one up so a baby can be delivered on their seat. It’s currently playing upstairs at The Soho Theatre.But amongst the loud mouths, drug dealers and geezers there’s a bunch of rough but loveable characters emerge. Even if you still remain unsure if want to share a pint with them. It could be considered a follow up to Berkoff’s East, given it’s reliance on verse and comedy. But it is less confronting. And the attempt to throw the threat of council eviction towards the end seems contrived. But it’s still a clever piece of writing. Aside from the fast-talking and fast paced action, it sets up a series of characters that have you wanting to know more about them. There’s Terrence (Elliot Warren) and his bird Kel…

Quintuple threats: Daisy Pulls It Off @charingcrossthr

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It’s a sign of the growing complexity of the world. Tomorrow’s performers don’t just need to be able to act, sing, dance and play a musical instrument. They also need to play hockey. Well at least they do in the graduating group of actor-musicians from the Guildford School of Acting. They’re currently performing Daisy Pulls It Off at the Charing Cross Theatre. The performances are fascinating and at times exhausting to watch. Particularly in the hockey match final. Cast members have musical instruments, tell a story, dance and while playing hockey. Clever buggers.The show’s about Daisy who is a schoolgirl who has won a scholarship to a girls schools. Being England she has to overcome prejudice and snobbishness of the other school girls. But of course a show with a title suggesting she “pulls it off” you know what’s going to happen. The show by Denise Deegan dates from the early 1980s. It ran for over 1000 performances in the West End and won an Olivier Award. It’s the type of provincia…

Lovely spam: Cockamamy @TheHopeTheatre

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Alice is starting to get a bit absent minded. She left the can of spam in the sofa. And she forgot that her daughter is dead. But when do these little things start to become the onset of dementia rather than just being part of old age? Afterall, who hasn’t forgot they already had a few cans of spam in the cupboard when they go shopping? It’s all part of Cockamamy, which is currently running at The Hope Theatre.Part of the charm of this piece is that even as things become bleak, there is humour found in the everyday situations. And dementia can be funny while nobody is getting hurt. Alice (Mary Rutherford) says what she thinks. She has a pizza a 5am when she’s hungry. She tells her granddaughter she landed on her feet dating a doctor,  while pouring him a big glass of wine.  Her granddaughter Rosie (Louise Coulthard, who also wrote the piece) feels obliged to look after her. She gets a cleaner in to help and she gets an alarm hooked up. But as she wants to get on with her life she finds…

The other path: The Unbuilt City @kingsheadthtr

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Life love and legacy is at the heart of The Unbuilt City, Keith Bunin’s play having its European premiere at the King’s Head Theatre. And a lot of talk about sex with men over a bottle of bourbon. But all told it’s a delicate and contemplative two-hander marked by sensitive and warm performances.Set on a cold afternoon in February. Jonah (Jonathan Chambers) arrives at a townhouse in Brooklyn Heights. His mission is to persuade Claudia (Sandra Dickinson) to sell her secret art collection to a university archive. Particularly her documents relating to an architect and his unrealised plans for New York City.  But even if she can’t afford to heat her house and debts are mounting, she won’t part with her collection to anyone. She wants to know why Jonah is acting as a free agent. What are his passions, his regrets and his loves. Over the course of the piece each reveal a little about themselves and what things could have been. Bunin’s piece The Busy World Is Hushed was set against the backd…

Rinse and repeat: Obsession @Katzpace

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The quest for perfection is at the heart of Obsession. Writer performer Kate Marston’s gives us Ivy, a young woman with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She switches on and off the lights. She uses an awful lot of hand sanitiser. She won’t do anything other than sit ups and jogging at the gym. And she will never, ever take the garbage out. It’s presented for a few nights this week at the Katzpace Theatre in Southwark.At first things seem to be quirks of her personality. But soon things start to spiral out of control. Ivy’s relationship with her boyfriend Sean (Chris Royle) starts to fall apart as she suspects he wants to leave her. This soon becomes a reality.  Alternatively funny and sensitive, the piece explores how mental health issues impact on the normal lives of a group of young people. It’s engaging throughout with its youthful line-up of characters. Rounding out the cast is Chris Udoh as the understanding physical trainer and Sophie Winter-King as the perfect woman to undermine e…