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Holding out for a hero: Eugenius @TheOtherPalace

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You get the sense you’re witnessing the birth of a new cult musical at Eugenius. Some audience members appear to know the choreography, songs and bad jokes in advance of those experiencing it for the first time. And this isn’t such a bad thing. Particularly with its supercharged cast and uplifting eighties-inspired soundtrack this show rocks. It’s back atThe Other Palace after a successful run earlier this year. The book music and lyrics are by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins. The songs are inspired with their upbeat eighties sound. Keyboards, sax solos and electric guitars abound. And there are a mix of ballads and hilarious songs to keep things irresistible. But they have to compete with a convoluted story seems like a mash up of Blood Brothers, Rock of Ages and Galaxy Quest. Teenage boy Eugene (Rob Houchen), dreams of a distant world where superhero Tough Man and Super Hot Lady fight against the Evil Lord Hector. His nerdy friends Janey (Laura Baldwin) and Feris (Daniel Buckley) encoura…

Those magnificent men: Square Rounds @Finborough

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After watching Square Rounds it’s tempting to ponder did the toilet inspire some of the great discoveries of science. The toilet features prominently in this production. The invention of the modern toilet created the need for synthetic fertiliser. Which in turn led to the creation of the chemical weapons and explosives used to devastating effect in the First World War.And so goes Tony Harrison’s anti-war polemic about those who invented the great weapons of mass destruction. It’s having it’s first production in almost 30 years at the Finborough Theatre.The set is in blacks and whites. Just like the world of science.  But the clarity of science is lost in the fog of war as each great invention with a noble purpose also serves a more destructive one. It’s depicted by an all-female ensemble to underscore that at wartime it was the women manning the factories. Doing all the work. And mostly spoken in verse. It’s a fascinating and provocative piece. With songs, projections and magic tricks…

The final word: Dust @TrafStudios

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Death is the final word in Dust, a one-woman show written and performed by Milly Thomas that hits you with humour and grief in equal measure. Inspired by Thomas’s own struggles with depression its raw and provocative. It’s currently at the Trafalgar Studios following its sell out runs in Edinburgh in 2017 and the Soho Theatre earlier this year.Life for Alice was unbearable and so she decides to kill herself. And now she has to describe the aftermath of her actions and family and friends cope and move on. We’re introduced to Alice in what looks like a morgue. There’s a stainless steel table and harsh lighting. Thomas is in a skin coloured body suit and describes how strangers are undressing her. They’re getting her ready. At first it seems like it’s getting her ready for the start of a wonderful new chapter. She’s been dead for a few days and she describes as family and friends gather to grieve. She’s the focus of their lives. Fragments of her short life emerge. The boyfriend who is an …

Be a clown: Much Ado About Nothing @anticdispo

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Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is set in rural France in the aftermath of World War II in this lively interpretation by Antic Disposition. The war may be over but the battle of the sexes and battle over rivalries is just about to begin. It’s currently playing at Grays Inn Hall. Love gone wrong, mistaken identity and a infidelity make up this piece. And there’s not a moment to lose in this adaption that moves through the story at a fast pace with music, mirth and merriment. And with a nod to the physical comedy of Jacques Tati, there’s much clowning about too in this company consisting of English and French actors.As the unlikely lovers, Nicholas Osmond as Benedick and Chiraz Aïch as Béatrice strike the right balance with the physical and verbal humour of the piece. Alfie Webster makes the most of the brief yet dark character Don John who sets in motion much of the drama.  Alexander Varey and Florian’s Andersen are also a delight as the intense young lovers, Claudio and Hero.The p…

Racing with the clock: Around The World In 80 Days @TheUnionTheatre

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Around the World in Eighty Days at the Union Theatre is a youthful and energetic interpretation of Jules Verne’s novel. It’s silly and fun. And suitable for younger audiences over the holidays too. If you’re prepared to explain the scenes in an opium den and a rousing number about the virtues of polygamy. Travel can be exhausting. In this piece adapted by Phil Willmott and Annemarie Lewis Thomas, there’s little time to dwell on the adventure. And each stop seems livelier than the next.No sooner as they stop in a particular city there’s a big song and dance extravaganza, expertly sung and executed. And then they’re off again.
But you get the gist of the story anyway. Even if you shouldn’t think too much about it. Phileas Fogg (Sam Peggs) wagers a bet with his fellow members of his club that he could travel the world in eighty days. With his French valet Jean Passerpartout (Connor Hughes).Along the way they rescue a princess (Jasmin Minjoot) and get help from an English missionary Miss F…

I Can do That: Bring It On @swkplay

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Some death-defying cheerleading stunts and a whole lot of energy make the British Theatre Academy’s youth production of Bring It On a slick and polished extravaganza. Even if perhaps the acrobatic-style choreography comes at the expense of the vocals. And at times seems to look painful. It’s currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse.There’s no denying the excitement of watching talented individuals bend and snap their way through a series of complicated manoeuvres. It builds up to a finale that has enough throws, cartwheels and catches to have you gasping in amazement.Bring it On is based on the 2000 movie of the same name starring Kirsten Dunst. It’s fascinating to contemplate how many of the cast may not have even been born then. It’s about a cheerleader who is transferred from a middle class school to a rough one so a rival can take her place. She then plots her revenge.
For a show called Bring It On, it takes a while to get going. The music has two composers. Tom Kitt and Amanda…

This mean and unpleasant land: Allelujah! @_BridgeTheatre

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Watching Alan Bennett’s Allelujah! at the Bridge Theatre, you can’t help but admire him for putting it up his fellow Englishmen. After all he’s a national treasure, living legend, man of letters, all round octogenarian. And here’s an angry play about how this country doesn’t care. It neglects its elderly, it causes hardship for immigrants and so on. There’s a long list of grievances that the bigoted press have not unnoticed in their reviews. But it’s presented with all the charm and wit Bennett can muster. You can feel the irony as he evokes the noble yesteryear, contrasting it with the neglect of today. A nurse quips that the patients are living long enough to form a choir. But it’s a performance nobody sees. Even as the cast work their way through an increasingly elaborate set of musical numbers. It’s as if Bennett’s making the case to the audience that you’re having such a darn good time with the performers why keep putting your old folks on the scrap heap? Life for the elderly who…