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Flipping memories: Catch Me @FlipFabriQue @UnderbellyFest

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It's the start of summer. The weather's hot and the Underbelly Festival at the South Bank Centre is opening with its usual eclectic mix of circus acts, comedy and cabaret. And Flip FabriQue's Catch Me fits this bill well.

There is beauty and fluidity in the performances. The premise is that ten years later a bunch of friends reunite for another weekend at a cottage together. They play. They have fun. And they do strange and unusual things with straps, trampolines and diablos.

Music and monarchists: Blondel @TheUnionTheatre

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The legend of Richard the Lionhart's dubious rescue from captivity by his minstrel Blondel is the subject of this rock musical by Tim Rice and Stephen Oliver at the Union Theatre. With its youthful cast it's well sung and funny in a pantomime sort of way.

It's a pity that our hero Blondel (Connor Arnold) comes across less as a rock star and more of a folk singer in this version. It could do with a throbbing beat and a few guitar riffs to keep the action moving. But you'll find a few wry observations about austerity which will seem as relevant as when the show first premiered in 1983.

Gender whatevers: Rotterdam @artstheatreLDN @RotterdamPlay

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The years have been kind to Jon Brittain's Rotterdam. Since its first outing in 2015 the awareness about transgender issues has grown. Whether it is from Caitlyn Jenner or gender-neutral toilets at the Barbican, it's topical and thought-provoking.

And following its win at the 2017 Oliver Awards and a run off-Broadway, Rotterdam is back in London. After catching it again it's great to report that it still feels as funny and bitter-sweet as ever. And don't call it a lesbian-transgender-whatever comedy. That would be too binary to give it a label. It's just complicated and that's probably what gives the show its brilliance.

Cheers Mum, Cheers Dad: Punts @theatre503

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Watching Punts, which is currently playing at Theatre 503, reminded me of that joke about the boy who asked his parents if he could have a watch for Christmas. And so they let him. Here a young man's sexual awakening is organised by his parents. It all seems very modern.
Sarah Page's comedy about the sexual awakening of a young man has a twist. His parents pay for a prostitute to help him as he has learning difficulties. But the piece moves quickly from being a bit  awkward (or a bit gross), to being a very funny and sophisticated story. It's also made believable by the convincing performances.

The girl with the animal tattoo: Vixen @thevaultsuk

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There's something about the girl with vixen tattoo in Vixen. If you're standing in the bar at the Vaults at the beginning she is likely to push you out of the way singing and asking for spare change.

It's a confronting introduction to this part promenade performance of Silent Opera's Vixen. It re-imagines Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen to the streets of London. Here Vixen is homeless, taken in by a different kind of predator only to escape.

Rosie Lomas in the role of the Vixen holds your attention with her performance of a determined and resourceful woman of the street.

Along the way she escapes a foster carer, kicks out another homeless man from his shelter and falls in love.

Life goes on: Footprints On The Moon @Finborough

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There's no place like home. Except when everyone around you wants to leave you and someone has scrawled your phone number on a wall of a dodgy bar. These are all important revelations in Footprints On The Moon.

Canadian playwright Maureen Hunter's story of life in a small town is having its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre.  With its well-defined characters it's a fascinating insight into small-town Canadian life.


It opens with Joanie (Anne Adams) sweating in a dress waiting at the station for her daughter to arrive back home. But even after writing a prize-winning essay about how fabulous life is in her small town things aren't quite what they seem.

What becomes clear is that Joanie doesn't want anything to change and as her daughter grows up and wants to leave her world starts to fall apart. I

Sharing the abstract set with Jam (with is running alongside this production) makes the audience have to work hard to believe that we're in a remote provinc…

Secret marriages and other rivalries: Il Matrimonio Segreto @popupoperauk

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Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) continues Pop-up Opera's tradition of semi-staging rarely seen works in unusual locations. It's playing at various sites across the country until 30 July.

This rarely-seen work is perfect for their style. It's a little bit silly. It has some great arias. And it showcases some fabulous voices from its young and energetic cast. Of course being Pop-up Opera, they add some 21st century flourishes to this  18th century opera. There are endless references to politics and on-point trends.

Batter up: Jam @Finborough

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No doubt there are days when teachers just wish they had a baseball bat to put a little bit of distance between themselves and their students.

In Jam by Matt Parvin, teacher Bella Soroush is lucky enough to do just that. It's currently playing at the Finborough Theatre.

The premise in this two-hander is that ex-pupil Kane ruined Bella Soroush's life. Something happened and so she moved schools, moved towns and got on with her life. But now Kane has tracked her down and claims they have unfinished business.