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Starmen: Briefs Close Encounters @LeicesterSqXmas

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Circus performers often seem out of this world. This Christmas The Briefs Factory, lands at the Leicester Square Spiegeltent. Briefs Factor is an all-male burlesque (or as they call it boylesque) group who use circus, drag and dance to show us a good time. The premise is they’re time-travelling aliens offering a message a hope and cheap thrills. And they don’t disappoint for a moment.With a pulsating soundtrack from music director Busty Beatz mixing disco, electronic and dance, this show never lets up. And when the entire cast come together this show is both breathtaking and breathless with it’s audacious spectacle and energy. It’s like watching a Vegas show up close. Holding the show together is host, emcee and artistic Fez Fa’anana. Even setting the ground rules for the night (no phones, no bad manners, no dramaturg) he’s hilarious. Then there are the performers. Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill delivers both a beautiful aerial display and a slightly disturbing bearded lady drag act. Thom…

Fried chicken runs: Cuckoo @sohotheatre

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Everyone hates Iona. She talks too much. Her only friend is non-binary mate Pingu who doesn’t speak at all. So they decide to get the hell out of Crumlin on the next Ryanair flight. Afterall it is the part of Northern Ireland that has the Airport. But their decision to leave makes them a bit of a celebrity.Despite the enthusiastic cast, Lisa Carroll’s play Cuckoo doesn’t cover much. It’s currently playing at the Soho Theatre. It’s your typical young person wanting to break out of shitty town story. If you’re unfamiliar with Crumlin in Northern Ireland, you can only assume it’s pretty grim. Much of the action centres around a place called Texas Fried Chicken. We don’t get to know the characters well. As they fight and film each other for instagram stories they become less and less interesting. I was hoping at one point we would understand why the two central characters were friends. But in this ninety minute play dragged out to nearly two hours, we get one fight or dance routine after …

Taking the moral high ground: Super Duper Close Up @Yardtheatre

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In Super Duper Close Up, Jess Latowicki is seven minutes early to a meeting. It’s a meeting that could give her work. I never arrive early to meetings so I figured this is a chance to find out what early arrivers do to pass the time. During this time, between taking the moral high ground for arriving early, she starts talking about her life and where it’s gone all wrong. It’s theatre we can all relate to. Funny, moving and often bizarre, it’s currently playing at The Yard Theatre.Latowicki with her robotic-like rapid fire delivery often feels like she’s a stand up comedian talking about her life. She gives phrases like “think pieces” and “scrolling” specific hand gestures so that they stick in your mind. Everything is filmed and projected. It’s like you’re trapped inside in an Instagram story or someone’s live feed on social media. At one point she moves into the audience. Then she takes someone to show her detailed beauty regime. A regime that’s described in French as it sounds more …

This empty world: Yerma @CervantesTheatr

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There’s a hint of melancholy from the outset with Yerma. She’s been married for a while and without a child. While all those around her have children. But it still doesn’t prepare you for what lies ahead in this emotional reinterpretation that shifts the action to pre-revolution Cuba.Federico García Lorca’s tragic poem is currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre. Performed in both English and Spanish. The English translation is by Carmen Zapata and Michael Dewell.As Yerma, Leila Damiola inhabits the role and is astounding. She moves from hope and optimism to despair as the years go by without the child she craves. As each scene concludes its as if she is suffering a new heartbreak as she gradually realises she’s trapped in a loveless and barren marriage. Opposite her is Tom Whitlock as Juan, her cold and detached husband. He is often out all evening working the farm, and so he enlists his sister to watch Yerma. So people don’t talk. But they’ll talk anyway.Coco Mbassi is also a stand…

Long term relationships: Chutney @BunkerTheatreUK

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The central message from Chutney, is that anyone you date at University is not worth staying in a long term relationship with. You get bored with your smug post-university life and soon you’ll be wanting to murder the neighbour’s cat. Or their parrot. Or a few hedgehogs. It’s currently playing at The Bunker.We’re introduced to Claire (Isabel Della-Porta) and Gregg (Will Adolphy) after something terrible has happened. They’ve just been dog-sitting for some friends and then a fox came and ripped the dogs head off. Or was it a homeless man. Or did they do it?There’s a middle class kitchen complete with John Lewis kitchen appliances. It sets the scene where boredom meets murderous thoughts and actions. It’s American Psycho meets Croydon Cat Killer. Without the moral panic. There’s plenty of gross, stomach churning dialogue. But playwright Reece Connolly has some sharp observations about the lives of millennials. Not old enough to have positions of power. Not young enough to have carefree …

Billy don’t be a hero: Billy Bishop Goes To War @Jstheatre

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On the centennial anniversary of the end of the First World War, Proud Haddock and the Jermyn Street Theatre gives us Billy Bishop Goes To War. A story about an unlikely Canadian layabout who becomes a star pilot and legend of the Great War. In this atmospheric production with great performances you‘ll find yourself swept away in the adventure. And the horror. Billy Bishop was a Canadian fighter pilot who was credited with 72 victories. But from the outset it wasn’t obvious he’d be feted as a hero. He was about to be thrown out of military school when war was declared. He escaped the trenches and the mud by becoming an observer in the newly formed Air Force. And thanks to a wealthy patron, Lady St Helier, he managed to rise the ranks. Being from the colonies he was a second class citizen. But something funny happened during the war. And out of necessity perceptions of things start to change. Afterall, he was invaluable keeping up morale in the colonies. The piece is a two hander and d…

Trolling: A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter @_BridgeTheatre

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Trolling, the art of making random, unfounded and controversial comments to provoke an immediate emotional reaction is the backbone of today’s social media. But in A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter, Martin McDonagh has decided to extend it to the theatre. Daring you to walk out in disgust with his twist on the lives of Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen. He’s out to knock these men off their pedestals. Just in time for Christmas. But the show does what it says on the tin. Those who can stomach this grim stuff might walk away with something to think about. It’s having its world premiere at The Bridge Theatre. The premise is that Hans Christian Andersen has been keeping a captured Pygmy woman he calls Marjory from the Congo in his attic. She writes his stories. He isn’t particularly talented in his own right. Hans as played by Jim Broadbent also comes across as a Jimmy Saville-like entertainer. With only a passing interest in humanity. Marjory‘s played by Johnetta Eula’Mae Ackles.…