Monday, February 20, 2017

You're Never Fully Dressed: Beau Brummell An Elegant Madness @EuropeanArtsCo @jstheatre


No matter how stylish you might be in your heyday, in the end you'll end up a bit daft and alone in a bathtub. That seems to be the central message in Beau Brummell, an Elegant Madness. It's currently playing at Jermyn Street Theatre.

The man famous for creating an understated mens style - dark coats, full length trousers, white shirts, cravats - is now living in dubious quarters in Calais. He switches between dreaming of making up with his old friend the Prince of Wales (now George IV) and contemplating suicide.

The play opens with Brummell (Seán Brosnan) in a bathtub about to cut his throat. Or at least threatening to do so. His vallet (Richard Latham) rushes in and manages to take the blade away from him. But his long suffering valet is not quite suffering as you would expect. And so beings this two hander that is part history lesson about the man and a reflection of the times.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Monster chills: Frankenstein @Blackeyedtheatr


There are more than just the usual chills in Blackeyed Theatre's Frankenstein. And it wasn't due to the lack of any perceptible heating at Greenwich Theatre last week during a particularly bitter cold snap.

Mary Shelley's tale is given a theatrical flourish in this adaptation by John Ginman. Percussion instruments underscore the tension and the monster is depicted by a giant puppet. He isn't particularly hideous and that makes you even more sympathetic towards him.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cattle class: Dubailand @Finborough


There is a line in the play Dubailand about all the astronauts around the world looking down and seeing people in Dubai. The implication is they will see these masters of the universe. Labourers earning loads of money. Expats in offices making a bundle. But they will see tiny people of insignificance. That's the point of the play. Whether you're a labourer or marketer, you're all the same. You're second or third or fourth-class citizens. And don't forget it.

The play by Carmen Nasr is running at The Finborough Theatre on Sundays Mondays and Tuesdays. It was first performed there as a staged reading in 2015.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Brief recollections: Throwback @jacksons_lane @SilverLiningCo_


You leave Throwback by circus troupe Silver Lining thinking, hmm they're a frisky lot. Some circus acts want to show sexy. Others want to show brawn. These young men and women seem to just want to play... And show off a little...

But that's ok. They do incredible acrobatic work - hanging, flying, spinning while also managing to sing, act and tell stories. 

What does the fox say: Run The Beast Down @Finborough


It is a hedonistic and hectic life in this one-hander about a man called Charlie. He can't sleep. He lost his job and there is this fox following him about. It's playing now at the Finborough Theatre.

Played by Ben Aldridge, you are never quite sure what is real and illusory. But there's a thrilling and pulsating soundtrack by Chris Bartholomew underscoring the madness that makes it a trip worth taking down the foxhole.

It opens with Charlie finding that his girlfriend has left him and he lost his city job. He is living in a partially gentrified council estate and the neighbours cat has gone missing. But after that things begin to get a bit weird. The nights become something for his imagination to run wild. Soon paranoia, fear and destruction take over.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Dirty stop out: Dirty Great Love Story @ArtsTheatreLDN


Dirty Great Love Story at the Arts Theatre is casual sex described through poetry. After a one night stand two hopeless romantics then spend the next few years trying to avoid each other. While speaking mostly in rhyming verse.

The only problem with this premise is that if the rhyming isn't particular clever you have a bit of a problem what the point of it all is. Even Pam Ayres is funny. Here it is mostly perplexing and the verse gets in the way of everything else.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It becomes her: Death Takes A Holiday @charingcrossthr


A terrific story and some fine singing from its sexy leads makes this encounter with death enjoyable. But you get the feeling that that this near death experience could be more enjoyable if the music was not so repetitive and loud. It's currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cheap locker room talk: Promises Promises @swkplay

Songs by Burt Bacharach and a great cast can't conceal the paper-thin story and an awful lot of what probably is best described today as locker room talk in Promises Promises. It's currently playing at Southwark Playhouse.

It's based on Billy Wilder's film The Apartment starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It's about a young man who sees a way of climbing the corporate ladder by lending out his apartment to executives for brief encounters.

But in the translation from screen to stage, it feels slow and repetitive. At three hours it draws out the drama and loses the comedy with the relentless locker room talk, superfluous songs and dialogue.

Hopes for 2017: The Doppel Gang @tristanbatestheatre



Things I am hopeful about for theatre this year after catching The Doppel Gang at the Tristan Bates Theatre:

More shows featuring the music, drama and comedy of music hall. 

The Mother Goose panto at Wilton's last year gave a few quick flashes of music hall style with a few numbers. Here this show is set in the pre-television era where an evening's entertainment is a night out at the theatre. It's a lost art that could do with being resurrected.

More borrowing of classic comedy sketches that don't involve Monty Python. 

There is a Faulty Towers Live show that is winding its way around Australia as part of John Cleese's pension plan. But there are is plenty of other comedy that could be recreated, borrowed, or repurposed. The Marx Brothers are a case in point.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Playing in a rock and roll band: Muted @mutedmusical @BunkerTheatreUK

 

Muted, a new British Musical explores grief and loss through music. It's playing at the new theatrical space in Southwark known as The Bunker. While it still feels as if it is a work in progress, it's prospects look good. Perhaps just like the characters within the piece.

Muted tells the story of teenager Michael. He is a singer in a band on the brink of stardom. But after his mother dies in a hit and run accident he quits the band and stops speaking. Three years on his former band mate Jake is trying again for a shot with the band. And Lauren, Michael's ex who is now with Jake has been enlisted to try and get him to speak. But soon this drama proves as difficult to deal with as it is to describe...