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Showing posts from August, 2010

Theatre: Death(c)rap

After catching Tuesday's preview of Deathtrap with the West End Whingers and others, I was left slightly ambivalent about it. Sure it was entertaining and mildly amusing, but so is throwing insults at chuggers, and you can do that for free. I had also missed catching the "movie-like" trailer on the internet as well so even the pre-show buzz about this show had passed me by. So when the opportunity arose to see it again on Saturday night, I thought why not. So this post covers both the Tuesday and Saturday preview of the show... It may be a little odd seeing the same show twice in one week but I figured I would simply channel the mindset of Simon Russell Beale'sstalkernumber one fan to get through the show...

Upon arriving at the theatre, you are asked not to give away the story to others and I suspect that is because if people knew it was as creaky as the set then they might have second thoughts. On Tuesday night what made it fun was the audience screaming and the l…

First Impressions: Deathtrap in preview

Shows: Edinburgh Wrap

A midweek trip to Edinburgh with Johnnyfox for the Fringe was brief but productive. Ten shows in three days and not too many were duds. This was a bit of good luck as the awful little secret that nobody dares mention is that... most of the stuff on in Edinburgh is crap. The Fringe Festival seems to be mostly run by students and staged by students so it helps to brace yourself and expect the worst. It was also entirely possible to see more shows in three days but it is important to allow time to savour the fine food of Edinburgh as well and then use your time at the shows trying to digest it... Anyway here are the shows I caught:

Sordid Lives was performed by the Tower Theatre company and had some fine performances. It was well worth putting up with the slow first half, particularly when it came alive with a great drag performance at the end. It finishes Saturday but will be in London next month.


The Improvised Musical performed by No Shoes Theatre. Apart from the fact that half the cast…

Theatre: Into the Woods (and out in the elements)

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Once upon a time, I went to Regents Park Open Air Theatre and sat in the rain to watch HMS Pinafore. There was barely any audience, it was freezing and I got wet.


Five years passed and all had forgotten this incident. And then one Friday evening we got ready to see a preview of Into the Woods. It was raining and it was freezing. However we did not quite get so wet. This time we made use of seat covers and fashioned them into smart little outfits with bonnets. It may have looked like we had just been to the dry cleaners, but "dry cleaner chic" abounded on Friday night. It was awfully sensible but it made it a bit harder to applaud the many fine performances we saw (unless you punched out holes for the arms)...

And so under the weather, we started watching this fantastic show. There probably isn't a better setting than the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre for this show. The dampness and the chill added to the atmosphere and the set just blended into the park's trees. …

Theatre: Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity has been playing on the West End since May, and it is still showing plenty of signs of life. At present the understudies are covering the roles of Charity, Nickie and Helene and are fantastic and serve as a reminder that you don't need to be a name to give a great performance.

The musical itself is an old fashioned musical fluffed up to some extent to make it feel less dated. It's a little bit coarser and dirtier and the drug use is a bit more explicit, but these changes make you feel like you are trapped in a time warp; torn between the sickly saccharine musical and the coarser (and far edgier) Fellini source material. Still this is the show that introduced the world to the numbers "Big Spender", "If my friends could see me now" and "Rhythm of Life" so there is a familiarity to the show for everyone even if you have never seen a musical before.

And while it is by no means a great musical, it does at least provide the actors with a…

Music: Elegies for Angels etc at the Shaw Theatre

I wasn't sure what to expect when rolling up to the Shaw Theatre on Thursday evening this week to see Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raving Queens. While I knew one of the ballads in it, I assumed it would be more than just a series of ballads inter cut with a series of monologues. Alas it was an evening of ballads with monologues, some of which were more successful than others, about dying from AIDS. It is serious stuff and it is probably not everyone's idea of entertainment, especially for those people who have lived (or a living) through the epidemic.

For me, the monologues were more interesting than the music, but neither really linked together in any coherent way. The music was largely forgettable and it wasn't until the closing number did it feel like the show made any sense. By then I wasn't ready to be moved by it, but just glad for lively performances. But it is a fundraiser for the Terrance Higgins Trust and a worthy cause for an evening's reflection and…

Music: Sondheim at the Camden Fringe

The Camden Fringe is on at the moment which is an opportunity to see some strange and interesting new theatre... It also feels like an excuse to just "put on a show" in the Judy and Mickey kind of way... This was somewhat apparent with the Sondheim at 80 review I caught with Johnnyfox on Tuesday evening.

It finished its short run this week and there isn't too much you can complain about a bargain basement show like this. It is great that Camden is using its spaces in August to encourage this sort of thing. I can only assume that the "deer in headlights" looks of the cast members lessened for the later performances, and that they remembered all their lines...

My only other thoughts were that an evening of all Sondheim can be tough going... And that the show Passion should be left out of any anthology as it provides too many unintentional laughs listening to the songs out of context... I'll find out next month if this changes when watched in the correct dram…

Music: Maria Friedman singing Sondheim...

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After taking a break from the cultural life of London during July, last Friday I found myself watching Maria Friedman singing Sondheim. The last time I saw her it was a bit of a mixed bag, and the person next to me fell asleep. This time around she seemed a lot better and nobody was asleep. Maria may not be the best singer around, but her voice is suited well to Sondheim's music, which after listening to for an entire evening, you realise is not necessarily always music... Maria was able to convey the right amount emotion, whether it was humour, anguish or tears and for a Sondheim song that's often more important than hitting the right notes...

The programming choice was a little odd at times. I don't recall ever seeing a recital opening where the singer walks out cloaked in black as if she is channelling Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke. She then proceeds to sing a series of songs from the obsessive compulsive musical Passion, which out of context was a bit of a downer. For…