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Showing posts from October, 2012

Directors, Developers and Swingers: A Chorus of Disapproval

The revival of A Chorus of Disapproval, Alan Ayckbourn's comedy farce about an amateur light operatic society's production of The Beggar's Opera manages to be an agreeable evening out, although it tends to be more smile out loud than laugh out loud. The cast are terrific but the play lacks the pace and the insanity that are hallmarks of a well written farce. On the other hand, for something silly with wife swapping and unlikely male conquests, you probably can't do that much better on the West End right now...

It opens with a successful opening night of the piece with Guy, the lead who plays Macheath, being shunned by the rest of the cast. The piece then returns to the start of rehearsals and traces the path that leads to the opening night.

As a play within a play, the music and story of The Beggars Opera reflects (or perhaps riffs) on the story of Guy, played by Nigel Harman, who arrives in a small town and just wants to please everyone and get over the death of his…

Rough treatments: Dangerous Lady

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Dangerous Lady, Theatre Royal Stratford East's East's new stage adaption of Martina Cole's bestseller is a trashy, violent and funny production that will have you enjoying almost every minute of it.  There are wry observations about criminals, the police and class in this piece. Things are not black and white and what is right or wrong is not always easy to tell. It is a bloody tough life and it is the women who are the survivors and keep things together.

The play opens with an unexpectedly frank depiction of childbirth. Later in the first half there is an intense scene depicting an abortion that had members of the audience so engaged they were screaming out in horror as if they were watching the backyard procedure really take place. There is nothing gruesome on stage, but the production manages to suggest just enough to have most audience-members squirming... or about to pass out...

It is all part of the gritty depiction of the life and times of a London Irish gangland f…

Everything: Taboo

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A smart, slick new production of Boy George's musical Taboo has been playing in Brixton for the past month. What makes this production worth a look is the insanely talented people on stage. Some are even making their professional debut here and in the small yet perfectly formed space of the Brixton Club House (on the corner of Brixton Road and Coldharbour Lane... above the KFC), it makes for one hell of a show.

The story focuses on the club scene in the early 1980s and the rise of the New Romantic movement. It is a journey (of sorts) into fashion, big hair, bitchy  banter and decadent antics. At the centre of this was Boy George and living artist performer Leigh Bowery... The latter role is played by newcomer Sam Buttery who manages to make a larger than life figure rather human and delicate, even when singing a song about Bowery's voracious sexual appetite. Buttery was in the recent BBC chair-swining series The Voice and you get the impression from his performance that he wi…

Opera: Finding Butterfly

The trend of theatre companies to take classic operas and find new perspectives on them continues with The Wedding Collective's latest production of Finding Butterfly. Produced in association with Soho Theatre, Finding Butterfly is a deconstruction and re-imagining of Puccini's Madame Butterfly set in a hospital. Rather than beautiful Japanese screens and gardens, we have Butterfly institutionalised and believing her American soldier will return while doctors and other patients know otherwise. The story of the opera is then told in flashbacks and fragments. It is quite an ingenious concept that is only let down from time to time from some over-staged dramatics and a booming clavinova accompaniment. Both tend to distract you from the sensuality and fine singing that is taking place almost in your lap...

In this pared down work, the piece is at its most exciting when the performers playing Suzuki, Butterfly and Pinkerton are on stage, and this production emphasises their roles.…