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Showing posts from June, 2013

Broads and beefcake in the heat: Sweet Bird of Youth

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Florida may be hot and steamy with characters who are restless with pent up sexual tension, but the audience watching Sweet Bird of Youth will more likely be restless due to boredom. The play is a repetitive three hour piece covering lost youth, unfinished business, broken dreams and the lure of stardom over and over and over again... It's a shame really, as the publicity shots alone are fantastic and make this look like it is the sexiest show on in town at the moment rather than the longest.

The play is about Chance Williams, a bit of a drifter but also a looker with a fine set of pecs. He is played by Seth Numrich here and judging by the number of young women in the audience he is already attracting a solid fan base, which is no doubt will grow after they see him parade around the stage in his boxer briefs.

Testosterone at the Vaudeville: The West End Men

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It's a slick and great sounding night out at the Vaudeville Theatre with The West End Men (not just any men obviously). This is a show that plays tribute to a host of musicals with both conventional and jazz-infused arrangements that had the audience cheering for more.

It's great to see on the West End a show that just focuses on making some great music, peppered with a little bit of banter and fun, put together in such a great looking show (and the men aren't that bad to look at I suppose either). It has been touring (including internationally) over the past year so the format it is not new. It is only on for a month but well worth seeing this testosterone charged concert that will blast you off your seat.

Religion and fennel salad: Disgraced

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You feel like a voyeur watching Disgraced, the fiery Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Ayad Akhtar, at the Bush Theatre. Over the course of 90 minutes everything that is civilised and awfully respectable about two New York couples is gradually undone and at times the conversation is so frank and uncomfortable that you forget you are at the theatre.

It turns sour in moments over a fennel salad. As each character presents their views on religion and racial discrimination in today's modern world, they stumble and fall over their arguments and soon there is no turning back from a car crash. It is funny and topical but perhaps a little unnerving, particularly as the recent events in Woolwich bring religion and terrorism back in focus.

Chance encounters girlfriends take: Blind Date

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It is unusual to be raving about a show that nobody else will see, but Blind Date which is having a limited seven week run at the Charing Cross theatre, is an improvised show that is original and funny where no show will be quite the same, but where each show no doubt shows the magic, sweetness and humanity that arises from chance encounters.

Keeping it all together is Rebecca Northan as the optimistic Mimi, who finds herself stood up on her blind date. Rather than let that get her down, she turns to the audience to help her out. She wears a clown nose, speaks with a French accent and has a great set of legs. What then happens for the next ninety minutes is a masterclass in improvisation and working with the audience.

Northan, who hails from Canada, and her show has won several awards. She is the recipient of two 2012 Canadian Comedy Awards for "Best Female Improviser" and "Best Comedic Play" for Blind Date, a winner of the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Award f…

Lovely repeating spam: Spamalot

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The new, slightly sillier version of Spamalot which has come back to the West End turns out to be almost like an out of season panto. Given the large number of families who were there to enjoy it during half term, perhaps the show really an awfully appropriate and a surefire way for cheap laughs in the West End.

In this revised production, a few scenes have been cut and songs trimmed and more topical references have been inserted into the lyrics. It now runs only two hours including the interval, and the end result is that it feels like a snappier and faster paced show. Even if the production values aren't as lavish, the naughty words are not as frequent, or the cast as large, I much preferred this version to its original West End run.

The show is loosely based upon (or lovingly ripped off from as the show calls it) the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which lampoons King Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail in the middle ages. But all you really need to know is that it…

Sneak previews and gospel singing: The Amen Corner

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This week I was lucky enough to catch a rehearsal of the first act of The Amen Corner, which starts previewing at the National Theatre next week. Within forty five minutes it is fascinating to see even in rehearsal how all the elements of the story are laid out.

The play is set in Harlem in the 1950s and tells the story of a fiery pastor Sister Margaret whose estranged husband unexpectedly returns. Combined with the antics of her son her congregation is soon in revolt against her hard line leadership.