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Showing posts from May, 2014

Up late: West End Eurovision Pictures

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Last week's West End Eurovision at the Dominion Theatre, its seventh and final year in support of The Make A Difference (MAD) Trust saw the cast of Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables jointly winning the trophy.

Last chance: Fleabag @sohotheatre

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag has had a return run at the Soho Theatre for the past few weeks. It is a raw uncompromising monologue about a young woman uncertain about her place in life and wondering whether being sex obsessed and masturbating late at night to pornography on the internet is all it is cracked up to be.

A hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, and a success at the Soho Theatre last September, this time around the production seems a bit slicker, and Waller-Bridge's performance has evolved to become a bit looser making the most of the comic and tragic potential of the material. It's in the main theatre this time however so it misses some of the intimacy from a smaller space. But it still delivers an emotional impact tackling subject matter that you don't normally see discussed amongst friends, let alone put up on stage.

Fleabag concludes today at 5pm at the Soho Theatre. If you missed it this time, hopefully it will be back again in the future. If Walle…

Carnaval del SE1: In the Heights @swkplayhouse

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I'm not familiar with Washington Heights in New York, but after catching In the Heights at the Southwark Playhouse, you would be tempted to head off there. It seems like so much fun (even if there is the occasional riot).

This show hits you with a bang. It's over two hours of pure joy with an infectious score that blends hip hop, rap, salsa and musical styles that had the audience on the first preview screaming with applause, and that was after only the opening number.

Intense affairs: Tosca @TheRoyalopera

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I've seen this production of Tosca three times now at the Royal Opera, but this was the first time that the affair between Tosca and Caravadossi seemed so intense and palpable. And sexual.

A melodrama over three short acts needs big voices and a big sound to carry interest in this piece of a jealous actress, traitors and fear of invasion by Napoleon's army.

Set over three days the story is a gripping tale of love, torture, treachery and one big diva.

With Roberto Alagna as Cavaradossi and Oksana Dyka as Tosca, the pairing of big voices and big actors matches the intensity of the score and the drama. And together they complimented each other well with their clarity of voice.

Rounding out the love triangle as Scarpia, the Chief of Police, Marco Vratogna aided the second act with added menace with his baritone that while not booming as in other performances, conveyed menace and emphasised the pure over the top potential of the subject matter.

Roberto Alagna's performance of E…

Hummus of death: Positive @PositivePlayLDN @WaterlooEast

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Positive, currently at Waterloo East Theatre, attempts to tell an honest and sweet story about an ordinary guy who just happens to be living with HIV.

It's funny and occasionally sweet, and somewhat reminiscent of other coming of age gay comedy dramas, except that along the way Benji, played by Timothy George, just happens to get diagnosed with HIV.

Following his diagnosis and spending a year staying indoors, avoiding people and listening to Britney Spears albums, Benji decides that he should start living life again. He goes out to a club and stays out all night which ends in a bit of a disaster when the young boy freaks out when he learns he is HIV positive. But with assistance from his perky housemate Nikki and her boyfriend, they arrange for him to go on a first date with Matt and appear to connect.

Amongst it all: Debris @Swkplay

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On the night I finally managed to catch Debris at the Southwark Playhouse, yet another cyclist death at Elephant and Castle had ground traffic in the area to a halt. The show's start was slightly delayed as people struggled to make the starting time. But the subject matter of loss and imagination seemed even more at the fore in this intriguing production.

The sudden death of their mother leads to brother and sister, Michael and Michelle, having to fend for themselves. They recount their stories and each becomes darker and more sinister.

An alcoholic father, an abusive carer, adopting a newborn they find in the garbage, you never quite know what is real or otherwise as they try to work out where they came from and find meaning in their life.

Gays play: On Tidy Endings and Safe Sex

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Two short plays by Harvey Fierstein show that at least the western world has come some way when it comes to discrimination and attitudes towards HIV and AIDS. Even if you're not sure whether you should be laughing at their message.

The first of the two pieces, Safe Sex, is a one-joke piece about a lover who is obsessed about making sure that all the sex he engages with his partner is on a list of safe sex practices outlined in a leaflet.

Go for the ride: The Commitments

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The Commitments is a feel good show with great songs. You don't have to be a fan of the great soul classics, the film, or the book that inspired it all. You don't even have to like musicals that much. The songs relate to the music from the band rather than characters bursting into song. It is a show that is determined to give you a good time. And of course there is the obligatory finale that has everyone dancing in the aisles.

It is a fairly simple story set in 1980s Dublin. Two guys from a synth band who turn to their old classmate Jimmy for help. He agrees to help them if he can make the band the way he wants it. Jimmy is an expert on soul music - which he calls music for the working class - and places a classified advert in the local paper in search of band members.

Sensory illusions: The Chairs

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Extant's production of Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs, which concluded its run at The Albany in Deptford this week, casts blind actors in the lead roles of old man and old woman. In doing so it  gives the opportunity to think more about the play's themes of isolation, alienation and invisibility and makes this absurdist piece fascinating to watch and listen to.

The Chairs is about an elderly couple who welcome a series of invisible guests to their isolated house in what seems like a post-apocalyptic time. They are waiting for the arrival of an important orator and while they wait (and put out chairs for the increasing number of invisible guests) they reveal fragments of their lives. When the orator finally does arrive the couple decide to take drastic action knowing that their life couldn't get any better.