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Showing posts from June, 2014

The Rake's Progress: Mr Burns @AlmeidaTheatre

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Storytelling and pop culture is at the heart of Mr Burns, a bizarre and fascinating play currently showing at the Almeida Theatre.

Is it an observation of what would happen to our society if it collapsed, a commentary on the evolution of a new religion, or an observation that people in catastrophic times would prefer to talk about anything other than the elephant in the room?

Whatever its point - and it is more weird than funny - it is a fascinating piece and and enthralling throughout its three distinct acts.

The first act opens with a power cut. Set in a post apocalyptic world where the power grid has failed, there is no electricity and society has failed, those that have survived pass the time by recounting their favourite television shows. And of course the one television show that people remember the most is The Simpsons. And in particular the Cape Feare episode.

Dead man dance real good: Here Lies Henry

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Here Lies Henry which concludes its brief run at the Camden People's Theatre on Saturday, reinforces all the stereotypes that gay men who live near Finsbury Park are just bad news, but they sure can dance.

We are introduced to Henry (played by Matthew Hyde) who appears in a dazzling bright light. He is a bit on edge, he is twitchy and he has a spare room for rent in Finsbury Park. And there is a body in the room. Or is there?
Henry is in his thirties and is a compulsive liar, optimist, potential drug addict and mildly romantic guy trying to make sense of his life.

Good farce: Good People

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There is still time to catch David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People, which runs for another two weeks at the Noël Coward Theatre.

Margie, played by Imelda Staunton, is a sharp-tongued single-mother who has been fired from her job as a cashier for showing up at work late. Hearing that an old boyfriend who has made good is in town, she decides to corner him. But her plan brings unexpected consequences for her and the unsuspecting Mike (Lloyd Owen). Both must look to the past to re-examine the choices and secrets that brought them back together.

Vocations and executions: Dialogues Des Carmélites @TheRoyalOpera

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A simple, and at times bare, staging of Francis Poulenc's Dialogues Des Carmélites makes for a memorable and moving production at the Royal Opera.

While an opera about the martyrdom of Carmelite nuns during the Reign of Terror, is not going to be everyone's idea of a fun night out, a combination of fine singing, dramatic music and a beautiful production make it a night to remember.

The piece is about the journey of Blanche, who leaves her aristocratic upbringing to join the Carmelite nuns, against the backdrop of the Reign of Terror and the nationalisation of all religious property (it helps to know your French Revolution history to appreciate the forces at work here).

Essential music: Life of the Party @MenChocFactory

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For the next couple of weeks, The Life of the Party - A Celebration of the Songs of Andrew Lippa, is playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory. For anyone with the slightest interest in new musical theatre this is a show not to miss.

While Andrew Lippa's shows have not had big West End or Fringe productions (yet), the evening is an opportunity to savour the best of all of them.  

He is joined by Caroline O'Connor, Damian Humbley and Summer Strallen, and it is an opportunity to hear and appreciate his songs, in a more intimate setting and savour the music and intricate lyrics.

Flapping about: Incognito

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A series of stories about the brain are the focus of Nick Payne's Incognito, currently playing at the Bush Theatre.

While the stories are interwoven and mildly interesting, what keeps the piece together are the strong  performances by the leads who manage to change roles mid-sentence without skipping a beat.

The piece is about how the role the brain and memory plays in who we are.

But the three stories are a mix of facts, mild soap opera and pseudo intellectual sensationalism (potentially inspired by a lowbrow documentary about the "theft" of Einstein's brain).