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Showing posts from December, 2015

Leave it to beaver: The Lorax

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Cute puppets and terrific performances can’t disguise The Lorax, currently playing at The Old Vic, from being a bit of a joyless. It doesn’t quite meet thneed for entertainment at Christmastime.

Something seems lost in the translation from Dr Seuss’s simple story about the rise of industry over nature. There is plenty to keep you occupied with bursts of colour and great performances, but it does not make a particularly memorable evening out.

Dangerous liaisons: The Wasp

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The Wasp is the perfect antidote to all that Christmas cheer. A tense, psychological thriller with a story that keeps you guessing where it is going to head to next.

It is playing downstairs at the Trafalgar Studios for those who dare to see it.

Written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, the story is about two women who were once school friends, but drifted apart. For good reason. Twenty years on Carla is living hand to mouth, raising four children with a fifth on its way. Heather has a successful career, a husband and a beautiful home. Heather has got in touch with Carla through social media, and with a wad of cash asks her to kill her husband.

It’s grim up there: Hangman

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Hangmen is Martin McDonagh's first new work on the London stage in a decade. But something is unsettling about this commentary on mob mentality and nostalgia. It’s grim world where the hero is the second best hangman in the country. And the smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer permeates the air. Well you don’t smell the beer but there is so much smoking on stage it wafts into the audience.

It is 1963 when the show opens. A prisoner is desperate to delay his execution by any means possible. But Harry Wade, the resourceful and efficient hangman, keeps things on track. The scene is hilarious right up to the moment when the trapdoor opens and you hear his neck snap.
Fast forward two years and Harry is running a pub in Oldham. Capital punishment has been abolished. A cub reporter from the local paper is chasing him for an interview. Still, he has his regulars at the pub. They are like his fans, clinging on to stories from the old days as if capital punishment was a sport.

Puss and Dick under the influence: Kitten in Heels @LostTheatre

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Kitten in Heels, playing at the Lost Theatre, takes the Dick Whittington pantomime and adds lashings of filth and smut. It's a naughty night out where the King Rat bears an unusual resemblance to Theresa May, and Dick's love interests is more interested in buying lemons.

But to really appreciate this show you need to be imbued with plenty of Christmas cheer.
There is a bar both inside the theatre and outside of it to assist, which may help overlook the slow pacing and the amateurish production. Plenty of audience members were making the most of the bars, but the effect was that they were making their own entertainment.

Sex and violence: Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci @RoyalOperaHouse

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Things take a gritty and violent turn in the Royal Opera's new production of  the short operas Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci.  With its sumptuous music and a production that moves the action to recent times, the melodrama and violence seem so palpable.

Three men and a panto: Cinderella and the Beanstalk @Theatre503 @wesleepingtrees

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If there is one way to write a pantomime, Cinderella and The Beanstalk by Sleeping Trees at Theatre 503 tears up any rulebook.  

It is a crazy little show full of as many pantomime or nursery rhyme characters. The end result is a frenzied and funny take on the pantomime and Christmas traditions.

The premise of the show is that James, Joshua and George have written a script, booked a venue and hired one lonely musician (in the form of Mark Newnham). But they have forgotten one small thing. Hiring any actors. After checking that it is alright with the audience (who are we to say no?), they decide that they are going to have to perform all the roles themselves.

In jokes: Jest End @Waterlooeast

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It's only on until Sunday 5 December, but Jest End at the Waterloo East theatre is a bit of a guilty pleasure of fine singing and silly musical send ups.

Billed as London's answer to Forbidden Broadway, the show takes barbs at various successful (or not quite successful shows), social media obsessed actors and low pay. You don't need to be a musical theatre aficionado to enjoy the silliness of it all. But it probably helps... Particularly as many of the in-jokes are ripped from local news headlines, gossip and sending up themselves...