Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New cast photos: Shakespeare in Love


New cast photos from the production of Shakespeare in Love are out. The new cast took over at London’s Noel Coward Theatre on 12 January 2015.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Previews of a different animal: Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man


Currently enjoying a popular run on Broadway, Scott Ellis’ acclaimed production of The Elephant Man will transfer to London with the US cast starring Bradley Cooper (in various states of dress and undress), Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola this spring.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Funny bodies: The Diary of a Nobody @KingsHeadThtr


The Diary of a Nobody at the Kings HeadTheatre distills the best bits of the classic comic novel and adds much physical comedy and cheap theatrical effects for an hilarious evening.

Originating in Punch magazine in 1888-89, the Diary of a Nobody has been called one of the funniest books in the world. It records the daily events in the life of Pooter and his family and friends over a period of 15 months. And although intended as a parody of the fashion for writing diaries, it also provides an insight into Victorian life, which today seems remote. After all a humble home for a city clerk in 1890s London is now an exception property that would fetch a few million. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Looking in the round back: Orpheo @TheRoyalOpera

Gyula Orendt as Orfeo and Mary Bevan as Euridice in Orfeo © ROH. Photo by Stephen Cummiskey, 2015.


The Royal Opera and Roundhouse joint production of Orpheo is a surprisingly fresh and lively interpretation of Monteverdi's early opera based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and his attempt to bring his dead bride Eurydice back from Hades.

When you first enter the Roundhouse, you know you are going to be in for something a little bit different from both companies. Apart from a large circular stage that is thrust forward, there is a giant ramp and seating surrounding it all. You don't normally see that in the Roundhouse where most concerts are standing room only affairs.

As the music starts the performers descend down the ramp and take their places as if it were a royal court - with Pluto and Proserpina taking seats at the high gallery. It evokes the origins of this piece as court entertainment, but also as if you are watching Greek theatre. And it gives a sense of intimacy to this large venue.

There is also a religious theme running throughout the production with performers in various religious robes. But the ultimate strength of this production is the fine music making by performers and musicians from The Early Opera Company directed by Christopher Moulds.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Carrying on over the edge: Dante's Inferno @craftheatre


Confronting your demons has never felt so exhausting or in your face as with Craft Theatre's physical and modern update of Dante's Inferno.

You enter The Rag Factory in Shoreditch with the performers already running around with bamboo sticks, jumping and tumbling about. There is an assumption that you are probably sophisticated theatre-going folk so you know that this is part of the process of mental and physical exhaustion the company uses to get the actors in the right frame of mind for their performance.

You will also observe that some of the performers have feet and wrists bandaged so perhaps the unexpected injury happens here as well. As most of the audience is sitting with a front row seat to the action, it can make you feel nervous as bodies fall and tumble rather close to you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nice is different than good: Into The Woods (the movie)

It's not theatre but the source material is, and Into the Woods makes for a nice film. There are some things to admire in this film which is a mash up of fairy tales tells the story of what happens when the characters get their wishes and try and live happily ever after. While some songs are lost from the stage musical, the end result is a shorter, more focussed story.

But something seems to get lost lately when musicals are adapted for the screen. Like other film adaptations it suffers from some poor choices in casting. Notably James Corden, who is not known for his singing abilities, in the central role of the baker. His performance comes across as a bit one note and lacking any sense of comic timing (or charisma).  And Corden's voice, while not as bad as hearing Russell Crowe sing flatly in Les Miserables, it comes a close second.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Driving Miss Marianne: The Grand Tour @finborough


The intimate setting of the Finborough Theatre and some wonderful performances make The Grand Tour a surprisingly enjoyable and sweet romp across France.

Jerry Herman's 1979 show is only now getting its European premiere. While then it was a full-scale musical, the smaller space of the Finborough allows the focus of the show to be on the three leads and the various adventures they run through as they attempt to escape France under Nazi occupation.

At the opening we are introduced to Jacobowsky, a Polish-Jewish intellectual who has always been one step ahead of the Nazi's as he explains in the show's opening number I'll be here tomorrow. As the Nazi's invade France he finds himself with a car that he cannot drive. By chance he meets the snooty and slightly anti-Semitic Polish Colonel Stjerbinsky, who needs to flee France with information for the Polish government in exile. And he can drive. So the Grand Tour begins.