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Showing posts from 2016

Playing in a rock and roll band: Muted @mutedmusical @BunkerTheatreUK

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Muted, a new British Musical explores grief and loss through music. It's playing at the new theatrical space in Southwark known as The Bunker. While it still feels as if it is a work in progress, it's prospects look good. Perhaps just like the characters within the piece.

Muted tells the story of teenager Michael. He is a singer in a band on the brink of stardom. But after his mother dies in a hit and run accident he quits the band and stops speaking. Three years on his former band mate Jake is trying again for a shot with the band. And Lauren, Michael's ex who is now with Jake has been enlisted to try and get him to speak. But soon this drama proves as difficult to deal with as it is to describe...

Some old goose: Mother Goose @wiltonmusichall

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A terrific cast, a fun story and the fabulous atmosphere of Wiltons Music Hall make Mother Goose a panto not to miss this season. Well, if you like that sort of thing...

Roy Hudd writes and stars as the Pantomime Dame Mother Goose. She is an old woman who befriends a rather large and lonely goose. In return the goose gives her riches beyond her wildest dreams. Naturally being a poor old woman of meagre means it goes to her head. She sells her soul and her goose and ends up looking as it she should be in The Only Way Is Essex.

It is an odd story for a pantomime, but it's clear that Hudd and his wife, director Debbie Flitcroft, know the essence of good panto. There is a battle between good and evil, spectacular costumes, audience participation. Not to mention a mix of songs and some pretty hoary jokes and ad-libs.

Myopic memories: This House

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Top ten things about politics you might learn from catching This House at the Garrick:
1. It's a game of cat and mouse It's a relentless cat and mouse game set in the bowels of the Palace of Westminster as the whips for the conservatives and labour try to keep their members in line. There isn't much drama but an awful lot of comedy in retelling the period of the minority Labour government from 1974-1979.
2. It ends in tears There is so much comedy that it is easy to forget that country was a mass. Mass strikes, garbage on the streets, high inflation, policies failing to pass. It's all fun and games until someone needs to go begging for an IMF loan...
3. Maybe you just had to be there Whether you understand or care about the show probably does depend on whether you lived through the period. The piece does hurl large chunks of parliamentary tradition at the audience in the guise of dialogue to new members. But ultimately it feels like a memory piece for the myopic.

Spooky things at night: Benighted @ORLTheatre

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Benighted is a taut Christmas thriller that is a welcome relief for anyone who doesn't buy into all that cheer this time of year. Or pantomimes. There is thunder, a spooky house and dark secrets. It's currently playing at The Old Red Lion Theatre.

It is a dark and stormy night. And close to Christmas. A car has broken down and there is a rising flood. Three people seek shelter from the weather in a gloomy mansion. But all is not what it seems and their hosts, the mysterious Femm family, are not particularly hospitable. As others arriving seeking shelter from the rain the group begin to wonder if they will make it through the night.

First published in 1927, this early novel by J.B. Priestley was adapted for the screen by James Whale in the 1932 as The Old Dark House. It was the original horror picture movie that would inspire many others and be the blueprint for future stories. Including the Rocky Horror Picture Show.



It has been adapted for stage by Duncan Gates. Nobody stri…

Meanwhile in Battersia: Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves @theatre503

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There is a scene in the early part of Scrooge and The Seven Dwarves at Theatre 503 where Santa appears and asks the children in the audience what they want for Christmas. "A butler" replies one. You know you're in Battersea with responses like that.

But this isn't just a panto that you get your nanny to take the children to while shopping on Kings Road. The Sleeping Trees have again fused fairy tale and Christmas stories to create an anarchic panto tale about Christmas. With lashings of silliness to boot it may not be a traditional panto, but it is still a lot of fun.

The sweet smell of rising damp: After October @finborough

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A life in the theatre may be a threadbare, but there is always hope of tomorrow. Rodney Ackland's After October is getting its first London production since its premiere in 1936 at the Finborough Theatre. It's fascinating to see how it captures a slice of life but also the enduring drama of working on the edge of success.

Some things may have changed since when it was set. Nowadays waiting for the papers has given way to post show tweets and instant web reviews. And nobody would believe there is a shabby basement flat in Hampstead. Set designer Rosanna Vize seems to have seen the same London flats I have in her inspired transformation of the Finborough into a 1930s dive. Beige walls and bland 1930s fixtures dominate the space, along with a sense of rising damp. Perhaps she took inspiration from the Finborough's neighbours. But all told the piece focuses on the characters and their motivations so that it still feels relevant.

Previewing the graduates: Boys @LostTheatre

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Ella Hickson’s acclaimed dark comedy about suicide and the worth of a university education, Boys, comes to the Lost Theatre, Stockwell this week.

It’s a hot summer night. Benny and his mates are due to leave their five bedroom flat in the morning. University is over. Exams are over. They drink to the end of an era. But is life over as well? Nostalgia soon turns to soul-searching and division. Soon everyone’s dirty laundry and an awful lot of bin bags are aired for one last time.

This is a new revival of the play last seen at Soho Theatre. It is directed by James Thacker who is associate director with the company and runs from Wednesday to Saturday.

Work life balance: The Sewing Group @RoyalCourt

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The Sewing Group is a fabulously subversive piece of theatre at the Royal Court. The piece by EV Crowe explores secrets, the impact of technology, the overcomplicated and the over analysed. All within a wooden box-like set lit by candle light.

It starts out innocent enough, but then has you perplexed. There are a series of very short (and disorienting) scenes where very little is given away. There are long silences and long blackouts. In one scene all that takes place is a distant fart. It was so distant that it made me wonder whether it came from the audience.

Let 'em have it: An Inspector Calls @aninspector

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Stephen Daldry’s enduring production of JB Priestley’s An Inspector Calls is back in London. Catching it this time around - the last time I saw it in 2010 did not leave much of an impression as I had forgotten I had seen it -  had me pondering its enduring popularity.

It’s a simple detective story set in 1912. A Detective arrives unannounced to interview a Yorkshire factory owner Arthur Birling (Clive Francis) and his family about the suicide of woman. Each scene serves to rub off a little more of the veneer of respectability of their lives. In what could be a tedious premise, the piece starts making you think about broader enduring issues in this country. Soon I found it evoking the polarised politics of the current day, the rise of fashionable far right politics and Scottish independence.

Previewing: The Mirror Never Lies @cockpittheatre

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Coming up next week for one week at the Cockpit Theatre is The Mirror Never Lies.

The musical is returning to London after a one-off concert performance at RADA. It’s based on Barbara Pym’s novel, The Sweet Dove Died and will take you back to swinging 1960s London.

Secret loves, tangled relationships with a dramatic score combine to tell the story of a woman of a certain age who is fiercely resisting the changes all around her.

Director and playwright Joe Giuffre has written Glamorous Nights, based on the life and music of Ivor Novello, followed by The Grifters and The Mirror Never Lies.

Composer of film and theatre, Juan Iglesias has created film scores original music for a diverse range of movies, theatre and media. In the UK, he is a regular collaborator with film director James Bushe and playwright Eddie Coleman.

The Mirror Never Lies is at the Cockpit Theatre from 14 November to 18 November only. You can sample the music in advance.


Incestual manoeuvres: Fool For Love @Found111ldn

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There are various things you can take from Fool For Love playing at Found111. There isn’t much of a plot. It is more a series of sparring rounds that serve as a star vehicle for great performances. But you walk away thinking how love fades, horse floats burn well and incest is rife.

It’s random in a way but enough to thrill and amuse. The couple in focus are Eddie (Adam Rothenberg) and May (Lydia Wilson). They take pot shots at each other and then kiss and make up. Along the way there is a mysterious old man (Joe McGann) and a new suitor Martin (Luke Neal).

Sam Shepard wrote this piece between love affairs. He covers how two people can simultaneously love and loathe each other. But past injustices give way to more secrets and lies that suggest that old wounds don’t heal. They just get ripped open again and again.

Peace is our profession: The Acedian Pirates @Theatre503

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Keeping the peace and stopping depravity is all and good, but in The Acedian Pirates it comes with a few unintended consequences. It is an evocative and testosterone-fuelled piece currently running at Theatre 503.

Watching this piece had me pondering what Donald Rumsfeld said once about unknown unknowns. After all this piece is set in some unknown remote lighthouse in some unknown battleground. The mission is unknown and the outcome also unknown. You’re as confused as the characters about the point of it all, but you get drawn into it anyway. There is never a dull moment with the fights, the explosions and a strange lady upstairs.

Debauchery, drugs and diseases: 5 Guys Chillin @KingsHeadThtr

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Life in London is just one big endless gory drug-fuelled sex party in 5 Guys Chillin'. It's a relentless look at the London gay chem-sex and chill-out scene by Peter Darney at the King's Head Theatre. It's not for the faint-hearted or those who have lived a sheltered life.

The piece has been created from interviews and sourcing material found through social media and apps. Darnley's uses the premise of a "chill-out" to get the guys talking. It's very effective, particularly once you get over the gay gore and start listening to the stories.

Among the graphic details is a picture of an empty and lonely gay scene in London. It also helps explain why with record rates of infection among men who have sex with men there is the push to provide PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) free on the NHS.

Soul searching: From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads @waterlooeast @ibizabowie

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If music is the soundtrack to our lives, From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads puts Bowie as the soundtrack for eccentrics, outcasts or just troubled teens.

Adrian Berry’s fascinating play covers a young Bowie fan's pilgrimage to London. He visits his music idol’s London haunts.

It’s part journey of discovering who he is, but also a desire to connect to his father with the music of his hero.

As Martin, Alex Walton contorts and moves about the stage as the lanky awkward teen and occasional other character on the journey. As the sole performer he captures the spirit of the young fan and the people he encounters. But he also engages you as a storyteller of this young man’s journey to London.

Along the way there are Bowie songs, therapy sessions about bulimia and a dream sequence where he speaks to Bowie. The conversation with the other-worldly Bowie is a pre-recorded voice supplied by Rob Newman. Projections of album covers, London locations also hit us along the way.

Make them hear you: Ragtime @CharingCrossThr

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Ragtime at Charing Cross Theatre takes the late nineties musical and lifts it into another realm. With a compact cast on a compact stage, everything seems more intense. It is more musical, more melodramatic and more relevant than ever before.

The cast double as the musicians. One minute they are singing the next minute they’re on the drums or accordion. Pianos whizz about the stage. Music and drama explode in front of you. There is so much happening (particularly in the frenetic first half) that it is breathtaking.

The show opens with an extended prologue introducing the characters and the music of a new syncopation that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. After the rousing chorus that ends it the audience burst into cheers

Previewing the slags: Confessional @swkplay

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Confessional is in until 29 October at Southwark Playhouse. It’s an immersive production of an overlooked Tennessee Williams play that transplants the action to Southend on the Essex Coast.

The experience is the thing here where the audience joins the cast in a pub (an authentic looking boozer recreated in The Little at Southwark Playhouse) and the action kicks off all around you.

The piece centres around Leona Dawson (Lizzie Stanton). She is getting her act together after discovering her layabout boyfriend (Gavin Brocker) has been cheating on her with her mentally ill best friend. And it just happens to be the anniversary of her younger brother’s death.

When a couple of gay men come into the bar - one who looks a bit like her dead brother -  things start to get to breaking point. Amid all the drinking and rough talk it all starts to get a bit messy. You know where things are heading. All hell threatens to break loose. And it eventually does.

Hard times, hard drinking, hard men: The Boys In The Band @ParkTheatre

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The glass may be half empty but it's always going to be full of liquor or bile in The Boys In the Band. The alcohol starts flowing and next follows the loathing. But something unexpected watching this piece. Even amongst the bleak depiction of pre-Stonewall New York you get the sense they're a family. And they will probably patch things up in the morning. Once they get over their broken noses and hangovers. It is now playing at the Park Theatre before heading on a tour.

Mart Crowley's play was the first to present gay life to a mainstream audience. It is important to appreciate that it was once unique. Nowadays there isn’t a week that goes by in London when there isn’t a play about gay men in London. Usually it involves the actors getting naked. But this takes you back to an earlier time.

It is before chemsex. Before AIDS. Before Stonewall. Just drinking, poppers, a bit of dope and a whole lot of self hatred.  But an excellent ensemble and a brisk pace makes it for a crack…

Fancy footwork: Floyd Collins @WiltonMusicHall

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A cave man searching for fame and fortune - and finds it after he gets trapped in one - is the basis of the musical Floyd Collins, currently playing at Wilton's Music Hall.

Based on the true story of Kentucky cave explorer Collins. After getting his foot trapped he becomes a media sensation when a cub reporter (who is thin and small enough to enter the cave) interviews him. His subsequent story becomes syndicated across America.


Hairography: Vanities: The Musical

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The secret of lasting friendships is really about having the correct fitting wig. Well, I think that's what it is after catching Vanities: The Musical. It's a musical valentine to soap opera dramatics and retro hair styles currently playing at Trafalgar Studios.
The show is given a heavy injection of talent with the performances by its three leading ladies. While this makes it very watchable, you are left wishing there was just something more in the material.

Sweat shops: The Great Divide @Finborough

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The Great Divide uses the worst industrial accident in history as the backdrop to explain the lives and times of some of the workers who lived and perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. 
It is playing on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at the Finborough Theatre until 20 September. 
What is exciting about Alix Sobler's piece is how fragments of stories comes together to tell a much bigger one about immigration, dreams and unionisation against the backdrop of the deadliest workplace disaster in American history. 

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was on the lower east side of Manhattan located on the top floors of an 11 storey building. Most of its workers were migrants working for low pay and long hours. The custom and practice in factories was to lock doors and limit exits to prevent theft. Smoking was banned but people did anyway. 
So when fire broke out on 25 March 1911, the combination of flammable materials and no means of escape let to a fire of such intensity that many of th…

Eat your young: Unfaithful @found111

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The central message from Unfaithful by Owen McCafferty is that it is still an older persons world. The older generation is screwing the younger generation over and over. They get the early retirements, they clinched Brexit, and they get free TV licences. All at the expense of the younger generations who will pay for it. And here those youngsters are also fair game for sex.

For fifty-something couple Tom and Joan, it’s too late to do anything else. They are stuck with each other. But the play opens with Tom confessing that he had a sexual relationship with a younger woman. So Joan seeks revenge sex by hiring a male escort.

Meanwhile Tara is bored working at the checkout at Tescos and her frustrated her partner Peter - a male escort - doesn’t have a day job.

And thus begins this four hander about relationships. It is full of dirty talk about eating this and fucking that. But mostly it is middle-aged sex fantasy and I suspect an excellent show to catch if you’re over fifty. For the r…

Mad about the boy: Britten in Brooklyn @wiltonmusichall

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Britten in Brooklyn currently playing at Wilton’s Music Hall is a good looking production. But the trouble with a piece about artists at their least artistic period of their lives is that not a lot happens. In the end you feel as if you have been watching Celebrity Big Brother, without the cheap thrills of seeing anyone being a cat... Or getting confused about which David died.

At the height of the Second World War, Benjamin Britten takes off to America, avoiding conscription and the conflict in Europe. He stays in Brooklyn in an artistic commune with his friend poet WH Auden. Writer Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee are also staying there.

I was half-expecting an evening of debauchery and creativity. But it was mostly introspection. Still upset over the death of his mother and reception of his works in England, Britten is seeking solace from all that. He also is coming to grips with his homosexuality, budding relationship with Peter Peers and his pacifism.

Eat, sleep, report, repeat: Groundhog Day @oldvictheatre

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Could Groundhog Day at the Old Vic be the most fascinating piece of theatre on in the West End this summer? Based on a much-loved movie it isn't particularly groundbreaking as musical. Nor will you leave the theatre humming too many of the tunes. But a series of performances (including by the two charismatic leads Andy Karl and Carlyss Peer) take this show to another level.

Based on the Bill Murray movie, the show follows the same plot. Phil is a sarcastic weatherman forced to relive the same day over and over. He is stuck in a time loop reporting on whether a large rodent (the groundhog) can predict an early spring. So he starts making the most of the situation. He sleeps with every woman in town, he steals, he cheats death. But after craziness and depression set in he focuses his efforts on improving himself and getting the day right.

Last chance: Curtain Call @RoundhouseLDN

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Arad’s Curtain Call at the Roundhouse has completed its summer season of live performances. But you have until the end of the bank holiday weekend to see the installation before the silicon rods are packed away.

Created by Arad in 2011, it's made up of 5,600 silicon rods suspended from an 18 metre diameter ring. The curtains first appeared in 2011 and returned this year as part of the Roundhouse’s Bloomberg Summer. The live performances with invited guests were part of a series of late night events.

Closing the live performances on Thursday were the London Contemporary Orchestra. With a combination of cool music and vocals, it was a reflective and sophisticated musical experience.

Cunning vixens and dopes: Allegro @swkplay

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There is no time to lose in Allegro at the Southwark Playhouse. It is a whirlwind tour of a man's life from birth to mid life. But along the way there is much to admire in this early Rodgers and Hammerstein piece.

Allegro was first performed in 1947 is having its professional European premiere finally in 2016. For whatever reasons it did not capture the imagination of the public at the time.

Maybe it is it is because it is a character study and a none too subtle dig at city life. But perhaps with the passing of time the story has more resonance and its innovations can be appreciated.

Things ain't wot they used to be: CTRL+ALT+DELETE @CamdenPT

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Everything is fiction. Whether it is our post-truth politics, which led the country out of the European Union on the premise of an imaginary amount of money going to the NHS and immigration being cut. Then there is our partisan newspapers shouting political hysterics mixed with celebrity stalking to an ever-dwindling audience. And then there is what we tell ourselves. So is the premise of Emma Packer's fascinating CTRL+ALT+DELETE. It is having a short run at the Camden People's Theatre. 
Written and performed by Packer, she first introduces us to Amy. A child of the 80s she reminisces about her love of sport and knowledge of the Spice Girls. She also had a loving relationship with her grandfather and the time they spent together. 
But things quickly shift when we are introduced to Amy's mother. Drinking and smoking prior to Amy's birth, afterwards abuse becomes a pattern. The unsettling part of the piece is how this becomes acceptable behaviour and consequences for Amy a…

Passing glances: The Collector @thevaultsuk

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Dark sinister and opressive… That’s just the venue it is playing in. But The Collector at The Vaults in Waterloo turns things up yet another notch with it’s creepy tale of a man who collects butterflies. And the occasional arts student.

Mark Healey has adapted John Fowles’s novel, which tells the story of Frederick Clegg and Miranda Grey. Frederick loves Miranda so much so that he follows her every move. When he wins the lottery, he quits his job, buys a remote farmhouse and prepares the basement for a special house guest.

Starring Daniel Portman (seen in Game of Thrones) as Frederick and Lily Loveless as Miranda. It is a cat and mouse tale of obsession and secrets set in a basement. Together the two spar as one plots how to make her love him, while the other plots her escape.

The thrills come from seeing how everyday activities become a pattern of behaviour that can be your downfall. And how even good people can do bad things.

A stylish production with a smart cast directed by Joe…

Earthly delights and other short stories: The Secret Garden

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The Secret Garden Spring Version is a fun and emotional foray for young people into the world of musical theatre. Or those who are hesitant at experiencing overblown musicals from the 1990s. It is currently playing currently sharing the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End.

Creators Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman have reduced the running time of the piece to 75 minutes for younger performers. They have stripped out much of the adult brooding from their original work and focus on the younger characters. By doing so it gives the piece pace and energy and with a young enthusiastic cast the show really feels alive.

Anywhere alone: Rotterdam @TrafStudios, @RotterdamPlay

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The best thing about the West End transfer of Rotterdam to Trafalgar Studios is the chance to see it again after its sellout run last year at Theatre 503. Maybe it is just as good as it always has been, but seeing it in the space of Trafalgar Studios 2, the drama seems heightened and the comedy funnier. The piece is a unique and hilarious story about gender, sexuality and drifting through life abroad by Jon Brittain. A combination of great writing and performances make it a must-see.

The premise is it is New Year in Rotterdam. Alice has finally worked up enough courage to tell her parents she is gay and living with her girlfriend Fiona. But the email is never sent. Just as Alice was about to send the message Fiona reveals that she wants to start living as a man named Adrian.

While Adrian starts transitioning Alice now has to decide what this means for her, and does that mean she is now straight? To add to the complications Alice’s ex and Fiona’s brother Josh is there. And she is g…

Oh Canada: Proud @Finborough #Proudtheplay

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The former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper is the subject of Proud currently playing at The Finborough. It asks what havoc he would have wrecked if he won a larger majority in 2011?

Written by Michael Healey in 2011, it suggests a nightmare situation of a petty-minded leader who uses whatever means possible to achieve his vision. A small-minded vision focused on making the government just a little smaller than it currently. And of course annoying the Canadian Liberal establishment.

Viewing it from the United Kingdom with our shambolic political system, you may be tempted however to think Canadians never had it so good.

Cattle class: Cargo @ArcolaTheatre

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Cargo at the Arcola Theatre is a thrilling and evocative account of the plight of refugees with a twist. A delicate blend of fact and fiction, the piece by Tess Berry-Hart conjures up a dystopian world that just might be around the corner for us... And this makes it a powerful statement on how both our values as a society and how we view refugees.

The box office kindly suggests that as it is ninety minutes straight through, you might want to have a drink with you beforehand. Most people in the audience seemed to go for beer. But we have been having a heatwave in London. So I went for water and guzzled half of it before even getting to the downstairs theatre.

Walking into the studio space transformed into a giant shipping container. Max Dorey's inspired design makes you feel as if you are the cargo. And as the show begins an usher slams the door shut and you're plunged into darkness.

This is the second outing to the theatre where the production puts you in a confined dark s…

I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road @JsTheatre

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Time heals everything they say. It has been over thirty years since London has seen I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road. And watching it at the Jermyn Street Theatre is like a trip back in time. When you arrive there is a band getting ready for the show, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a cabaret spot from the 1970s. Complete with pantsuits, glitter makeup and records on the wall. It is a terrific looking production that makes you feel like walking down the steps to the theatre you have been in a time machine. 
But with its handful of songs and themes about the role of women, it almost feels as it time has stood still. The dialogue may be firmly rooted in the 1970s (and often a bit predictable), but the themes of female empowerment and being independent seem as if we haven't come so far since..

Ramin Karimloo: the unstoppable beast

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Iranian-Canadian musical theater actor Ramin Karimloo is known for his work in the West End, performing in The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, as well as debuting the role of the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera sequel, Love Never Dies.

Recently he finished a run playing Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway and gained attention for not just his vocals but his physical strength. He is back in London and getting ready for a show (tonight) at the Palladium on 16 July. Later in the year he will be joining Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Kerry Ellis in UK premiere of the off-Broadway musical Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre.

The Palladium show will be another opportunity to see Ramin and his band mix country and bluegrass with musical theatre (and vice-versa), after sellout shows at Islington’s Union Chapel in January.

I sat down with Ramin shortly after his return to London. We talked about the shows, his fitness regime and how he is looking for a good gym…

Running with scissors: Cut #Cuttheplay

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A sensory and unnerving experience awaits anyone heading off to see Cut at The Vaults in Waterloo. A one woman show performed by Hannah Norris. She is your guide, predator and prey in this story about paranoia, obsession and an awful lot of cling film.Part of the experience of the piece is to throw the audience into complete darkness. With a pulsing soundtrack it makes things feel pretty intense. The intensity at first is all in your mind. But then Norris throws herself about the traverse stage. She is one place. Then another. And then another. Smiling and grinning. There is a menacing demeanour about her, especially when she tells audience members to take off their glowing watches.

Last chance for something completely different: Karagula @wearepigdog

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In it’s final week in a disused bar in Tottenham is Philip Ridley’s Karagula.

It’s an amibitious dystopian work that has been baffling audiences for the past month. There are various worlds coliding in the piece. Time and narrative shifts to tell a story of rebellion against totalitarian regimes.

Ladies day: Screwed @Theatre503

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Funny, vulgar and just a bit scary. Screwed at Theatre 503 really hits you with everything it can in this new work by Kathryn O'Reilly.

It's another day at the factory. Charlene and Luce had just had a great night out and were still buzzing (or intoxicated) from the night before.

They assemble bathroom fittings putting the female part onto the male part. But the job is just an excuse to talk about what male parts they put into their female parts. All the time they're popping pills or knocking back vodka miniatures.

Previewing grey matter: Grey Man @Theatre503

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Part theatrical experiment, part exploration on perspectives, the Grey Man at Theatre 503 promises to be an interesting night out. Two women, one half the age of the other, take a different perspective to the same event.
The piece explores how different perspectives reshape the world around us, and how the power of story telling.
Maya is a 50 year old woman revisiting the site of a terrible family tragedy. Meanwhile Maya is 25 year old woman returning to her family to help her sister who is recovering from a mental illness. 
One is dark. One is light. And if you missed a line first time around, you are bound to catch it on the second.
This is the second production from REND which aims to embark on risk-taking theatre experiences.
The piece is written by Lulu Raczka, who was part of the Royal Court Writers Programme in 2014. Her recent work, Clytemnestra,was part of The Iphigenia Quartet at Theatre503’s sister theatre, the Gate. 
The piece is directed by Robyn Winfield-Smith, who is is Artis…

Passing strangers: Off The Kings Road @JSTheatre

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Off The Kings Road. People come, people go. Nothing happens. Or perhaps not much happens. This isn't Grand Hotel in terms of melodrama or scale. Instead, there are two people in their autumn years trying to get over the past and move on. Oh and there is a hooker, a camp hotel clerk and a dodgy psychiatrist to Skype with.

It is an interesting concept. But you get the feeling this small-scale production feels a bit crowded with all these characters. Perhaps played as a two-hander it might have given us the chance to get to know the two main characters more.

Michael Brandon plays Matt. He has come to London from California for a holiday after the death of his wife. He has brought his Valium, mouthwash and a sex doll. He is a man trying to get over her passing. He has plans to do all the things they would have wanted to do. Go to the park, go to a gallery. Live life.

The brown word: The Spoils @TrafStudios

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Bromance is in the air in with The Spoils, Jesse Eisenberg’s funny new play now at Trafalgar Studios. Women and relationships feature throughout the piece. But the real relationship at the heart of this piece is between obnoxious New Yorker Ben, and his flatmate Kalyan, a hard-working immigrant student from Nepal.

Eisenberg is making his West End debut as a writer and star of his show which has transferred from New York. As Ben, he is a tightly wound guy full of tics and mannerisms as he rages against everyone and everything. He does not really have a job and lives in a flat his father bought him. It’s a mostly unappealing character but Eisenberg gives him enough of the best lines and occasional vulnerabilities to make you feel a bit sympathetic towards him.

Mister cellophane: Christie in Love @KingsHeadThtr

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There is always someone that has to takes something too far... Usually it is a joke. Here in Christie In Love, the central message seems to be that Christie's penchant for weird sex practices was a step too far. His punishment was execution. This seemed fitting for a man who indulged in that... And mass murder.

Rough Haired Pointer attempt to understand the motivation of a seemingly dull serial killer John Christie in this production now playing at the Kings Head Theatre.

You get the sense that there is a lot more that this piece could have told. Written in 1969, back then there was probably a greater awareness of the details of the case. This production doesn’t let you in on that.

The play runs about an hour and calls for the action to be played very slowly. This emphasises the tedium and ordinariness of the man committing the horrors and those uncovering it. But it isn’t always easy to watch and may not to be everyone’s taste.

Still for those who are game, there is much to …

Odd Shaped Balls Preview @ORLTheatre

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Now playing at the Old Red Lion theatre is Odd Shaped Balls. It's a play about an outed Rugby Player James and the fallout created from it.

Odd Shaped Balls is a one man show that tackles the issue of homosexuality in sport and probes into why it's such a big deal in the first place. And ultimately, isn't it more important how you play the game and work as a team?

Matthew Marrs plays James Hall. He has the world at his feet as a professional rugby player but after people find out his sexuality, he finds his life changing dramatically. James has to decide whether he has the courage to not only be true to himself, but act as a role model for others.

A glass half full: A Twist of Lemmon @St_JamesTheatre

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Every son probably has imitated their father at some point (either intentionally or not). But when your dad is actor Jack Lemmon, you know this is going to be a fascinating night out.

Based on his memoir of the same name, A Twist of Lemmon at the St James Theatre studio is Chris Lemmon’s way of giving us a little bit of insight into what it was like growing up as the son of a big Hollywood star.

With some simple projections and footage from his career, Chris’s one man show brings to life his father. His mannerisms, his movies, and most of all, his relationship with his son.

It is an evening of gentle storytelling, but clever in how it describes not just the life and times of his father, but their at times complex and difficult relationship.

Kitchen sink dramas: Knife Edge @BigHouseTheatre

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Chicken! Chicken and chips! Chicken! Chicken and chips! Chicken! Chicken and chips! Chicken! Chicken and chips!

Early on in Knife Edge, the cast bursts into chanting this. Soon there is a driving percussion backing it and it sounds like it is not just a call to eat but a way of life. And so unfolds a tale written by David Watson and directed by Maggie Norris about a girl with big dreams and more than a few issues.

The piece is produced by The Big House. It is a charity that helps young people in care to fulfill their potential. Almost half of all prisoners under 21 have been in care and the charity uses drama, mentoring and support to tackle breaking this cycle.

Over 12 weeks they developed the piece and the cast - most have never acted before - worked to devise the production.

Cooking with gas: Kenny Morgan @ArcolaTheatre

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Gay angst, cigarettes and gas. Kenny Morgan at the Arcola Theatre re imagines Terrence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea as how things might have happened.

The suicide of bit actor Kenneth Morgan may have been the inspiration for this work about a woman abandoned by her alcoholic younger lover. Here Mike Poulton takes the story and places it in gritty, closeted post war Camden.

After a decade of living in a closeted relationship with Terrence Ratigan, Kenny Morgan leaves him for a young bisexual actor, Alec.

Loyal and obedient: A Subject of Scandal and Concern @Finborough

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John Osborne's incisive look at freedom and intolerance is given a fresh look in this resourceful production playing for a short run at the Finborough Theatre.

Originally written for television in 1960, simple staging and riveting performances will have you transfixed.

The story follows George Jacob Holyoake, the last man to stand trial for blasphemy in England. He is played here by Jamie Muscato who gives the role a dark intensity and determination as a man whose world crumbles around him while he holds onto his beliefs.