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Showing posts from April, 2016

Man caves: Blue On Blue @TristanBates

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The vagaries of co-dependency, self harm, rehabilitation and a lot of blue language is the subject of Blue On Blue. But what sets the piece apart are the strong performances by its leads as they explore the traumas past and present in a man's world.

Written by Chips Hardy, the piece is getting a revival at the Tristan Bates theatre. It is a dark piece which doesn't always land its jokes given the seriousness of the subject matter. But it's worthwhile all the same.

Always look on the bright side: My Mother Said I Never Should @St_JamesTheatre @tinyfiresltd

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My Mother Said I Never Should is a night to remember at the St James Theatre. An epic and detailed character study, lively performances and a great production makes this revival a must see.

Charlotte Keatley's play covers the opportunities, disappointments and secrets of each generation of women in this character study. There are no men on stage here, but they are often the subject of the discussion. Each scene is so economically written; giving insight and meaning about their choices and challenges. It's also clever as it puts the audience in their shoes and has you reflecting on your own family and their experiences.

Quick snatches: The Future of Sex @wardrobensemble

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The sexual revolution wasn't quite as it seemed in this style over substance account of sex in the seventies (or should that be present day)?

The Wardrobe Ensemble had a hit in Edinburgh last year with this show that goes beneath the hype of the sexual revolution, only to find that things were just as awkward then as they are now.

Narration, inner monologues and jump cuts to the present day pepper this story of a group of young people discovering sex in the 70s.

Comment: Remembering and recognition for awards Season in Theatre... including #alsorecognised

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Awards and accolades are a great way of remembering some of the great performances of the past year. Assuming that you can remember them...

There is so much stuff that is great to see in London that whittling anything down to a shortlist of three or four seems a tad cruel.

Still it is great that there is a small but growing group of awards to recognise. The Oliviers and The Whats On Stage Awards cover the big end of town, but there is also the Also Recognised Awards.

It's less glamorous than those two and winners only get to pose with a selfie. Set up by My Theatre Mates Mark Shenton and Terri Paddock, they celebrate lesser-known but worthy talent in fields overlooked by other awards bodies. This year's winners included a number of winners or nominees from the Olivier Awards. But there were also some differences.

Bugsy Malone, which lost out to Gypsy for Best Musical Revival at the Oliviers, won for Best Ensemble Performance.

Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Winte…

The Human Pile: Closer by Circa @CircaPresents @UdderbellyFest

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Closer, by circus troupe Circa opens the London Wonderground on the South Bank with an intimate yet spectacular show about the power and strength of the human body.

 There is beauty in this stripped back circus extravaganza of human acrobatics that flow seamlessly from one to another.

A simple staging, with a few chairs and spotlights open up to an incredible array of performances. The effect is mesmerising as the performers make the impossible seem effortless.

Crying, talking, sleeping, walking: Russian Dolls @KingsHeadThtr

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The life of two vulnerable women come together and fall apart in Kate Lock's Russian Dolls.

The way the British treat the young and the old is laid bare here. It is a terrific piece full of humour and warmth. But it never lets you forget that that if this is how good it gets for vulnerable adults and young people in this country, then there is plenty more we could be doing.

Brief encounters: X @Royalcourt

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At some point in the third act there is a constant shouting of the word X. "X, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, " the characters exclaim. Constantly.

As a means to explain the loss of space and time in this futuristic story about a voyage to pluto, it is effective. But it also feels a bit like the rest of the piece. Relentlessly repetitive.

The story is that a spaceship to Pluto has lost its way and the crew slowly realise that all concept of time and continuity has been lost. They have no idea where they are, or the present or the past.

It looks great, with its 2001 a space odessey inspired set and projections. And I was chuffed to see that in the future everyone is wearing Vivobarefoot shoes. I think they are very comfortable and sensible even for the present day.

But the piece with a teasing and mysterious first half promises more than it ultimately delivers. I'm not sure h…

Read the: Labels @stratfordeast

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Joe Sellman-Leava's one man show is a fascinating look at how the use of words out of curiosity, fear and hostility have impacts. His power is in his ability as a storyteller to hook you in on his argument and walk in his shoes. In roughly sixty minutes he hooks you in on his story and the story of his family.

Sellman-Leava was born in Gloucestershire but his family has connections to Uganda and India. This background leads to constant inquiries about where he was from. And saying Gloucestershire is not the response people expect. This leads to an exploration about why we seek to label people.

High stakes and high vocals: I Capuleti e i Montecchi @PopupOperaUK

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Continuing their tradition of opera in surprising and unusual locations, Pop Up Opera delivers a sensational and dramatic compact performance of Bellini's I Capuleti E I Montecchi. It is easy to get swept away with the drama on stage thanks to the strong performances of the leads.

While every venue they perform in is different, the basement of a Baker Street restaurant lent itself well to this reworking of Romeo and Juliet. The action takes place in low places and hiding areas and so the polished concrete and bare staging worked well here. And the hard surfaces meant you could hear every aria and recitative.

Under the skin: Bug @found111ldn

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A claustrophobic location and terrific performances makes Bug, Tracy Lett's thriller of conspiracy and loss, a must-see theatrical event.

James Norton and Kate Fleetwood act in your laps as two troubled souls stuck in an Oklahoma motel.

Found 111 is on the site of the former Central Saint Martins School on Charing Cross Road. It is one of the less glamorous West End theatrical locations, but it has to be one of the most memorable. You walk up a series of stairs surrounded by a lift well (the lift doesn't work by the way so you do have to take the stars), and then find yourself in what looks like part of a cheap motel.

There is an unmade bed in the centre and a side board for coffee making facilities. It is an incredible simple yet evocative design by Ben Stones. Desperation fills the air even before the show starts, but that may be because people are in search of the best seat in the house.

The audience surrounds all this in what has to be a new trend in voyeuristic and shoc…