Sunday, July 31, 2016

Oh Canada: Proud @Finborough #Proudtheplay


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.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cattle class: Cargo @ArcolaTheatre


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 space and then switches off the lights. Theatre at the fringe in London this summer is testing audiences for their levels of claustrophobia. The only thing that might make it more authentic would be to shut off the air conditioning. Although I was grateful for that not happening...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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

 
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..

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ramin Karimloo: the unstoppable beast


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 to hit while in London.

Ramin has boundless energy and it shows in his performances, his workout clips and when he interviews.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Running with scissors: Cut #Cuttheplay

 
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.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Last chance for something completely different: Karagula @wearepigdog


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

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.