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Showing posts from July, 2017

Jam: Just To Get Married @Finborough

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What's exciting about watching Cicely Hamilton's Just To Get Married is how it captures the spirit of a changing world. The piece is having its first London production in over 100 years at the Finborough Theatre.

It's lost none of its bite with its central argument that women are forced into marriage for their own survival. It's the only way they are judged as a success and they don't get the same opportunities as men.

It also captures life in Edwardian England where there was a fine line between living comfortably and just about managing. Here there is no safety net. No pensions. And if you're a woman, no right to vote either. Today, while some of the attitudes and priorities may have changed, some of the values may still seem familiar...

Remote arguments: The Marriage of Kim K @arcolatheatre @marriageofkimk

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The Arcola Theatre's annual Grimeborn Opera Festival opened this year with Leoe & Hyde's The Marriage of Kim K. It contrasts the life of Kim Kardashian and her brief marriage to basketballer Kris Humphries with the different backgrounds of the count and countess in Mozart's opera.

But this piece really boils down to who has the remote control in the living room. There is a third couple in the proceedings - Amelia and Stephen. She is a law student and likes to watch trashy television and he is a composer who wants to watch something more challenging.

You would think they would get a tablet and headphones and stream like everyone else. But this story was added after composer and director Stephen Hyde fell for his leading lady Amelia Gabriel. So a show about a reality show becomes its own reality show. It's so meta it is enough to do your head in.

Feeling bleat: Sheep @whitebeartheatr

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Sleep deprivation, angst and strange goings on in London are things we all can relate to. But Sheep, a dystopian take on London doesn't disturb or amuse in the end. It's more a tease. It's currently playing at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington.

The problem is that the central character Dexy hasn't slept for 21 nights. Played by Ciaran Lonsdale he looks too calm, clean and controlled to be believable in this dreamlike scenario. There's no bloodshot eyes, erratic behaviour or general wandering about looking like shit. Even for a comedy getting the mood right is important.

It opens with him complaining about the duck down pillow and brooding over his missing girlfriend. Soon he is visited by some strange men in his life. There is the overly camp Leo and the dull bus driver Vic. Then there is the mysterious lady Margot who likes to go out dancing.

Murder on the dance floor: Disco Pigs @TrafStudios

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Twenty years on, Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs still manages to shock and fascinate with its evocative and provocative world of deprivation. It's currently playing at Trafalgar Studios.

But with its endless slang and two unpleasant characters, it's often an an impenetrable world. Even with two masterful performances and slick production values, this is still a journey through hell.

The piece is about Pig and Runt. Born on the same day and at the same time in the same hospital, they've been inseparable all their lives. They have their own language, own rules, and exist in a world of petty crime, violence, drinking and dancing...

But as they approach adulthood, Pig's feelings for Runt grow. Runt struggles to break away from Pig's advances and the world in which they have built over their lives.

The best of all possible worlds: Candide in Concert with @LMTOrch @CadoganHall

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It is possible to see the best of all possible worlds after experiencing the passion and sublime music making from London Musical Theatre Orchestra's concert version of Candide.

Playing for one night only at Cadogan Hall, you left the theatre sharing the joy and passion the musicians felt for Bernstein's work.

Based on a story by Voltaire, it's about a young man determined to cling to optimism despite the frequent tragedies he encounters. Along the way he's expelled from home, dragged into the Bulgarian army, brought before the Spanish Inquisition... But the plot is not so important...

As a concert version, Bernstein's operetta lets you overlook the sillier parts of the story and focus on the music and performances.

Eat it up: Mumburger @ORLTheatre

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If barbecues and eating bring people together, Mumburger takes it to a new level in dealing with death and loss. Currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre  Sarah Kosar's take on death, family and meat is funny and thought-provoking. And a little off-putting if you're squeamish.
Mum's dead. She got hit by a truck on the M25. The two people she left behind - a father and daughter are grieving. There are the usual funeral plans and picking up relatives from the airport. But there is also the arrival of a brown package of meat patties to deal with.
Did their mum arrange for them to be delivered on her death, knowing full well that unlike her they were only part-time vegetarians? Or are they symbolic of something more?

Silly monkey: King Kong (A comedy) @thevaultsuk

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King Kong (A Comedy)is currently at the Vaults at Waterloo. A show that needs to tell you it's a comedy (albeit in parenthesis) might give you reason to hesitate. If it's funny why does it need to tell you that it will be? But fortunately it is like a sketch show put together to tell the story of the beast that almost conquered New York. 
King Kong is such a silly story that giving it a comic treatment actually doesn't change much of it. Struggling producer needs a leading lady for his next animal picture. No self-respecting actress would work with him and so he finds a lady off the street. Only this time she can speed read ancient texts and maps. There is enough silliness to appeal to children and enough adult themes to keep the rest of us tittering away.
A cast of serious (and not so serious) actors; Ben Chamberlain, Rob Crouch, Sam Donnelly, Aix Dunmore and Brendan Murphy play a range of characters that featured in the film.

Carpe diem: Mr Gillie @Finborough

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Poor Mr Gillie. A headmaster at a small village  school railing against the norms and expectations of the time. It's like a poor mans Dead Poets Society... Without the privileged young men, the cliches or the sentimentality. It's funny too which makes this piece enjoyable even if it is a little long. Here life is the pits, and Mr Gillie was the only hope for anyone who didn't care for that.

It's playing at the Finborough Theatre and is the first London production in over 60 years of James Bridie's work.

It opens with the a judge and barrister discussing the life of Mr Gillie. Mr Gillie and his wife had been evicted from their schoolmaster's house after the closing down of the school. The furniture van was coming to clear out his things but had run over and killed him. Now the  judge and barrister would have to decide whether his life had any point.