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Showing posts from October, 2017

Bad stuff happens: Insignificance @arcolatheatre

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Insignificance at the Arcola Theatre takes four famous people from the 1950s and puts them in a hotel room. Is it a nostalgia piece or is there a deeper meaning? Written by Terry Johnson, it’s having its first revival in over twenty years.
In the second act, the senator (meant to be Joeseph McCarthy) talks about how heroes, geniuses and stars serve as a convenient distraction. It’s also tempting to see parallels with the present day.
Thirty five years ago it was the Reagan era and the threat of nuclear war from a trigger-happy b-movie actor-president. In the intervening years there have been desert storms, coalitions of the willing (with or without poodles). In the future maybe there’ll be a battle between little rocket man and the oversized Oompa Loompa. Horrible stuff happens. And the heroes, geniuses and the celebrities exist just to make us feel there’s hope.

A broad range: Jinkx Monsoon Sings Everything @lsqtheatre

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Thanks to Ru Paul’s Drag Race being one of the shows available to stream for some time on Netflix, series five winner Jinkx Monsoon is a bit of a star over here. Now she’s here in London for a few days at the Leicester Square Theatre singing songs, improvising and doing stuff. For the few people that don’t have a Netflix subscription, Ru Paul’s Drag Race is a hilarious send up of the reality show format. But it’s also given rise to a new breed of drag super stars. They sing, they strut, they teach you how to throw shade. In this show, with her combination of improvised comedy and a relentless voice, Jinkx Monsoon gives you a night to remember.

Mother and son: The Busy World Is Hushed @Finborough

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Family and faith is at the forefront of The Busy World Is Hushed by Keith Bunin. The characters here have their faith tested, gained and lost over the course of the piece. It's having its European Premiere at the Finborough Theatre.There's Hanna (Kazia Pelka), a widowed minister and bible scholar. She's received a recently discovered gospel and engages the help of writer Brandt (Mateo Oxley), to help her turn her research into a publication.As they start work her only son Thomas (Michael James) returns home from a trip out in the wilderness. And Brandt and Thomas take an almost-instant liking to each other.But Brandt has just discovered his father has a brain tumour. And Thomas is still searching for reasons why his father died before he was born.

Lost and distant: All The Little Lights @arcolatheatre

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All the Little Lights by Jane Upton is a dark and moving story about girls who have slipped through the net. But the unsettling part of the piece is that they can come from all sorts of backgrounds and how easy it can happen to anyone. It's playing at the Arcola Theatre.

It opens with Lisa (Sarah Hoare) and Joanne (Tessie Orange-Turner). Once they were like sisters but something has happened and now they're distant.

Easy Extensions and free love: Hair #jointhetribe @thevaultsuk

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Last week marked the fiftieth anniversary of Hair. It's the original rock / concept musical about hippies, the anti-war movement and Western hypocrisy. And with this slick and seductive production, you would have to be a member of the alt-right to not want to join the tribe and get up and dance.

The cast, the music, the production and the performances make this not just a must see show, but one that deserves repeat viewings. You get a sense of the freshness and fun that must have amazed and shocked audiences fifty years ago.

The underground space of The Vaults at Waterloo have been transformed into an immersive enclave for the alternative. There's a strong ensemble cast with seductive vocals (and bodies). There's also a terrific sound from the band under the music direction of Gareth Bretherton.

The man in the rubber mask: The Toxic Avenger @toxicavengeruk

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An eighties rock ballad score and a terrific energetic cast make The Toxic Avenger a lot of fun. It’s back in London at the Arts Theatre.

With just a small cast of five performers, they change characters, change sex and mutate. All while singing an eighties inspired rock score. It’s amazing and exhausting to watch.The story is meant to be B-movie schlock. In Tromaville New Jersey, a nerd metamorphasises into a toxic superhero after being dumped into some New Jersey sludge by some jocks. He had discovered his local evil Mayor’s plans to use the town as a dumping ground for toxic waste from New York. Or something like that. And he falls in love with a girl. Who is blind. But the story is probably not as important as the people performing in it. Since they’re determined to show the audience a good time.

Chopping and ageing: Le Grand Mort @Trafstudios

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If you ever wondered what eating a light dinner might be like at Julian Clary’s place, Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios gives you an idea.

It's a meticulous affair. Everything is stainless steel in Justin Nardella’s sterile kitchen set. As you would imagine a gay man might do to a Notting Hill flat. Food is already prepped and portioned into little bowls or packets. And any spillage is sprayed and wiped up. Based on Clary’s public persona you could assume it is him, even if his character's called Michael.

And  while the show and the food may not be to everyone’s taste, it's amusing and disturbing enough to keep you fascinated.