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Showing posts from March, 2018

Sing like nobody’s watching: Songs for Nobodies @WiltonMusicHall

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Songs for Nobodies starts as if it is a theatrical happening. There’s a hush at Wilton’s Music Hall as it descends into darkness. And when the lights go up there is a small, middle aged woman on stage looking somewhat meek. But soon there is an astounding transformation as she channels a range of musical greats. Mimicking their style and intonation. Starting with Judy Garland, then Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and finally Maria Callas. It’s thrilling and bewildering. The piece is billed as a play with music by Joanna Murray-Smith, created to suit the vocal talents of Australian singer Bernadette Robinson. The premise is that a series of “nobodies” whose lives briefly intersect with these stars. There’s the lady, Beatrice who fixes Judy Garland’s hem and the usher Pearl who becomes backup to Patsy Cline and so on.  It’s clear that Robinson has a unique talent and she holds your attention. And the production shines in Wilton’s music hall.  The faded grandeur of the venue blend…

Summer loving: The Lady With A Dog @TabardTheatreUK

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The first flicker of love, marriage and commitment are the subjects of The Lady With a Dog. Chekhov’s summer romance in Yalta is updated to 1920s Britain and France by writer and director Mark Giesser. But the performances and brisk pace capture the fantasy and romance of the story. It’s currently playing at the Tabard Theatre after a successful run at the White Bear Theatre.It opens with the lady and her (imagined) Pomeranian dog being eyed up by Damian Granville (Richard Lynson). He’s a London-based banker on holiday alone in Scotland. His plan is to get her attention by feeding the dog a few biscuits before working his charm on the lady. He’s also married but it’s a thoroughly modern one where his wife allows him to holiday alone in search of other women. But the lady Anne Dennis (Beth Burrows) is also married and holidaying alone due to her husband’s work. Jusxtaposed with their aquaintance are unhappy conversations with their real partners. Soon an attraction develops between the …

Digging in: Checkpoint Chana @Finborough

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What do you do when you're a successful poet accused of semitism? How do you avoid the social media storm and the calls for an apology? These are the thoughts that come in Checkpoint Chana by Jeff Page. It's having its premiere at the Finborough Theatre following a reading at Finborough's Vibrant 2017 festival.It starts with Bev (Geraldine Somerville) complaining to her assistant Tasmin (Ulrika Krishnamurti). She has to write an apology  after one of her poems sets off a social media firestorm. It’s been labelled anti-Semitic after every other recent poem of hers has been ignored.The indignity of a respected poet needing to do this is compounded by problems in her personal life and pressure from her university. But she eventually relents to making an apology, and having a sympathetic interview scheduled. She’ll even do a talk at a North London arts centre.  Somerville is convincing as a person caught up in the drama that’s part of their own creation. But often the work seem…

50 ways to leave: Ok Bye @VAULTFestival #okbye

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The phrase ok bye is so versatile. It can be used for a variety of endings. Some trivial some consequential. It could be full of meaning or absolutely meaningless. And this is the premise of RedBellyBlack’s intriguing show Ok Bye that concludes this weekend at The Vault festival.
Based on an idea by co-creators Kate Goodfellow and Vicki Baron, they explore what it means to say goodbye in two parts. Through movement, comedy and lip-syncing dialogue they juxtapose the ways and means of saying goodbye.
The first part is three estranged siblings reconnecting during the decline and death of a parent. Through movement and music they explore the transition from being a carefree child to a responsible adult.

The second part is a collection of in verbatim stories about good byes to a range of things such as pets, freedom or crackpot religions. The performers mouth to perfection the most bizarre stories about saying goodbye. losing weight or leaving a fundamentalist Christian group are particul…

Common divisions: Returning to Haifa @Finborough

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The stage adaption of Ghassan Kanafani’s Returning to Haifa by Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace is fiery and emotional. It’s having its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre.The piece puts you in the living room of a family who had to flee the city of Haifa in 1948, and the family that subsequently occupied it. The injustice of finding your own home and your belongings legally occupied by someone else is only part of the anger in this piece. It also extends to the staging of it. The programme notes that it was due to have it’s world premiere by the New York Public Theatre. But political pressure from their board led to the proejct being abandoned. But New York’s loss is London’s gain. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the events you begin to understand it. It humanises enemies and explains motives. And the sensitive portrayals by the ensemble add to emotional impact. The piece crosses three separate time periods. It opens before the dispossession in 1947. Then the period of the expulsi…

Only an older woman: Harold and Maude @Charingcrossthr

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There’s something irresistibly cute and whimsical about this adaptation of Harold and Maude. It’s not as dark or shocking as the film. But the performances and production of this tale of living life and enjoying every stage of it make it a delight. It’s currently showing at the Charing Cross Theatre.Colin Higgins wrote the script to Harold and Maude as his third year film school thesis. Directed by Hal Ashby and starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort it bombed on release. Only later did it develop into a cult following. Higgins, who would go on to write and direct the movies Foul Play and 9 to 5,  would later adapt it into the play we have here. The story centres on Harold. He’s a young man stuck in the straight-jacket of middle-class early seventies suburbia. He stages suicide attempts to shock his mother. He goes to funerals of strangers and has generally withdrawn from life.
While at one of these funerals he meets Maude. She’s constantly borrowing things; cars, trees, money from the poor…

Smokes and parasites: A Princess Undone @ParkTheatre

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It’s a hot and stormy August evening, and Princess Margaret is on a mission in A Princess Undone. The trouble is, with so much reverence for the subject - and not much of a mission - it’s hard to see the drama (or comedy) in this piece by Richard Stirling. It’s currently playing at Park Theatre.It’s August 1993. Most of the Royals are at Balmoral. Princess Margaret is at Kensington Palace with the Queen Mother’s steward William Tallon (also played by Stirling). After clearing out correspondence from the Queen Mother’s rooms in Clarence House they’re getting ready to burn it. The trouble is Princess Michael of Kent is watching them. And they aren’t too sure if Diana has slipped out for a night of playing catch with the paparazzi. And some boy is claiming to have information on her liaisons with underworld figure John Bindon. The premise sounds like it could be a farce exploring the world of the royals and the sycophants that surround them. But too often the punches are pulled and we’re …