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Showing posts from July, 2018

When in Rome: For Reasons That Remain Unclear @KingsHeadThtr

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A young screenwriter and an older priest walk into a hotel room in Rome. You just know it isn’t going to end well. But part of the suspense in For Reasons That Remain Unclear is you are never certain where things are heading. Mart Crowley’s sexually charged piece keeps you guessing. It’s having its UK premiere at The Kings Head Theatre as part of its Queer Season of theatre.Patrick (Simon Haines) is working for Warner Brothers in Rome living out of a fabulous hotel. He meets Conrad (Corey Petersen) on the street and after a long lunch they head back to Patrick’s hotel. What then ensues is a series of mind games as faith, sexuality and secrets are explored. Conversations about the trivial meander into the personal. Then it builds into something darker. It’s probably every gay priest’s fantasy to get picked up off the street by someone from Hollywood. But if you get past that it’s a rewarding piece, particularly given the performances. Haines and Petersen are terrific. They hold your att…

Game play: Lamplighters @ORLTheatre

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The world of spies as depicted in John Le Carre novels seems to be an unlikely source of amusement. All that drinking, bureaucracy and lying. But in Lamplighters it’s really a backdrop for some inspired improvisation and audience participation. Led by Neil Connolly as the spymaster, he’s living out a childhood dream to play spies... With a bunch of random audience members. It’s an immersive theatre experience. Which means that when you enter The Old Red Lion Theatre you can expect to be part of the entertainment.  But only if you want to.  After he’s finished chatting you up at the start (and sizing you up), there’s a slightly unconvincing mystery to solve, villains to find and stop. And a secret briefcase. And he needs the help of the audience to make it happen. And get laughs.This concept works well in making the ordinary seem hilarious. Assuming there’s always the right balance of weird and adventurous audience members to make the show hilarious every night.  On my night the audience…

There’s something about Elena: It Happened In Key Key West @CharingCrossThr

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This isn’t your typical West End Musical at the Charing Cross Theatre. Creepy German radiologist Von Cosel treats a woman, Elena, for tuberculosis. She dies. Two years later he digs her up and lives with her. Parading her about, propping her up for the following years, Weekend At Bernies style. He’s convinced that she is the vision of the woman he would spend his life with. As she decomposes, he imagines a life of bliss. On one level it’s not a very convincing musical. The score at times seems to mimic Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s also overlong with superfluous exposition. But there’s something likeable about this musical. It’s polished and has some terrific performances. Other famous necrophiliacs were weird. You’d never want to eat a curry from Dennis Nielsen. Nor would you want to be a hospital patient when Jimmy Saville was around. But Von Cosel was seen as mostly harmless. The fake news of the day pinned him as a hopeless old romantic. They put Elena’s do-it-yourself mummified body o…

Guns and roses: But It Still Goes On @Finborough

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Repressed homosexuality, sham marriages, vengeful lesbians and global chaos. What’s comforting about Robert Graves’s But It Still Goes On is how little things have changed since the interwar period. Well perhaps there’s less repressed homosexuality nowadays in London. Written in 1929 it’s having a belated world premiere at the Finborough Theatre until 4 August.Part comedy, part tragedy-melodrama the action focuses on the family of Cecil Tompion (Jack Klaff). A popular and hard-living writer whose children have lived in his shadow. He left their mother for a woman who gave his work better reviews. His son, Dick (Alan Cox) survived the trenches but remains haunted by a gun he used to kill a soldier. Daughter Dorothy (Rachel Pickup) is a doctor and marries Dick’s best friend David (Victor Gardener). Trouble is that David’s in love with Dick. Or should that be just dick? And when Dorothy’s friend Charlotte (Sophie Ward) isn’t in love with Dorothy she’s in love with Dick too.It’s frank dep…

Bend and snap: Circa’s Peep Show @UnderbellyFest #CircaPeepshow

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Watching from the sidelines of Cira’s Peep Show feels a little dangerous at times. Other acts might splash you or have their props fly in your face. But this act feels at times like the acrobats will land in your lap. Bodies assemble. Muscles tense. Veins start to throb. Then they fall, the bounce, they appear from out of the shadows. It’s fascinating and a little bit unnerving. Particularly if you’re sitting up close to the action as a body falls toward you. Although when they do they break into a roll. It’s currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank. In a physical and breathtaking 70 minutes bodies are thrown about, bounce off each other and contort into positions that you don’t think could be possible. Or at least without hearing something go pop or snap.  Keeping in theme with Circa’s other minimalistic productions, here the focus is on the body as a performance machine with few props. The premise behind the show is less on sexual gratification and more on the a…

Urban renewal: Flesh & Bone @Sohotheatre

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From the beginning of Flesh & Bone, it’s a noisy in your face portrait of life on an East London council estate. It’s almost as if you expect them to punch any member of the audience checking their phone. Or leaving to go to the bathroom. They shout at the audience, they even pick one up so a baby can be delivered on their seat. It’s currently playing upstairs at The Soho Theatre.But amongst the loud mouths, drug dealers and geezers there’s a bunch of rough but loveable characters emerge. Even if you still remain unsure if want to share a pint with them. It could be considered a follow up to Berkoff’s East, given it’s reliance on verse and comedy. But it is less confronting. And the attempt to throw the threat of council eviction towards the end seems contrived. But it’s still a clever piece of writing. Aside from the fast-talking and fast paced action, it sets up a series of characters that have you wanting to know more about them. There’s Terrence (Elliot Warren) and his bird Kel…