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Showing posts from January, 2019

Axes to grind: Violet @charingcrossthr

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A game of poker, a greyhound bus trip and a few stops at whorehouses of America lead to salvation. Or so it appears in Violet, a musical getting its UK premiere at Charing Cross Theatre. An inspired production set in the traverse and a stellar cast are somewhat let down by a superficial story. And sound that made it difficult to hear what people were singing about.

Violet is set in 1964 North Carolina.  It's about a young woman who was disfigured as child when her father was careless with an axe. With her life savings she travels on a bus trip across the country in search of a miracle healer and tele-evangelist in Oklahoma. Along the way she strikes up a friendship with benefits with two young soldiers.

With this setup I was half expecting a Dogfight on the bus. But instead of some kinda time, things are kept bright and sweet with its bluegrass score by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley. But soon the sweetness becomes relentless. By the time you're half way through you're …

Someone to watch over me: Dangerous Lenses #dangerouslensesplay @VaultFestival

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As I am writing up my thoughts on Dangerous Lenses I can see the neighbours opposite have switched on their lights. They look like they're getting ready to head out. And the people below them are setting the table for dinner. Perhaps the life of a blogger and the recluse at the centre of this piece are converging.

The premise is that Ann (Grace Chilton) who lives alone is watching the lives of her neighbours as hers goes by. But when a new tenant and his daughter move in. And the tenant says she has no daughter. Ann starts to obsess about what she saw and didn't see.

Written by Brooke Robinson and directed by Melissa Dunne, this monologue is a great exploration of loneliness and obsession in the city. Chilton is great (and a little creepy) as the lonely people-watcher.

It's enough to make you reflect on all the times you've made assumptions or watched others. Assuming you've done that sort of thing.

Papercut Theatre, presented Just To Get Married at the Finborough …

For the birds: Outlying Islands @KingsHeadThtr

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Life on Outlying Islands at the Kings Head Theatre is for the birds. Or  what happens on a remote island should stay on the island. David Greig's play is having its first revival. Buffeted by storms, death and primal forces even four weeks can seem like an eternity. But time flies in this expertly acted and imaginatively realised production.

Set ahead of the outbreak of the Second World War, two young men travel to this remote Scottish island to conduct a survey of the birds for the government. But even in the summer months the harsh conditions, isolation and boredom make them turn inward.

One of them, John (Jack McMillan), is a proper man. And a Scotsman. The other, Robert (Tom Machell) is a crazy idealist from London. Together they develop a special bond. There's another man, Kirk (Ken Drury) who has leased the land to the government and giving them a place to stay in a deserted chapel on the island. Puritanical and in search of profit he see's their mission as a way to…

Another look at nowt: The Daughter-In-Law @arcolatheatre

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Last May the Arcola Theatre presented The Daughter-In-Law in it’s downstairs space. Now is the chance to revisit this piece in its larger theatre. And it’s great to have another look at this simple tale and evocative production about lives against the backdrop of the 1912 miner’s strike.

Transferring from the intimate downstairs space gives the production a bigger audience and a bigger space to work with. And while it loses some of the intense claustrophobia of the smaller space it also seemed funnier. And more shocking. With it’s local dialect and intense relationships you soon find yourself drawn into the life of this Nottinghamshire mining town. 


DH Lawrence’s drama, written in 1913, is set a world where money and family are your means for survival. Mrs Gascoyne (Veronica Roberts) has two sons who are still in her orbit. The youngest Joe (Matthew Biddulph) is carefree and careless living at home. The other Luther (Matthew Barker) has just married. 

But the marriage seems to be an ambi…

1975 and all that: Kieran Hodgson’s ‘75 @Sohotheatre

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Actor, comedian, storyteller Kieran Hodgson has picked a topic for his latest show that should serve him well for the rest of his life. '75 at the Soho Theatre covers Britain’s on-again off-again affair with the European Union. You’re left without a doubt that since Britain has been arguing over the past fifty years about its place in Europe. It’s fairly likely that we’re going to continue to argue about it for the next fifty years. It’s not so much that leave means leave but that leave means nothing of any consequence. It’s either an enduring relationship or one to be endured.

This is not a rehash of the Brexit referendum. Even the chaos in parliament following last week’s votes gets little mention. But it doesn’t have to. Hodgson has his eye on the history books. How we got into Europe and how a referendum in 1975 was the way for a divided Labour Party to settle the issue. The referendum of 2016 wasn’t just history repeating itself. But it was a poor cover for the original wit…

Playmates: Original Death Rabbit @JSTheatre

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A monologue by a woman in a dirty rabbit onesie seems like the unlikeliest of dark tales. But Original Death Rabbit leaves no stone unturned. It‘s an exploration of millennial angst, mental illness and the quest for acceptance on the internet. Rose Heiney’s monologue which was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre.
It opens with a woman in a filthy pink bunny outfit. She is the original death rabbit. It started out as a stunt at university to reclaim the bunny from Playboy. But by accident she became an internet meme when she photographed wearing the outfit at a cemetery. Soon death rabbiting (wearing a bunny outfit in inappropriate settings) became a thing. Like planking or flossing. And then a promising career tumbles down a rabbit hole of internet forums, social media platforms, mental illness and addiction. 

On the internet, anyone can be a star. Unless of course you have a theatre blog. If you’re controversial and unique you can ge…

Enablers: Anomaly @ORLtheatre

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There’s an awful lot of enabling going on in Anomaly. Liv Warden’s slick new play about three sisters whose father has been arrested for GBH after attacking their mother. He’s a Harvey Weinstein-like character who is the head of a big film studio. There’s money and film careers at stake. But not so much character development and so it’s a bit hard to understand any of them. It’s currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre. Everyone’s turned a blind eye to his past indiscretions and violent outbursts as there’s something in it for them. There’s Piper (Natasha Conley) the cold executive who is going to run the studio one day. If the other investors don’t pull the plug on the whole business following the scandal. Then there’s Penny (Katherine Samuelson) with the dazzling smile and breasts about to land a great film role thanks to her father’s connections.   But there’s a third sister, Polly (Alice Handoll). Out of rehab and slightly out of her mind. She’s meant to be the conscience of t…

Projections and doing time: Time Is Love @Finborough

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If there is hell on earth, it just might be in Los Angeles. The city is full of petty crime, bored lap dancers and the cops who after putting you away end up sleeping with your wife. Chè Walker’s play which is having its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre is often difficult to follow. It’s set in the last remaining barrios of East Los Angeles. Perhaps the central message is that even when a cop sleeps with your wife, no amount of revenge sex will make it better. But the produciton has assembled a great cast to tell the tale of bored friends and acquaintances who use sex and anger to pass the time. Benjamin Cawley and Gabriel Akuwudike establish a fascinating bromance as the petty criminals and longtime pals, Karl and Blaz. Karl leaves him to take the fall for a botched robbery. Three years later out of jail, nothing for Blaz seems right. Sheila Atim is mesmerising as the weary lap-dancer Rosa. And there’s a great scene with Sasha Frost the sex worker and ex school mate of B…