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Love is all you need: The Island @cervantesthtr

A drama set on the seventh floor of a non-descript hospital waiting room may not be everyone's idea of a great night at the theatre. But love and all other forms of the human condition are dissected in Juan Carlos Rubio's The Island. Translated by Tim Gutteridge, it feels like everything is up for grabs. What is love? Is it a bond between two women with a fifteen-year age gap? Is it the love between a mother and her son with a severe unknown disability? A wonderful life full of health and happiness is not always an option on the menu, and the choices may become a bit less palatable. Throughout a series of sometimes banal conversations, what comes out is a story of two women with lives that are separate and together. And while the piece becomes darker on one level as it progresses, it never ceases to fascinate and draw further insights into the couples. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre .  A couple waits in a hospital waiting room for the outcome of an accident

Theatre: A Wicked preview...

Idina Menzel about to defy gravity... Well at least she didn't fly over the audience like that irritating Mary Poppins... (Photo: Joan Marcus)

I finally saw a preview of Wicked Tuesday night. It turned out the evening was also a charity fundraiser for Elton John’s AIDS foundation... All the stalls were booked out for it and Sharon Osbourne was there and before the show began said something warm and mumsy, which seems to be what she does best nowadays since she has her chat show on ITV... Elton was in LA so couldn’t come.

But anyway having seen the show - which is a postmodern take on the Wizard of Oz and tells the story of the two witches before Dorothy drops in - some things of note:
  • The performance ran through uninterrupted. Apparently, that makes it the fifth performance that has not had technical problems since previews began earlier this month. The audience roared when Idina Menzel (reprising her Tony winning role) rose up in the Defying Gravity number... Even as a slightly jaded theatregoer, I found it did look quite spectacular having her rise up and hover over the cast lit by some incredible lighting belting out the song.
  • It was one of the few musicals I have seen here where nothing about it looked cheap. The sets, costumes and lighting are great…So many of the set pieces just overwhelm the senses (without feeling overproduced) so you do get your money’s worth. The only thing that looked a bit cheap was when they got to the Emerald City and a few green lights came on in the auditorium that looked like the kind of lights hanging off the hoardings at Kings Cross station while they refurbish it...
  • I thought Adam Garcia (who people keep telling me can’t sing or act but I don't listen) was great in the lead male role. Although I wished he wasn’t forced to use a Hugh Grant-style accent. I am sure the audience could have coped with his normal voice or (dare say) an American accent! This Hugh Grant-ism meant his first song became "Daaahncing through life" which made me wonder whether Fiyero was the brother of Sophie Ellis Bextor… None of this mattered to those around me as they found more interest in the incredibly tight pants he was wearing for the number... And boy could he move in them. At this point many in the audience dove for the opera glasses for a closer look...
  • The sound is LOUD and plays like a rock concert (complete with screaming fans). The star last night was Idina Menzel but the rest of the cast including Helen Dallimore (as a very English Glinda), Miriam Margolyes and James Gillan were great too.
  • I sat in the circle which until the stalls seats are reallocated is probably the best place to sit as the sight lines along the sides of the stalls would not be so good... Apparently the elaborate set does block the view a little down there...
  • As for the show, well it's a rather dark take on the world (is the Wizard meant to be George Bush or Tony Blair?) but still a lot fun and I will imagine that it will be around here for some time. This is show will be loved by anyone who is perky, green, wicked or a goat. It opens next week...

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