Theatre: Under the Blue Sky

Tuesday evening I wasn't sure I was in the mood to see a play in the West End, but the West End Whingers had organised a group outing to see Under the Blue Sky ages ago, so there I was. The play had quite a few good things going for it and that was before I even knew what it was about: it had a late start, and it was around 90 minutes without interval. The fact that it had a great cast (including Catherine Tate), was just a bonus.

Sitting so close in the stalls with a raised set, it struck me that we couldn't see the actors below their knees. For the first two acts I became preoccupied by wondering about feet. It probably didn't help that we all knew Catherine Tate had a nasty sprain last week which cancelled the first preview, so we were all wondering how she would fare... The other thing about sitting so close was that throughout the first act there was the lovely smell of onions, peppers and minced beef cooking and wafting into the audience... As the scene ended and the kitchen set moved to one side, a few of us in the audience watched it like hungry dogs until it disappeared. Reality can be so distracting...

As for the play about the six teachers exploring love and lust outside the classroom, I thought it was terrific. Maybe it helps knowing a few teachers as then you realise they are such filthy whores (well the fun ones are anyway) who spend half their year on holidays so it all rings true. It's a fun play and while a bit tragic and creepy at times, it is the perfect sort of show for the summer... If you can get past the absence of feet (assuming you are in the stalls). Oh and in the final act Francesca Annis wears a rather flimsy dress and the lighting creates a rather intimate effect that will have you getting flashback's to Polanski's Macbeth...

I'm sure they are hoping on the Catherine Tate effect to bring in the punters to this show, and she does come up with the goods (of being Catherine Tate), but for me the final scene with Annis and Nigel Lindsay was my favourite and it wrapped things up rather nicely. There is even a bit of Neil Sedaka thrown in too which surely has to be a good thing... It runs through to September.

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