Showing posts from March, 2013

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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Music meaning and laughs: Tiffany Graves in the house

Closing out the season of Cabaret at Lauderdale House  on Highgate Hill, Tiffany Graves delivered a memorably funny and high spirited show last Sunday. Lauderdale House is a former private home that has been transformed into an arts and education centre and has been running Sunday afternoon events for some time. Graves delivered a wonderfully comedic and powerful collection of songs that she felt reflected her career, her friends and her relationships, which was at times hilarious enough to forget about the miserable weather outside.

Ambiguity and postal orders: The Winslow Boy

The Winslow Boy , currently playing at The Old Vic , is a lovely piece of entertainment about how a middle class family in Edwardian England risks everything to see that a mild injustice is overcome. But it is somewhat hard to sustain interest in its near three hour length when the characters are only defined by how they relate in society and legal arguments relate to a particularly obscure piece of Victorian law... The play tells the story of Ronnie Winslow, a fourteen year old Navy cadet who is accused of stealing a five shilling postal order. Without given the opportunity for representation, he is investigated and found guilty and his family is asked to withdraw him from the Royal Navy College. At the time there was no automatic right of appeal and so the play follows the attempts of the family to clear his name and the toll it takes upon them all.

On a bad day: Darling of the Day

It is appropriate that the Union Theatre , which has a reputation for fresh perspectives on old shows, has given Darling of the Day , a forgotten musical from the 1960s, its first European Revival. The show with music by Jule Styne ran on Broadway for only 31 performances and attempts to revive over the years have stalled. Perhaps the reason it has been ignored is that it is just not a fashionable show. The story revolves around a famous artist in Edwardian London who seizes an opportunity to assume the identity of his butler and fade away into an upper working class existence. The score isn't full of memorable songs, but with its take on old love (or rather two more mature leads who get married), the show is intriguing and mostly harmless fun.

Curious and sweet: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

It was an exciting and enjoyable opening night of the West End transfer of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  earlier this week. Not just because of the various well-known faces and fans of the cast in the audience, but this is an intelligent and emotional play that is hard to resist. While I missed its run at  The National Theatre , you are swept up in the sensitive story of a boy with behavioural problems and his impact on the family. And there is a star performance from Luke Treadaway as 15-year-old Christopher Boone, a maths genius with Asperger's Syndrome. Treadaway inhabits the character and draws out his sensitivities and his vulnerabilities. At times it is exhausting to watch. And as he is a bit of a star (alongside his twin brother ), his female fans in the audience were quite excited when he takes his shirt off. The character may be fifteen, but the demands on the role require a pretty fit actor, so be prepared for audience members enjoying the sight o

Fragmented blood and lust: Written on Skin fires

There was style, passion and violence going around in spades at the Royal Opera's premiere of George Benjamin's new work, Written on Skin ,  Friday evening. Directed by Katie Mitchell, it is a big lavish production where angels look down on the unfolding story based upon the old fable Le Coeur Mangé (The Eaten Heart). It is a story about a powerful protector who engages an artist to create a work to celebrate his life and in doing so awakens his submissive wife. Upon discovery of this infidelity he plots his revenge. It is a short piece of only ninety minutes with no interval, but it is perfectly formed. For an opera about despair and unlocking beauty the music is evocatively layered. There are no big arias and much wailing at times but bit by bit the music serves to build the drama and tension of the piece. By the time of the conclusion and act of revenge the production has taken you to another world of beauty and wonder.

Another look at bathroom mind games: Mydidae

The last time I saw Mydidae in December the full frontal nudity seemed a bit of a novelty. Now a few months later and transferred to the Trafalgar Studios , it is not the only show in the West End where the actors bare all , but they are probably still the only ones with a fully-plumbed bathroom. While the prospect of seeing actors live and vulnerable is no doubt enough to arouse the interest of the punters, it is not all cheap laughs. Innocent and amusing banter soon becomes a voyeuristic look into shattered dreams and provocations.

Endless banter: Just another night with Lady Rizo

Lady Rizo is making her London debut playing downstairs at the Soho Theatre and amusing and enthralling audiences with her mix of incredible vocals and offbeat humour. She tells the audience frequently that she is a chanteuse, and it is her singing rather than her comic ability which is what you should see her for. She is more mildly mischievous than funny. Her banter last Wednesday tended to get in the way of the music... Even if it involved a fascinating discussion with a lady in the front row who disclosed she raped a man at a heavy metal festival when she was sixteen, it still was very mildly risque fare.

Musicals and random acts of bureaucracy: Glasgow Girls

Theatre Royal Stratford is often the home of raw and energetic productions. The Glasgow Girls which concludes its run here tonight keeps up this tradition. Set in a rough council block in Glasgow, it tells the story of what happens when the Home Office decides to relocate asylum seekers into the area while their applications are processed. While there might have been expected tensions between the locals and the new arrivals, five years on this didn't happen. Instead local and migrant girls bond and when their Kosovan schoolfriend disappears after a dawn raid, they lead the fight to campaign for the rights of the children of asylum seekers. The fight to see their schoolfriend returned leads them to discover the long drawn out processes that asylum seekers face and how the options for appealing decisions are limited and narrow. Any success is a based on perseverance and a legal team that can search for loopholes. The role the girls play in this is less about what they actually