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Grief and fluff: Tiger @OmnibusTheatre

Death is something we all will face. After all, nobody gets out of here alive. But how do you get past it when grief is all you can feel? And this is the premise of Tiger, currently playing at Omnibus Theatre . It's a fascinating exploration of the stages of grief. And with a terrific cast to take you on this journey, it's an endearing and sweet story that has you engaged from the start, wondering what will happen next.  We are introduced to Alice (Poppy Allen-Quarmby) as she gives a stand-up routine. It's not particularly funny and starts to veer into the topic of dying. Something isn't right. She used to be good at this but can't move forward. Soon, she is back in her London apartment with her partner Oli (Luke Nunn), discussing that they need to get a lodger to make ends meet.  Oli is a doctor working night shifts at the local NHS hospital. Alice is not ready to face a return to stand up or anything. So when the first potential lodger arrives (Meg Lewis), looking

For the boys: The Pirates of Penzance @WiltonMusicHall

It’s still a man’s world in Cornwall. Or so it is in Sasha Reagan’s all-male version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Ten years on from it’s first presentation, the show is still full of humour, energy and resourcefullness. And staged among the period features of Wilton’s Music Hall, it's a perfect match.

Over the years I’ve missed all the all-male cast versions staged by the Union Theatre. There’s been Iolanthe, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore. Which is too bad. What they lack in feminine presence they make up with in comic timing, energy and vigour. The show never misses a chance to bring out the humour in the situation, while still remaining largely faithful to the original material.

It’s a resourceful production too. Simple props like a broom turn into a horse. Which is then fed a carrot. In a most amusing way.A ladder and some fabric become a pirate ship on the high seas (or at least on English Chanel). And no doubt the all-male cast doubling as both the pirates and the ladies keeps things economical too. 

Gender fluidity now also appears to be a topic worthy for exploration. The National Theatre’s When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, explored it for a relentless and grim two hours. Here it’s done with a lighter touch and greater physicality you’d expect with a bunch of blokes.  With hairy chests and heavy perspiration you’re never in doubt you’re watching men on stage. But it’s men exploring their feminine side. And being as camp as Christmas in doing so. 

Under the musical direction of Richard Baker there’s some fine singing across the ensemble. And the cast members hit some impressive high notes too. Tom Senior is a dashing Frederic with his deadpan expressions, brawn and tenor voice. Alan Richardson is a delight as Mabel, the older woman of the piece. And David McKechnie as the Major-General pulls off the patter-singing with style. And when they come together for the rousing choruses they’re incredible.

Directed by Sasha Reagan, The Pirates of Penzance is at Wiltons Music Hall until March 16.


Photos by Scott Rylander

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