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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Keep it gay: Soho Cinders @CharingCrossThr

An alternative to Christmas panto season has landed at Charing Cross Theatre in the form of Soho Cinders. A Cinderella goes gay story with music by Stiles and Drewe. But something's a little queer with this adaptation. Catchy songs, humour and a great (although not very diverse) cast don't overcome what feels like a dated, awkward story.

In this story set against the backdrop of the London Mayoral election, our Soho Cinders, Robbie (Luke Bayer) is working at a laundromat with his pal Velcro (Millie O'Connell). Somehow he manages to hook up at the notorious hook-up point Trafalgar Square (who knew?) with Mayoral candidate and ex-swimmer James Prince (Lewis Asquith). But the problem is the candidate already has a fiancé (Tori Hargreaves). And she's nice. It's hard to get too enthused about a relationship forged in the shadows of Nelson's column while his other half is waiting at home with a bottle of wine.

To give the show it's panto feel, there are his hilarious stepsisters. Played deliciously over the top by Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman.

There are some great songs in the piece, including "They Don't Make Glass Slippers", performed sensitively by Breyer. There's also a hilarious dance number in the first half about how "It's Hard To Tell" what people's sexuality is like these days.

But the biggest let down is the book. No doubt when first written, it might have passed for mild political satire. But since then London has moved on. We've had expense scandals, sophisticated disinformation campaigns, and pole dancers with large tech grants.  It makes what is on stage seem annoyingly quaint.

An update would have been better. A real London Cinderella just might be a Deliveroo rider. The hero should be a closeted footballer. The villains of the piece could be typical London crooks. The ugly sisters two small-time Air BnB landlords, and Lord Bellingham a money launderer. Now that would be a London we could all recognise and nervously laugh at.

Directed by Will Keith, Soho Cinders is at the Charing Cross Theatre until 21 December.


Photos by Pamela Raith

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