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Showing posts from May, 2023

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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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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

Death becomes her: A Brief List Of Everyone Who Died @finborough

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For a natural process, death is not a topic that comes up naturally for people. We ask how people are doing but expect the response to be “I’m great”, not “I’m not dead yet”. And so for the main character in A Brief List of Everyone Who Died, Graciela has a death issue. Starting with when she was five and found out only after the matter that her parents had her beloved dog euthanised. So Graciela decides that nobody she loves will die from then on. And so this piece becomes a fruitless attempt at how she spends her life trying to avoid death while it is all around her. It’s currently having its world premiere  at the Finborough Theatre . As the play title suggests, it is a brief list of life moments where death and life intervene for the main character, from the passing of relatives, cancer, suicides, accidents and the loss of parents. Playwright Jacob Marx Rice plots the critical moments of the lives of these characters through their passing or the passing of those around them. Howeve

Big Business: How to succeed in business without really trying @swkplay

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This revival of the Frank Loesser musical is as much about climbing the corporate ladder as it is about giving a fresh take on the absurdity of the office and gender roles.  However, there's also a firm appreciation that this is a musical comedy.  And with an energetic cast with an impeccable sense of comic timing, it's a hilarious and thought-provoking evening.  It's currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse. The show comes from a parody of a self-help business book.  The premise is that a lowly window washer becomes board chairman in a few weeks and gets the girl.  Along the way, there are stupid bosses, sexist colleagues and nepotism.  Only this time, J Pierpoint Finch is played by Gabrielle Friedman.  Depending on your perspective, Finch is either the hero or the antihero of the piece, stopping at nothing in their ambition to reach the top.  Here Finch is more sympathetic as the underappreciated service worker getting a lucky break and a chance to climb the corporate

Office romance: Venus and Adonis @RiversideLondon

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As you enter the Riverside Studios , where Christopher Hunter is performing Shakespeare's epic poem, Venus and Adonis, Hunter is already there—sitting on a bench with his attaché case, wearing a suit and writing furiously. There are papers crumpled and tossed about. It's as if he is writing the piece from a 1990s office. All that's missing is the scream of the office fax (we heard phones ringing even though that wasn't part of the performance).  Written by Shakespeare during the outbreak of the plague in 1592, it's considered to be Shakespeare's first work. It's an evocative piece about the Goddess of love and her attempts to attract the handsome and probably fit Adonis, who would prefer to go hunting.  As performed by Hunter, the age-old tale of unrequited love takes surprising twists and turns in this epic poem. Starting as the piece's writer, he becomes the characters and immerses himself in the words. Consonants fly out at you, and the suffering, the

The Grass Is Always Greener: Next Door's Baby @TheatreAtTabard

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Keeping up appearances is what, at first, it seems at the heart of the story of Next Door's Baby. There's a less-than-friendly rivalry between the comfortably living Hennessys and the struggling O'Briens. But as this self-described musical play unfolds,  a story about two women struggling to break free from the oppressive life of 1950s Dublin emerges. The drama is sometimes more interesting than the music, but some evocative characterisations and an enthusiastic cast make this piece work. First presented at the Orange Tree Theatre some years ago, it's currently having a revival at the Theatre At the Tabard .  The two women at the centre of the story are neighbours. Their mothers, however, are at each other's throats. Mrs O'Brien is a widow struggling to make ends meet, serving only porridge. While Mrs Hennessy lives a life of comfort, wearing her best fur coat even to mail a letter. And while the time and place put more value on keeping up appearances, just bene