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Showing posts from October, 2023

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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Bad girl: Boy Parts @sohotheatre

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In these angry times, an angry anti-heroine is a cathartic release, even if you’re not quite sure what the anger is about. This stylish adaptation of Eliza Clark's Boy Parts with a charismatic performance by Aimée Kelly makes it engaging. And while we don't see the gore, with each scene, there's a slight dread as to what gruesome turn of events s is going to happen next in this piece, which takes Fleabag and adds a touch of American Psycho nonchalance. It's currently playing at the Soho Theatre .  I was unfamiliar with the book's runaway success and the TikTok phenomenon, where people #booktok reviews of the piece under flattering lighting and a series of jump cuts. However, a quick cursory glance at the material shows the play has captured all the best bits in vivid detail, particularly in its descriptions of men. There's Ryan, the bar manager, with his "big thick neck and tiny pea head, thinning hair." But people may have mistaken some of these for c

Repurposed: Owners @JSTheatre

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Caryl Churchill's Owners is an excellent example of how you can feel nostalgic for an unpleasant time in history. After all fifty years since its premiere, the property market has gone from bad to worse. And despite the seventies look and feel, it feels as if it still has something to say about property, ownership, and the transactional relationships that make up life in the country. Not to mention the relentless pursuit of Victorian terrace houses that most parts of the world wouldn't touch, it is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  The revival brings out the oddities of the piece. The freewheeling sexual politics and the changing legal environment allowing property to be bought and sold with less regulation seem like they are from a different time and place. And they are. It's almost as if we need a history lesson to understand the time and place. The programme notes that market rates for tenancies were only allowed in 1989. Since then, we have been through

My night with Ben (and Kam and Russ and AJ and Simon): Jock night @7DialsPlayhouse

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Some of the PR to Jock Night says London is about to get a taste of Manchester with this piece. You could interpret that many ways, but it does feel as if you become immersed in a particular Mancunian world of sex, drugs and Coronation Street. Written and directed by Adam Zane, it's a sharp-tongued, drug-fuelled odyssey into an unconventional world with more than a few sharp observations about life in the gay ghetto. It's currently playing at the 7 Dials Playhouse .  The play is set in Ben's bedroom and revolves around a famous party night in Manchester where the dress code requires jocks or sportswear. After the party finishes, then come the drugs. Then the sex and then the chillout, and then they do it all over again. But Ben (David Paisley) is also looking for love - albeit in all the wrong places.  His friends are Kam (Sam Goodchild), a quick-witted man from Sussex who found a home in Manchester. Then there's Russell (Matthew Gent), a gym bunny and aspiring Instagra

Nasty boys: Gentlemen @Arcolatheatre

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It's a tough life in an elite university. If you thought college was a place for caring, understanding, nurturing and tuition, you might be in for a big surprise. In Matt Parvin's Gentlemen, it's the latest battleground for the culture wars. Everything is a score to be settled with sanctimony, mind games or both. Everything is about fitting in or resisting all attempts to conform. It's currently playing at the Arcola Theatre .  The premise is that Greg (Charlie Beck) is meeting with the college welfare officer, Timby (Edward Judge). Kaspar (Issam Al Ghussain) has alleged bi-phobic comments about his sexual orientation. Greg is also potentially up for charges of assault.  Both freshmen, the hormones and the anger race as fast as their minds. Soon, the concept of right and wrong, fitting in or being an individual, gets into many grey areas. Will an example be set of loudmouth Greg from a struggling background, or will he be given one last chance? Each takes turns pleading

Dad Jokes: Dead Dad Dog @finborough

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So what happens if your dad returns from the dead to haunt you for fun in mid-eighties Edinburgh? The first London production of Dead Dad Dog in 35 years shows that new ideas of the past just become the old things of the present. It’s an amusing concept made enjoyable by the likeable leads in the piece. Written by John McKay, who would go on to find fame in television and film, it’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre .  Due to cast illness, the second half of this show, Sunny Boy, has not gone ahead. It’s a shame, as the second half was a sequel to the piece set in Glasgow in 2023. And so, while we miss the update, we can enjoy the eighties in all its glory and marvel at the fashion, thinking, and the fascinating possibility that if you died in the early seventies, you would never know who Margaret Thatcher was.  The premise is that young man Eck (Angus Miller) is getting ready for an interview for the BBC in Edinburgh when his father, Willie (Liam Brennan), appears. The only