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A little less conversation: After Sex @Arcolatheatre

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According to research, millennials in rich countries are having sex less these days. But they were prepared to talk more about it. So, it is no surprise to see a story about what happens when a series of no-strings-attached encounters start to become attachments. And the conversations arising from it. Such is the premise of After Sex, Siofra Dromgoole’s two-hander of the conversations afterwards. It’s not particularly sexy or erotic, and the snappy pacing and short scenes sometimes make you wish they stayed longer to finish the conversation. Nevertheless, it is still a funny and, at times, bittersweet picture of single lives in the big city. It’s currently playing at the Arcola Theatre .  He is bi and works for her in an office job. She is neither ready for a commitment nor to let the office know what’s happening. He isn’t prepared to tell his mum there’s someone special in his life. He doesn’t speak to his dad, so his mum is his world. It’s a perfect relationship/arrangement. Or so it

Nights and boos with @johnnyfoxlondon

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  Londonist head theatre critic JohnnyFox recently passed away after a short illness. Over the years we went to the theatre together. For me I was covering it for my own blog. For John it was covering it for countless online magazines and eventually Londonist. We rarely took notes. There was one point when John tried to do that. But when he went to the bathroom, I wrote in his note pad, biscuits, milk, a tin of meat for the cat. Instead, we would talk about the show on the way home. If we liked the show enough, we would record the banter on the Audioboo platform (as it was then called). While we assumed only my mother was listening, it was an opportunity  to explain why we liked something, without too many pauses or ums and errs. We also travelled to Winchester and Poole to speak to young people starting out as journalists about how to make a living doing it. The point we made was that theatre journalism never made money but you should do it because you like to do it around your

Spinning flipping and flexing: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers tour (or @7B47BUKTour)

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers stopped at the New Wimbledon Theatre this week. Its a fun, loud and incredibly energetic production with a terrific cast that will keep you entertained for its two hour run. Based on a parody of the Roman legend The Rape of the Sabine Women, called The Sobbin' Women, it is set in Oregon in 1850. Adam ( Sam Attwater ), the eldest of seven brothers, goes to town to get a wife. He convinces Milly ( Helena Blackman ) to marry him that same day, as she has no family of her own. But on their return to his backwoods home she then discovers he has six other brothers, all living in his small cabin. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth siblings, who want to get wives of their own and she sees it as a way to get them out of her house. After some basic lessons the men head to town for a local dance and to meet some women. But find that all the ladies are spoken for. Returning back home and feeling down, Adam inspires his brothers after reading one of Milly&

Patter songs: I Love You You're Perfect, Now Change

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A short run of the show I Love You, You're Perfect Now Change at the Riverside Studios Hammersmith is a pleasant enough diversion, although you get the feeling it is more fun performing it than watching it. Performers must love it as the cast of four manage to sing in a variety of styles from country to cantata. They  also run through a variety of roles from young nervous daters to old Jews at a funeral home (well, it is set in New York). This cast are great and manage to make the most of the material and the comic possibilities. But after awhile it becomes clear there isn't much variety in the work and each song tends to blend together. For the most part they are trite and forgettable. There is an occasional gem such as a ballad in the first half when the girl who finally manages to land a date proclaims, "I will be loved tonight" with such such desperation you are left wondering about her fate. In the second half there is an amusing song about being a bridesmaid

Returning satire: Yes, Prime Minister

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Yes, Prime Minister is back in the West End at Trafalgar Studios following two successful previous runs in the West End and a tour. It is probably good timing in the lead up to the Olympics as no doubt it will appeal to people with a spare night amongst all the other cultural offerings on at present and who have been inspired from walking up Whitehall past all the impressive Civil Service offices to pop on in...  The original television series was a quintessential satire from the 1980s and ran from 1980 to 1984 as Yes, Minister, and then 1986 to 1988 as Yes, Prime Minister. It was purportedly one of Margaret Thatcher's favourite shows . So anyone keen to wonder what writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn would make of the modern political environment of spin, coalitions, European rules and global recession the answer is here. Sir Humphrey Appleby and Jim Hacker now find themselves dealing with a loan scandal involving illegal workers and sexual favours against a backdrop of glo

Plays on tour: Is there a (script) doctor in the house?

Doctor in the House has been doing the rounds of major centres this year and is playing at Richmond Theatre this week. Comedian and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here winner Joe Pasquale plays the lead but he does not quite get the opportunity to let rip as much as you think you think he could or would like to. It's less laugh out loud and more smirk occasionally. Very occasionally. The material has been reworked from its source material and it seems to be missing any sense of bawdiness and adventure that could have made this a bit more fun. Pasquale describes in the above clip that the show will make you come out of the theatre feeling like you had a little hot water bottle down your pants. Well there was a warm feeling in the theatre but it could have been due to the ambient temperatures outside. The cast try their best with the material they have, the set is lovely albeit a bit static since its the same awful med student accommodation in every scene (think Ladykillers of

Confusion and full frontal nudity: Funny Peculiar at the Richmond Theatre

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Funny Peculiar playing this week at Richmond Theatre is probably the most perplexing production to be seen on a stage since Too Close To the Sun (it was a short-lived musical about Ernest Hemingway's suicide). The plot revolves around a small time grocer with a wife and a baby who is desperate for sex.  Mike Stott's  play was probably daring for putting fellatio on stage in 1973 and the shock of the original production was no doubt a distraction. Fast forward forty years and it really looks like a series of stock comedy scenarios straining for laughs. It lacks timing or purpose, and with its one dimensional characters comes across as just a little bit creepy. It's not unwatchable but perplexing to think why it is on stage at all. The cast are gorgeous though and as the show plods along you feel real pity for the material they have to work with. And at times you fear they are going to injure themselves trying to get some laughs. Even Craig Gazey's flaccid penis i

Dignitas and theatre: An Instinct For Kindness

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The process of dying in a Swiss assisted suicide clinic is detailed, efficient and bureaucratic as told in An Instinct For Kindness , currently showing at the Trafalgar Studios. Chris Larner's monologue based on his real-life observations and experiences in dealing with his former wife illness and eventual death is a sad tale but also has enough observations and surprises to keep you engaged. At 70 minutes long it is not a long journey. And Larner's ability to keep things funny and give a fresh take on pain, processes and the emotion of it makes for an enjoyable and contemplative night out at the theatre. This production was first at the Edinburgh Fringe and so it is good to see that it is now touring. It runs at Trafalgar Studios until the end of April. There are post show discussions as well if you like that sort of thing. @Johnnyfoxlondon and I decided to pass on the Rabbi who was speaking after the show on the night we went in favour of a boo... listen to ‘Assi

Sold out theatre: Abigail's Party

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Thanks to the nimble efforts of @FerozeIyer , I found myself with a ticket to Abigail's Party , the latest sell-out show at the Menier Chocolate Factory . We went for the full Abigail experience which included '70s themed dining while being entertained by people queueing for returns in desperation to get a ticket. While the amusing menu served as a reminder why heart disease features prominently in this piece, I suspect the joke was on us for eating it. It is a wonderful production of Mike Leigh's play with and excellent cast. The star of the show is really the authentic recreation of suburbia 1970s, which for both Feroze and I brought back happy memories of our childhood - complete with leather look lounges. The cast which includes Jill Halfpenny as party host extraordinaire Beverly and Joe Absolom as Tony. The story is fairly straight forward. They drink, they smoke, they drink, they argue. They drink some more, smoke some more and argue more. What its all about

Theatre: The King's Speech (in Richmond)

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The King's Speech was originally intended to be a play rather than a film, and it you now have the opportunity in London to see it that way. It is a smart looking production with an excellent cast that keep things in focus. The performances by Charles Edwards as the King and Jonathan Hyde as Lionel Logue are central to this and you are on the edge of your seat whenever they are on stage. Despite projections and visuals which make the piece still feel a bit cinematic, it is the dialogue and the banter between the two men that are key. On one level, the play elaborates and enhances some aspects of the story going beyond what the film covers. But on another level it is also labours them. The film seemed sharper and more credible. It is a pity that perhaps the stage version didn't re-imagine the story as a three-hander between George VI, Elizabeth and Lionel Logue. The focus of the stories blurs with the cast of supporting (and possibly) superfluous characters.Winston Churchill, t

Theatre: The Pitchfork Disney

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Wednesday night I was fortunate enough to see the first preview of The Pitchfork Disney at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston. It is a mildly unnerving post-apocalyptic tale of dreams, nightmares, chocolate and things that bug you... Nothing is quite what it seems in this play. And through a series of monologues, there are laughs and shocks. It is hard to talk too much about the play without giving it away. But it is a showcase for some very talented actors. Chris New - who was in the well-received movie Weekend - gives an intense performance as Presley. He is great to watch along with co-star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (pictured) as Cosmo Disney. Both manage to make their crazy roles believable and interesting in as much as that is possible. Rounding out the cast is Mariah Gale and Steve Guadino... Philip Ridley's play celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. While it may not be as shocking to audiences now as it was then. It does have a certain unnerving quality that remains

Theatre: First Light and Mr Darwin's Tree

First Light - Trailer from Fionn Watts on Vimeo . The King's Head Theatre in Islington is playing a season of plays by Murray Watts this month. I finally caught the double bill - First Light and Mr Darwin's Tree - on Thursday evening. It all makes for an evening of unexpected surprises. Laughs, shocks and a few revelations abound over the course of two very different pieces of theatre.

Panto: Dick Whittington

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It's the tail-end of panto season. School is back, Christmas and New Year have come and gone and the holidays are over. But fortunately the New Wimbledon Theatre's Dick Whittington is a welcome hanger on from the period. Its funny, sharp and varied enough to keep people of all ages entertained. There's even a 3D film segment in the second half to scare the children. But top billing for this show is Dame Edna as the Spirit of London fairy helps Dick (and the show) along. The show gives and opportunity for Dame Edna to fly through the audience, riff on old routines and muse about the genre of the pantomime. It is hilarious stuff. The jokes about empty seats being the result of subscribers to the theatre from the posh parts of Wimbledon, who have since died, are comedy gold... Of course when Dame Edna isn't around there is the good looking Sam Attwater as the hero and Anna Williamson as Alice along with a host of supporting characters that work so hard it is exhaus

Edinburgh Reflections 2011: The first 36 hours

The first reflections on the shows seen to date with @Johnnyfoxlondon and a jaded boo following an awful Faulty Towers experience...   Edinboo: Reflections on a bad lunch and a fringe so far... (mp3) Meanwhile, I have published elsewhere short reviews of the following shows so far: Little Shop of Homos The Deacon Mary Blandys Gallows Tree Still Life Dreaming The Melody Blog Please Retain For Your Records More detailed coverage to follow...

Theatre: The Beggar's Opera

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Thankfully it was a clear night on Wednesday to see this new production of The Beggar's Opera  at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. It is a smart looking production with a great cast and music performed by The City Waites . But although authentic, the sum of it feels more like an embalming of a great work than a ripping night out.

Theatre and perspiration: Roadshow

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The tennis at Wimbledon at the moment is getting really exciting, so it was great when walking into the Menier Chocolate Factory to see Stephen Sondheim's Roadshow that the seats were arranged like you were at Wimbledon - comfortable but a bit hot and forcing you to turn your head to see the action as it moved across court  the stage. Staging (and heat) aside, this is an interesting piece of theatre about two brothers who have various scams and schemes and in the process end up building a town in Florida, writing a screenplay (or at least being in the room when it was written), and developing an architectural style that (for better or worse) persists to this day. It is all interesting enough to have you wanting to locate the source material, or at least looking up the history of Boca Raton on the internet.

Theatre: Mr Happiness and The Water Engine

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Monday night, Johnnyfox and I found ourselves in the dark, cold underworld where dreams are destroyed by faceless businessmen. We also found ourselves at the Old Vic Tunnels , a fabulous collection of spaces under the railway arches near Waterloo station (that are also a little bit dark and dank) watching Mr Happiness and the Water Engine, two short plays written by David Mamet originally for radio.

Theatre: Blink Again Turn on the lights!

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It took me a while to work out why a man in a Spiderman suit kept appearing on stage for a show about songs from flop shows. I was somewhat distracted by the low turnout on Thursday evening to see Blink Again at Above The Stag  to think too much further. Maybe it was the weather or maybe it just wasn't gay enough show for the venue. But the cast were energetic and the irony of the lack of a big audience didn't seem lost on them. The show was a compilation of some great (and some not so great) songs from shows that perhaps did not put them in their best light. This includes songs such as "A Boy from Nowhere" from Matador and China Doll from Marguerite. In the second half things liven up even more with a spirited re-enactment of scenes from the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. There is also a number from Tarzan where the actor stripped down to a rather skimpy loincloth and sang a rather vulnerable song... The show runs until 3 July and notwithstanding the occasional under

Music: Matthew Morrison

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Matthew Morrison somewhat exploded onto the stage last night at the Hammersmith Apollo. Well there was a lot of bass noise anyway. In fact, it was hard to pass any judgement on the show given the bass drowned out his vocals most of the evening. The ladies shouting for him to get his shirt off seemed more audible. The technical problems were not just with the base but also with late pick ups, cameras in the way, projections running on a laptop that was low on batteries. Still, Matthew Morrison couldn't be accused of being low on batteries however as he sang / danced / bounced on stage for almost two hours. It was a great performance and Morrison is a very likeable performer. Highlights included a medley of songs from West Side Story accompanied by bongos, which thankfully someone recorded and sent to Perez Hilton (above). There were also a number of tracks both from Glee and his new album Summer Rain  that were a treat, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The show lasted t

Theatre: Fing's Ain't Wot They Used T'Be

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Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be is not so much a musical but a music hall revue of songs with a very loose excuse for a plot. It feels a little like a downmarket Guys and Dolls (or at least one transferred to the East End). There are busty prostitutes, gamblers, fights and a sissy male... But not much of a story. That is not to say that it is not rather enjoyable with the songs being a pastiche of music hall styles where humour and melodrama are more important than characterisations or  driving forward a plot. This current production at the Union Theatre has an energetic cast and is a slick production. It sounds good too, with a small orchestra that is supplemented by the actors playing instruments as well. It is amazing to think that Lionel Bart had written this the year before Oliver! as this is not in the same league. But perhaps that isn't the point. This is much more of a sing along. It's tempting to sing along at times and I am sure @Johnnyfox was doing it e

Theatre: Thrill Me

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Thrill me sounds like the name of one of Max Bialystock's little old ladies with a cheque (or perhaps if it were a little old lady it would be Thrill Me, Kill Me), but there was something intriguing about a musical based on the unlikely subject of a couple of homosexuals in 1920s Chicago who rob and kill for kicks. It is currently playing at the Tristan Bates Theatre .