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Showing posts with the label Jermyn Street Theatre

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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

Same but indifferent: Laughing Boy @JStheatre

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Stephen Unwin's Laughing Boy, adapted for the stage from Sara Ryan's Justice for Laughing Boy, is a powerful and moving story about a mother and a family that keeps asking questions despite the victimisation and harassment from the institution - the NHS - that was supposed to protect her son. It's a moving, celebratory account of a life cut short due to indifference held together by a remarkable performance by Janie Dee as Sara. It's currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  Sara's son, Connor, is a little different to others. He is fascinated by buses and doesn't like things like loud noises. But as he becomes an adult, his seizures and unexpected outbursts mean the family turn to their local NHS for support. Little did they realise they would receive such little care from a service that was institutionally incompetent and covered up thousands of unexplained deaths of people with disabilities, including Connor's. The search for answers about why he

Lonely Town: The Lonely Londoners @JSTheatre

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Sam Selvon’s novel about the Windrush generation comes to vivid life in this flashy adaptation by Roy Williams—the hustle and the struggle contrast with the exuberant joy and acclamation of life in the city. Lights flash, feet dance, and pigeons get strangled...  for food. It’s an hour and forty-five minutes that doesn’t let up, and it is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  Set in 1956 London, we meet Henry “Sir Galahad” Oliver (Romario Simpson). He is in a hurry to start a new life in London and seeks out Moses Aloetta (Gamba Cole) to help him get started. Only to find that Moses and his friends have become disillusioned with city life and don’t share his enthusiasm. The fights, the petty discrimination, and the lack of job offers make it an endless struggle. And it’s fascinating to see the transformation of Simpson as he gets worn down by the endless setbacks.  It’s a simple yet stylish production, with the cast remaining onstage with a black wall. Elliot Griggs’ lighti

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

German rivalry: Farm Hall @JSTheatre

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What is it about German scientists that fascinate us? Whether it be Dr Strangelove or The Right Stuff, the German scientist from the time of war features as an omnipresent genius. But in Farm Hall, the debut play from Katherine Moar, it's the reflective scientist, not the mad crazy one, that is the focus. And in its brisk 90 minutes, you feel it captures the world's time and place. There was madness everywhere but not at Farm Hall. It's currently playing at Jermyn Street Theatre .  Farm Hall is based on the detainment by allied forces of several German physicists towards the end of the Second World War. Victory in Europe was complete, but the war in the Pacific continued. The capture aimed to learn how developed the German nuclear programme was through eavesdropping on their conversations. These men were the senior players in the German nuclear programme. Removed from the day-to-day world and confined to a decaying mansion, they play chess and card games and repair an old p

Fille matérielle: The Massive Tragedy Of Madame Bovary! @JSTheatre

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After seeing The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary, which is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre, I found myself walking past the shops of Piccadilly wondering what Madame Bovary would make all of this apparent luxury. She was a woman ahead of her time, running up debts to live a life of luxury while having both a sensible husband and a lover. She would fit in in a nation where household debts have risen by a third . Even if she was living in a small provincial town.  So the premise of this piece by John Nicholson is whether it could be a comedy. Particularly given the time of the year when Christmas is approaching, and everyone is just after a feel-good night out at the theatre. The answer is, perhaps. The comedy is mostly sight gags and props, while the story of indebtedness and boredom in the provinces no doubt will enthral London audiences by reaffirming their own life choices.  But while we get a sense of the basic plot behind Madame Bovary,  we don’t understand the moti

Romance and other theatrics: Love all @JSTheatre

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As part of its Temptation Season, Jermyn Street Theatre serves up a civilised and biting farce with Love All. Full of incisive observations about the roles and expectations for women at the time while managing to be a fun and silly romp spanning Venice and London, it is a both a guilty pleasure and a lost gem currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  Written by Dorothy L Sayers, better known for her detective novels, there is an obsessive attention to detail in the piece. You could miss something crucial to the plot or a laugh later on if you're not paying attention.  The premise is that Lydia Hillington (Emily Barber), a famous London stage actress, has given up the stage to elope with a famous novelist Godfrey Daybrook (Alan Cox). But after eighteen months of living in a hotel on the Grand Canal, all is not well. A chance meeting with a producer inspires her to escape to London to audition for a role an exciting new playwright is casting (Leah Whitaker). Meanwhile, Daybro

Pretend it’s a good life: The Marriage of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein @JSTheatre

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It’s tempting to write about The Marriage of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein, which is actually by Edward Einhorn since the former is the title of the play, pretending to be Edward Einhorn who is pretending to be Gertrude Stein. Therefore, I would have to pretend to be Einhorn pretending to be Stein pretending not to be a theatre writer covering the proceedings. But in the interests of clarity and sanity. I won’t be pretending anything further. Except to pretend I was familiar with the works of Stein, which also after seeing this piece, I feel I don’t have to pretend as much.  The novelty of this play, where everything is in the style of Stein, will either amuse or irritate, probably depending on how familiar you are with the works of Stein or willing to embrace them. And the basic facts of their lives are there. However, within the circular dialogue, a story emerges of a woman in the shadows of a genius. It’s making its covid delayed premiere at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  The short

A hard rain’s gonna fall: Rain and Zoe Save The World @JSTheatre

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The message in Rain and Zoe Save the World is topical and perhaps foretelling. This new play by writer Crystal Skillman sees a future in which young activists do more than block roads to protest climate change. They are taking direct action by blowing up things and taking facilities offline even if they risk their lives and become outlaws. It's currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  It could be easy to dismiss the piece as a bit of a far-fetched coming of age story. But you could also see it as a harbinger of what is to come as pollution, wild weather and pandemics become part of everyday life. Something has to give, and the play suggests that a new breed of teenage activism might be the subsequent logical response.  We open on with sixteen-year-old Zoe (Mei Henri) in her backyard. Suspended from school after an incident, she convinces her recently arrived neighbour Rain (Jordan Benjamin) to take his bike with them to drive across the country to find her mother at a prot

Short silences: Footfalls & Rockaby @JSTheatre

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Going to the theatre is just one of the things we can do to pass the time by as we slowly die, so here you can make an evening of it. Two short works by Samuel Beckett make a haunting and reflective double bill at the Jermyn Street Theatre and give you enough time to have dinner after. Alone with your thoughts (and surrounded by mostly masked theatregoers), mortality, regrets and endless pondering may not be everyone’s idea of a night out at the theatre. But it’s certainly provocative.  Theatre doesn’t have to be three hours long to linger with you. The themes about age, the passing of time, and death seem apt after the last two years. The pieces stir up memories of those who have left us or who remained close to those that did. First up is Footfalls. A woman paces up and down a small stage. Her footsteps are audible at every step on the wooden platform, which is like a platform. There’s a bell that tolls too as she walks and reacts to her mother’s voice. Motherhood, religious isolati

Aviatrix or bust: Lone Flyer @jstheatre

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Lone Flyer is about taking chances and living a little. Celebrating the life of British pilot Amy Johnson, the idea of flying to bring people together seems a novel idea living in the era of traffic light restrictions and endless swabs. And so, Lone Flyer takes on new meaning for escapism at the Jermyn Street Theatre . Charts the highs and lows of living in early 20th century Britain, it's also one woman's story about escaping the typing pool and living a little. Amy Johnson decided to fly to Australia because it was there. And no other woman had done it. And so, with a bit of luck and flying mostly to outposts of the old Empire so she could count on their support, she did it. And all on a second-hand aeroplane. For an antipodean with no chance of flying to Australia anytime soon, given the lack of flights and long waiting lists, it's enugh to give you pause.  In this two-handler play, first seen at the Watermill Theatre, Writer Ade Morris contrasts her improbable rise to f

Online and lifelines during lockdown...

As life in London remains in a suspended state, theatres are moving online... and requesting some lifelines. Here are a few so far: Finborough Theatre The Finborough Theatre is updating its archive of shows over the years. And you can donate online to help keep the theatre open . There is also Continuity, a gripping monologue about a man with a bomb, last seen in 2017 and now available to watch online . Jermyn Street Theatre The Jermyn Street Theatre has launched an emergency fund to keep it running. And they just recently had a burst water pipe to deal with. Check out their twitter feed for performances as well. Omnibus Theatre Clapham's Omnibus Theatre Online launched with a performance of Our Day's coming-of-age comedy-drama DEM TIMES. Recorded live at King's Place for London Podcast Festival 2019. There is also a section on the website for donations. Battersea Arts Centre Battersea Arts Centre's groundbreaking film, Performance Live: The Way O

Dog gone: The Dog Walker @JSTheatre

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In a city of strangers, two struggling eccentrics come together in Paul Minx’s The Dog Walker. The only trouble is that they’re not particularly likeable and it’s a pretty unconvincing story. Nevertheless, the two performers throw everything at it. And with terrifically trashy production design, it makes this piece interesting, if ultimately unsatisfying. It’s currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre . A tragicomedy of sorts, Keri (Victoria Yeates) doesn’t go out and awaits the arrival of a ghost. Her tiny New York flat is strewn with liquor bottles and dead plants. She shouts tirades at anyone from her window and seems to eke out a living by writing e-books. Her mother delivers casseroles, so she isn’t starving. But apart from that, she’s entirely alone. Except for her dog - an old Pekingese - that she hires a dog walker to take out from time to time. And so enters Herbert Doakes (Andrew Dennis), a devout Jamaican immigrant with an ethical streak who is holding down a few jo

Tales from the monoculture: One Million Tiny Plays About Britain @JSTheatre

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There is a theatre-sports feel to One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre . Two actors are thrown into the challenge of portraying characters of a range of ages and types across Britain with barely seconds to make costume or wig change. At best, there are some touching moments about chance encounters. But by the end, you feel there's a repetitiveness to the characters and their micro stories so that you feel like it's more like a million tiny plays about the same thing. The most fun from this show, however, comes from its send-up of the Jermyn Street Theatre and audiences that you likely find here. Before the show begins, the actors are playing ushers telling the audience where to go, with a direct yet amusing twist. The theatre announcements, including when the toilets are about to be closed are delivered with elaborations. And before the second half gets underway, we're treated to a game of bingo. Playing the various

No country for old men: The Ice Cream Boys @JSTheatre

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America has Trump, Britain has Boris, and South Africa had Jacob Zuma. Old men fade from power and eventually die, and no skeleton is left in the closet in the Ice Cream Boys by Gail Louw. For ninety minutes, they bitch and moan about the state of their country and the path their lives have taken. It just so happens that one of the men is Jacob Zuma, former President of South Africa. The other is Ronnie Kasrils, former Minister for Intelligence Services and critic of Zuma. It sets out in a breathtaking edge-of-your-seat way, both a historical and personal account of the struggles of the country. Full of passion and fire, it's currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre . The two men meet by chance in a hospital. Kasrils (Jack Klaff) is there to have a melanoma removed. Zuma (Andrew Francis) is there to have his prostate checked. They are in adjacent rooms tended to by a young nurse, Thandi, who lives in a township some distance away (Bu Kunene). For those familiar wit

Love and war: Creditors @JSTheatre

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Walking into Jermyn Street Theatre to see the new translation of Strindberg's Creditors feels like you're transported to a small seaside hotel in the late 1800s. The sounds, look and feel, takes you there on some unknown Nordic island where the action takes place. And it's gorgeousness lulls you into a false sense of security for the mind games that are about to take place over the next ninety minutes. It opens with Adolf (James Sheldon), talking desperately about the love for his new wife with a man he recently has befriended, Gustaf (David Sturzaker). She's just published a book about her idiotic husband from her first marriage and now gone away for a few days. And her absence is driving Adolf crazy. He's stopped painting and started working on a very sexually provocative sculpture. But his new friend is sowing the seeds of doubt about his wife. He saw her on the ferry chatting to some young men. And as Adolf becomes increasingly neurotic about his new

Playmates: Original Death Rabbit @JSTheatre

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A monologue by a woman in a dirty rabbit onesie seems like the unlikeliest of dark tales. But Original Death Rabbit leaves no stone unturned. It‘s an exploration of millennial angst, mental illness and the quest for acceptance on the internet. Rose Heiney’s monologue which was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four is currently playing at the  Jermyn Street Theatre .   It opens with a woman in a filthy pink bunny outfit. She is the original death rabbit. It started out as a stunt at university to reclaim the bunny from Playboy. But by accident she became an internet meme when she photographed wearing the outfit at a cemetery. Soon death rabbiting (wearing a bunny outfit in inappropriate settings) became a thing. Like planking or flossing. And then a promising career tumbles down a rabbit hole of internet forums, social media platforms, mental illness and addiction.  On the internet, anyone can be a star. Unless of course you have a theatre blog. If you’re controversial

Billy don’t be a hero: Billy Bishop Goes To War @Jstheatre

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On the centennial anniversary of the end of the First World War, Proud Haddock and the Jermyn Street Theatre gives us Billy Bishop Goes To War. A story about an unlikely Canadian layabout who becomes a star pilot and legend of the Great War. In this atmospheric production with great performances you‘ll find yourself swept away in the adventure. And the horror. Billy Bishop was a Canadian fighter pilot who was credited with 72 victories. But from the outset it wasn’t obvious he’d be feted as a hero. He was about to be thrown out of military school when war was declared. He escaped the trenches and the mud by becoming an observer in the newly formed Air Force. And thanks to a wealthy patron, Lady St Helier, he managed to rise the ranks. Being from the colonies he was a second class citizen. But something funny happened during the war. And out of necessity perceptions of things start to change. Afterall, he was invaluable keeping up morale in the colonies. The piece is a two hander and d

Love and Marriage: Mad As Hell @JSTheatre

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The life of Peter Finch is forever intertwined with his final film role in Network. Being ”mad as hell” is the topic of this play, Mad as Hell currently showing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  In Network, Finch plays Howard Beale. He transforms from a mild mannered news anchor at a struggling television network to a modern day prophet. Tired of reporting the bullshit of the world he urgess his viewers to get “mad as hell”. The story has enough relevance today to warrant a exciting reimagining at the National Theatre. Here writers Adrian Hope and Cassie McFarlane, imagine the character Finch plays has many parallels with his own life. A hard living angry man tired of the bullshit that goes with being a celebrity. He finds solace with a woman who helps him escape and live a normal life. It’s also a sensitive tale about a mixed race marriage in a time of tremendous change.  McFarlane took inspiration from her mother’s retelling of the story. This includes the Jamaican reaction to Finch’s