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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Pig In A Poke: Betty Blue Eyes @TheUnionTheatre

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Twelve years after its West End premiere, Betty Blue Eyes seems topical. Back then, the parallels were only about a Royal Wedding, with William and Kate's marriage filling the headlines. Now a musical about conniving members of the establishment , illegal meat trades and shortages of decent food could be set in the present day. Even the Horse meat scandal would follow a few years after its closure. Now in a smaller-scale version at the Union Theatre, it's still funny and silly. And the illegal pigsty is right up close and under your nose in the smaller space of the Union Theatre .  Based on the Alan Bennet movie A Private Function, the story is set just after the Second World War when rationing and shortages meant times were tough. Gilbert and Joyce Chilvers (Sam Kipling and Amelia Atherton) move to a small Yorkshire Town and struggle to make ends meet and gain acceptance. Gilbert has to make do as a chiropodist making house calls to lonely housewives (in 1947, they were all

Little rocks: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes @TheUnionTheatre

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Two ladies looking for wealthy men to marry might seem like an unusual musical for revival in this #metoo era. But with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the Union Theatre transforms into a bubbling 1920s escapist fantasy. Amongst the froth, there are also some shrewd observations about harassment and survival in a man’s world. And with a terrific cast, exhilarating dance numbers and a fabulous set and costumes, it has to be one of the best things to see on the fringe right now. The tale of blonde gold-digger from Little Rock may be forever associated with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Walking into the Union Theatre with its red stage feels like a reminder this is the show where Marilyn performs Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend. But the musical, which dates from an earlier, more risque time has a lot more to say than the film. Unwanted advances, criminal charges and a revolutionary device that will change the face of fashion. It’s all here among some exuberant musical numbers. The

For the boys: The Pirates of Penzance @WiltonMusicHall

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It’s still a man’s world in Cornwall. Or so it is in Sasha Reagan’s all-male version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Ten years on from it’s first presentation, the show is still full of humour, energy and resourcefullness. And staged among the period features of  Wilton’s Music Hall , it's a perfect match. Over the years I’ve missed all the all-male cast versions staged by the Union Theatre . There’s been Iolanthe, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore. Which is too bad. What they lack in feminine presence they make up with in comic timing, energy and vigour. The show never misses a chance to bring out the humour in the situation, while still remaining largely faithful to the original material. It’s a resourceful production too. Simple props like a broom turn into a horse. Which is then fed a carrot. In a most amusing way.A ladder and some fabric become a pirate ship on the high seas (or at least on English Chanel). And no doubt the all-male cast doubling a

Music and monarchists: Blondel @TheUnionTheatre

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The legend of Richard the Lionhart's dubious rescue from captivity by his minstrel Blondel is the subject of this rock musical by Tim Rice and Stephen Oliver at the Union Theatre . With its youthful cast it's well sung and funny in a pantomime sort of way. It's a pity that our hero Blondel ( Connor Arnold ) comes across less as a rock star and more of a folk singer in this version. It could do with a throbbing beat and a few guitar riffs to keep the action moving. But you'll find a few wry observations about austerity which will seem as relevant as when the show first premiered in 1983.