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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

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Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Fags and flares: Anita and Me @stratfordeast

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Anita and Me, currently playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East covers Meera Syal's life growing up in 1970s West Midlands. It was an era of chain smoking, flares and glam rock. But something feels lost in the translation from book to stage production. It feels like it is a series of random encounters with northern stereotypes. Not much happens in this slice of life comedy-drama and the accompanying music often serves to distract from the story making the show less involving than it should be.

The family way: The Etienne Sisters @stratfordeast

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A reunion with an estranged half-sister at their mother's funeral provides the backdrop for an unlikely musical subject in the Etienne Sisters at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. The sisters accompanied by jazz pianist Nikki Yeoh perform admirably in this sophisticated and slick show even if the music doesn't feel like a perfect match to its subject matter.

Weaving monologues: Crowning Glory

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Crowning Glory which is now playing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East is a frank, sassy, funny and thought-provoking piece which apart from being about hair and makeup, is full of insightful observations about life - particularly the lives of black British women - and some raw emotions. The piece is told through the eyes of seven women and features a series of interwoven monologues, video projections and music asking about what is beauty, what makes people happy and in doing so also reveals their vulnerabilities and fears.

Theatre: A Clockwork Orange

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The London riots come to mind when thinking about A Clockwork Orange, which has been "re-imagined" at the Theatre Royal Stratford East . While it is not the entire focus of the story, the lawlessness and the violence that features in this story evokes the memories of August when fear and panic gripped the city. A Clockwork Orange serves to remind us that perhaps this is not a new problem for this part of the world... This re-imagining and musicalisation of the story does take a different approach to the book by Anthony Burgess. But taking it on its own merits rather than a faithful adaptation it makes for a engaging and entertaining evening out. There is no classical music in this version of the story. Instead we have some thrilling music by Fred Carl that appears to be inspired by jazz, hip hop and perhaps AfroReggae . For the most part this propels the story forward and gives the performances the opportunity to deliver some emotionally charged songs. Holding the s