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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

Fancy footwork: Floyd Collins @WiltonMusicHall

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A cave man searching for fame and fortune - and finds it after he gets trapped in one - is the basis of the musical Floyd Collins, currently playing at Wilton's Music Hall. Based on the true story of Kentucky cave explorer Collins. After getting his foot trapped he becomes a media sensation when a cub reporter (who is thin and small enough to enter the cave) interviews him. His subsequent story becomes syndicated across America.

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

The generation gap as an overlong play: Love, Love, Love

Love, Love, Love by Mike Bartlett is now playing at the Royal Court . It's an epic drama about Kenneth and Sandra who meet in the sixties and start a fiery relationship. They have two children, divorce and then retire. But all is not well and it is the harsh economic realities that become the focus of the play. It has some sort of impact as people were filing out of the theatre Saturday night muttering amongst themselves, "Oh well, we will have to buy our children a house" or "I'm never going to be able to afford to buy on my salary". A play that tackles the theme of the baby boomer generation as the locust generation is an interesting premise. But at three hours you will leave the theatre wondering if they could have made it shorter and called it Love, Love. As one particularly loud American couple noted in the foyer after the first act, it was fifty minutes that could have been told in five. The characters and more caricatures and there are no real s

Quick looks: The Sunshine Boys

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The Sunshine Boys opens at the Savoy Theatre towards the end of the April and a new picture of Richard Griffiths and Danny DeVito is out of the duo... Neil Simon's classic play is about Al Lewis (Griffiths) and Willy Clark (DeVito), a vaudevillian team who grew to hate each other. They are reunited for a television special which is a cue for grumpy old men-type shenanigans. Griffiths and DeVito certainly look the part, albeit with possibly better dental hygiene than real vaudeville stars... It starts previews from April 27...

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: All New People

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All New People, written and starring Zach Braff is a play that takes place over 90 or so minutes in the dead of winter at a beach house on Long Beach Island New Jersey. Zach's character Charlie is staying at his friends beach house for a few days as he is having a bit of crisis at this point in his life. He is about to end it all, when a real estate agent walks in... Then follows a fireman, and then a high-class hooker his best friend arranged to cheer him up with. The stage is set for a bizarre and off-beat set of stories and revelations from this collection of four unlikely people. There is a detailed discussion about scabies and debates about the merits of various intoxicating substances. Projections help with the back stories of the characters, but it works best when it is just some off-beat random discussions about matters of trivial importance. Or are they? Whatever the case, the action moves briskly and the laughs are fairly constant.

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

Grim New Year: Sweeney Todd Preview

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2012 looks set to be delightfully grim if this teaser trailer for the Sweeney Todd musical is any measure... It opens at the Adelphi in March 2012... But it won't be all blood and murder... I'm off to see Cirque du Soleil's Totem tonight... More later...

(Pop up) Theatre: Inzain

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Fine Artis Tree's production of Inzain under the railway arches at Queens Circus Battersea is an example of a great concept in bringing new theatre to the unlikeliest of places. The company specialises in pop up theatres and in this case is next door to a tile shop. It was a pity we didn't arrive earlier as the tile shop had closed and we could have done with some inspiration for our next mosaic, but we were somewhat distracted by the plethora of gastropubs in the Battersea area serving good quality food and had lingered longer than we should have over bangers and mash and burgers. The play is a two-hander by Leah Chillery , it tells the story of Zain who had a vision that he would become a player at Crystal Palace Football club and his battles with the club manager. The stage is set for battles over faith, entitlement and youth culture. And football. It is an interesting premise but the punches are often pulled. Also the vast space of a railway arch means that the audience ar

Theatre: Rock of Ages

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Rock of Ages which is now playing in London, is a jukebox musical of classic rock hits from the eighties. It is full of so much energy and rocked the Shaftesbury Theatre on Wednesday night so hard, that you can't help but like it. This show has played Broadway and other parts of the world and now even has a film in the works. The reasons why it has been such a success might bewilder, but you will have a good time anyway The cast of incredibly talented people manage to do a lot with the material. And by that I mean both the overly laboured plot and the skimpy costumes. The ladies in the chorus are a particular treat as they bump and grind their way through the proceedings. The men nearby seemed to be watching the show mostly with their mouths open.

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 preview: Trial of the Mariner

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I caught a preview of The Trial of the Mariner at the Hoxton Hall this week. This is a work that is presented by the Lotos Collective and Hoxton Hall, and part of their Rebirth programme. It was not the full performance, but where they had got to so far in their work and it looks set to be an imaginative take on sustainability issues. As it is an interactive multi-media piece about plastic, there are some creative uses for old margarine tubs, milk bottles, yogurt pots and the like. It was in the bar before the performance where you are greeted with this creation (that should be incorporated into the production in future). She was somewhat menacing yet also strangely alluring with large paper-mache breasts and milk bottle tops for nipples. The Lotos Collective have previously undertaken performances and site-specific projects in London, Naples, Ghana and Beirut and this piece continues along their ethos. The story is set in year 2111, and a group of desperate sailors embark on a