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Showing posts with the label Thom Southerland

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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

Life without art: Theatre Channel Episode Seven @thetheatrechannel

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Regents Park and the spaces around Regents Park Open Air Theatre transform into a magical world full of Rodgers and Hammerstein music in the latest episode of the Theatre Channel . Audition waiting rooms. Picnics in the park. Even the pond geese feature in this reinterpretation of the classic songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook. Theatres are still playing to half capacity since being an afterthought in the great unlock down. And so, the Theatre Channel’s episodes continue to serve as a reminder about what we’re missing. This time around, it’s singing and dancing in the park. Without the garbage or hordes of people mulling about.  Performances in and around the park taking a fresh look at the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook include Michael Xavier performing Climb Every Mountain/You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from The Sound of Music and Carousel on an empty stage. Josefina Gabrielle in an alfresco take on The Gentleman Is a Dope’ from Allegro. And Caroline Sheen turning Whistle A

Only an older woman: Harold and Maude @Charingcrossthr

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There’s something irresistibly cute and whimsical about this adaptation of Harold and Maude. It’s not as dark or shocking as the film. But the performances and production of this tale of living life and enjoying every stage of it make it a delight. It’s currently showing at the Charing Cross Theatre . Colin Higgins wrote the script to Harold and Maude as his third year film school thesis. Directed by Hal Ashby and starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort it bombed on release. Only later did it develop into a cult following. Higgins, who would go on to write and direct the movies Foul Play and 9 to 5 ,  would later adapt it into the play we have here.  The story centres on Harold. He’s a young man stuck in the straight-jacket of middle-class early seventies suburbia. He stages suicide attempts to shock his mother. He goes to funerals of strangers and has generally withdrawn from life. While at one of these funerals he meets Maude. She’s constantly borrowing things; cars, trees, money from the

Wicked men with beards: The Woman In White @charingcrossthr

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What makes The Woman In White interesting is the cast assembled for this tale about imprisonment, nasty men and poor artists. Even if this story makes no sense, it's a chance to be amazed by performers who hopefully will get to go onto bigger (and better) things. It’s having its first revival at Charing Cross Theatre . Pared back from its original production which premiered in the West End over ten years ago, here there are less effects and a bigger focus on the story. But the story doesn’t make much sense. Two young bored women Laura (Anna O'Byrne) and Marian (Carolyn Maitland) trapped in the country enlist the services of an artist, Walter (Ashley Stillburn), to help them draw. The artist sees a ghostly woman dressed in white on the way to their house. Walter falls in love with Laura. But Laura’s engaged to marry Sir Percival Glyde (Chris Peluso) as it was her father’s dying wish. Her father mustn't have liked Laura much as you just know by Sir Percival's facia

Trauma and light: The Braille Legacy @CharingCrossThr

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I suspect the inspiration for the musical the Braille Legacy currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre is to explore a young man's determination to read and learn. But instead we get a lot of political intrigue and some unintentionally hilarious musical moments as children disappear after medical experiments go wrong. All set to music. This is a new musical by Sébastien Lancrenon and Jean-Baptiste Saudray and translated by Ranjit Bolt. It's lush and listenable, but curiously lacking in any emotion or point.

It becomes her: Death Takes A Holiday @charingcrossthr

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A terrific story and some fine singing from its sexy leads makes this encounter with death enjoyable. But you get the feeling that that this near death experience could be more enjoyable if the music was not so repetitive and loud. It's currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre .

Make them hear you: Ragtime @CharingCrossThr

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Ragtime at Charing Cross Theatre takes the late nineties musical and lifts it into another realm. With a compact cast on a compact stage, everything seems more intense. It is more musical, more melodramatic and more relevant than ever before. The cast double as the musicians. One minute they are singing the next minute they’re on the drums or accordion. Pianos whizz about the stage. Music and drama explode in front of you. There is so much happening (particularly in the frenetic first half) that it is breathtaking. The show opens with an extended prologue introducing the characters and the music of a new syncopation that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. After the rousing chorus that ends it the audience burst into cheers

Cunning vixens and dopes: Allegro @swkplay

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There is no time to lose in Allegro at the Southwark Playhouse . It is a whirlwind tour of a man's life from birth to mid life. But along the way there is much to admire in this early Rodgers and Hammerstein piece. Allegro was first performed in 1947 is having its professional European premiere finally in 2016. For whatever reasons it did not capture the imagination of the public at the time. Maybe it is it is because it is a character study and a none too subtle dig at city life. But perhaps with the passing of time the story has more resonance and its innovations can be appreciated.

Cat people and corns: Grey Gardens @swkplay

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Perhaps the central message in Grey Gardens is that no matter what you do, no matter how much you fight it, you will turn into your mother. Particularly since Jenna Russell (in a a star turn) plays both Little Edie and Big Edie in this show, based on the the Beales of Grey Gardens It’s only early in the year, but this has to be one of the funniest things to happen on stage in London for 2016. It also serves as a wonderful vehicle showing just how darn funny Russell can be. Grey Gardens is a musical based on the documentary of the same name. The documentary, released in 1975, caused a sensation with its frank depiction of two old cat women living in squalor with cats and raccoons. They also just happened to be related to Jacqueline Onassis.

Comings and goings: Grand Hotel @Swkplay

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Nothing stays still seems to be the key message in this breathtaking new production of Grand Hotel at the Southwark Playhouse . It is constantly moving and the performances, music, singing and dancing combine in what is probably as close as is humanly possible to musical theatre perfection. The musical tells the story of a series of characters from a guided age that feel like they are from an alien world on one hand, but on the other you can’t help see some relevance to the current age of austerity, economic and political refugees and rage against the one per cent .