Posts

Showing posts with the label comedy

Featured Post

Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

Image
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

Streaming Queens: The Crown Dual @KingsHeadthtr

Image
Even if you haven’t watched The Crown on Netflix, there’s much to be amused about in The Crown Dual. A meta-spoof on the public’s endless fascination for dramatisations about the lives of the royal family. And all things royal for that matter. It’s currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre . The premise is that Beth Buckingham (Rosie Holt) and her dubious agent and patio specialist Stanley (Brendan Murphy) are going to recreate Beth’s showreel audition for The Crown. And prove that she would have been far more talented than that Claire Foy in the role. And so beings a rather silly and at times hilarious recreation of the best and most preposterous bits of the first series of The Crown. With Holt or Murphy playing a range of cast members, sending up both the characters and their fictional television characterisations. Both have great comic timing and make a  somewhat regal pair. The lives of the Royal Family often seem like the subject matter for a farce. Here it’s an ente

1975 and all that: Kieran Hodgson’s ‘75 @Sohotheatre

Image
Actor, comedian, storyteller Kieran Hodgson has picked a topic for his latest show that should serve him well for the rest of his life. '75 at the Soho Theatre covers Britain’s on-again off-again affair with the European Union. You’re left without a doubt that since Britain has been arguing over the past fifty years about its place in Europe. It’s fairly likely that we’re going to continue to argue about it for the next fifty years. It’s not so much that leave means leave but that leave means nothing of any consequence. It’s either an enduring relationship or one to be endured. This is not a rehash of the Brexit referendum. Even the chaos in parliament following last week’s votes gets little mention. But it doesn’t have to. Hodgson has his eye on the history books. How we got into Europe and how a referendum in 1975 was the way for a divided Labour Party to settle the issue. The referendum of 2016 wasn’t just history repeating itself. But it was a poor cover for the original

DIY whodunit: Murder, She Didn’t Write @lsqtheatre @degreesoferror

Image
Improvised comedy can be hit or miss, but Degrees of Error might be onto something with this do-it-yourself whodunnit. It’s currently at the Leicester Square Theatre on the last Sundays in February, March and April. It could be described as what Agatha Christie might have written if she hit the sherry a bit too much.  Audience suggestions set the scene for the murder and the murder weapon. One person in the audience gets to choose both the murderer and the victim by picking their name from a deck of cards.  The Leicester Square Theatre with its range of bars inside the theatre sets the scene to loosen up the audience with ideas. It seems to work. Much is up for grabs, in this unscripted murder mystery. Not only is the victim unknown until part way through the show to the cast, but so is the murderer.  The end result of this in February was it was at a hen night when the future Bride was murdered by her friend. The murder weapon was a wet tea towel.  It’s fascinating and hilarious to w

Mad as hell and serving Cava: Derailed @Ovalhouse

Image
Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. But when life gives you lemons make lemonade. Or in the case of Derailed at Oval House , make gazpacho. And serve Cava.  The premise is that in the post-Brexit UK, they are heading back to Spain. But rather than leave downtrodden and defeated, they’re going to stage the mother of all leaving parties.  The music blares, the party poppers fly and the party begins. The piece opens with a series of photos from Patricia and Mercè‘s 12 years living in the UK. With the grey skies and dismal towns you start thinking Brexit wasn’t the only reason for their decision to leave. And with a series of improvised scenarios you’ll find yourself live tweeting a petition, having a long hug with a complete stranger. Or wearing an unconvincing wig holding a banner protesting something. Along they way they chart some of their life in London and in Spain.  The premise of Patricia Rodríguez and Mercè Ribot‘s work is to use physical theatre and improvision to create somet

Smirking out loud: The Diary of a Nobody @KingsHeadThtr

Image
The Diary of A Nobody returns to the Kings Head Theatre for a short run over the next few weeks. Rough Haired Pointer’s reimagining of the classic Victorian lower middle class tale was a hit a few years back. First at the White Bear Theatre and then at the Kings Head. But something seems amiss this time around. The comedy seems strained and the pacing a little slow. At best it elicits smirks out loud rather than belly laughs. I recalled it being it funnier and full of energy, allowing you to overlook some of the more curious interpretations of the source material. This includes the decision to have an all-male cast play a range of female roles.

A broad range: Jinkx Monsoon Sings Everything @lsqtheatre

Image
Thanks to Ru Paul’s Drag Race being one of the shows available to stream for some time on Netflix, series five winner Jinkx Monsoon is a bit of a star over here. Now she’s here in London for a few days at the  Leicester Square Theatre  singing songs, improvising and doing stuff. For the few people that don’t have a Netflix subscription, Ru Paul’s Drag Race is a hilarious send up of the reality show format. But it’s also given rise to a new breed of drag super stars. They sing, they strut, they teach you how to throw shade. In this show, with her combination of improvised comedy and a relentless voice, Jinkx Monsoon gives you a night to remember.

Silly monkey: King Kong (A comedy) @thevaultsuk

Image
King Kong (A Comedy)   is currently at the Vaults at Waterloo. A show that needs to tell you it's a comedy (albeit in parenthesis) might give you reason to hesitate. If it's funny why does it need to tell you that it will be? But fortunately it is like a sketch show put together to tell the story of the beast that almost conquered New York.  King Kong is such a silly story that giving it a comic treatment actually doesn't change much of it. Struggling producer needs a leading lady for his next animal picture. No self-respecting actress would work with him and so he finds a lady off the street. Only this time she can speed read ancient texts and maps. There is enough silliness to appeal to children and enough adult themes to keep the rest of us tittering away. A cast of serious (and not so serious) actors; Ben Chamberlain, Rob Crouch, Sam Donnelly, Aix Dunmore and Brendan Murphy play a range of characters that featured in the film.

The bizarre and the demented: Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Road @Trafstudios

Image
Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Road is a great title for a play. And it's a laugh out loud hour or so of bizarre antics. After a run in January at the White Bear Theatre it's at Trafalgar Studios . They've transformed the space into a dump of a motel and it's a fabulous experience. There are stains on the walls, mismatched furniture and endless country music. It's difficult to describe the plot without giving away some of the surprises. It opens with JD ( Keith Stevenson ). He's a friendly kind of hillbilly living in this grimy place. Mitch ( Robert Moloney ) arrives answering an ad JD's placed in the paper looking for a roommate. Mitch has lost his job, his girlfriend and his apartment and so is desperate. But he's surprised to find JD living in motel. And then arrive the neighbours. There's the cranky old Flip (Michael Wade), the owner of the motel. Then there's meth-head Marlene ( Melanie Gray ) and her hot-headed boyfriend Tommy (Alex Fer

Quick snatches: The Future of Sex @wardrobensemble

Image
The sexual revolution wasn't quite as it seemed in this style over substance account of sex in the seventies (or should that be present day)? The Wardrobe Ensemble had a hit in Edinburgh last year with this show that goes beneath the hype of the sexual revolution, only to find that things were just as awkward then as they are now. Narration, inner monologues and jump cuts to the present day pepper this story of a group of young people discovering sex in the 70s.

Social climbers: The Young Visiters @TabardTheatreUK

Image
Social climbing in the Victorian period has never seemed so much fun as it is in The Young Visiters. It is a new adaptation of Daisy Ashford's book adapted and directed by Mary Franklin and presented by Rough Haired Pointer . It is a world where ladies are pale owing to the drains in the house. Or where one can say “I had a bath last night so won’t wash much now.”

Out of the focus group: The Candidate @theatredeli @labcollective

Image
It's well known that key messages espoused by politicians these days are the product of carefully considered focus groups and research. But here in the Candidate, it takes this a step further, suggesting that everything is up for grabs in shaping a new leader, presently bereft of any thought. It proves for an amusing and topical diversion. Arriving at the rather dreary looking 119 Farringdon Road, the former offices of The Guardian, and home to Theatre Delicatessen, you are ushered into a room and told that you would be taking part in what is described as a unique polling session. The Candidate, Omar Ibrahim , is seeking views (in this case the unsuspecting audience members) to help shape his ideals, policy and image. He can be whatever you want or need him to be, adjusted to suit the tastes of the theatregoers.

Funny bodies: The Diary of a Nobody @KingsHeadThtr

Image
The Diary of a Nobody at the Kings HeadTheatre distills the best bits of the classic comic novel and adds much physical comedy and cheap theatrical effects for an hilarious evening. Originating in Punch magazine in 1888-89, the Diary of a Nobody has been called one of the funniest books in the world. It records the daily events in the life of Pooter and his family and friends over a period of 15 months. And although intended as a parody of the fashion for writing diaries, it also provides an insight into Victorian life, which today seems remote. After all a humble home for a city clerk in 1890s London is now an exception property that would fetch a few million.  

Father knows best: Wingman @sohotheatre

Image
Father-son comedies have never quite felt so weird as they do in Wingman , Richard Marsh's new take on strained and odd family relationships having an early slot at the Soho Theatre this month. Marsh, a writer of Fringe First winning Dirty Great Love Story and Radio 4 show Love & Sweets, has crafted a story that is part dialogue and part poetry that has a surreal comic effect in describing his dysfunctional relationship with his dad (played by Jerome Wright). Mum has died but after twenty years apart they reunite at her graveside. And it is an opportunity for dad to reunite with the son he left twenty years ago. And dad suggests after seeing that his son is struggling with women that perhaps they could socialise together and he could be his wingman . But that means the son has to get over his issues of abandonment and general hatred of the man...

In jokes and big vocals: Forbidden Broadway @MenChocFactory

Image
If you are overly familiar with musical theatre and what is on offer on the West End, catching Forbidden Broadway at the Menier Chocolate Factory is a must this summer. The long running series from New York, conceived and written by Gerard Alessandrini, it is a combination of greatest hits from previous incarnations of the show and wry new observations. The new material includes send ups of Matilda and an over-reliance on child actors in British musicals, Once with its bizarre plot device and the foul mouthed Book of Mormon .

Sex, Drugs and Downton: Guilt and Shame Addicted to Everything @sohotheatre

Image
For a brief moment last week, Guilt and Shame took over the upstairs space at the Soho Theatre for some random therapy on addiction, drugs and masturbating penises through glory holes.  Alternating between the bizarre and the offensive, it made for a great night of comedy. Arriving at the theatre everyone is instructed by Gabe to put on a name tag as everyone is about to take part (unwittingly or not) in an addicts anonymous group. Then his best friend and eternal gay virgin Rob arrives dragging both themselves and the audience on filthy journey literally to hell and back. The journey includes acting out sex with a swan (pictured above), getting a member of the audience to confront his fear of penises in men's toilets and observations about gay men who have an unhealthy liking for Downton Abbey ...

Old jokes home: Barry Humphries' Farewell Tour Eat Pray Laugh

Image
Billed as the Dame Edna farewell show, in Eat Pray Laugh , Barry Humphries is presenting to London audiences (potentially) the last time to see his iconic characters. Watching him perform live is to see an old comic master at work. Quick fire comments fly by and jokes (no matter how old or recycled from previous shows) still manage to seem funny. But at three hours it is an overlong show that will have you thankful retirement beckons for these characters... Even if you admire his stamina for persevering through this marathon of a show. The first character we are introduced to is Sir Les Patterson . Sir Les is meant to be offensive and he does this by having a large erection protrude through his shorts, constant spitting when he speaks and an endless stream of fart jokes. The spitting from speaking rains down on the first few rows of the audience (particularly at members of the audience in the front who don't find the act particularly funny). If you are in the spit rows, you are

Chance encounters girlfriends take: Blind Date

Image
It is unusual to be raving about a show that nobody else will see, but Blind Date which is having a limited seven week run at the Charing Cross theatre, is an improvised show that is original and funny where no show will be quite the same, but where each show no doubt shows the magic, sweetness and humanity that arises from chance encounters. Keeping it all together is Rebecca Northan as the optimistic Mimi, who finds herself stood up on her blind date. Rather than let that get her down, she turns to the audience to help her out. She wears a clown nose, speaks with a French accent and has a great set of legs. What then happens for the next ninety minutes is a masterclass in improvisation and working with the audience. Northan, who hails from Canada, and her show has won several awards. She is the recipient of two 2012 Canadian Comedy Awards for "Best Female Improviser" and "Best Comedic Play" for Blind Date, a winner of the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Aw

Love gone wrong and other flatshares: Love Bites

Image
The latest from the Love Bites series, Apartment, which ended its brief run at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden last weekend was again an opportunity for some witty reflections on the theme of love, this time with the theme of apartments being the common thread between them. The Love Bites series showcases some excellent new writing and performances from emerging playwrights, actors, directors and illustrators. It was a short evening of four plays this time around and each were funny and insightful in their own way. It is a real treat to see such a high quality writing and performances in a fringe venue and it is well worth seeking out when they stage their next instalment. The first, Zoned Out by Craig Donaghy and performed by Thea Beyleveld was a monologue about moving in with a boyfriend who lived near Amersham and giving up her flatshare in West Hamstead, only to find out that he wanted to break up with her. It was frank and honest and knowing in a way that any Londoner coul

Travel can be exhausting: Travels With My Aunt

Image
Travels With My Aunt , a revival of Giles Havergal's adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, is currently playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory and it is an enjoyable evening and a great looking production... And the four middle aged men playing all the roles are pretty good too, although it does feel like you are watching a wonderful radio play at times... The story is about a retired and somewhat boring bank manager named Henry Pulling. At his mother's funeral he meets up again with his Aunt Augusta and finds himself pulled into her unconventional and globetrotting life and her various male companions. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, it is such a sophisticated production executed with great comic timing that you soon forget that all the roles are played by four actors and get swept up in the story. It is full of humorous touches that make the most of the globetrotting story. The stage is broken up into a waiting room, a train platform and a lost property office ho

Rotten tomatoes and other leakage: Desperately Seeking the Exit

Image
A few years ago,  Peter Michael Marino  managed to do what many people dream of doing. Without much trouble he managed to write a musical, get a producer interested in it and get it produced on the West End. It was 2007 and Desperately Seeking Susan had its debut on the West End with songs from Blondie. Unfortunately the end result was that the show was a flop and the creative process left him exhausted. But he has managed to put the experience of the time into a one-man show , Desperately Seeking the Exist, which uses one of the less kind reviews of the work by Telegraph theatre critic  Charles Spencer . The show is a fascinating and mostly amusing recollection of the events in 2007 that led to the disaster. It works best when it is focusing on the anecdotes of the time, his struggles with dealing with the creative process and being a small part of a major production, and the toll it takes on his health (he develops internal hemorrhoids).