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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Lonely Town: The Lonely Londoners @JSTheatre

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Sam Selvon’s novel about the Windrush generation comes to vivid life in this flashy adaptation by Roy Williams—the hustle and the struggle contrast with the exuberant joy and acclamation of life in the city. Lights flash, feet dance, and pigeons get strangled...  for food. It’s an hour and forty-five minutes that doesn’t let up, and it is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  Set in 1956 London, we meet Henry “Sir Galahad” Oliver (Romario Simpson). He is in a hurry to start a new life in London and seeks out Moses Aloetta (Gamba Cole) to help him get started. Only to find that Moses and his friends have become disillusioned with city life and don’t share his enthusiasm. The fights, the petty discrimination, and the lack of job offers make it an endless struggle. And it’s fascinating to see the transformation of Simpson as he gets worn down by the endless setbacks.  It’s a simple yet stylish production, with the cast remaining onstage with a black wall. Elliot Griggs’ lighti

I see a river: The Fishermen @Trafstudios

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  A Booker-Prize nominated novel by Chigozie Obioma about families, vengeance and fate, is adapted into a two-hander play and currently playing at the downstairs space at Trafalgar Studios . It’s an intense, haunting and brisk adaptation by Gbolahan Obisesan of two men reunited after a tragedy. A prophecy of foreboding trouble haunts four brothers living in a small Nigerian town. Two brothers, Ben (David Alade) and Obembe (Valentine Olukoga), secretly fish at a forbidden river along with their two older brothers. They risk both their lives and angering their father by fishing there. Until one day, they come across a madman who changes their lives permanently. It opens with the two brothers meeting on either side of a riverbank. Some time has passed, and their reunion at first brings joy. And then takes a darker turn as family relationships, guilt and superstitions are remembered. As the two storytellers, Alade and Olukoga bring humour and warmth to their roles as they port

Summer loving: The Lady With A Dog @TabardTheatreUK

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The first flicker of love, marriage and commitment are the subjects of The Lady With a Dog. Chekhov’s summer romance in Yalta is updated to 1920s Britain and France by writer and director Mark Giesser. But the performances and brisk pace capture the fantasy and romance of the story. It’s currently playing at the Tabard Theatre after a successful run at the White Bear Theatre. It opens with the lady and her (imagined) Pomeranian dog being eyed up by Damian Granville (Richard Lynson). He’s a London-based banker on holiday alone in Scotland. His plan is to get her attention by feeding the dog a few biscuits before working his charm on the lady. He’s also married but it’s a thoroughly modern one where his wife allows him to holiday alone in search of other women. But the lady Anne Dennis (Beth Burrows) is also married and holidaying alone due to her husband’s work. Jusxtaposed with their aquaintance are unhappy conversations with their real partners. Soon an attraction develops between th

The Monster chills: Frankenstein @Blackeyedtheatr

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There are more than just the usual chills in Blackeyed Theatre's Frankenstein. And it wasn't due to the lack of any perceptible heating at Greenwich Theatre last week during a particularly bitter cold snap. Mary Shelley's tale is given a theatrical flourish in this adaptation by John Ginman. Percussion instruments underscore the tension and the monster is depicted by a giant puppet. He isn't particularly hideous and that makes you even more sympathetic towards him.

Spooky things at night: Benighted @ORLTheatre

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Benighted is a taut Christmas thriller that is a welcome relief for anyone who doesn't buy into all that cheer this time of year. Or pantomimes. There is thunder, a spooky house and dark secrets. It's currently playing at The Old Red Lion Theatre . It is a dark and stormy night. And close to Christmas. A car has broken down and there is a rising flood. Three people seek shelter from the weather in a gloomy mansion. But all is not what it seems and their hosts, the mysterious Femm family, are not particularly hospitable. As others arriving seeking shelter from the rain the group begin to wonder if they will make it through the night. First published in 1927, this early novel by J.B. Priestley was adapted for the screen by James Whale in the 1932 as The Old Dark House. It was the original horror picture movie that would inspire many others and be the blueprint for future stories. Including the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It has been adapted for stage by Duncan Gates.

Lighter shades of grey: The Picture of Dorian Gray @Trafstudios

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Something seems missing in this new adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, currently playing at Trafalgar Studios. Missing is any sense of excitement or thrills you would expect from Oscar Wilde's story about a beautiful man's hedonistic descent. The story was a scandal when it was first published. This new adaptation by Merlin Holland (Wilde's grandson) and John O'Connor, restores some homoerotic passages from the original manuscript. But as fascinating as they are, the overall piece is a bit of a damp squib.