Posts

Featured Post

Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

Image
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

Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

Image
What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

The male gaze: Turning the screw

Image
It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

Bit parts: Garry Starr Performs Everything @swkplay

Image
Garry Starr Performs Everything is a bare-bones (and bare buttocks) tribute to the theatre. Theatre may be in trouble, and audiences are down, but Garry Starr aims to save the theatre and bring back to the masses every style of theatre possible. As long as each style involves wearing a transparent white leotard or a skimpy thong. And tassels. It's part comedy, part physical comedy and part perv at Gary's physical prowess. The sentiment "if you've got it, flaunt it" applies here. So here we are with a show that has been around for some years and is having its first proper London run at the Southwark Playhouse (Borough) through Christmas. The premise is that Garry Starr (played by Damien Warren-Smith) has left the Royal Shakespeare Company over artistic differences. He is now on a mission to save the theatre from misrepresentation and worthy interpretations by doing things such as a two-minute Hamlet, recreating scenes from a Pinter play using unsuspecting audience

Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

Image
A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

Grief and fluff: Tiger @OmnibusTheatre

Image
Death is something we all will face. After all, nobody gets out of here alive. But how do you get past it when grief is all you can feel? And this is the premise of Tiger, currently playing at Omnibus Theatre . It's a fascinating exploration of the stages of grief. And with a terrific cast to take you on this journey, it's an endearing and sweet story that has you engaged from the start, wondering what will happen next.  We are introduced to Alice (Poppy Allen-Quarmby) as she gives a stand-up routine. It's not particularly funny and starts to veer into the topic of dying. Something isn't right. She used to be good at this but can't move forward. Soon, she is back in her London apartment with her partner Oli (Luke Nunn), discussing that they need to get a lodger to make ends meet.  Oli is a doctor working night shifts at the local NHS hospital. Alice is not ready to face a return to stand up or anything. So when the first potential lodger arrives (Meg Lewis), looking

Axes to grind: Lizzie @Swkplay

Image
Arriving at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant , there are plenty of pigeons (real and otherwise) inside and outside the theatre.  Having not been there since it opened at the start of the year, I figured it was an art installation.  Little did I know that it was a crucial part of Lizzie, the hard rock, full-throated true crime rock musical.  Pigeons are solace from a stifling, oppressive life for an unmarried woman in 1890s Massachusetts.  And that is probably all the subtlety you'll get in this high-energy production.  It originated at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester and now makes a lot of noise in the Southwark Playhouse's basement venue.  Based on the trial of the century in 1890s Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of murdering her stepmother and father with an axe.  Over time, everyone believed she had done it.  There's even a nursery rhyme about her.  This piece is less interested in the whodunnit and more in the whyshedunnit.  Set to a driving rock score.  

Bad girl: Boy Parts @sohotheatre

Image
In these angry times, an angry anti-heroine is a cathartic release, even if you’re not quite sure what the anger is about. This stylish adaptation of Eliza Clark's Boy Parts with a charismatic performance by Aimée Kelly makes it engaging. And while we don't see the gore, with each scene, there's a slight dread as to what gruesome turn of events s is going to happen next in this piece, which takes Fleabag and adds a touch of American Psycho nonchalance. It's currently playing at the Soho Theatre .  I was unfamiliar with the book's runaway success and the TikTok phenomenon, where people #booktok reviews of the piece under flattering lighting and a series of jump cuts. However, a quick cursory glance at the material shows the play has captured all the best bits in vivid detail, particularly in its descriptions of men. There's Ryan, the bar manager, with his "big thick neck and tiny pea head, thinning hair." But people may have mistaken some of these for c

Repurposed: Owners @JSTheatre

Image
Caryl Churchill's Owners is an excellent example of how you can feel nostalgic for an unpleasant time in history. After all fifty years since its premiere, the property market has gone from bad to worse. And despite the seventies look and feel, it feels as if it still has something to say about property, ownership, and the transactional relationships that make up life in the country. Not to mention the relentless pursuit of Victorian terrace houses that most parts of the world wouldn't touch, it is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  The revival brings out the oddities of the piece. The freewheeling sexual politics and the changing legal environment allowing property to be bought and sold with less regulation seem like they are from a different time and place. And they are. It's almost as if we need a history lesson to understand the time and place. The programme notes that market rates for tenancies were only allowed in 1989. Since then, we have been through