Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Girl From The North Country - The Old Vic

How much drama can one guesthouse see? Nick, the owner, has a large debt hanging over him. His wife, Elizabeth, is suffering from early dementia and hence behaves very inappropriately. Sheila Atim shines as their adopted daughter, Marianne, is pregnant but is closely guarding the identify of the baby’s father. Then a bible selling preacher and a boxer on the run show up bringing even more drama with them. Despite the interesting story the directing felt a little lacking to me. Characters just happened to be musicians who who randomly picked up a mic or grouped together to start singing. I wasn’t very familiar with Bob Dylan’s songs so wasn’t sure what to expect form the music but enjoyed the intertwining with the storyline.

Girl From the North County has now finished.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Queen Anne - Theatre Royal Haymarket

This piece takes place in the 1700s over the same period as several historic events including the contentions between the Whites and the Tories, the War of the Spanish Succession and the problems England faced with Europe and Scotland. Romola Garai plays the cunning Sarah Churchill who’s a close friend to Queen Anne, played by Emma Cunniffe. The contrast between the two characters is striking. Sarah is glamorous and sensual yet sly and arrogant. Anne is chubby, riddled with physical ailments and through pregnant seventeen times has no children as almost all have resulted in miscarriage or infant mortality. The play is cleverly written and beautifully performed, except for the musical interludes which in my opinion didn’t fit the rest of the piece. 

Queen Anne can be seen @ Theatre Royal Haymarket until 30th September 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Wind In The Willows - London Palladium

From a book, to a radio show, television program, film and now a musical, The Wind In The Willows has definitely done the rounds since it was first written in 1908 by Kenneth Grahame. This family styled show has all the old favourites - Toad, Mole, Badger, Ratty, the Weasels as well as other animals. Each true to form from the 1980’s television show I remember. Toad, irresponsible. Mole, naive. Badger, brave and wise. Ratty, laid-back. The Weasels, wicked and scheming. My favourites though, were not the main characters but rather, Horse as she delicately trotted (in the form of tap dance)  and sang The Open Road, which I found myself humming for days after and the hedgehog family who took they lives in their hands each time they wanted to cross the road.
The overall story is simple and doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. But the performances all round were good, the songs catchy and the staging effective. 

The Wind In The Willows can be seen @ London Palladium until 2nd September 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Alice's Adventures Underground - The Vaults

This was my first visit to The Vaults for what was advertised as an ‘literally one of the best theatre experiences you’ll ever have.’ Shortly after entering down the rabbit hole, the group is split in half to begin separate, immersive journeys into what is meant to be an enchanting land. Encounters range from a visit to the royal kitchen, an acrobatic presentation from Tweedledee and Tweedledum a seat at the long, dinner table.  It was hard to breath in the lagoon where we were serenaded. The piece culminates in the courtroom where everyone is reunited for the finale. Immersive, yes. Theatre, not in my opinion. I couldn’t help but compare it to The London Dungeons, which I found a great deal preferable. The idea is that visitors can come again and again and each time have a completely different experience. Sadly for me, one visit was more than enough.

Alice's Adventures Underground can be seen @ The Vaults until 23rd September 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Beautiful - Aldwych Theatre

I must admit I knew virtually nothing of Carole King prior to seeing this show. It was a surprise for me then to learn that despite not knowing of her, I knew several of her songs. The musical charts her life, beginning with her as a slightly awkward teenager growing up in New York with the one desire of becoming a song writier. The story interchanges between her successes as a song writer and her failing marriage to Gerry Goffin, also a song writer. Katie Brayben plays the lead role well. There are several comic moments in the piece, many centred around Carol and Gerry’s friendly rival with fellow song writing couple Cynthia Weil and Barry Man.

Beautiful can be seen @ Aldwych Theatre until 5th August

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Motown The Musical - Shaftesbury Theatre

Written and co-produced by Berry Gordy this musical charts the rise of the Motown empire. The audience are taken on a whirlwind tour through Grody’s life. His attempts at boxing, car sales and his entry into the music business. With hit after hit, we hear an impressive array of old favourites from Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations and the Jackson 5. There is also music from Stevie Wonder. The music and dancing are on top form and though the story line misses the beat in a few places and feels slightly hurried in others, it’s an overall feel good show. As ‘Diana’ approaches the audience for a live singer to join her it can feel a little cringing (I’ve seen the show twice). My advise - go for the music and you won’t be disappointed.

Motown The Musical can be seen @ Shaftesbury Theatre until 24th February 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Whisper House - The Other Palace

During the Second World War Christopher is sent to live off the coast with his aunt Lily after the death of his father and his mother's committal to an asylum. Lily has a very close relation with her Japanese handyman who also lives in the lighthouse with them. But after an order is issued banning foreign nationals from living in the area his aunt lives, Christopher finds himself in a dilemma. The piece tries its best to be haunting and eerie but fell short for me. Characters appear a little under developed and though the singers have great vocals, the music becomes a little tedious after a while.

Whisper House @ The Other Palace has now ended