74 posts categorized "Off West End" Feed

Round up: That was April in London theatre - Monster casting and A-list actor spots

MTNEW* I'm excited and nervous about the forthcoming stage adaptation of Patrick Ness’s novel A Monster Calls (the book is a favourite) but I couldn’t think of a better actor than Matthew Tennyson to take on the lead Conor. The production will have a run at the Bristol Old Vic from May 31 and the Old Vic from July 7.

* David Haig’s play Pressure (in which he also stars) is transferring from Park Theatre to the Ambassadors following a successful run at the Finsbury venue. Malcolm Sinclair and Laura Rogers co-star.

* Stan-fav Adam Gillen has been cast in Killer Joe, Trafalgar Studios, which stars Orlando Bloom and I'm really looking forward to seeing him in something very different to Amadeus. You can see photos of the cast in rehearsal over at What's On Stage and previews start on May 18.

* Kilburn's Tricycle Theatre has been renamed the Kiln Theatre post refurbishment with a new season that includes the UK premiere of Florian Zeller’s The Son.

* In a new twist on role swapping (recent role swaps: Mary Stuart, Almeida; RSC's Doctor Faustus and NT's Frankenstein to name just three) Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden are to alternate playing Isabella and Angelo in Measure For Measure at the Donmar Warehouse.

* There is part of me that is excited and really curious and part of me that thinks: 'Gimmick to get repeated visits'. There is one version I'd particularly like to see but no way of knowing, having booked at ticket whether I'll get it. Previews start September 28.

Continue reading "Round up: That was April in London theatre - Monster casting and A-list actor spots" »


Review: Grace rather than gasps in Pirates of The Carabina's: Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine, Roundhouse

...it is in many ways an entertaining show but it is also a show that feels more about grace than gasps and I missed those nerve-jangling, pulse-raising moments you normally get with acrobatics.

Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine - Photographs by Ollie Millington - 159
Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine. Photograph by Ollie Millington

Pirates of the Carabina are more than acrobats they are also clowns, singers and musicians.

So while one of them is hanging spectacularly by their feet from a hoop that is being spun above the stage another is singing or playing guitar in the onstage band.

As well as the band the lights sometimes fall on a group of singers up in the balcony.

The rhythm and tone of the music and singing introduce the pace and style of each sequence of acrobatics and clowning.

There are graceful pieces, that are almost balletic when combined with the music where artists are swinging in circles from ropes or bolts of fabric - or hoops - while creating amazing shapes or performing incredible holds.

More uptempo music denotes a faster pace to the acrobatics or some clowning around.

And there is some great clowning around with chase sequences on roller skates and a 'novice' attempting a wobbly walk along a tightrope - I'm sure it is more difficult to look bad when you are actually really good.

Continue reading "Review: Grace rather than gasps in Pirates of The Carabina's: Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine, Roundhouse " »


Review: The web of friendship in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Menier Chocolate Factory

"..slow to get going but while a friendship between the two mean seems inevitable from the outset it is the depth of that friendship and subsequent threat to it that holds the play's power."

Samuel Barnett's Molina is recalling the plot line of one of his favourite romantic thriller films, the shadows of the characters he describes appear as projections on the walls around him.

Event-list-image_15155You are held in the spell of the story until it is broken by the complaints of Valentin (Declan Bennett) who doesn't share Molina's taste in films.

It's the 1970s and the two men are locked in an Argentinian cell together.

Valentin is a tough, no-nonsense, left-wing political prisoner and Molina is camp and has been convicted of gross indecency.

And yet, despite their differences and Valentin's complaints you know that deep down he actually quite enjoys the distraction from the tedium of prison-life.

But as differences defrost and friendship warms a spider threatens the web of this new friendship.

On the one hand, this is a play about how we aren't so different after all, how we have the same desires and needs and on the other, it is a play about trust, loyalty and the price of freedom.

It is also about survival.

Kiss of The Spider Woman, here adapted from Manuel Puig's original by José Rivera and Allan Baker, is slow to get going but while a friendship between the two mean seems inevitable from the outset it is the depth of that friendship and subsequent threat to it that holds the play's power.

Continue reading "Review: The web of friendship in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Menier Chocolate Factory" »


Review: Hayley Atwell is ruthlessly good in Dry Powder, Hampstead Theatre #HTDryPowder

A feisty, fast-paced play, that delivers some witty one liners and a whole lot to think about

DryPowderNewsWhen Sarah Burgess wrote her play Dry Powder about New York-based private equity company it was pre-Trump presidency and yet when I was watching the play I couldn't help thinking 'what would Donald do?'.

At the start of the play Rick's (Aidan McArdle) firm is going through a PR storm because the same day as laying off staff at a company he'd just bought, he threw a lavish engagement party.

Co-founder Seth (Tom Riley) has unearthed a bargain deal which he believes will put the company back in favour with the public eye: A troubled American suitcase manufacturer whom he believes that with the right management could get back on its feet and deliver a healthy return.

Profit or positive PR

His fellow co-founder Jenny (Hayley Atwell) has another plan, one that is less risky, will deliver better returns but won't deliver the positive PR as jobs won't be protected. Jenny doesn't care about PR, she cares about profit.

Seth has (developed?) a conscious about what he does, he wants to create more than profit, particularly given the firms damaged reputation. He's got to know Jeff (Joseph Balderrama), the CEO of the suitcase company and they are seemingly on the same page.

Continue reading "Review: Hayley Atwell is ruthlessly good in Dry Powder, Hampstead Theatre #HTDryPowder" »


The new play, new theatre experience - Young Marx at the Bridge Theatre

IMG_5152The benefits of being a brand new theatre is that you can address a lot of the niggles people have with older theatres: uncomfortable seats, lack of space for refreshments, bad sight-lines and not enough ladies loos etc. Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr's Bridge Theatre beautifully situated on the opposite bank of the Thames to the Tower of London seems to have made a pretty good job of it.

Walking in, it is light and airy without feeling stark and impersonal and I imagine the spacious cafe/bar area will double as a nice daytime hangout. The seats are comfortable (a bit like those at the Royal Court) but sight-lines will have to be an ongoing test as the configuration is going to change. For this production we sat in the middle of front row and although the stage is reasonable high, I've sat closer to higher stages, so it was perfectly fine.

And as for the ladies loos, there are lots of them and there is even an 'in' and 'out' door to the main facilities similar to The Globe which means a better flow if you'll excuse the pun. Only one minor quibble is that the coat/bag hooks on the back of cubicle doors are really high - I had to stand on tip toes to reach it. I know I'm short but even so it was the primary topic of conversation as people were washing their hands.

And what about the play? It would have been easy to open with a relatively safe classic but Hytner and Starr are setting out their stall by choosing a new play by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman. Obviously they aren't strangers, Hytner having directed Bean's plays England People Very Nice, One Man, Two Guv'nors and Great Britain and this has the potential to be a crowd pleaser.

It's a bit of a romp in fact, telling the story of the time, the 30-something Karl Marx's (Rory Kinnear) lived in exile with his family in Soho. The central narrative is his journey from disillusioned genius, thinking of jacking it all in to work on the railways, back to the writer, thinker and activist he is famed for.

Continue reading "The new play, new theatre experience - Young Marx at the Bridge Theatre" »


Review: The superb Seagull, Lyric Hammersmith

Full-Casting-for-The-Seagull-Lyric-HammersmithThe Seagull is one of the only Chekhov plays I really like but I never thought I'd like it quite as much as I did watching this version by Simon Stephens. His words teamed with Sean Holmes direction, leap off the page and the production breaths new life into the story teasing out the humour and in turn elevating the tragedy.

For a start this feel more like an ensemble piece rather than a story about Irina (Lesley Sharp) and Konstantin (Brian Vernel) - a former star actress clinging on to fame and her son seeking a career of his own. All the characters are fully formed and the result is a collective of human mistakes, heartbreak and foibles - and that is its power.

They are riddled with emotional injury, delusion, faults and  seem hell bent on making or repeating mistakes; from Pauline's (Michele Austin) unrequited love for the doctor and Marcia's (Cherelle Skeete) for Konstantin to the way Irina can't help hurting her son. Even the doctor (Paul Higgins), with his sanguine remarks about having lived a full life, has a shadow of regret; there is something fatherly in the way he behaves with Konstantin that perhaps hints at a secret. 

Continue reading "Review: The superb Seagull, Lyric Hammersmith" »


That was May in London theatre-land - casting, transfers, an anniversary and another bumper crop of thesp spots

600Gloria_FINAL_landscapeSmall* Stan fav Colin Morgan has been cast with Game of Thrones’ Ellie Kendrick in Gloria at Hampstead Theatre which just happens to be my newest favourite playwright. So lots of excitement for that. Gloria will also be a 10 year theatre anniversary for me and Colin. I first saw him (and mentally tipped him as one to watch) when he played the lead in Vernon God Little at the Young Vic in 2007.

* Keeping up the Game of Thrones thesp count in London’s theatre land is Natalie Dormer who’s been cast with David Oakes in Venus in Furs at Theatre Royal Haymarket from October.

* Colm Meaney joins Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Apollo Theatre which opens in July.

* Arthur Darvill of Broadchurch fame has been cast in Hir at Bush Theatre which opens on June 15.

* James Graham (This House) has a new political comedy, Labour of Love, coming to the Noel Coward Theatre in September starring Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire.

Continue reading "That was May in London theatre-land - casting, transfers, an anniversary and another bumper crop of thesp spots" »


REVIEW The hilarious Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre

Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre - Felix Scott and Ayesha Antoine, Courtesy of Richard Davenport for The Other Richard
Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre - Felix Scott and Ayesha Antoine, Courtesy of Richard Davenport

Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna's comedy Dirty Great Love Story is a modern poem to romance but Romeo and Juliet this isn't. This is a love story that starts at a hen and stag party, a story of drunken sex, morning after awkwardness, shoes that hurt and rescuing escaped boobs. It's a love story where climbing a vine to a balcony takes a lot longer and a lot more effort than the movies would have you believe.

Ayesha Antoine plays Katie (and CC) who is out on a hen night with her mates. She's recently been dumped by her boyfriend (he who must not be named) and her friend CC is determined to get her a shag. Felix Scott plays Richard (Westie and Matt) and is on a stag do with his mates and his friend Westie is equally keen to pair Richard off with someone. Their eyes meet across a pulsating, sweaty, alcohol drenched dance floor but the course of true love never did run smooth.

Written in verse we are taken on a two year journey of mishaps and relationship mayhem. Those around Katie and Richard seem to be entering a new phase of their lives while our two mismatched, one-night stand, lovers seemed destined never to get it on again.

Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott switch swiftly between characters without missing a beat of the poetry. They deliciously deliver the misinterpretations and missteps of Katie and Richard and the antics and opinions of their friends.

Continue reading "REVIEW The hilarious Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre" »


Tom Stoppard's Travesties, Menier Chocolate Factory - great acting, not sure about the play

TravestiesREVIEW Tom Hollander's Henry Carr has just shuffled onto the stage. 'Oh it's him!' says the old lady sat behind me loudly, so loudly he could probably hear her from the other side of the stage. I stifle a laugh.

This is a play of Henry Carr's reminiscences from his stint at the British consular in Zurich during the first world war. Zurich has become a magnet for artists and political exiles and his acquaintances include James Joyce (Peter McDonald), Tristan Tzara (Freddie Fox) - one of the founders of Dadaism - and Lenin (Forbes Mason) but, as his forgetfulness suggests, his recollections may not be accurate. While Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia explores maths and science, here he explores art, war and revolution.

There is a farcical love story of sorts. Tzara fancies Henry's sister Gwendolene (Amy Morgan) but she doesn't like his radical, anarchic art movement so he's pretending to be Jack, a less radical fictional brother of Tzara's. Meanwhile, Henry fancies Cecily (Clare Foster) a librarian who is helping Lenin with research for a book. All the while James Joyce admires Lenin from afar and is trying to manage a production of The Importance of Being Earnest in which Henry will take a leading role.

Travesties is performed with such energy and verve, the delivery gunfire quick and clipped it is a skill in its own right. The performances I enjoyed very much, particularly Freddie Fox who was on fine form but I have a problem with the play. It's not the first time I've had this problem with a Tom Stoppard play in fact I'm starting to think Stoppard and me just don't get on.

Continue reading "Tom Stoppard's Travesties, Menier Chocolate Factory - great acting, not sure about the play" »