24 posts categorized "Soho theatre" Feed

Review: Live music and Welsh cakes in Hiraeth, Soho Theatre

Hiraeth 3, Ed Fringe 2014, courtesy Jorge Lizalde
Max Mackintosh and Buddug James Jones in Hiraeth

Hiraeth definitely has a theatre first: I was offered a Welsh cake at the end of a play*. The star and co-creator of the play Buddug James Jones has a whole tupperware of them to hand out to the audience.

It tells the story of Buddug who comes from a five generations of Welsh farmers but, inspired by the 'Welsh Bob Dylan', gets the urge to go to London and see more of the world. Her gran tells her that some people are rocks and some are rivers and Buddug is a river.

At first she struggles against her family, friends and country  (represented by a daffodil) who want her to stay but eventually she makes it to the capital where she has to resist the call of home and throw herself into an alien environment.

Max Mackintosh (co-creator with Jesse Briton) takes on all the other parts and plays guitar together with David Grubb who accompanies on violin and drum. There is the odd song and plenty of music to buoy the tale along. The audience is encouraged to sing along and occasionally participate and it is generally silly and good fun.

There are plenty of laughs although there is one scene when a boyfriend is talking about Buddug behind her back which seemed unnecessarily cruel and wasn't really my sense of humour. A few found it funny.

Hiraeth is like a little Welsh cake in London: a bite of something sweet, quirky and fun. You can catch it at the Soho Theatre until Saturday March 21 and it is and hour and five minutes long.

* has anyone been given food to eat during or after a play?


Review: Award winning Fringe in London - Fleabag at the Soho Theatre

Image 3
Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Fleabag
The Edinburgh Fringe is over and plays like Fleabag at the Soho Theatre confirm my theory for not having yet made it up there: the good stuff tends to come to London.

I know, I know I should go and I will but until I can work up to it, I can sit back and enjoy the cream of the crop, the award winning shows from the comfort of a theatre a short bus ride from home.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's self-penned and performed show picked up a Fringe First accolade and best solo performer and is now aiming to entertain the London theatre crowd for two and half weeks at the Soho Theatre.

Waller-Bridge plays Fleabag who isn't sex obsessed (she is) and isn't fucking up her life (she is). Her best friend has accidentally killed herself, her boyfriend has left her - clearing out the fridge on the way out - and she can't pay the rent on her cafe.

This is a shamelessly frank and modern tale that is laugh out-loud funny and at times surreal and random in the way life can be. There is also a tinge of sadness to it, the sadness of a loss and a lost a soul.

Brilliantly performed Waller-Bridge her Fleabag is a lovely combination of sharp wit and keen observation with hapless choices and a sometimes insensitive way with words.

Well worth an hour at the theatre the bonus is it starts at 7pm. Catch it while you can it runs at the Soho Theatre until Sep 22.

RS/BW 6DS

Phoebe was in Hayfever with Lindsay Duncan who was in Criminal Justice with Mr W.


Rev Stan's theatre best and worst of 2012

Usain-Bolt-has-lost-all-respect-for-Carl-Lewis-TO21ONR9-x-largeIt was a Jubilee Year, an Olympic year but while all eyes were on the Queen and the lycra wearing athletes I was quietly breaking my annual record with 109 theatre trips. So which were the gold medal winners which took home the booby prizes?

Well it's been a good year for the National Theatre and in particular the Lyttleton which, perversely, is one of my least favourite theatres. And I have to say it's been quite difficult narrowing it down as you can tell from the rather long highly commended list. The flip side is it feels like there has been more obvious stinkers this year although I've only listed the three worst to spare blushes.

The Usain Bolt of my theatre going year was easy: Curious Incident at the Cottesloe. It was a superb and imaginative adaptation of a much loved booked so convincingly performed I saw it twice and might be tempted to give it a third look when it transfers to the West End in the Spring. Here is the full list:

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Review: Bathtime @sohotheatre for Jack Thorne's Mydidae

3Keir Charles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Mydidae, Soho Theatre, 5 December 2012 (courtesy of Simon Annand) 5

Mydidae, as I discovered when I googled it, isn't some obscure Greek tragedy but actually a type of fly and, unsurprisingly, an appropriate title for Jack Thorne's new play at the Soho Theatre's tiny studio space.

Its bathroom setting - the most intimate and private room - makes it feel almost like a fly on the wall documentary. The littlest room is where flesh is bared, ablutions and basic bodily function performed, it is a private space and one where cohabitation suggests a level of comfort and ease.

And, it is a fully plumbed in bathroom. The toilet is used by both characters, married couple Marian (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and David (Keir Charles), as is the bath.

It also seemed appropriate that a play with a title that made me mistakenly think 'Greek tragedy' should have a whiff of the tragic running through the story.

What we get with Mydidae is a combination of the mundane ordinariness of a relationship, those little in jokes, behaviours and routine that couples fall into behind closed doors and a sense that despite all the affable banter and gestures of affection, there is something not quite right. This is a couple that has issues.

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Boys behaving badly at the Soho Theatre

600x600Boys will be boys in Ella Hickson's latest to have an outing in London. Or not, as the case may be. Yes their student flat is an homage to the female form and Bacchus and there is a certain amount of infidelity and drug-taking, hiding on top of the fridge freezer and eating bowls of coco pops with a 4ft spoon but underneath it all there is something more interesting going on.

Benny (Danny Kirrane) has just got a first but wants answers about a tragic event, Timp (Tom Mothersdale), the non-student, is just about living from one party to the next, Cam (Lorn Macdonald) is on the cusp of an illustrious classical music career but his nerves might just nip that in the bud and Mack (Samuel Edward Cook) can only think about himself right now.

Throw in Timps' girlfriend Laura (Alison O'Donnell) who wants to settle down and Sophie (Eve Ponsonby), Benny's brother's ex and you have a melting pot of emotions, expectations and regrets.

Can someone please explain to me - why when you two are sitting there having just polished off four year a studying with shiny old marks and you - (points to Cam) are about to get your tiny magical musical arse kissed by half the world and we are going to have a blinding fucking knees-up - I am the only one that is having a lovely old time? 

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Provocative and macabre Japanese drama: The Bee @sohotheatre

ImgresThis is a curious little play at the Soho Theatre. Written jointly by Hideki Noda, who also directs and plays Ogoro's wife, and Colin Teevan it's based on a Japanese story called Mushiriai. 

The premise is: Mr Ido (Kathryn Hunter) returns home to find his house cordoned off by police and TV news crews buzzing around. He soon discovers that his wife and son are being held hostage inside by an escaped murderer.

But this play is about challenging the norms and turning the tables and as a result is provocative and quite macabre.

It is imaginatively staged. A small, orange perspex stage is embedded with objects that mirror the few props. There is a table and two chairs and what looks like a mirrored wall across the back of the stage (weird seeing yourself and the rest of the audience staring back across the stage). The wall becomes translucent when the light changes so that some action can take place behind. There is also some imaginative use of elastic bands and pencils.

Kathryn Hunter is at home playing Mr Ido in what is a surprisingly physical performance. The story's Japanese roots come to the fore in brief interludes of what can only be desribed as warrior dance moves. (Think Haka.)

Noda also does a superb job as the murderer's Ogoro's wife. I always judge gender swapping in straight plays by how easy it is to forget that it's a man in drag and this was easy except for what the gender swapping actually adds to the drama. I won't spoil the story by going into plot details but the idea of turning the tables has a more subtle twist when the opposite sex plays the part and I'm curious as to how conscious a decision that was.  

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Terror 2011 - Terrible or Terrific?

320x320.fitandcropTerror 2010 at the Southwark Playhouse last year was terrifically terrible but I will always give things a second chance. This year's theatrical homage to the spooky hallowe'en season has moved to the new downstairs cabaret space as the Soho Theatre and the show has moved more cabaret in style too.

Seated around tables, it is a series songs, monologues and two-handers and one slightly odd burlesque sequence and a little bit of dance all with love as the theme. The performances spill out into the audience and at times participation in the songs is encouraged.

Not all of it works. There is some hammy acting and that burlesque sequence which involved the 'artiste' messily dying just wasn't my thing.

But there are some entertaining bits. Some darkly funny songs (yes me liking songs - not all of them mind) of which I particularly liked the one which was a love song about Fred and Rosemary West - a slightly sick sense of humour helps. The two monologues are also very good, both macabre and disturbing stories but well told and engaging.

Some of it does seem a little a contrived to give an excuse to turn the lights off and for the actors to creep around the audience. If you are of a nervous disposition probably best not to sit around the edges (it's unallocated seating).

The seating arrangement gave some people the notion that it was OK to get up and visit the loo but it didn't seem to matter too much. They've also tried not to over-egg it keeping it at 80 minutes long without an interval. It starts at 7.15pm leaving time to go off and do other things afterwards or get an early night if you are like me.

It's not particularly scary more about entertainment and amusement with a dark edge. All the vignettes are relatively short so the duff ones don't last long but as a package overall, I quite enjoyed it as something a little bit different and fun. Slightly difficult to rate as it can't be compared easily to traditional theatre but I'm going to give it three and a half stars.

Terror 2011 runs as the Soho Theatre until November 5.

 

 


Winterlong at the Soho theatre

Winterlong-007 Andrew Sheridan is undoubtedly a talented playwright but he seems to come from a school of writing where the primary aim is to shock (the likes of Sarah Kane are referenced in the play's marketing material) rather than anything else.

Winterlong, which is playing at the Soho Theatre until March 12, is about a boy, Oscar, rejected by his parents, who suffer from a personality disorder, and is brought up by his grandparents. His grandfather, John, is a resentful of and distant towards his charge. Oscar is kind hearted but socially awkward and a bit of a loner.

The story starts just before his birth through to his teenage years. Oscar is looking for connection, for his place in the world but those around him seem unable to give it.

It is, on one level, a tragic tale of a childhood bruised by poverty and neglect in an environment of mental illness and little love. But on another level there is what I can only describe as 'extraneous oddity'.

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Rev Stan's theatre list 2010

Oh this has been tough, it's been a good year and a bumper year, 71 plays in all. Meagre compared to Ought To Be Clowns 291 and Glen Pearce's 141 but I do go to the cinema rather a lot too so I don't feel like a complete lightweight.

Anyway, I'm afraid I've knicked Mark Kermode's idea of having a 'nearly made it' list, the stuff that I loved but didn't quite make it into the top 10, call it highly commended if you like. I've also added some random categories at the end, if you get that far.

The nearly made it list:

Red at the Donmar gets a special mention not least for the priming the canvas scene. Then there was Private Lives with the gorgeous sexy spy no. 1 (Matthew MacFadyen) and the suprising talent that was Kim Cattrall. King Lear at the Donmar engrossed me in the play in a way the RSC's version I saw a couple of years ago failed to do. And a late entry, Bea at the Soho Theatre which was my last play of the year and great way to finish. Al Weaver is a rising star or certainly should be.

But here is the top ten (no particular order):

The Pride, Lucille Lortel Theatre, NY - What? Ben Whishaw, on stage, in New York? And that combo isn't going to earn it a place in my top ten? Play was brilliant too.

London Assurance, National Theatre - Larger than life characters played by stage royalty like Fiona Shaw, Simon Russell Beale & Richard Briers meant London Assurance was hard to beat for pure entertainment value.

The Man, Finborough - Pub theatre at its best, an innovative but simple concept very well executed. Just a shame I didn't get to see it more than once as each performance had a wonderful randomness and a rota of actors taking the lead. I saw the lovely Samuel Barnett.

All My Sons, Apollo Theatre - Fantastic production with breathtaking performances from Zoe Wanamaker and David Suchet. And they had a proper lawn on the stage.

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Going out on 2010 theatre high: Bea at the Soho Theatre

Bea_1780875b Needed something to wash the taste of Joseph K out of my mouth and Bea proved to be made of minty fresh. Bea (Pippa Nixon) has a long term illness and requires a carer when her mum is out at work. On the inside she is vivacious, fun-loving and full of life but on the outside she is in constant pain, has a fatal prognosis and on a good day is able to make an earing.

Her new carer Not Gay Ray (Al Weaver) is chatty and extremely camp:

Loved the Scouts. Except for camping. And Badges. Too competitive. I only ever got Home Help and my mum was doing the marking so, well there was a slight scandal - but we survived.

He's just what Bea needs tapping into her inner-self and an antidote to her over-protective barrister mother (Paula Wilcox). But Ray is put in an uncomfortable position when he writes a letter for Bea to her mother in which she expresses her wish to die and asks for help.

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