20 posts categorized "Soho theatre" Feed

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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The wonderful Ivan and the Dogs, Soho Theatre

Images I'm writing about Ivan and the Dogs, which I saw last night, before I complete Tuesday night's review of Terror 2010 at the Southwark Playhouse because I really liked Ivan and I want lots of people to go and see it.

Ivan is simple, engaging storytelling at its best. Indeed it took me back to when I was a kid at school sat crossed-legged on the carpet, completely engrossed in story time.

It is a monologue, written by Hattie Naylor, in which Ivan recounts the tale of when, as a four-year old, he ran away from abusive and neglectful parents. It was the time of the terrible recession in early 1990's Moscow and is based on a true story.

Polish actor Rad Kaim as Ivan, quickly paints a picture of grim city life where impoverished parents have abandoned both pets and sometimes children they can't afford to feed. Gangs of children roam the streets terrorising the local Bombzi (tramps) for food and money to buy glue to sniff and dogs hunt in packs for anything they can find to eat.

Danger is everywhere and Ivan is all alone but for a white dog he meets.

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A theatrical marathon

I've, probably unwisely, booked three plays on the trot this coming week but hey you sometimes have to take this opportunities when they arise.

First up is Enlightenment at Hamptead Theatre which I haven't been to for a while. Really like it as a venue and the play sounds interesting. It is about parents coming to terms with the disappearance of their son while he was travelling in the far east.

Then, on Tuesday, it's time for a bit of Hallowe'en themed theatre at the Southwark Playhouse. The theatre is below the brick exposed arches of London Bridge station so where better to see four short plays by playwrights including Mark Ravenhill and Neil LaBute all with scary themes and under the banner Terror 2010: Death and Resurrection

Of course I'm not going alone - I'm a right scaredy-cat so I need a hand or two to grab.

Completing the trio is a trip to fav venue the Soho Theatre to see Ivan and the Dogs which is based on a true story. Its set in the 1990's recession ravaged Moscow when many families were forced to abandon their pets.

Thursday will be an early night.


Dandiness at the Soho Theatre

28607 Other people's lives are always fascinating. And Sebastian Horsley's was certainly more fascinating than most. The self professed dandy and sometime artist and writer is the subject of the Tim Fountain play Dandy in the Underworld based on his own book of the same name.

Played wonderfully by Milo Twomey this one-hander is not so much a window into a day in the life of the effete and charming Horsley more him partially drawing back the curtain. He liked the attention, obviously. It's not a shy and retiring person who walks around Soho in a red velvet suit with matching top hat, claims to have slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes and talks of drug abuse almost lovingly.

Horsley is one of those characters that the rational part of your brain wants to abhor - he is essentially rich and bored seemingly squandering the privileged life he was born into but he has a winning charm. His often controversial world view and musings are entertaining and amusing. 

Naturally he doesn't paint his parents in a very good light but he has a neediness evident in his inability to easily cope with rejection that shows glimpses of a different person beneath the red velvet veneer.

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Pub theatre: Vincent River at the Landor

VincentRiver1_web Have a bit of a fascination with Philip Ridley plays as he has a tendency to throw in something shocking, disturbing or deeply moving.

Vincent River is the fourth play of his I've seen and is celebrating it's 10th anniversary being performed in an intimate space above the Landor Pub in Clapham.

It is a two-hander, set in a dingy East End flat belonging to Anita who's son was recently brutally murdered. Anita is not only haunted by the circumstances surrounding her son's death but by a teenage boy, Davey, who seems to be following her around.

What ensues is an initially awkward conversation between Davey and Anita but oiled by bottle of gin, painkillers and a spliff, becomes a confessional for repressed feelings and a final facing up to the truth.

Davey is the one who found the body but it is obvious from the start that there is more to his involvement than merely being the discoverer. Likewise Anita has her own secrets and in revealing them is able to finally accept her son's homosexuality and learn how it was he died.

Two former Eastenders' actors take on the roles: Nicola Duffett and Elliott Jordan. The acting was a little stiff to start with but they both got into their stride as the play progressed culminating in tender and emotional performances that had me not only crying but also getting a bit snotty. 

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