147 posts categorized "West End" Feed

The shameless Ben Whishaw birthday post - my favourite stage performances

Shh, it's a rainy Sunday afternoon... it's Ben Whishaw's birthday so in 'celebration' here are the stage performances of his that are my favourites.

Ben Whishaw Hamlet programmeHamlet, Old Vic

Ok so technically I didn't see him perform it live but I have seen the V&A video recording a couple of times.

His Hamlet made so much sense. He was young, clever, inexperienced, fragile and at times immature and petulant.

Basically, he was a young adult thrown into an extraordinary situation and ill-equipped to cope. 

And he snot cried.

The full review is here which also includes links to related interviews and other tidbits.

Baby in Mojo, Comedy Theatre - now the Harold Pinter

Don't ask how many times I saw this, it was a lot.

It was a move away from the sensitive souls he's very adept at playing, something more akin to Sidney in the film Layer Cake. 

And I liked that, I like to see his versatility, his wilder performance side.

While underneath the surface there is a tragedy to Baby, he presents as someone wildly unpredictable and is dangerous as a result.

He also did a brilliant dance which was a mix of impish, wild abandon and menace.

Read my first thoughts plus links to more detailed reviews.

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3 London theatre stories that caught my attention this week - and some belated actor spots

Twilight-zone-ctt-480wx280h-15389888801. The Twilight Zone to get a West End run

I described the Almeida's Twilight Zone as 'sinister and silly fun' when I saw it in December last year and now it's getting a stint in the West End. It will run from 4 March to 1 June at the Ambassadors Theatre and even if you haven't seen the TV series (I hadn't) it's worth seeing if you want something a little surreal, silly and occasionally thought-provoking.

2. Joe McGann and Josie Lawrence star in US play

The Print Room in Notting Hill will host the first UK production of American literary icon Don DeLillo’s Love-Lies-Bleeding, starring Joe McGann Josie Lawrence.  Described as a perceptive and witty story, it's about a family trying to take death into their own hands and I admit that it had me at 'jet-black humour'. It runs from 9 November to 8 December, find details on the Print Room website.

 

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West End transfer: The Inheritance, Noel Coward Theatre - new production images

The Inheritance is an epic two part story of love, loss and life - think of it as this year's Angels in America. 

It is a playful play with laugh out loud moments but in a blink, it is full of pathos and tragedy. It is a play full of joy and heartbreak and for that reason alone I loved it*.

And now more people get to enjoy it as it's transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End and is booking until 21 January, 2019.

To whet your appetite here are the production photos from part 1 and part 2.

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Review: Foxfinder, Ambassadors Theatre - signs and symbols but lacking in thrills

Metaphors aside it is difficult to determine whether Foxfinder is supposed to be an atmospheric thriller or a surreal comedy

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Iwan Rheon and Paul Nicholls in Foxfinder. Photo: Pamela Raith.

The Foxfinder of the title is William (Iwan Rheon) sent to examine the farm of Judith (Heida Reed) and Sam (Paul Nicholls) where the crop yield is below target.

In this parallel world of writer Dawn King's invention, it is a time of food shortages and foxes are the bogeyman, the 'source' of all the troubles being creatures with supernatural powers preying on the weak and wreaking havoc wherever they go.

But has William, who has trained for the job since a child, actually seen a fox?

Brexit metaphors

King wrote Foxfinder seven years ago but you can't help but see Brexit metaphors - a threat of food shortages and outsiders to blame for a multitude of ills.

Judith and Sam have had a run of trouble stemming from one date but, despite the obvious, they are fearful of the consequences of questioning the logic behind the Foxfinder's theories.

Who dares question the logic?

There is one person who does question the logic, their neighbour Sarah (Bryony Hannah), but getting caught denouncing the fox propaganda is extremely dangerous.

The set is cleverly designed overlapping interior and exterior to give the scope of the play's setting (see production photos below).

Paul Nicholls is particularly good as a man grasping an idea as a path to personal salvation and Bryony Hannah is fiery as Sarah.

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Review: Misty, Trafalgar Studios - Putting the pulse back into West End Theatre

A play that stimulates, entertains and enlivens and leaves you feeling like you've been at a gig

IMG_0079Arinzé Kene's play Misty has transferred to the Trafalgar Studios from a sell-out run at the Bush Theatre giving more people the opportunity to see a play that is unlike anything else you'll see in the West End at the moment.

Mixing form, media and performance style, there is a fictional tale told in verse - accompanied by Shiloh Coke on drums and Adrian McLeod on keyboards - about an incident on a night bus that has bigger consequences.

Recollections of a creative journey

This story is intercut with a series of conversations, voicemail messages and narrated emails that illustrate Arinzé's creative journey with amusingly blunt commentary and opinion from friends and family.

His creative journey is further coloured with comically surreal moments, juxtaposing voices, images and performance in unexpected ways that reminded me of the style of filmmaker Charlie Kaufman - think Being John Malkovich, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind etc.

Struggles with orange balloons

All I'll add is that when you are encased in a body-sized orange balloon, the struggle is real.

Peppered with humour and witty observation the play questions storytelling - what is the right story to tell and for whom - examines the impact of gentrification on communities and culture's place in society.

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Review: Aristocrats, Donmar Warehouse - a lot going on but not always a good thing

There is often a lot happening and sometimes it too easily diverts attention from the central narrative.

I'm watching the O'Donnell family's voluntary mute, aged uncle slowly peel away wallpaper at the of the back of the stage when I should be listening to whoever is speaking.

Later an imaginary game of croquet will similarly distract me.

ImageThis is my problem with Aristocrats, there is often a lot happening and sometimes it too easily diverts attention from the central narrative.

Family past its peak

Brian Friel's play is about a fading Irish aristocratic family with its domineering patriarch is on his deathbed, cared for by the eldest daughter Judith (Eileen Walsh).

The family has gathered for the wedding of youngest daughter, Claire (Aisling Loftus) with her siblings Alice (Elaine Cassidy) and Casimir (David Dawson) having travelled from homes abroad for the occasion.

Tom (Paul Higgins), a visiting American scholar, is interviewing the family for a research paper on Irish aristocracy and acts as an independent observer and, through his seemingly innocent conversations and questions, commentator.

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That was August in theatre land - news & castings that caught my eye plus hits, misses and celeb spots

August was dominated by Edinburgh for me but the London theatre wheels were still turning; here's my round up of my favourite bits of news, my theatre hits and misses and few celeb spots...(let me know if I missed anything while I was north of the border).

Foxfinder_poster_sept18Sally Field and Bill Pullman in All My Sons, Old Vic - yep Hollywood comes London theatreland next year in a co-production with Headlong (Jeremy Herrin directs). No dates yet but already I can't wait. 

National Theatre's artistic director Rufus Norris steps into the breach - there has been a spate of understudies and theatre staff saving the day when actors are indisposed but last night's performance of Home, I'm Darling saw Norris take to the stage to play Jonny for Richard Harrison.

Foxfinder full cast - You may have missed my July round-up (I did) which (would have) mentioned that Iwan Rheon and Heida Reed had been cast in Foxfinder at the Ambassadors Theatre, well joining them is Paul Nicholls and Bryony Hannah. It opens for preview on September 6.

The Wild Duck, Almeida - Fans of Robert Icke rejoice, he returns to the Almeida with a production of Ibsen's The Wild Duck. Speculation has already started about who will be in the cast.  Opens October 15.

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Best (and worst) of London theatre for 2018...so far...and the actress in two plays on the list

As the halfway mark of 2018 rushes past, it's time to reflect on the highlights and low lights of London's theatre productions so far (edit: scroll to the bottom for the most read posts).

julius caesar bridge theatre Rev stan
Julius Caesar warm-up gig, Bridge Theatre. Photo: Rev Stan

I'm not sure whether it's a reflection of more varied programming generally or just where my interests predominantly lie these days but it's a list dominated by women protagonists and BAME stories.

Best of the big stuff (West End and off West End)

Girls and Boys, Royal Court

Carey Mulligan's performance is a tour de force, precise, subtle and complex. It is a devastating and brilliant piece of theatre and it's transferred to the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York Theatre where it runs until July 22.

The York Realist, Donmar Warehouse

Like My Night With Reg crossed with God's Own Country and the steamiest flirtation on stage for a long while.

Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre

Stuff with Ben Whishaw in it doesn't always make it into my best of lists but being part of the mob was at times like being at a rock concert, a rally and in the middle of a war - never thought I'd enjoy standing at the theatre.

The Great Wave, National Theatre

Had no prior knowledge about the true events this play is based on but it proved the adage that the truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Summer and Smoke, Almeida

The first of two appearances on this list for Patsy Ferran, Summer and Smoke was a delicate, yet tense and heartbreaking play and I'm so glad it's got a transfer to the West End. See ATG's official website for details.

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Review: Blood, dead cats and very (very) dark humour. Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward

The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a deliciously dark, satirical comedy.

Cards on the table: I'm a huge Martin McDonagh fan. I like the way he makes you laugh about stuff that shouldn't be funny. 

IMG_9487He takes something gruesome, cruel or amoral and pokes fun at it by making it matter of fact, part of the domestic landscape.

And in that respect The Lieutenant of Inishmore is akin to a kitchen sink drama; the everyday life of a family living in rural Ireland but one of them, 'Mad Padraic' (Aidan Turner), just happens to be a violent terrorist, too violent for the IRA who won't let him among their ranks.

Cat murder

Think Father Ted with an unstable terrorist living in the parochial house. And the terrorist is a cat lover. And his cat gets killed.

Local teen Davey (Chris Walley) is in the frame for the killing - but more likely framed - and he, together with Padraic's father Donny (Denis Conway), hatch a plan to cover up the gruesome crime.

There plan is one that wouldn't look out of place in a Saturday night TV sit-com and it becomes a race against time to hide the evidence before torture-loving, bomb-maker Padraic returns home.

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Production photos: RSC's historical thriller Imperium officially opens next week at Gielgud Theatre

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RSC's Imperium: Dictator. Photo by Ikin Yum

Following a sold-out run in Stratford Upon Avon, the RSC's historical two-part thriller Imperium has its official opening at the Gielgud next week and guess who will be there?

Adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton (Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies) from Robert Harris’ internationally best-selling Cicero trilogy the story is presented at six one-act plays. 

Told through the watchful eyes of Cicero’s loyal secretary IMPERIUM I: Conspirator chronicles how the great orator’s early success unwittingly paves the way for a brutal and bloody end to the Republic. 


With Rome in chaos at the beginning of IMPERIUM II: Dictator, Cicero must use all his brilliance to restore the power of the Senate from the civic mob and their would-be Emperor: one Julius Caesar. 

RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, directs a cast led by Olivier and Tony Award-winner Richard McCabe (The Audience, BBC’s Collateral) as Cicero and Joseph Kloska (The Crown) as Tiro.

Currently open for previews, each part can be seen on its own or together as one epic story. There are over 10,000 tickets for £10 or under and you will find details on the RSC's Imperium West End website.

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RSC's Imperium: Conspirator. Photo by Ikin Yum

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