Review: The Man In The White Suit, Wyndhams Theatre - Does this Ealing comedy adaptation revive the laughs

Foley has injected the odd contemporary quip about proroguing parliament, Brexit and capitalism which landed well with the audience.

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Stephen-Mangan in The Man in the White Suit. Photo: Nobby Clark

The woman sat behind me at Wyndham's Theatre for The Man In The White Suit, last night, had a very distinctive laugh. It was the sort of laugh that is infectious, it made me chuckle more than once.

She was obviously enjoying Sean Foley's adaptation of the 1950s Ealing comedy which stars Stephen Mangan as clever but hapless scientist Sidney and Kara Tointon as Daphne, a posh, mill owner's daughter.

The physical comedy and slapstick, in particular, made her guffaw as did the way Daphne walked with an exaggerated, seductive swagger.

Loud chuckles

Sidney's 'farting' lab equipment, explosive experiments and the way food and drink seemed to gravitate towards crotches were also afforded loud chuckles.

The story centres around his invention of an indestructible, dirt-proof cloth. Unable to absorb coloured dye, Sidney has the cloth made into a white suit to demonstrate its unique qualities.

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Review: 'Master Harold'... and the Boys, National Theatre - lessons and losses

It is a play about lessons and devastating loss, about how you can't dance around injustice and its impact.

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Athol Fugard's semi-autobiographical play is set in a tea room in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1950.

It is a wet afternoon - rain patters on a skylight - and Willie (Hammed Animashaun) and Sam (Lucian Msamati) are making the most of the quiet to practice their ballroom dancing steps ahead of an important competition in two weeks.

Hally (Anson Boon) the owner's son arrives to hang out and do his homework as is his routine.

Spectre of apartheid

There is an obvious friendship between the three, with familiar banter and games but the spectre of apartheid lurks in the background.

As they reminisce about Hally's early childhood we learn how Sam has become an influential figure for Hally who has a difficult relationship with his actual father - an amputee with a drink problem.

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Review: A Day In The Death of Joe Egg, Trafalgar Studios - old attitudes and familiar struggles

Peter Nichol's 1967 comedy A Day In The Death of Joe Egg demonstrate both how far we've come in our treatment of and attitudes towards disability but equally how the moral dilemmas and struggles remain.

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg - (L2R) Lucy Eaton  Claire Skinner  Storme Toolis  Patricia Hodge  Toby Stephens  Clarence Smith. Photographer Credit - Marc Brenner
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg - (L-R) Lucy Eaton, Claire Skinner, Storme Toolis, Patricia Hodge, Toby Stephens and Clarence Smith. Photographer - Marc Brenner

Fifteen-year-old Joe (Storme Toolis) has cerebral palsy, is wheelchair-bound and can't communicate. 

To cope, her parents Bri (Toby Stephens) and Sheila (Claire Skinner) use humour, creating a persona for Joe but it is putting a strain on their marriage.

Bri and Sheila (and later other characters) break the fourth wall telling the audience their thoughts on each other and their life, revealing not only the history of their relationship and raising Joe but also their inner struggles.

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Review: Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. Royal Court - the highs and lows of Caryl Churchill's sketch plays

Caryl Churchill's new work is a series of four plays linked thematically by their examination of human narrative and understanding of violence through storytelling and myths.

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Rebekah Murrell in Glass (Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp) Royal Court. Photo Johan Persson.

The plays which get increasingly longer as the evening progressing start with Glass, a metaphorical story of a glass girl and her teenage friends one of whom she forms a close relationship. 

It is a tale of abusive relationships in some shape or form - whether it is the overprotective, overbearing parents or the boy who is abused by his father.

There is an amusing interlude where they are all ornaments on a shelf but ultimately it is the piece that is most difficult to pin down.

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An 'oooh' London theatre announcement (Clue: It involves Richard Armitage and Toby Jones)

This is something good to look forward to in the dark days of January and February next year, Stan-fav Richard Armitage and Toby Jones are taking to the stage.

Uncle vanya toby jones richard armitage © Muse Creative Communications  photography by Seamus Ryan
Uncle Vanya with Toby Jones and Richard Armitage © Muse Creative Communications. Photo by Seamus Ryan

They will appear in a new adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya by Conor McPherson, directed by Ian Rickson. Jones is taking the titular role while Armitage will play Astrov.

It's not a Chekhov play I've seen many productions of - one in fact back in 2012 starring Ken Stott and Samuel West which I very much enjoyed.

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Review: Hedda Tesman, Minerva Theatre, Chichester - does an older, contemporary Hedda work?

There is always a danger when you transport classic plays to a contemporary setting that the difference in society's attitude destroys the tension of the original.

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Ibsen's original Hedda Gabler is a young woman, newly married who sees no future, trapped into a life in which she sees little purpose.

Cordelia Lynn's modern take - entitled Hedda Tesman - follows the basic plot of Ibsen's but Hedda is now an older woman with a grown-up daughter living in contemporary England.

Hadyn Gwynne plays Hedda as a woman bitter and twisted by resentment and regret at the promising career she gave up to have a child.

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Review: Black Chiffon, Park Theatre - emotional disturbances and a family dilemma

Lesley Storm's 1949 play is part family drama, part exploration of mental health but to a contemporary audience, the notion of what was then labelled an 'emotional disturbance' is no doubt quite different.

Black Chiffon at the Park Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet 650A2426
Abigail Cruttenden in Black Chiffon,  Park Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

It makes me wonder how audiences then and now perceive central character Alicia Christie (Abigail Cruttenden).

She is the height of middle-class respectability and an attentive mother and wife. Her two children are grown up but still hold a lot of affection for their 'darling' mother.

Daughter Thea (Eva Feiler) is heavily pregnant with her first child and her son Roy (Jack Studden) is excited about his imminent marriage to Louise, (Jemima Watling) something even his tense relationship with his father Robert (Ian Kelly) isn't going to mar.

But this happy picnic is about to be unsettled by a wasp.

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Booking for James McAvoy's Cyrano de Bergerac - and a warning

Priority booking opened today for James McAvoy's next stage outing and the first of Jamie Lloyd's new season - Cyrano de Bergerac.

Good news is that there are thousands of tickets for first-time theatre visitors, key workers and under 30s.

Bad news if you don't fall into either of those categories, the ticket prices are particularly steep.

I ended up booking restricted view in the upper circle for £32 because anything closer was just too pricey.

The Playhouse has a reputation among regular theatre-goers for bad sightlines which doesn't make the 'cheaper' seats much better value but it is better than nothing and I'm hoping there might be some rush tickets or day seats so I can get a better seat.

Oh and this notice popped up before you buy the tickets, so you have been warned...ahem.

Cyrano de bergerac warning

Cyrano de Bergerac opens for previews at the end of November, for more details on dates and booking head to the ATG website.


Interview: Theatre photographer Simon Annand on what he's learned about actors and whether he gets star struck

Simon Annand
The man behind the camera, Simon Annand

Photographer Simon Annand has spent decades capturing actors backstage at the theatre in the half-hour before curtain up.

His collection of photos, published in a book THE HALF, are now on display at an exhibition at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield and include early career Tom Hardy and David Tennant, as well as acting legends Dame Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins. 

I asked him about his approach, what he's learned about actors over the years and whether he ever gets star struck.

How do you ensure an authentic photograph of a ‘private’ moment and have you ever felt like you were intruding?

The Half is not an attempt to be “fly on the wall”. Authenticity is therefore not based on pretending the camera is absent, but rather acknowledging that the actor is alone in their responsibility to perform the role.

All the sessions have been arranged prior to the meeting so there has never been a question of intrusion.

Has your process changed over the years?

The process has deepened over time in line with a more informed knowledge of the decisions that the actors are making.

The photos themselves have hopefully gained in resonance as this journey has taken place.

JUDE LAW (Simon Annand) Colour LR
Jude Law. Photo by Simon Annand

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Review: Jade City, Bunker Theatre - an interesting verbal boxing bout that ends up on the ropes.

In the confined space of the boxing ring and armed with just a couple of low bar stools Calvert and Quinn make the dialogue a dynamic sparring match.

Jade City  Barry Calvert and Brendan Quinn (credit Ali Wright) (3)
Jade City: Barry Calvert and Brendan Quinn. Photo: Ali Wright


Alice Malseed's play starts with Monty (Barry Calvert) and Sas (Brendan Quinn) standing in the audience either side of the stage which has a boxing ring at its centre.

It's the only time you'll see them outside the ring, the Belfast men talk of their childhood, bikes they coveted, japes and fun - champion times before life's battles became more challenging.

As they move into the ring they are older and a fight has begun, for freedom, for a place in the world and a simple happiness of cans of Harp.

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