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February 2017

January 2017

The rhyming review: The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, Finborough Theatre

Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, Tom Purbeck (courtesy S R Taylor Photography) 4
Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, Tom Purbeck. Photo: S R Taylor Photography

@OughtToBeClowns challenged me to write my review for this in verse as that is how the play is written and performed. So this is my vain attempt...apologies in advance.

Tony Harrison's play has a title virtually unpronounceable,

It draws on ancient Greek traditions and the performers definitely aren't inaudible.

Grenfell succumbs to the will of Apollo the god in fact you could say it's more like possessed,

And shortly after that the satyrs are called from the places in which they hide and they rest.

In boxes and crates and behind curtains tall, they appear half naked but more into beer than into brawn.

They have furry brown legs and male appendages sewn on,

There was, however, nothing fake about the crack of the bum.

Apollo charges those that are half men and half goat to find out the whereabouts of his beloved bovine herd,

What transpires is their guts are now strings on a lyre which Hermes plays with a sound as sweet as any bird. 

It's a bonkers story and a bit of a batty play with earnest delivery, if a little bit shouty, and one did get to wondering

Whether the energy of satyrs tap dancing dislodged any dust from the Finborough's pub ceiling.


It is 75 minutes long and I'm giving it three stars. You can catch it at the Finborough until January 28.


London fringe theatre news round up - five for January

Brains, Theatre N16 from Jan 11

DARK AND OFF KILTER - Fresh from a stint at the Edinburgh fringe, Dame Nature: The Magnificent Bearded Lady comes to Wilton’s Music Hall telling the story of a bearded lady forced to examine her marriage. It runs from the 10-14 Jan.

ZOMBIES It could be a clever parody of privatising healthcare... with zombies. Or it could be a rom-com adventure... with zombies. Either way - there are zombies. Brains runs at the Theatre N16 in Balham from 11-14 Jan.

POLITICAL COMEDY Go back to the late sixties and see this way-ahead-of-its-time comedy programme, complete with the occasional cock-ups, the original warm-up and incredible sound-effects… nostalgic and very, very funny. Men From The Ministry runs at the newly revamped White Bear Theatre in Kennington from 3-14 January.

CONTEMPORARY STORIES Following its award nominated, sell-out run at Theatre503, Stuart Slade’s BU21 follows six Londoners in the aftermath of a fictitious terrorist attack, based on real testimonies gathered from a variety of terrorist incidents including the 7/7 bombings, 9/11, the Paris attacks and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack. Catch it at Trafalgar Studios 2 from 4 Jan – 18 Feb.

LOVE STORY The Bunker's inaugural season finishes with Abigail, a love story set in Berlin. In a world where so many things are out of our control, what happens when the one thing you think you need is the one thing you cannot have? It runs from 10 Jan to 4 Feb.


Rev Stan's StOlivier theatre awards for 2016

Sam Marks and David Tennant in Richard II for RSC Photo by Richard Termine

It was a year in which I trod the boards with Freddie Fox, Ruth Wilson threw flowers at me and Sam Cooke sang to me but these are mere trifles in a stellar year for theatre. So forget expert panels and public votes these are the only awards in theatre land that matter...

Best kiss This goes to Sam Marks and David Tennant in Richard II at the Barbican for a long, lingering kiss that spoke a thousand words. Still makes me emotional thinking about it.

Calamine lotion award During Bug at Found 111 one of the characters claims they can see insects on their skin and are constantly scratching and itching invisible bites. It was infectious, really made my skin crawl.

Stage blood award I'm wondering if Jamie Lloyd has Ben Nye shares because he didn't just have bloody wounds, he had Kit Harington's Dr Faustus take a shower in blood (in white pants for added effect).

David Attenborough award I'm giving this jointly to the Tamaskan dog which did a rather splendid job playing a wolf in The Crucible at the Walter Kerr Theatre and the real live fox which played...a fox in Unreachable Royal Court.

Non-animal 'ah' award This goes to Yerma for having a baby cameo. Don't think anyone in the audience heard a word that was being spoken as Billie Piper bounced the little cutie on her hip.

Suffering for art award As someone who feels the cold, I had massive sympathy and respect for Michael Socha and Tamla Kari in This Is Living as they performed the whole play in an inch depth of water - not just walking and standing but sitting and lying in it so they were sodden throughout.

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My theatre wish list for 2017

_originalPutting aside all the obvious ones like better loos, cheaper tickets, noise-free snacks, booking systems that don't collapse under the weight of demand etc this is what I hope for in theatre land this year:

More plays with strong female leads We had a good run in 2016 with Hedda, Mary Stuart, Saint Joan, the all women Shakespeare at the Donmar, The Deep Blue Sea, just to name a few. It’s a breath of fresh air and it shouldn’t be, it should be the norm - 65% of audiences are women after all.

Diverse casting - I don’t live in a city where 95% of the population is white so why should theatre be? All white casts are embarrassing. It's getting better but there is room for improvement.

Shorter plays If Josie Rourke can cut Saint Joan down from 4 plus hours to two hours 15 and Flute Theatre can cut Hamlet down to 90 minutes and they are both still really good then does your production really, really need to be three and a half hours long? I'm not saying everything should be two/two and half hours but overly long plays have become a bit of a thing in 2016 and it used to be the exception rather than the rule. It's as if there is a perception that running time is proportionate to level of seriousness. I saw a 15 minute play at the Royal Court last year that packed more punch than a three and a half play on a similar topic. On a practical level, some people need to catch the last train home and/or get up for work the next day.


Continue reading "My theatre wish list for 2017" »