203 posts categorized "West End" Feed

Review: Amy Adams in The Glass Menagerie, Duke of Yorks Theatre - bright sparks but too many questions

Director Jeremy Herrin has chosen to have two actors playing Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie so that when he is acting as narrator, it is an older, maturer Tom.  

The Glass Menagerie Duke of York's Theatre poster

This older Tom, played by Paul Hilton, sets a reflective, melancholy, almost listless tone to the play, but while he hovers around the edges of the stage during certain scenes, where he is absent, it serves to emphasise that this story is his interpretation of events and sometimes conjecture. Tom Glynn-Carney plays the younger Tom.

Amy Adams' Amanda is the antithesis, a matriarch full of bustle and bristle and constantly needling her children.

She is an irritating spark to her despondent and bored son and pushes her shy, nervous daughter Laura (Lizzie Annis) further into her own world. And, she is such a spark that you feel Amanda's absence when she is on stage.

As the play progresses and the prospect of a 'gentleman caller' gets closer, a youthful coquettishness comes out. Adams' Amanda is less a mother concerned about her daughter's future and more someone living out a fantasy rooted in much happier times.

Problem scene

For me, the problem scene was when Laura was alone with her gentlemen caller Jim (Victor Alli). It feels, tonally, as if it's from a different play. Is that the intention? Not having been there, this scene is very much from the imagination of Tom or what the quiet and mentally fragile Laura chooses to relay.

Continue reading "Review: Amy Adams in The Glass Menagerie, Duke of Yorks Theatre - bright sparks but too many questions" »


Review: The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre - Ruth Wilson is transfixing

You know those times you are watching a play utterly transfixed by what is happening on stage? Yep, well, that's how I felt watching  Ruth Wilson in The Human Voice.

The Human Voice Harold Pinter Theatre poster
The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre Mar 2022

The signs were good. She's a fabulous actress, and she's partnered with director Ivo Van Hove before - in Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre, which earned five stars from me.

An adaptation by Van Hove of Jean Cocteau's challenging play, The Human Voice is not just a monologue; it's one side of a telephone conversation. In the wrong hands, it could be awful. 

The conversation is between a woman (Wilson) and, as we learn, her lover. They have been together for five years, but he is leaving her and marrying another woman the following day, so this will be their last conversation.

There is nothing obvious or affected in Ruth Wilson's performance. We watch her through a large window as if observing her apartment from a neighbouring building. She occasionally walks out of view while talking, and there is something voyeuristic about the whole thing, a feeling which heightened by how oblivious she is to being viewed - or overheard. 

Continue reading "Review: The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre - Ruth Wilson is transfixing" »


Review: The Mousetrap, St Martin's Theatre - frothy, fun entertainment

Are you allowed to call yourself a theatre fan if you haven't seen The Mousetrap, the West End's longest-running play? Possibly. But I've ticked that box now.

The Mousetrap sign
Photo by Rev Stan

So what was it like? Well, it's a fun, frothy West End play that is in part carried by its status of being long-running and a West End institution.

It's an Agatha Christie, which means everyone acts in a way that puts them under suspicion.

And I don't know if you are like me, but thoughts about characters always cross my mind early on, which I then put to one side but inevitable prove true.

Of course, I never verbalise my suspicions in the interval, so can't prove that I was kinda on the right track. But I was, so there. Not that I guessed everything because I didn't.

There are some nice little twists, as you'd expect from Christie.

Continue reading "Review: The Mousetrap, St Martin's Theatre - frothy, fun entertainment" »


Review: Wonderville Magic & Illusion, Palace Theatre - fun and entertainment (for all the family)

Wonderville Magic & Illusion is, as its title suggests, an evening of (family-friendly) magic and illusion but with the occasional bit of variety thrown in - think roller-skating hula hooping. 

Wonderville 1 Multi-award-winning mind reader and TV star Chris Cox Photo by Pamela Raith
Wonderville: Multi-award-winning mind reader and TV star Chris Cox. Photo by Pamela Raith

And while much of it is a variation of stuff you'll have seen before, you can't help but be awed by a lot of what you are apparently witnessing.

Mindreader Chris Cox both performs and comperes, marshalling the mixture of acts who take it in turns to do short stints.

While some acts lend themselves to quick switches, the different pace of some performances makes the transitions a little clunky at times. But it does mean that you never linger on any one act for too long. 

Edward Hilsum does traditional sleight of hand tricks. Occasionally you can see how he does it, but then he'll immediately wow you with the seemingly impossible. There is a particularly cute moment with a young volunteer from the audience.

Continue reading "Review: Wonderville Magic & Illusion, Palace Theatre - fun and entertainment (for all the family)" »


Review: Anna X, Harold Pinter Theatre - Emma Corrin plays the mysterious and magnetic Anna

Anna X by Joseph Charlton is a fresh, contemporary play set in New York that explores identity and acceptance in the modern age.

Anna X Harold Pinter Theatre poster

Anna, played by Emma Corrin, arrives in the city to start an internship at an ultra-trendy fashion and art magazine. She has ambitions to open her own art gallery.

Other than that, she is a blank canvas, the people she meets to fill in the gaps with their own assumptions. And she lets them.

Ariel, played by Nabhaan Rizwan, is also new in town. He left a mediocre - in tech terms - career in San Francisco to launch an exclusive dating app that has caught the eye of investors and catapulted him into the high life.

He's trying to fit into the affluent, high-flyer lifestyle.

Anna meets Ariel at a nightclub where they have one of those shouty conversations over the loud music which is transcribed - including mishearings - on a screen behind them (more of that later).

A mysterious character

He is fascinated by Anna. She is both mysterious and familiar. Independent, forthright, playful and spontaneous. And beautiful. She's out of his world, and he's out of his.

Continue reading "Review: Anna X, Harold Pinter Theatre - Emma Corrin plays the mysterious and magnetic Anna" »


Review: J'Ouvert, Harold Pinter Theatre - the theatre I've been waiting to get back to

There has been controversy in the US about a brand of rum called 'J'Ouvert'. It is a term that is both celebratory and has links with the slave trade (read more about that here), and Yasmin Jay's play beautifully captures the contradictions it represents.

J'ouvert poster

Set at the Notting Hill carnival Nadine (Gabrielle Brooks), Jade (Sapphire Joy), Nisha, and Annice Boparai want to enjoy the day, but they also have an agenda.

Nadine has been rehearsing her dance moves and wants to shake off her church upbringing and be the face of the carnival. She is driven by the spirit of Claudia Jones, who founded the carnival and serves as a reminder of the event's origins.

Jade is there to support (and protect) Nadine. She is also being drawn into the world of activism and has a speech to make.

Nisha is a middle-class activist who sees carnival as an opportunity to rally more of the community to her anti-gentrification cause.

Party atmosphere

Before the play starts, the theatre has a party atmosphere, with music playing so that when the curtain rises on carnival day, complete with a DJ at the back of the stage, the scene is set.

Continue reading "Review: J'Ouvert, Harold Pinter Theatre - the theatre I've been waiting to get back to" »


Sunday theatre question: What play do you want to see revived post-lockdown?

If there was one play/production you could revive to watch when theatres reopen (hopefully) in May, what would you choose?

Sunday theatre post lockdown play

Would you go for something tragic or uplifting? Maybe a comedy because a laugh would be good?

This week my inbox has been busy with announcements about the first swathe of productions opening, and it got me thinking about what I want that first post lockdown theatre experience to be.

And given how tough it's been, combined with what will undoubtedly feel like quite joyful new freedom, I don't want to see something too depressing or tragic. 

Not off the bat anyway.

I'd like to revisit something that had me walking out of the theatre with a spring in my step.

Something like Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Rd, which I saw at the White Bear Theatre and Trafalgar Studios on its transfer.

Or The Dirty Great Love Story from the Arts Theatre, which was a guffaw-inducing modern love story.

Alternatively, I'd like to watch something that is just downright silly, like Bears in Space which was at the Soho Theatre and starred none other than King Joffrey actor Jack Gleeson.

Continue reading "Sunday theatre question: What play do you want to see revived post-lockdown?" »


Sunday theatre question: Which is your favourite play based on real events?

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and that's how I preambled my review of The Great Wave at the National Theatre back in 2018.

Sunday theatre question based on real events

It was based on real events in the 1970s and 1980s when North Korean agents abducted ordinary people from Japanese beaches in order to steal their identities or learn the Japanese language and culture.

The play follows two sisters one who has been abducted and the other left behind living with her sister's sudden disappearance.  It's a nail-biting, emotional roller coaster of a play that brought to life events I had no knowledge of.

Which is your favourite play based on real events?

The Great Wave is one of several plays based on real events I've really enjoyed over the years, here are some other notable mentions:

Enron, Noel Coward Theatre - Took a very dry subject and made it interesting and entertaining - bonus points for velociraptors and light sabres.

This House, National Theatre - a dusty 1970s political crisis given a high-energy makeover by writer James Graham and director Jeremy Herrin.

Continue reading "Sunday theatre question: Which is your favourite play based on real events?" »


Sunday theatre question: Favourite play or production with an all-female cast

This week's Sunday Theatre question is about girl-power on stage - what is your favourite play or production with an all-female cast?  Theatre's gender balance still has a way to go, but it feels like it has improved in recent years. Do you think?

Sunday theatre question all female cast

My choice for this makes a thing of having an all-female cast. Emilia, which I saw at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2019 (review here) is the story of Emilia Lanier, the first feminist poet and a possible inspiration for Shakespeare.

And while it is a story with feminism at its heart, having an all-female cast allowed plenty of humourous digs at the fact that women weren't allowed to perform on the stage in Shakespeare's time.

It was brilliantly done and was such a joyous production; I loved it. So what is your choice and why?

Looking for inspiration? Here are some other all-female cast productions that spring to mind:

Queens of Sheba, Battersea Art Centre - Saw this at the Edinburgh Fringe then again when it transferred the Battersea Arts Centre. It's one of those plays that doesn't shy away from looking at the difficult subjects - sexism and racism - but also feels like a celebration and a rally - a call to arms. I loved it very much.

Continue reading "Sunday theatre question: Favourite play or production with an all-female cast" »


Sunday theatre question: Who would star in your dream play in 2021?

Hopefully this year we'll see theatres reopening and a semblance of normality returning so with that in mind the first Sunday Theatre question of 2021 is about what your dream play would be and who would star in it.

So pick a genre - or a play if you have one in mind - the actor and/or actress you'd most like to star in it and then share it in the comments.

My choice would be a black comedy starring Ben Whishaw and Monica Dolan for reasons I explain in the video.

Looking forward to reading about your choices and scroll down for my favourite black comedies...

Continue reading "Sunday theatre question: Who would star in your dream play in 2021?" »