To be honest, if it’s an evening of laugh-yourself-silly fun, catchy tunes, inspired lunacy and bona fide triple threat star turn performances that you’re after, it doesn’t get much better than Shucked at the Nederlander Theatre, New York.
Mates blogger: Alun Hood
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Get your leg warmers out and prepare for blast off, Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins’ adorable pop musical Eugenius! is back. This ridiculous, feel good sweetheart of a show marries together comic strip capers, sci-fi, 1980s nostalgia, earworm songs, obvious but irresistible comedy, and high camp in a caffeinated confection that is about as subtle as being beaten about the head with a rolled up copy of Smash Hits, but a lot more fun. Even when presented in a less-than-ideal space.
Eugene O’Hare’s astonishing three-hander, The Dry House, premiering at the new Marylebone Theatre in a well nigh perfect production by the author himself, continues to demonstrate his remarkable ability to pan beautiful gold from ugliness.
Seeing Hay Fever at the lovely Mill at Sonning, not far from the Thames-side village Cookham, where Coward’s play is actually set, feels almost like immersive theatre. It also feels a little like stepping back in time to a gentler era. Some people may find it a little staid, but it’s not hard to see why it proves so perennially popular.
Daniel Rigby won a BAFTA for his portrayal of the beloved comedian Eric Morecambe in a 2011 TV film. The spirit of Morecambe – endearing, absurd, inspired, with a slight edge of danger – permeates Rigby’s performance in this savagely brilliant reinvention of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s police corruption satire Accidental Death Of An Anarchist at the Lyric Hammersmith.
For any theatre enthusiast who has been living under a rock, Nicholas Hytner’s new production of Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre is unique because it is immersive, in the manner of this venue’s previous acclaimed versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar.
In the week which saw the Bush Theatre pick up two out of a possible five nominations in the Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award category in this year’s Oliviers, the excellent West London venue has further cause for celebration with the opening of this sassy delight. As refreshing and spicy as an ice cold ginger beer on a sunny day, and as warm and lovely as a hug from a treasured friend, Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini’s irresistible sugar rush of a play Sleepova already looks like a strong contender for feelgood show of 2023.
Exhilaratingly original and pleasingly ambitious in scope and execution, Bootycandy at the Gate Theatre is the theatrical equivalent to having a bucket of cold water thrown over you: it takes you out of your comfort zone, it’s refreshing, a bit shocking and might leave you trembling. Enthusiastically recommended, this Bootycandy is sweet and salty.
A very interesting programme article will tell you the difference between the multiple takes (the National’s programmes remain the most informative and best value for money in the capital) but what audiences really need to know is that this is very much Simon Stone’s Phaedra, and he has once again done what he effected upon Lorca’s Yerma at the Young Vic then subsequently in New York in 2016-7.
With Ben Fensome’s highly entertaining Buff director Scott Le Crass comes up with another production rich in detail and dynamism but displaying total faith in the material and the central performer. Both entities here repay that trust abundantly.
This is the sort of fare that might have run for years on Shaftesbury Avenue in the mid- 20th century and, despite references to Brexit and the internet, and the use of mobile phones, We’ll Always Have Paris at The Mill at Sonning feels like a throwback to that simpler era.
As it turns out, Jemma Kahn’s We Didn’t Come To Hell For The Croissants, the South African, multi-authored one woman riff on the Seven Deadly Sins, offers rather more than just a whimsical comic title and a series of outrageous pull quotes.
Existentialism, absurdism, clowning, vaudeville, country music and a gentle queer romance all collide in this strange but rather lovely show. And Then The Rodeo Burned Down is sometimes reminiscent of other, more conventional, plays – Waiting For Godot and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead spring most readily to mind – but has an off-kilter comic energy, suffused with a certain quiet melancholy, that is entirely its own.
However, Rebecca Frecknall’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Almeida Theatre is an unusually youthful reading of a play usually marinated in the disappointments of middle age, which duly casts it in a bold, bracing new light.
“It could be worse” observes Baby, one of the pair of Irish sisters who open and close Margaret Perry’s richly enjoyable new play Paradise Now! at the Bush Theatre, as she contemplates their less-than-ideal lives; that statement applies equally to the existences of the other four women whose frustrations, tragedies and eccentricities inform this delightful, unruly tragicomedy.
As somebody who loves a listicle plus a bandwagon to jump on, how could I NOT compile my list of my top 20 new (to me) shows of 2022? It’s been 12 months in which live entertainment has come back with an encouraging roar, although the impending cost of living crisis is inevitably, and understandably, causing anxiety in theatrical circles. Please do get out there, if you can, and support your local venue in 2023.
This London premiere of Newsies at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre has already extended bookings until next spring and, if the ecstatic – verging on hysterical – first night reaction was any indication, it’ll be opening up ticket sales for beyond then fairly soon. One would imagine this was always the intention of principal producers Runaway Entertainment (in partnership with Disney Theatrical and a few others) who have clearly spared no expense in presenting this London Newsies.
AIN’T NO MO’ by Jordan E Cooper Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb Belasco Theatre, New York City – until 26 February 2023 https://aintnomobway.com All aboard the final flight of African American Airlines, a journey taking every last Black American, tired and pissed off from being sidelined, passed over, disappointed, hurt, viewed with suspicion and just plain […]
David Farr’s new play A Dead Body In Taos, briefly in London following performances in Bristol and Plymouth and before moving on to Warwick Arts Centre, is an earnest addition to an underpopulated genre. Undeniably ambitious, but more ponderous than engaging, it doesn’t make a great case for creating stage dramas in this mould.
In Michael Longhurst’s dreamy new London production of The Band’s Visit at the Donmar Warehouse, where everyone is close to the stage, it’s enchanting and quietly riveting. It also features, in the work of leading lady Miri Mesika, in the role that won Katrina Lenk the 2018 Outstanding Actress Tony, one of the most remarkable British stage debuts in living memory.
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