Afterglow at Southwark Playhouse is a classy production but still slow, and because every scene change is like cleaning up after a particularly acrobatic shag, there are more pauses and longeurs than you might wish.
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One wonders which came first for the Grade/Linnit company – the misguided desire to mount an epic scale production of Man of La Mancha, a musical which hasn’t been.produced in London since 1968 for very good reasons, or the need to find a project for Kelsey Grammer?
The hallmark of a ‘great play’ is its universality, and historically Arthur Miller’s 1947 All My Sons is a ‘great play’ but it’s debatable whether, in trying to adhere that greatness to contemporary realities, Jeremy Herrin’s is a great production.
This is as unconventional production of Sweet Charity as you’re likely to see. Set firmly in the art milieu of Andy Warhol’s Factory, it’s so perfectly, silver-foil-wrapped acid-tabbed 1967 it’s like you were actually there.
Remember the eighties? From Michael Douglas’ braces in Wall Street to Joan Cusack’s shoulder pads and big hair in Working Girl, they’re all here if a little distorted from the rear-view mirror, in Katherine Farmer’s resurrection of Other People’s Money at Southwark.
Katherine Parkinson was not a surprising choice for the joint venture by Avalon and BBC Arts whereby seasoned creatives were sponsored to write for the stage. Although her script for Sitting was the only actually successful project, seen last year on the Edinburgh Fringe and now refreshed and revived at the Arcola.
At 53, Simon Evans isn’t so different from circuit comedians half his age – a rhetorical stream of invective squirted squarely at current events, with the exception that he speaks entirely in well-honed sentences, not an er, ah or um in sight
“You put the grill on high, and the bread under it. Turn it over half-way through. And then you take it out and scrape it.” That extract from my eight-year-old school essay could just as easily have come from the book and script of Toast, a delightful and fond depiction of food writer Nigel Slater’s formative years.
The London Fringe has been diligent in ploughing back catalogue after back catalogue for ‘forgotten’ musicals, and Maggie May has not been seen in London for 55 years.
Every time I see a new musical made from a recent-ish film, I wonder if this could be ‘the one’, the one that jumps the shark and enters the canon of the regularly performed.
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