Press pass: Reviews, interviews and first night pics from Bend It Like Beckham

In Features, Interviews, London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Photos, Quotes, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

The reviews are in, and there’s no doubt about it – the West End musical makeover of Bend It Like Beckham has scored big with the critics. Perhaps the show’s impeccable timing – as the Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada and Fifa continues to reel from its corruption scandals – helped, but it seems the real success of the show comes down to the teamwork of the creatives and a 30-strong company.

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THE TRIAL – Young Vic

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

If I have a prediction about The Trial at the Young Vic, it’s that every reviewer will mention the conveyor belt and three out of five of them link it to The Generation Game. The auditorium has been gutted and re-built with stacks of ‘juror’ seating in plywood encasements either side two moving rubber pavements surmounted by a massive orange-painted box with an equally massive and probably symbolic keyhole cut in it. At least you won’t recognise it as the same space in which the same director gave us Annie Get Your Gun seen through a letterbox.

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

Rejoice! In the midst of Fifa’s dismal doings musical theatre makes football beautiful again. Gurinder Chadha’s and Paul Mayeda Berges’ fable, of a British-Asian teenage girl longing to play football rather than cook dhal and live traditionally, was beloved on screen but emerges all the stronger for being driven by Howard Goodall’s music and Charles Hart’s lyrics. It’s a lovely show, with the rare quality in musicals of feeling all-of-a-piece: one solid creation by a team who understand one another and were allowed to get on with it.

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In the UK and US, bias infects theatre reviews

In Broadway, London theatre, Native, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Reviews by Howard ShermanLeave a Comment

In his Theatre Addicts diary this week, Mates co-founder Mark Shenton took umbrage with The Sunday Times’ critic Christopher Hart’s review of American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’ latest play The Motherf**ker With the Hat. Now American blogger Howard Sherman, who saw the play on Broadway, offers his analysis – and spots a wider trend… “You can’t draw sweet water from a foul …

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NEWS: Print Room autumn season includes Handspring Puppet Company’s Ubu

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Artistic Director Anda Winters today announces Print Room at the Coronet’s Autumn / Winter 2015 season at its new, permanent home at the Coronet in London’s Notting Hill, with two productions presented in the main auditorium at the iconic listed building and former Victorian playhouse, alongside further programming in the smaller studio space. Commenting on Print Room at the Coronet’s …

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NEWS: Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales has summer season in Leicester Square

In Children's theatre, London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

Award-winning company Scamp Theatre will bring several of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best-loved children’s books to the London stage in 2015, including the world stage premiere of their most recent book The Scarecrows’ Wedding. Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales will also play a Summer Season at Leicester Square Theatre.

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NEWS: Original ‘Secret’ Theatre returns to Londonwith Secret Island

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

After an underground three month sold-out immersive production of SE7EN DEADLY SINS, the original “secret” theatre company returns with a new production on a secret island in East London. This latest production looks to challenge social and political extremes that face East Londoners. Cross the bridge, join the masquerade and immerse yourself in another world!

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NEWS: Nick Payne’s Constellations returns to West End, opening at Trafalgar Studios 14 July

In Broadway, London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases, Regional theatre, Touring by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Following critically acclaimed sold-out runs in the West End, on Broadway, and its first national tour to eight UK cities, the Royal Court Theatre’s production of Nick Payne’s award-winning Constellations will transfer to Trafalgar Studios for three weeks only. Michael Longhurst (Carmen Disruption, A Number) directs Joe Armstrong (Happy Valley) and Louise Brealey (Sherlock) as Roland and Marianne in this hugely popular play from one of the leading voices in UK Theatre.

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NEWS: Britain’s Got Talent’s Jamie Raven joins magic rush in West End Illusionists

In Cabaret, Circus, London theatre, News, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™ – the world’s best-selling touring magic show which has sold out in 71 cities across 17 countries – comes to London’s West End for the first time, playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre from Saturday 14 November-Sunday 3 January (Press Night: Monday 16 November, 7pm), starring the UK’s hottest magician Jamie Raven. [See also: Do You Believe in Magic in the West End?] Fresh from Britain’s Got Talent, where he captivated the British public with his unique magic tricks, Jamie Raven joins this ground breaking spectacular showcasing the dazzling talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth.

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Don’t forget: Memory play The Father affects us all

In Features, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Regional theatre by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

It’s the last chance this week to catch the French playwright Florian Zeller’s mind-bending play The Father, in which the father of the title (played with heart-rending bluster and vulnerability by Kenneth Cranham) and his descent into dementia has unsettling consequences for all around him – and all watching. After its limited season at London’s Tricycle Theatre, The Father has returned for one final week at Theatre Royal Bath, where it had its English language premiere last year and where it follows the UK premiere this year of Zeller’s earlier companion piece The Mother (which was first seen in France in 2010, two years before The Father).

I WENT TO A FABULOUS PARTY – King’s Head

In Edinburgh Festival, London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Fridays aren’t serious reviewing nights and the friend who suggested this piece to me described it as “some shit for gays” which despite our shared and enthusiastic homosexuality is the shorthand we use for frothy-to-filthy comedies of the sort often presented at venues in Vauxhall. But the King’s Head was on the way to a nice restaurant, so what the hell, and it’s a preview for the Edinburgh Fringe which may save me the bother of two urticarious weeks in midge-ridden Scotland.

Diary of a theatre addict: 11 shows across 8 days – (nearly) all great! A record?

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

Across the eight days and nights between last Sunday and tonight, I’ll have seen 11 shows, and (excepting tonight which I’ve not seen yet and one of which was a critics’ preview and I’m therefore not in a position to comment publicly on yet), I’ve loved eight out of the nine. That’s an incredible strike record for one week, and one of those runs of great shows that you only dream of. It helps, of course, that I was playing catch up on six of them, so I was in (comparatively) safer hands than going blind to yet-to-be reviewed shows. But there’s also a fear that a show won’t live up to the good reviews youv’e already read and absorbed.

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THE DRIVER’S SEAT – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

In London theatre, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

The National Theatre of Scotland’s adaptation of Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat has a righteous fury, combined with a drive born out of cleverly harnessed technology and a tight ensemble. However, it does not always seem sure of itself and as a result is a curiosity rather than a convincing piece of theatre. Taking a stress-induced holiday from her job in an unspecified ‘North’, Lise travels to Naples, apparently seeking romance. It is not much of a spoiler to say she will end up murdered, as we are told this very early on. Instead the focus is on how and why this will happen.

FACE THE MUSIC – Ye Olde Rose and Crown

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

History Lesson: there’s no shortage of backstage musicals. There’s no shortage of musicals set in the Depression or prohibition era either – from Annie to Chicago to Windy City everyone from the Gershwins (who did it in Of Thee I Sing) on down has had a crack at it, and our home-grown Phil Wilmott is just about to launch one actually called Prohibition.

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FACE THE MUSIC – Ye Olde Rose and Crown

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

History Lesson: there’s no shortage of backstage musicals. There’s no shortage of musicals set in the Depression or prohibition era either – from Annie to Chicago to Windy City everyone from the Gershwins (who did it in Of Thee I Sing) on down has had a crack at it, and our home-grown Phil Wilmott is just about to launch one actually called Prohibition.

Two Jacks – Review

In London theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

***
Written and directed by Bernard Rose

Jack Huston
There’s a stylish cast and concept to Two Jacks, out this month from Bernard Rose.
Taking an idea from Tolstoy’s Russian fable The Two Hussars, Rose pitches his tale straight into a genre of updated Hollywood noir. It makes for  neat conceit and in a movie set entirely in and around Tinseltown, the atmosphere Rose that creates of smoke filled poker parlours, bare-fisted brawls and beautiful women casually seduced, could be straight out of Raymond Chandler. 
There is a hint of real life imitating the art on screen, for as the story tells of fictional wild film director Jack Hussar seducing the beautiful Diana (a sizzlingly demure performance from Sienna Miller) and who, years later sees his son Jack Jnr return to become entangled with Diana’s daughter, Rose casts Danny Huston to play the older man, with his nephew Jack playing the younger man. That both men are direct descendants of legendary director John Huston contributes to the story’s grit and that Danny Huston, in both appearance and demeanour bears more than a passing resemblance to Jeremy Clarkson, only adds to the tale.   
Two Jacks’ womanising, gambling, alcohol and thundery rainstorms are timeless nods to Hollywood’s darker side and with Jacqueline Bissett playing the (much older) Diana many years into the plot, the classy credentials of Rose’s cast are only enhanced.
Whilst the movie is mostly chic and the acting a delight, Rose is let down by occasional script naiveties and also a budgetary constraint (I guess ?) that sees him not only write and direct, but also photograph and edit the movie too. That’s unfortunate for there are moments of poor continuity, lighting and focus-pulling, that would never have made it out of a decent film school, let alone form part of a commercial release.
Bringing the picture straight out to the DVD and download markets after playing the festivals a couple of years ago is probably wise, with Two Jacks making for a wonderfully romantic movie, beautifully performed.

Out on DVD and download 29th JuneTrailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4qMZy3wFwg&feature=youtu.be

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) – Review

In London theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

ALERT:

THIS REVIEW COMMENTS UPON A VIOLENT HORROR MOVIE
IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED, OR OF A SENSITIVE DISPOSITION, THEN PLEASE DO NOT READ ON

Certificate 18
***

Written and directed by Tom Six

Dieter Laser
The Human Centipede 3 – Final Sequence (HC3) marks the last chapter of Tom Six’s trilogy of everyday folk who find themselves joined, stitched mouth-to-anus, to their fellow citizens. Throughout his series, Six has tended to play fast and loose with the word “centipede”. His first movie’s creature featured only 6 legs (formed of three unfortunates) whilst the beast in Final Sequence, formed of 500 souls, sports 2,000 limbs- but this is Hollywood so what’s a leg-count here or there anyway?
The movies’ notoriety has snowballed with each emerging sequel. HC1 took a “traditionally” horrific take on Six’s vision, with German actor Dieter Laser portraying the deranged Doctor Heiter, who was to hand-craft the first creature, in an unflinchingly dark movie.
HC2’s raison d’etre could not have been more corny, even if its metier was still born of a heart of darkness. Laurence R Harvey played Martin, a ghastly misfit, who is introduced to us watching a DVD of HC1, before going on to replicate Heiter’s experiment himself. 
With the third film, Six adopts an end of term/semester approach to the concept. Where HCs 1 and 2 were dark, Final Sequence lobs in some ironic comedy and in so doing offers us what is possibly (and literally) the most tongue in cheek film ever made. 
Set in a prison in the southern USA, Six indulges himself with an outrageous grindhouse satire. Think of 2011’s Hobo With A Shotgun that starred Rutger Hauer and you start to get an idea of ​​Six’s skewed reality.
As a further nod to the franchise’s heritage, both Laser and Lawrence return. This time the German plays Bill Boss, the stetson toting prison governor (deranged, natch) who also sports a phallus-replacing six-shooter, with Harvey as Dwight, his trusted sidekick accountant. When Dwight suggests that a human centipede would make for an ideal punishment in addition to incarceration, the movie takes off . 
Along the way, Six makes no bones about offending and exploiting everybody. Men and women alike are horrifically violated (there is no one-side sexploitational misogyny here), religion is mocked, with Hollywood B-listers Bree Olson and Eric Roberts adding to the carnage.
A satirical sub-theme hints at the story offering a version of violent and medieval punishment that much of the USA’s right of centre population would happily see meted out to criminals. Six has to tread this particular mockery carefully especially as he is on record (and confirmed in a movie cameo) as saying that the idea of ​​the centipede came to him initially, as an appropriate form of punishment for paedophiles. 
There’s minimal CGI on display here and what you see is the action that Six has photographed. Those with an insatiable appetite for taboo-busting cinema that includes, amongst other moments, scenes of castration, boiling-waterboarding and the eating (literally eating, this ain’t porn) of both genders’ genitalia will be more than entertained by what Six, his designer Rodrigo Cabral and their uber-talented special effects team have come up with. Oh, and just like in real life, the bad guy comes out on top too.
If you like your horror bloody yet still ridiculously overdone, you won’t be disappointed. 

In cinemas from 10th July
Trailer http://youtu.be/xr-31o8xXqY

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The Mates welcome criticism, especially of ourselves

In Features, London theatre, Native, News, Opinion, Quotes, Regional theatre by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Terri Paddock today responded to Megan Vaughan’s recent article in The Stage on MyTheatreMates’s “damaging business practices” – and here she explains why, however fallacious, she welcomes Megan’s harsh criticism. This is a full version of Terri’s piece – as well as links to the two articles for The Stage.